Saturday, 20 September 2014

The Grugach and the power of the stones

The Grugach from Scotland, is a kindhearted guardian of grazing animals, leading them to water and protecting them from harm. Although she is rather ugly, she is always welcomed into the crofters home. As she is always cold she likes to seek warmth at their fires but she  brings good luck with her.
Up until the 1900's inhabitants of the Scottish islands still left milk in hollow stones as offerings, in exchange they believed that she would bring good fortune to all their endeavors and look after their livestock.
Milk and oatmeal cakes used to be offered to standing stones as it was believed that the Grugach inhabited these stones. One stone called Clach-na Grugach 'Stone of the Long haired One' in Gairloch Ross shire was given daily offerings, there is another in Co Antrim Ireland called 'The Old Woman'.

  Sven Nilsson relates that in Scandinavia down to the end of the eighteenth century round  stones were smeared with butter or steeped in ale to bring luck to the house; while the Reverend S. Baring Gould tells us that in remote localities in Brittany the peasants still daub certain stones with honey, wax and oil.

(The Grugach are also known as Guagach, Grogachs, Gragon, Gunnas, The Hairy Ones, Herders and Firesitters.)

Our ancestors have always revered and worshiped stones, believing that within dwelt spirits of the earth.
Many stone structures have been built over the year, as places of worship etc. We are still unsure of the uses of  many of these sites.

The Standing Stones of Callanish, on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides:
This is one of the most impressive and the most remote stone circles, it is situated on the hill overlooking Loch Roag on the west coast of the Island.
It was erected 5,000 years ago for religious and magical ceremonies.
In the centre is a giant monolith, 5 metres high, 
underneath is which a small chambered cairn. 
Surrounding this is a circle of thirteen stones, from this central point avenues of stones radiate North, South, East and West.
From the air it resembles a giant Celtic cross, 120 metres long and 46 metres wide.
Up until the 19th Century local people still visited the stones to celebrate Beltane and Midsummer (even though the local minister forbade these gatherings) it was believed that it would not do to ‘neglect the stones’.

At the dawn of the midsummer Solstice a glowing figure walks through the northern avenue, this sight is preceded by the call of a Cuckoo.

Many people believe that this  stone circle was used to calculate the movement of the moon from one solstice to another by aligning individual stones with points on the horizon.

There are many legends associated with these stones,  one is that  they are giants turned to stone by St Kieran  for refusing to be converted to Christianity.

Madron, Penzance.
The granite Men-an- Tol or Holed Stone lies 2 ½miles  from Madron, Cornwall.
This stone was the entrance to a tomb chamber and the stone itself possesses healing powers. Young children are passed through the hole, naked, nine times; this was believed to cure scrofula, rickets and other illnesses.

The stone circle near the village of Avebury has been the site of many strange 
Small bands of Faeries have been seen dancing around the main stone circle of 
this ancient monument in the moonlight, and lights and music have been seen by
 people driving past at night.
Two wide avenues of stones lead from this site, one to the west and one to the south.
The southern avenue leads to the Sanctuary on Overton Hill, this is another ancient
 site which consists of two circles of stone. 
Hackpen Hill Barrow, Avebury.
This is a Faerie hill where a shepherd boy once became lost. The Faeries took care of 
the boy and showed him their underground halls. He stayed with them for a while
 entranced by their music before returning to the upper world and his flock of sheep.
The Devil’s Chair is a huge stone, 14 ft wide by 13 ft high, It used to be  visited  at 
Beltane by the local  girls.They would sit upon the ledge and make wishes.

St Lythan’s Cromlech, Dyffryn, near Cardiff, South Glamorgan: The field in which this 
impressive Cromlech stands is known as the Accursed Field as nothing will grow here.
The hole through the centre of the stone is where the Spirits of the dead fly through. On 
Midsummer Eve the stone on the top of the Cromlech spins around three times and a 
wish made here on Halloween will come true.

Tara, Navan, County Meath.
This is an ancient burial site famous as the capital of the high Kings of Ireland and a holy site for 
thousands of years. Originally named Temair after a Princess Tea married an Irish King.
The Princess brought with her as a gift to the high Kings the Tuatha de Danann’s legendary  Stone of Destiny , the Lia-Fail. Much spiritual power and strength dwells in this stone and it is on this that the King would sit at his coronation. If he is the rightful heir the stone roars beneath him.
It was removed from Tara by Prince Fergus and taken to Iona, from there the Scottish King Kenneth 
MacAlpine carried it off to Scone.
But that was not the end of its travels; Edward the First then had it carried to Westminster Abbey in 1296 and built into the throne used for English Coronations.
Near the centre of the main part of the site is the Fort of the Kings and on top of the high mound stands a stone which is called the Lia-Fail although this is not the original stone of the Tuatha de Dananns.


Of course the most famous stone circle is Stonehenge, this is a prehistoric monument located in Wiltshire, about 2 miles west of Amesbury and 8 miles north of Salisbury. It is the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earth works, believed to have been built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC. Stonehenge is in the middle of the most dense complex neolithic and bronze age monuments in England. Situated on a major ley line, Woodhenge, on the same line is just a few miles away.

A recent well known visitor to Stonehenge!


There are numerous theories as to why this monument was built; at the time the inhabitants of the area were predominantly herders and farmers. These people left no written records, ( if there were any at all)
An avenue connecting Stonehenge with the River Avon is aligned with the solstice; recent discoveries suggest that the winter solstice was marked at Stonehenge with ritual sacrifice. The summer and winter solstice is still celebrated at this monument by the druids, and many visitors join them each for these celebrations.

(This photo is from the website of National Geographic.)

Most of us do not have one of these amazing structures in our back garden but you can have a small token that will bring you luck.
Stones with holes in them  are known as Hag stones, Holy stones, or Faerie Stones in England, as they are considered to be lucky. Fishermen hang them from their boats to bring them a good catch and to ensure their safe return.
They are also hung on buildings to ward off evil spirits.
Hag stones placed around horses’ necks at night will ensure that they are not stolen during the night by witches or pixies.
Stones have many magical and healing powers and if one has a hole (naturally occurring!) it is especially lucky, and if you find one in running water it is doubly lucky and should be buried beneath your doorstep.

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