Smooth rocks, containing naturally formed holes that run through them, have been revered throughout Europe for at least a thousand years. They are seen as powerful amulets of healing and protection, as well as being objects that lend the holder the ability to see into other worlds. They are called by many names, and each name testifies to their purpose.
In much of Scandinavia they are called Odin Stones, from the story of Odin turning into a snake and drilling a hole in the rock wall where the Holy Mead was kept, but there is also speculation that this name is a nod to the eye that Odin traded for wisdom. At childbirth, to protect the baby and heal the pain of giving new life, traditionally minded mothers will often drink ale which has passed through an Odin Stone.
In Russian the stones are “куриный бог” which translates to Chicken God or Dog God, names which invoke God ‘s warding of chickens or dogs (and their owners) above whose homes and coops these protective stones are hung.
Polish legend tells us of the Nocnica or Night Hag who likes to come at night to terrorize young folk – legends also helpfully tell us that simply hanging a Hag Stone above the bed puts an end to the smelly screeching presence.
In Britain they are known as Hag stones, Witch stones, Witch Riding stones Holy stones, Holey stones, Nightmare stones, Serpent’s eggs or Adderstanes ( as in the Welsh Glain Neidr—glain being glass or stone, neidr being adder [nadder]), Eye stones, Fairy stones and lastly Wish stones.
Because these holes are formed by water eroding through them for eons, it is reasonable that the stones retain this power of running water and can, like all moving water, repel ghosts, evil spirits and otherworldly creatures. To this end, they were (and still are in some places) placed above beds, barns, horse stalls, cow milking stalls (devils and witches were known to bewitch horses and bother cattle unless properly warded away), doorways, prows of boats, and other places which one would naturally wish to protect.
These Holy stones were hung on a ribbon singly or in magical groups (of 3, 7 or 9 typically), or simply placed by their hole on a nail in the area they were to guard. The custom of connecting the stone to a key that opens a front door or a barn door ensures that the contents of the door’s building will be protected.
Wearing one around the neck was considered just as protective.
Looking through a Holey Stone will allow the viewer a glimpse of the other world. The Fairy stone is particularly for seeing into the world of Fae, but any of the holey stones, the Eye Stones, will let you see the other side of this world if you want to. Echoes of this tradition of looking through to see beyond linger on today in the existence of funeral wreaths.
Please note, it is said that you must not ever set out to get a magical Stone– for the stone to be potent, it must find you—either by your coming upon it somewhere or by someone giving it to you. Thus the last name these holey stones carry: Wish stones. Wish for one, Numen Books readers, if you want one — it will come.