On the Rocks

On the Rocks

The rocks we find in our local spaces can be powerful allies in our magical and spiritual practices. Priestess Aileen shares some of her own local stone companions.


Like many of us, I’m sure, I had a tendency to take home ‘pet rocks’ from the beach as a child. At the seaside, I was – and still am – generally to be found wandering at a glacial pace, head and eyes down, scouring the shore for treasures, rather than running about on the sand. My mum was constantly finding shells, stones and sand in my pockets (and also, to her dismay, in her washing basket!). Nothing much has changed, I’m afraid – around my house there are dog-poo bags* filled with rocks and sand, and as soon as I open them I am flooded with energy and remembering (and I know exactly where they all came from!).

Some of my locally-collected rocks are particularly special and I’d like to share them with you here. I must confess from the outset – I am no geologist, I simply like a pretty rock. I do work with them intuitively and I know which stones are happy to come home with me and which must be left where they are. Here, I will tell you about some of the lovely beings I have found on my travels and the energies they share with me. You can see them numbered on the picture below – each of these normally sits on an altar but I’ve brought them together specially for this article, almost as a wheel of local stones.

Wheel of Stones

First on the list are two examples from Cerridwen’s Lake Bala and it goes without saying that, as a Priestess of Cerridwen, these are particularly special to me! Both of these were found while I was in Bala for initiation as Her Priestess at this time last year.  (See No. 1).

At special places on the shores of the lake, you can find these wonderful ‘Cerridwen’s Fingers’.  They are the most wonderful pieces – mine always feel warm and soft, somehow, to the touch, as if Cerridwen Herself is gently touching my hand and guiding me. If I need a very special connection to Her, then I work with the finger you see in the photo. I have a small quantity of finger-stones and use them in grid-work and also as wands – they are ideal for that and it really helps to remind me that Cerridwen guides and is with me in all that I do.

You will see next to the finger a very special piece – it is a Bala lake hag stone. Freshwater hag stones are particularly special; I have just three and the other two come from Loch Eck in Scotland which has many physical similarities and connections to Lake Bala.

I found this on our very first trip to Bala shores as a pre-initiatory group of Priestesses-in-hope. Hag stones are always a sign of connection with Goddess for me; I remember taking those first steps beside the Lake and looking down as usual. I was filled with pre-initiation shadows, worrying about being accepted, all of the usual insecurities. I was looking for Cerridwen’s Fingers, actually, and couldn’t find any at that point, which worried me even more. Then I saw this hag stone instead and I remember crying silently with absolute joy. It was one of a number of mini-initiatory experiences which make up the whole of that incredible, indescribable journey of becoming Her Priestess.

Next on my little wheel of local stones come two more hag stones (No.2). These come from Kintyre and are characteristic of the rocks which shape the wild shores of my ancestral lands – red sandstone and agate. The top of the two, red sandstone, is very closely connected with ancestral energy and healing of all kinds. Sandstone also helps me to cope with change. It is soft and pliable, easily shape-shifting, yet it retains a constancy of character at its core. It is a comforting and reassuring stone to work with.

The other hag stone here is a broken agate and it has three holes each leading to a central chamber within, where you can just see the mysterious translucent agate depths. This is a piece that I work with rarely, because it has a very powerful magical energy and its three routes to a hidden centre always add another dimension to any energy that I am looking to call in or work with. I also love the fact that it has a rather plain and ordinary exterior but if you look more closely you see that very mystical interior.

Just below you can see a rather pretty little slate hag stone which comes from the Isle of Luing (No. 3). The island is renowned for its ancient slate quarries and its beaches have black sand as a result. Whenever I hold this little stone, I am taken back in time to those black shores and I am reminded of the power of women working together. This little stone was naturally formed on the beach rather than in the quarries; it holds the energy of the women who tended the homes, the land and the shores, while their menfolk were deep in the quarries. If I need a reminder about personal resilience, this is the stone I reach for.

We go round the wheel to another Scottish island – this time, the magical isle of Iona. My first visit there was quite challenging; I lost one of my bags, my purse and my phone en route and ended up there for three days with very few personal items. I did, of course, have everything I needed, and the loss of my purse meant instead of spending money I spent more time on the beach finding, rather than purchasing, my own little pieces of Iona marble that you can see at No. 4.

Iona Marbles

There are countless legends about these incredible green stones – they are called many things including Druid’s or Serpent’s Tears. Their magic comes from the green serpentine which shoots and crackles through them so wonderfully and, if I sit with these for a while in contemplation, it’s not long before they carry that magical energy into the air and atmosphere around me.  Sometimes I am guilty of thinking of my everyday environment as being not magical enough – these little stones very quickly help to put me right on that score! These are often used in Kundalini practice also to awaken and stimulate that energy in the mind, body and spirit.

At No. 5 we have a ring stone, or wishing stone. This one comes from Dunoon, where I grew up.  It’s large and comforting to hold and has a number of rings which go right round it. Some people call these wishing stones and use them, of course, to make wishes when they find them. For me this stone helps me feel encircled and connected – it has a strong mothering energy and if I am ever feeling alone or disconnected then holding this for a while reminds me that I am part of a big, beautiful, loving circle which remains unbroken. Tracing the rings with my finger and saying aloud a little mantra like ‘the circle is forever unbroken’ or similar helps to reinforce that.

No. 6 is a stone that has a practical use on my altar very often – it has a little natural cauldron in it and I use this as a tiny offering vessel for Cerridwen. It will hold tiny crystal chips, herbs, other tiny stones (like the one you see in the picture) or any other small offering. It always sits in front of my Cerridwen figure and I feel very grateful to have found it on the shores of Loch Fyne close to my home.

I am sure that geologists have a proper technical name for what you see at No. 7 but I call it a ‘mother hag stone’. Again, I only have two or three of these and consider them to be very special. It is a hag stone which still contains the little ‘seed’ stone which, along with the power of the water and the air, has worked the hole through. Both the seed and the mother stone shape and form each other. These to me are incredibly special reminders that Cerridwen holds me, holds each of us, very securely. She is the magic, the gateway; the work that we do is always within Her.

I wanted to make a special mention of the two stones at No. 8, in the centre of my wheel. These are not local to me, but they are local stone gifts from two of my beloved Priestess-sisters. The large piece of white quartz has come all the way from Italy, carried by Priestess Eilan. Next to it is a beautiful little stone from the shores of a lake in the USA, gifted by Priestess Kate. Both of these were gifted at our initiation in Bala and they sit on my altar where I can see them every day. They remind me of our ongoing connection and I will work with both of them, in conjunction with my own local stones, when I particularly want to bring in the energies of our worldwide Cerridwen Kin.

My final piece, at No.9, is not a stone as such, but is again something I work with daily in a simple but powerful way. It’s a piece of broken tarmac, old road surface. Tarmac may seem solid, rough, uninspiring, but it is in fact a great example of shapeshifting and transformation! It’s undergone many changes and processes to become what it is now, and it incorporates many different ‘ingredients’. I keep it on my altar and say a simple protection spell over it every day, holding it gently in my hand and asking Cerridwen to keep my loved ones safe as they travel across the tarmac each day going about their business.

It’s well known that I absolutely love my pretty, shiny crystals, but I also couldn’t do without my lovely local stones. I’d love to know more about the treasures you find where you live.

*If, like me, many of your pockets now have holes worn through from carrying home too many rocks from the beach, then dog-poo bags are an ideal substitute. You can get compostible/sustainable ones – and you can reuse them in these circumstances!

With love and blessings, Priestess Aileen.

Aileen initiated as a Priestess of Cerridwen in October 2022, by the shores of Lake Bala. She lives on the wild west coast of Argyll in Scotland. You can find her on Instagram at @crone_in_training or on Facebook at @Sounds Fyne 

Samhain is one of the most magical times of the year. Often considered the Witch’s New Year, it’s a time to take stock, to reap the last harvest of the year and, of course, to take a look ahead at the year to come. In Pagan communities of all kinds, people will come together particularly at Samhain for celebration and ritual. What if, though, you’re not part of a like-minded community where you live? What if you’re still in the broom closet, but really want to mark this new beginning, to make the most of a magical space and time where the veils are gossamer-thin? What if you’re just starting out and you don’t have any special magical tools? This little ceremony is for you. It is simple and you need only a pen and paper. It can take as long as you wish it to, or it can take a few snatched minutes in a private space at work – what’s most important is the intent, the energy that you put into it. You can do this alone if you want, but you can also build it up into something bigger and do it with other people. We work with Cerridwen, so if I was doing this, I’d start off by saying a prayer to her. She is a Goddess who understands how it feels to be working hard without a break. She understands what it’s like to feel separate and different to the other people around you. She is a Goddess of transformation, of renewal, and Samhain is her time…when you call on her, especially when setting intentions for the year ahead, she can help. You can use your own words or if you would like, I have included the kind of words we might typically use if we were starting out on a ritual with Cerridwen. Welcome Cerridwen, Mistress of Magic and Mystery. You are at the centre of all that we do. We ask you please to bring your healing to this space. To let your magic flow all around us, and work its wonderful transformation and renewal that is so needed in a world that hurries and pushes. Lady, please bring to us the creativity and regeneration that comes from spending time with you. We stand before you, still and quiet, as all of that wonderful power ebbs and flows around us, ready to restore and renew. We breathe your magic in. Hail and Welcome, Cerridwen, Mistress of Magic and Mystery. We bring all of that energy to our centre now, with gratitude. Blessed be. We can draw on these energies, from the Goddess, not only here today but when we leave this space, when we return to daily life and go about our business. Remember that all of this magic has been called in for you, today. We are now going to ground and centre - when the world pulls at us and makes its demands, it can be easy to forget just where we truly are. And where we are, at all times, is connected to the earth itself, and to the skies above. We have both roots and wings, and we will take just a few moments to remind ourselves now. If you can, close your eyes, but if that’s not possible, then please simply relax and listen, again. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself to breathe gently, slowly, naturally. As you give yourself that gift of deep, nourishing breath, notice how you start to feel more relaxed, calmer and more at peace with yourself. Feel where you are connected to the earth - through the soles of your feet, where you sit, where you place your hands. Feel strong roots of connection growing through your feet and reaching down, down to the very heart of the earth, where there is warmth and the love of Mother Earth herself. Feel that warmth and love travelling all the way back up through your roots right into your body and up into your heart, that wonderful direct connection with Mother Earth. Feel a thread of energy travelling up now, up through your body and through the crown of your head, reaching all the way to the stars where it wraps around and connects with one bright, shining star. Feel the lightness and wonder and magic that comes to you, right from the star, as its loving energy travels down that thread and back to your heart. You are beautifully, wonderfully connected to the earth and the stars, right here, right now, and at all times that you take a moment to ground and centre yourself, to give yourself this gift of reconnection, in this way. Bring your focus back to your breathing, slow and gentle. Wiggle your toes and come back to the place where you’re sitting. But know that you come back with all the power of that grounding and centring, that connection, along with the wonderful Goddess-energies that we called in earlier. Now it is time to do some work! With the help of Cerridwen, we are going to think about some of the things that may have held us back over the past year. The things which have not yielded any fruit or useful harvest for us. The things we want to let go, as we move into a new time, a new year… Cerridwen is known for her mighty cauldron - the cauldron that brewed the Awen, the magical inspiration for so much creativity that exists in the world today. Her cauldron is also one of transformation and release, magical alchemy working with us to identify things that no longer serve us and help us change them into more helpful patterns. Today we are going to put into the cauldron some of those things! Take your paper and pen, and take a few minutes to write down five or six of the things that you would like to let go of. These could be things like anxiety, procrastination, fear… or anything else at all that you can see isn’t serving you, or your highest good. Take as much time as you need and, when you’re done, take a look at your list for a moment. Now - for the next few minutes, make a new list on another piece of paper. This list is all of the things that will help you overcome and work towards transforming those challenges. Perhaps it is courage, or boldness that you need…or something else altogether. But please take time to write these down. Now you have two lists - well done for taking this time to focus on yourself , for taking stock and for thinking about the positive things you would like to bring into the year ahead! Look at your first list - the list of challenges and difficulties. We are now going to put those into Cerridwen’s Cauldron – metaphorically speaking… Look at the first item on your list - take your pen and very carefully, deliberately, score it out. (If you have a felt pen like a Sharpie, that would be ideal!). Score over that word until it is no longer visible. It is going into the cauldron to be transformed. Now, do the same for each item on your list. Score them out, with each stroke of your pen think of these challenges becoming less and less... With each stroke of your pen, imagine that these challenges are being burnt away, in a cauldron, going through the transformative, cleansing, renewing, bright energy that Fire brings, to help you move these on. Now, please turn to your second list - the list that will help you to overcome those challenges. Take a look at each of the things you have written down - take time to speak them to your heart and soul, you do not need to do this out loud right now but please do so when you can. Look at each word you have written down. What do you need to do to make them reality? Give these written words value and importance - draw around them, a circle, a heart, any pictures that might help you to bring them to reality. Make them beautiful, for they are beautiful things, and they can be good and helpful companions to you as you set out on this new, fresh time in your life. Keep your list and add it to a journal if you have one, or keep it somewhere safe where you can look at it and be reminded of this time you took for yourself today. Look at it again - add to it if you want, drawing on the energies we have brought to this space today, remembering how peaceful and inspired you felt. These are qualities that we want to keep, we are not throwing them to the fire, but we will ask Cerridwen to bless them. I have added the kind of words that we would use, but you can use your own too. Cerridwen, we have given to your fire those things which no longer serve us. And, inspired by you and supported by your energy, we have set out the things which will help us, which we will work towards, to support us in future times of challenge and to help us grow in joy and vitality. Lady, please consume in your fire that list of challenges. And Lady, please bless the work that we will do to grow and thrive. Blessed be. We hope that this short ceremony helps to restore you and provides inspiration and support to draw upon in the days to come. We can never completely avoid busyness but we can take time out for ourselves so we can cope with it. Thank you for taking that time for you today. As you return to your day and the days to come, I hope you can keep the peace and nourishment of this sacred space and time in your heart. Aileen, Priestess of Cerridwen Argyll, Scotland Instagram @crone_in_training




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