Stone as a Symbol and a Cult

The Stone Table
The Stone Table

As many other people who lived and prospered long time before Christ, take as example Anglo-Saxons’ Stonehenge, Peruvian Machu Picchu or Egyptian Sphinx, Slavs also had a very strong stone cult. For them, stone was not just a tool to use or a material to build sculptures; it was an object that had very strong connection with their souls. Slavs believed that stones have special ability to be dead and alive and powers to change the course of their destinies.

The first stone was created in the sky by Gods and brought to Earth to help people in the moments of need. That myth was very important for people who lived in the period when most of the time the only protection of illness was luck and strong immune system. The stone myth gave them a feeling of protection and connection to supreme beings. Slavs believed that soul is a dynamic force which can, if necessary, separate itself from the body and dive into some other object. It was always believed that stones are particularly suitable for such souls because they are hard, steady and long lasting. By possessing a stone, soul is materialized and immortalized at the same time.

Interestingly, Christianity never managed to suppress Slavic myths. In order to be introduced into lives of Slavs, the priests were obliged to adapt and replace Christian motives and dates with the ones which belonged to Slavic mythology. In many nations until the late 19th century, and with some small populations even today, people believed in spirits who lived and acted from certain types of stones.

Stones, both ordinary and specific types, are very often used for different kind of magical rituals. In order to have “magical powers” a stone must be rough, natural, which gives it the magical potential. Size can vary according to its purpose. It can be “stanac”, a big lonely stone in nature, “hrpa”, a pile of stones and astone with a hole in it, which was of essential importance for certain rituals.

“Stanac” stone, which means the one that can make events stop happening, was the stone that was often considered alpha and omega in the world of stone mythology. If people wanted to stop some indecent behavior in a person, they would tie the person to the “stanac” stone and the stone would sponge all the negativity. That was done to people whose behavior was inappropriate, like alcoholics, irresponsible people, people who cause some violence and many others. Also, if a family had a problem with dying children who were not able to live up to their adulthood, a religiously “healthy woman” would stand barefooted on the stone and breastfeed the last living baby and so activate the strength of the stone. By doing this, children would stop dying and family would prosper. In order for this ritual to be performed properly, the “mediator” must be this religiously healthy woman. That means that she should not be in any way related to the family, must have both parents alive and be generally in good health. So, if a child or an adult person, or even animal, would get ill, they would be brought to the “stanac” stone and surrendered to the rituals of the “medium” person.

If a person dreamed deceased member of the family or someone from immediate surroundings who had passed away, the best medicine was considered to glue a candle to the “stanac” stone and light it. That way, allegedly, soul of the deceased person would stay forever in the stone and it would not be able to follow the person who was having nightmares back to his or her house.

“Stanac” is also considered to be a representative of God on Earth so it could hear prays and make wishes come true. This type of stone was believed to be very powerful so if a person standing on it would hit an arrow, the arrow would inevitably kill the aimed person. This stone could also make things start happening. If a lactating mother did not have enough milk to feed her baby, she would come to this stone, perform certain ritual and the stone would project its energy and make the milk flow.

A stone as a soul bearer and dynamic force can be used in many different situations. According to the myth, a woman who has certain problems with conceiving a child can find a solution for her problem if she refers to the white stone” for help. Using the “white stone” she needs to perform a ritual which would make her more fertile and blessed. So, if she takes the white stone” and baths it and then rocks it in s cradle she would give birth to a child from the stone. It was believed that this was a ritual performed by Angles who were sent by God to correct injustice on Earth.

On the other hand, according to some ethnologists, “a stone with a hole” was considered to possess fertile effect and female cosmic principle. So, anything that was meant to multiply, spread, enhance was ritually performed using “a stone with a hole“. If somebody wanted more money, they would pull money through the hole. If they had headache, or any other body part aches they did the same. To use its fertile powers, people pull through the stone little animals, or some objects connected to the animals, so they would give more milk, wool, meat, cubs. If the first stream of cow or sheep milk would be squeezed through this kind of stone, that cow or sheep would give more milk. Also, if this stone was placed on a fruit tree branch, that tree would give much more fruit.

There is a ritual performed with a rough stone. At the very beginning of the spring, a person would get up before sun, take a big, rough stone, stand on their right leg and throw the stone as far as possible with their eyes and ears shut. It was believed that at the distance the stone would fall, snakes would also stop and so the person who performs this ritual would be protected from them.

Although today we know this kind of rituals did not have any impact on solving these problems, people strongly believed in the dynamic power that was hidden in stones. Since stones could have both positive, revitalizing and cold, fatal influence, they were highly respected, especially those special types which were used for performing home and health protecting rituals.