Good Afternoon My Magickal Reader,
Many people these days use or have heard of the use of stones, crystals and minerals for magickal, ritual, or spiritual even healing properties. Yet most people are not aware that the human use of stones go back thousands of years, even more than a million of years.
We know that the first humanoid species used stones to create tools, such as some stones struck against others creating sharp edges which could be used as cutting edges, and the creation of other tools, thus the human creative era called the stone age. But, these stone tools were made and used in practical, necessary, functional manners.
One of the earliest ritual or magickal uses of stone I can find in my research is the use of red ochre, which is a form of hematite and was found to have been used by Paleolithic man (Old Stone Age) when preparing the bodies of their dead before burial. They did bury their dead or entomb them deep in caves, but before doing so, they pulverized the red ochre into a powder and when mixed with water, created a paint which resembled blood and they painted the bodies before placing them back into the body of the Great Mother earth.
We see the creation of Stonehenge in Western Great Britain which dates from the Neolithic period, (New Stone Age) as another example of a ritualistic, magickal or spiritual use of stones. There are thousands of stone circles still in existence all over Europe to this day as well as cairns. Cairns are piles or mounds of stones which seem to have their origin in ancient Scotland, and cairn is an old Gaelic term which means heap or mound of stones. They first originated as a grave marker for people who had been buried, as a common way to keep wild animals from digging up the corpse to attempt to consume it.
Cairns were later used as border markers for properties but rather than simple stone walls which would have sufficed, the mounds, or cairns, were placed at compass points or intersecting spots along the property lines. Some legends hold that people would place protective items under the stone cairns like an item of silver, a shoe, a witch bottle, or something from a local specialized tradition or legend and lore which was supposed to bring protection or to prevent some harm like lightening or a tree from falling on the property and causing disaster.
Another very ancient magickal, ritualistic use of stones is the Jewish tradition of placing stones on the gravestone of a deceased loved one. My research turned up an ancient legend which interestingly shows that the actual origin of the gravestone or headstone we see today in a cemetery was started by this tradition.
As the legend goes, a Jewish man broke the Sabbath by trying to solve a crime where he placed a note. Later, he felt guilty for breaking the Sabbath, though it was necessary, and decided his punishment should be his grave should be 'stoned' after his death. So, the tradition of placing stones on a grave became popular.
Thus the tradition of Jewish people placing stones at the head of a grave in honor and remembrance of their loved one became a tradition. After a time, the pile or mound of stones at the head of a grave was eventually morphed into the headstone or gravestone we are familiar with today. And Jews today still will place small stones on top of the headstone in this tradition. This dates to Biblical times or even before and of course is a legend and as such is difficult to prove and must be looked at as myth as much of the earliest legends. I present it as yet another ritual way of how stones were used by a culture thousands of years ago and are still used in a similar way today.
There are other legends surrounding stones and graves where legend says that people would place heavy stones over the graves to prevent the spirits of the dead from rising and walking in spirit form among the living.
It is a legend that ancient Roman soldiers would carry Tiger's Eye stone, some carved with certain symbols, into battle with them to provide protection for them.
In ancient times, the stone we know today as Peridot along with other stones were known as Topaz. These stones were kept in the home to prevent fire and accidents from happening in the home.
Any stone you find that has a hole in it, not man made but caused by natural means is called a Hag stone and is considered extremely lucky and magickal to have in your possession. Hag stones like many magickal, superstitious items from the distant past have a dual legendary purpose to both keep witches away and to ward against witchcraft as well as to be used by witches and aid a witch with her work.
It simply depends on the viewpoint of the person using it and their beliefs. Hag stones could have been used to look through into other worlds, as a divination device, a portal into the faerie world. It was reputed to prevent nightmares, ward off curses, sickness, the evil eye and to allow the possessor to really "see" another person without magickal glamour surrounding them.
Also throughout history we have heard the legends of the sorceresses using their natural crystal balls, within which they were able to see the future for their client most notably a King or Queen, and semi precious stones have been treasured and considered as valuable as money, if not more so, than gold in just about all ancient cultures from the ancient Egyptians to the Incas to the Asians, from all corners of the world.
Some cultures would powder the semi precious stones and use them as cosmetics, some would ingest them, some would use them in magickal potions, on ritual altars, on ritual tools and religious artifacts and relics. Everything from sarcophagi to tombs to temples to inner chambers of the Pyramids would be encrusted with stones, crystals and minerals mined from the inner earth.
We have decorated crowns and diadems of royalty, to tipping scepters to weighing down necklaces, bracelets, torques, and rings of ancient rulers and people of power and importance. Emperors, Kings, Popes, and the very wealthy have always had stones of some significance, some of special importance, some of superstition, some of supposed curses or good luck.
Silver and Gold representing for millennium, the Goddess and God, to Amethysts, Malachite, Carnelian, Hematite, Jade, Quartz Crystal, Citrine, Blood stone, Tiger's Eye, Rose Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, Pyrite, Jaspers and hundreds of other stones found all around the world. Some were easily picked up off of the ground to some being mined from deep within the earth. Some were cracked open within geodes, to those being found growing inside of caves, have always enchanted and awestruck humans with their beauty and seemingly mystical, magickal and possible potential to make magickal change for the person who held the precious stone within their grasp.
Where we have the Blarney Stone in Ireland where people need to hang upside down to try to kiss it to attain a semblance of good luck, and hundreds do so every year willingly, we can also see the magnificent Hope diamond that has been owned by the richest and most famous of celebrities and has brought nothing but death, sadness and tragedy, but hundreds flock to view it in a museum yearly to dream and wonder.
Stones have been held in special regard by the earliest humans. Perhaps because by their very nature, stones are permanent and never die, never waste away, never biodegrade. You can pick up a simple stone and be holding a piece of earth that is a million of years old. I believe some people take comfort in the stability and longevity that they find and feel in holding a stone. I feel humans have felt this way for millenia. Perhaps we always will. For even after we have passed away and have turned to dust, stones will remain. Steadfast and shining in their beauty.
Live, Laugh and always Love, Ms. Faith
© 2010-2017 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.
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