Amulet Stones

I’m a hopeless case when it comes to stone collecting. I can spend hours walking on a beach with my head down, scanning the shore in search of tiny treasures. I don’t have any certain preference, though of course amber and fossils are the most desired. Wherever I went I’ve always brought at least one tiny pebble home. I treat them as souvenirs; but now as I’m trying to scale down my habits, I see it as a small act of vandalism. Therefore I try not to interfere anymore and leave the site in a better shape than it was before. I decided to collect photos instead. Still I’ve managed to gather quite a collection in my Swedish home on the course of the last three years. It turns out some of my findings have actually many interesting properties and lore behind them. They taught me a lot so to speak.

Hag Stones (aka Witches’ Stones, Odin’s Stones, Seeing Stones, Chicken Gods) are stones with natural occurring holes. Usually they can be found near the water. They are perceived as powerful amulets of healing and protection. If you look through the hole you can glimpse into the Otherworld. For the stone to work, you have to find it by yourself or receive it out of love. Bought or given in a careless way, they became powerless.

In Scandinavian lore they were associated with Odin. Either with the myth when Odin turned into a snake and drilled through the mountain to reach the Holy Mead; or when he traded his eye for wisdom. Odin’s Stones were often used to bless marriages and to perform marital vows. In another old ritual beer poured through the hole and given to women in childbirth relieved their suffering and facilitated a happy birth.

In Slavic lore Hag Stones, in Polish known as wiedźmi kamień, had the power to protect both humans and animals from evil powers and witches. They were often hung around the neck (then referred to as nawęzy) or attached to keys, or even nailed to the doors of houses and stables to prevent cattle from harassment. Many different diseases could be treated with holed stones. They were placed under the bed to get rid of rheumatism and cramps or put on the stomach to ease stomach pain. The stones were also hung above the bed for protection against nightmares and attack of the suffocating demon (Nocnica) during the sleep paralysis (as we like to explain this phenomena today).

In central and northern Russia any stone with a hole was considered a home of the spirit called Kurinyi Bog (Chicken God) that fell from the sky. Stones were placed into farmyards and coops to counteract the possible harmful effects of various demons (usually Kikimoras) or diseases.

Perun’s Arrow (Perunowa Strzałka), or a Lightning Stone, was associated with a Slavic god of lightning Perun. Common folk believed those were coming down from heaven, cast by Perun. Stones of such unusual origin must had also remarkable properties. Therefore they were considered a symbol of fertility, luck, prosperity and widely used in folk medicine for various ailments. One who found such artifact experienced happiness and wealth for the rest of their lives.

Perun’s Arrows accompanied people in rituals, magical practice, or simply in everyday life. They were laid at the threshold of a newly built dwelling, hanged under roofs, placed in cradles and kept in pockets during bread making. When a storm approached, such stone was taken, turned three times as the appropriate spells were whispered, and thrown at the door. Most importantly it protected against evil forces.

Of course depending on the region people approached them differently. Sometimes they were called “God’s Arrows” and “Fingers of Jesus”, but also referred to as “Devil’s Nails”.

Lightning Stone has also been attributed to many healing properties. It was rubbed against a diseased place, or grounded and given to the sick to drink with water, vodka or milk. Women during childbirth placed them under their knees to ease pain. It supposedly treated following ailments: headache, stomachache, eye diseases (both in humans and animals), wounds and ulcers, fever, bone fractures, bleeding, warts, toothache, and, of course, curses and milk loss within dairy cows.

There was also, and still is, a common misconception that Perun’s Arrow is formed from sand and gravel, melted as a result of a lightning strike. In fact it is a fossil, a belemnite.

As for the other stones visible in the header photo – they’re not any less interesting. The green ones are serpentinite stones I brought from Radunia Mountain, The Lunar Sanctuary, in Southern Poland. There is also a flint shard that resembles a neolithic arrow and weird flat stone with cup marks.


Skåne is my favorite place to be. One might think that the landscape is mostly a farmland sparsely dotted with Bronze Age burial mounds. But there are plenty of places I know about that are simply out of this world. And since I enjoy a good walk in the forest and all things peculiar, the Trollskogen might be my most cherished one.

Trollskogen is a part of Prästaskogen Nature Reserve, a dense beech forest, which is a stone throw from Dalby National Park. Now what makes this place so special since beech is quite popular in the region? Well, the only kind of tree growing here is the dwarf beech (vresbok in Swedish), a rare cultivar of European Beech. There are only about 1500 trees in Europe of that kind. The area of this unique forest it’s not really that big. It’s more of a thicket. The trees are surrounded by an old, mossy stone fence – just like a garden or a sanctuary. They bend, stretch and curl in the most imaginative ways. They also much older and shorter than those growing outside of enclosure. You can see the common beeches peeking in the back – growing straight and tall, just regular Joes of a woodland society.

According to local folk tales, the trees have been twisted by trolls. Another, more believable, story says that this area was a sacred tree sanctuary in the past. But tainted with a case of brutal witch execution.

Two years ago this place made quite an impression on me. When I entered the area I’ve immersed myself in another world. Crowns so thick and entwined that very little light got down to the ground. I couldn’t even hear the birds or feel the air moving. Nothing, just calm silence. As if time has stopped. I could really feel the presence of something otherworldly. Every here and there I’ve stumbled upon witch huts made out of fallen twigs, and that certainly added to the eerie atmosphere.

Today the forest gave me a completely different feeling. Some of the trees are slowly dying, the forest doesn’t seem so dense and isolated anymore. The weird vibe is gone, birds are singing and chirping loudly. Old witch huts have fallen apart, replaced by new ones that don’t really make sense or hold any particular shape. It’s been just two years. It’s like revisiting a childhood place that is changed now, while the old version of it is still vivid in my mind. The forest still looks enchanted, but maybe it’s just me who has changed.

You can find more photos from this location in my Flickr album.


Alesmark C., Järnefelt P. (2017) Gåtfulla Skåne: en guide till mytomspunna platser. Estland: Roos & Tegnér.

Blå Jungfrun

Blå Jungfrun plays an important role in Swedish folklore, as for centuries it’s been connected to witchcraft, devil worship and is said to be a home to female supernatural beings.

The Blue Maiden is a small, granite island rising 86 meters above the waters of Baltic Sea. It is situated in the Kalmar Strait between Småland and Öland. Bio-diverse and truly unique, it’s been a national park since 1926.

The island also goes by another cursed name – Blåkulla. In the past, those who were sailing close to its shores, avoided using the cursed name when referring to the island. They believed that storms would brew up immediately if they used it. Due to this the island became known as Blå Jungfrun instead.

As the island is uninhibited (at least by the regular mortals) and there’s no sweet water or electricity present, visiting is limited to short, day visits only during summertime. Visitors can’t stay overnight either, besides one or two organised trips per year.

Blå Jungfrun is viewed as an evil and magical place full of supernatural powers. According to popular belief witches gather here every Ostara (a pagan beginning of the year) to worship devil himself. This is a part of the tradition among the local folk. In Oskarshamn, the closest town, around Easter time you can even see the signs to watch out for low flying witches ; )

Archaeological excavations done in 2014 brought evidence that the island was used for ritual purposes for the last 9,000 years. People who traveled to the island might have practiced various rituals inside the two caves. First one could serve as an altar where offerings could have been made to deities. While another cave has an area that could have been used like a theater or stage.

But with no doubt Blå Jungfrun’s magical power relates to the Trojeborg Stenlabyrinten, an ancient stone labyrinth, that lies on the southern side of the island.

According to the locals, anyone who removes the stones from this labyrinth will be cursed with a lifetime of bad luck until they will bring them back. Obviously the stones are illegal to take from the island because of its national park status. But apparently there’s a lot of truth behind this superstition. And let me tell you – it IS a thing among the locals.

In fact the town of Oskarshamn yearly receives stolen stones from former Blå Jungfrun visitors, often along with letters describing misfortunes and disasters that happened to them after removing the stones. In 2004 over 160 such stones were publicly brought back to the island on a ferry from Oskarshamn.

You can see more photos from this location in my Flickr album.