Stones and Stone Circles

Stones and Stone Circles

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

In addition to Stonehenge, many more standing stones and circles of stone are scattered around Europe, with several hundred in Britain alone. The Rollright Stones, in Oxfordshire, three miles northwest of Chipping Norton, according to local legend were originally an invading Danish king and his army. The invaders were turned to stone by a local witch who, in turn, changed herself into an elder tree. At Le Menec, on the southern coast of Brittany, there is a great ring of seventy large stones, nearly 300 feet in diameter. To the east of the ring start eleven lines of standing stones, with a total of 1,099 megaliths. Nine Stones is a small elliptical setting of stones in Dorset, with three circles in nearby Knowlton. Arbor Low is a stone circle in Derbyshire, and Castle Rigg another found in Cumberland. In Pendleton Forest, in Lancashire, are the Hoar Stones, which were frequented by the Lancashire witches in the seventeenth century.

Henges are an exclusively British monumental form. The exact origins and rai- son d'être of these sites are unknown. They likely go back to pagan origins but their connection, if any, with the Old Religion is for the most part unclear, although many such sites have been frequented by Witches in the past and today. Many of these sites certainly involve reverence for the earth and for the goddess of fertility, known by such names as Macha, Danu/Anu, and Brigit/Bride.

It has been suggested that many of the standing stones are in fact energy points, where energy may be stored, concentrated, and amplified. The "White Stone" at Cregg, in County Londonderry, is a magnificent quartz standing stone that is six feet tall. Several other such standing stones are also of quartz and many are found on ley lines. "Leys" (pronounced "lays") is the term used to indicate ancient straight lines that connect natural points of power in the earth. Many believe that the leys indicate the course of subtle earth energies. Where two or more leys cross is a power point that has, in the past, naturally drawn people to assemble or build structures such as standing stones, barrows, temples, and churches.

Many standing stones are regarded as representations of the male generative organ. There are also large standing stones with holes through them, representing the female principle. Women have crawled through one such stone, in Cornwall, England, for generations, believing that by so doing they will become fertile. Sick people also would pass through such stones, believing that there was a curative power present. Many Witches will wear a small stone with a natural hole through it, on a cord around their neck, as a symbol for the fertility goddess.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
And the only things we have got from that period are standing stones and stone circles and cromlechs.
But whatever their purpose, Scotland's mysterious standing stones and stone circles are awe inspiring reminders of our past.