There is something inherently magical about stones. However, if you conduct an internet search on magical stones, you are likely to find numerous posts on crystals. Many people forget the ordinary stones and pebbles we see on everyday rambles and overlook the magical qualities that all stones have, not just crystals.
Often witches purify and then empower or charge objects they find and use within their magic, imbuing them with their own magical qualities that they assign to the objects. It is, of course, the prerogative of the individual witch or practitioner whether they do this or not and it is indeed standard magical practice among many. Not every magical practitioner is an animist and sees the spirit within natural objects such as stones, seeing them as alive, and intuiting the natural power within. To be fair, not everyone is a sensitive, is psychic or has good intuition. Others do have all of this but still prefer to enhance further the natural power within. Again, it depends on belief and practice and there is nothing wrong in this. Personally though, I love to tune into the more intuitive side of magic that can bring so much more to your practice. To use the natural power of items I find within nature which I have especially chosen for the way I react and interact with them.
Carl G. Jung’s Man and His Symbols has many references to stones and their power. Jung edited the book, and he and a number of collaborators contributed to it. It is a fabulous read for any witch or pagan and I refer to it often and recommend it if you are interested in dream, symbolism, and the psychological meanings of symbols in everyday life. Below are just a few of the comments from Jung and others about stones and their natural power.
In section three of Man and His Symbols “The process of individuation” M.-L. von Franz discusses how rubbing stones is an ancient activity of man. He even points out that Australian aborigines believe that their dead ancestors exist in stones and that by rubbing them, the power increases. Franz says:
The mathematically precise arrangement of the crystal evokes in us the intuitive feeling that even in so-called “dead” matter there is a spiritual ordering principle at work. Thus, the crystal often symbolically stands for the union of extreme opposites—of matter and spirit.
Franz goes on to say:
Many people cannot refrain from picking up stones of a slightly unusual color or shape and keeping them, without knowing why they do this. It is as if the stones held a mystery that fascinates them. Men have collected stones since the beginning of time and have apparently assumed that certain ones were the containers of the life-force with all its mystery… For while the human being is as different as possible from a stone, yet man’s innermost center is in a strange and special way akin to it.
In another of his books, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung talks about a stone he used as a “life-force” for a manikin he made as a child and was reminded of as an adult.
Ultimately, the manikin was a kabir, wrapped in his little cloak, hidden in the kista, and provided with a supply of life-force, the oblong black stone.
(Chapter I, First Years)
Jung also writes in the same book:
Every stone, every plant, every single thing seemed alive and indescribably marvelous. I immersed myself in nature, crawled, as it were, into the very essence of nature and away from the whole human world.
(Chapter II, School Years)
“Every stone, every plant, every single thing seemed alive,” said Jung. Immersing oneself in nature is a therapy in itself. Not just immersing but making connections. Jung continues to discuss stones in the same chapter. Not just the stones you find within nature and pick up, but even buildings:
This impression was reinforced when I became acquainted with Gothic cathedrals. But there the infinity of the cosmos, the chaos of meaning and meaninglessness, of impersonal purpose and mechanical law, were wrapped in stone. This contained and at the same time was the bottomless mystery of being, the embodiment of spirit. What I dimly felt to be my kinship with stone was the divine nature in both, in the dead and the living matter.
(Chapter II, School Years)
In the same way, enigmatic stone circles attract us, and you can immerse yourself in the fields of energy and magic when standing within them. You can go back and revisit to tune into those energies again and again.
I lived close to Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles in Wiltshire for a number of years. I preferred Avebury the largest stone circle in the world as you could freely walk among the stones, and I have only done this at Stonehenge at the Summer Solstice. If you visit Avebury off the tourist season and in the winter, there are few people milling about and you can better absorb the energies there and hold rituals or practice magic in one of the fields, being aware of the millennia the stones have taken to absorb spiritual energy. One of my favorite stones circles when I lived in Ireland was Drombeg (The Druid’s Altar) at beautiful Glandore in County Cork, another place best to visit off season. But during quieter moments sitting on the bank above the stones and meditating, absorbing the energy, is quite an experience and in such a beautiful landscape too. Stone circles hold mystery. If you are able to spend time at one in quiet contemplation, then do so as the energies accumulated over millennia are something to behold and experience.
In Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung talks of building a wall in his garden. A cornerstone was the wrong size, and a square block had been sent. The Mason was furious and told the barge men to take it back. However, when Jung saw it, he said that it was his stone, and he must have it. He was reminded of a Latin verse by the alchemist, Arnaldus de Villanova. He chiseled it into the stone.
Here stands the mean, uncomely stone,
‘Ts very cheap in price!
The more it is despised by fools,
The more loved by the wise.
(Chapter VIII, The Tower)
Being attracted to larger areas of stone like this is not unusual. You might find a stone somewhere that cannot be moved but you can visit whenever you wish. In Ireland I used a large chunk of limestone in my garden as an outside altar. It would have taken a crane to move it. Apart from a large tree stump, which I have to say was more private, this was easily the best outdoor altar I have ever had. The Burren National Park (“rocky place”) in County Clare, Ireland, a limestone plateau, is easily the most spiritual, magical, and mystical area for me and not to be missed if you get the chance to go to the area. Littered with ancient monuments it is a magnet to pagans.
By now it could be observed that I am a fan of stones. I am attracted to them, and this is probably why I also have a natural inclination towards divining runes. The phrase “Loved by the wise” quoted above I feel perfectly frames why so many of us are drawn to stones even if we have never practiced magic or are indeed a witch or a pagan.
In much the same way buildings and stone circles absorb energy over time, when we use a stone within magic for the same purpose over and over, it becomes more powerful. The constant use of it enhances the natural power already within it. Each spell we use it for adds to the divine power we originally saw in the stone. However, this is not a deliberate empowering or charging of the stone within ceremony, but a more gradual and natural process.
Stones often have healing power, and this is one of the magical qualities associated with them. But for what other purpose can we use them? That depends on the stone, where you found it, and what drew you to it and caused you to pick it up. Few of us can resist looking for interesting or pretty stones on pebbly beaches and riversides just for the way they look. But when we find our pebble, if instead of slipping it in a pocket or perhaps even then discarding it we examine our reasons for what drew us to it, we discover more. Perhaps it is a particular color say white and sparkles in the sunshine. You feel positive when you hold it, or joyful. You might associate the stone with its color meaning, perhaps purity, or you may find it calming. Each stone should be viewed for its magical qualities individually. When you have decided that the stone speaks to you in an intuitive way then take it home to use in spell work or for healing or as an amulet for protection or in a talisman for magical purposes.
However, not all stones will bring a positive feeling. Perhaps when you pick one up you see it is not what you thought. You can now do one of two things, discard it, or hang onto to it for a moment to see if any feeling comes to you. If it is neutral and you do not feel the need to keep it, then put it back. If the feeling is darker or negative, then hold it for a while. Is it a stone of warning? Is it ice cold? You could use these stones in divination. You can make a simple divination system with just nine stones. This way you can easily remember what qualities each stone has, having chosen them especially as they invoke different feelings. Cast them onto a cloth kept for the purpose and choose three without looking, or take three individual ones straight from the bag, and use them in a simple method of the first representing the past of what led up to a problem, the second the present and what is happening now, and the third the future or what is likely to happen. The three stones together will provide insight and advice in a similar way to the runes.
Hag stones, stones with a natural hole or holes through them, are more often to be found on beaches and in shallow rivers and streams and have multiple uses. Use them for protection, hang on thread to protect and ward off illness, or use with other items in charms and spells. I have heard it said over the years that you can see the future through them, and it also lets you see things you would not normally see, such as the otherworld. You can find more information on hag stones in books of signs and symbols. One of the books I use is The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols. Adele Nazadar tells us that the protection part of the stone is because the hole was formed by water running through, and magic cannot work in running water. She tells us hag stones with multiple holes, however, can be used for powerful magic. I have found hag stones with single and multiple holes through.
Overall, I do believe that stones can bring so much to your magic whether it is collecting pebbles, visiting ancient stone circles and ancient monuments, or just absorbing the energies, or appreciating the stone of buildings and what they can bring.
With stones particularly, yes, we can purely enjoy and appreciate them too, but we can also tap into the wonderful energy they emit, connect with it, and go on to use it within our magical practice with great and satisfying results.
As a hedge witch and a practitioner of magic, I feel there is so much to be gained by connecting with the natural and spiritual power of an object, especially stone.
Jung, Carl, G, (Editor) Man and His Symbols, Aldus Books, London, Reprinted 1979
Jung, Carl, G, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Vintage Books, 1989 edition
Nazadar, Adele, The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Signs and Symbols, HarperElement, London, 2008
Saille, Harmonia, Pagan Portals – Magic for Hedge Witches, Moon Books, Hants, 2022
[Harmonia Saille is a hedge witch and hedge rider of more than two decades. Retired and a crone witch, her magical practice includes nature, folk magic, divination (including the Elder Futhark runes), and connection with nature spirits. She is the author of Pagan Portals books Hedge Witch and Hedge Riding among others. She lives close to the River Severn, on the edge of the Cotswolds, UK. Her new book Magic for Hedge Witches is published by Moon Books, May 2022.]