Feature Image © Martin Podt


I sat on the borderland between two worlds: In front of me was the ocean, mist-cloudy and tumultuous; behind me was the lush, old-growth Oregon forest, dripping with moss and shouting out its throbbingly vibrant green. A little cold and a little wet, I balanced precariously on a fallen tree next to a freshwater stream that wound past fern and fairy dell, evergreens and mossy stones, to tumble into the ocean a few yards from my feet. I knew I was in a place of magic: The fairies love liminal spaces like bridges, borders, and crossroads. And I was here because of my own crossroads: During a year of great upheaval, I chose to return to a place I hadn’t been for eighteen years but that felt like home. I wanted to ask the universe, ask magic, what I should do, where I was supposed to go from here. I wanted answers.

After a while, when my backside was starting to get sore from my awkward perch on the tree, I stumbled to my feet again, awash with the tranquility that can come only from
spending quiet time in nature, listening to the still, small, magic voice that speaks in solitude. Despite still having so many questions, I was grateful that I could be in such a beautiful place, where I could feel the presence of wonder all around me.

Quietly I asked the fairies to please help guide me to a seeing stone. I didn’t want much, I explained. Just one seeing stone, and I would be so thankful. I pictured to myself a small stone the size of a silver dollar with a hole in its side—something I could string on a chain and wear around my neck as a reminder of the magic I felt on this day. This was what I pictured in my mind, but when I spoke out loud, I simply asked for one seeing stone.

Seeing stones, or hag stones, are rocks through which a hole has been worn by some natural means. They are especially prevalent near running water, where one rock might grind against another over time. In fairy lore, seeing stones are a way to peer into the Realm of Faerie. Just look through the hole, and you may be able to see what is normally hidden from view.

After about a half hour of searching, leaping from rock to rock along the path of the stream, I still hadn’t found anything. And then, I did. Looking at my feet, I saw a rock the size of a hardcover novel, rounded at the top and narrow at the bottom like a planchette, with a hole right at the top … about the size of a dime. This rock must have weighed at least fifteen pounds, and it would have been a struggle to fit it in my luggage for the plane ride home, let alone to wear it strung delicately around my neck.

The moment I saw the rock, I burst into a fit of laughter. How could you not? The fairies had played a trick on me, giving me exactly what I had asked for—but not what I had been silently picturing. “Very funny,” I muttered, still chuckling. “Now let’s find me a real seeing stone.”

© Guinevere von Sneeden
© Guinevere von Sneeden

I must have cut quite a bizarre figure to the local surfers who walked along the beach that day: I was dressed in a white hooded sweater and a long white skirt as I walked along the rocky shore staring at the stones by my feet, muttering and crouching down occasionally to pull bits and pieces from the earth. But after an hour further of perseverant scouring, I found no more seeing stones.

I was walking in the perfect place to find them, but they were all hidden. I could almost picture small sprites pushing each holed stone under the top layer of pebbles, shaking a fist at me like the small goblins offended at Sarah’s lipstick marks in the movie Labyrinth.

A little disappointed, I gathered my bag and belongings from where I had left them and walked back up the forest trail to my rental car, leaving the fairy planchette stone behind as a reminder to the next person: When you make a wish to the fairies, be very specific about what you want, because you just might get it.

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