Fairy Stones 20-31

WhiteFairyThere are few places on earth where these mystical stones are found, and it looks like the fairy realm may be responsible. I’ve got some of these little stones that look like they’ve been carefully carved into crosses. The question is who carved them? Fairies or humans? Let’s see what we can make of this cryptozoological oddity.

When I was a little girl my family went camping in Virginia. We were on a guided nature tour, given by a national park ranger when he mentioned the fairy stones. I was transfixed as any little girl would be.

We were in Fairy Stone State Park, the largest of Virginia’s six state parks. It’s located in Stuart, VA in Patrick county.

FairyStones08It’s a beautiful place and I could just imagine the little fairies working diligently carving their stones and leaving them in places for us to find, like a real treasure hunt.

As an adult, I wondered what the stones really were, holding out hope, of course, that they may have really come from the fairy realm.  Let’s see what folklore says about them.

Legends

There are two legends describing the origin of the fairy stones. The first comes to us from the Cherokee Indian people. An old tribesman told the tribe’s youngsters that he believed the fairy stones were more precious than gold because the ancestors would hold a very special ceremony during the Spring Equinox where the fairy stones played the lead role.

FairyStones07During that special time, many tribes would meet to socialize and trade while waiting for the big event come evening – that’s when the magic began to happen. People would bring their own fairy crosses to the ceremony where they would watch some tribesmen unearth a soap rock (steatite) vault containing a treasure of fairy stones. They built a fire at sunset then put all the unearthed fairy stones into the fire.

The fairy stones would heat up and begin to glow. Then they would be carried up to a ceremonial mound or rock and carefully placed there. The stones would continue to glow for hours. The Cherokee believed this ceremony would assure them all safe passage, enough summer rain for their crops, and a great harvest in the fall.

Because of this ceremony, the people believed the stones would bring them good luck.

FairyStones04An older story dating back hundreds of years before Chief Powhatan’s reign goes like this. The fairies were cavorting around a beautiful spring with their friends the naiads and wood nymphs. Suddenly an elfin messenger arrived with news of his travels. He told them about the death of Christ.

The tender hearted fairies wept at this news and their tears fell onto the rocks beneath them forming crosses. Such was their grief that the area was littered with these marvelous little stones that are still abundant even to this day.

Science Says

The folklore about the stones is enchanting, but I had to see what science would say about these wonderful little creations.

Science says they are staurolite crystals that are found in only a few places around the world. Besides Virginia, which has the most abundant amount of them, they can be found in Georgia, New Mexico, Brazil, and Switzerland.

FairyStones05Geologists tell us these special crystals were formed by very specific geothermal processes. In an article for the DailyPress.com, a park interpreter at the Fairy Stones State Park, Susan Traxel, explained, “Originally, this stuff was formed about seven miles underground.  As the mountains began to rise up, it brought the fairy stones to the surface.” She’s referring to the Blue Ridge mountains that run along Virginia’s western border.

The crystals form into little tiny “bricks” that, under pressure, twist in 60 degree or 90 degree angles, forming crosses. Technically, geologists describe it like this (in an article for Geology.com),  “The mineral commonly occurs as twinned, six-sided crystals that sometimes intersect at 90 degrees to form a cross. (An intersection angle of 60 degrees is more common.)”

Once above ground the action of wind and rain dissolved the softer surrounding stone called schist to reveal the precious cross-shaped minerals within.

FairyStones03The crosses come in three varieties – the Roman Cross, the St. Andrew’s cross, and the Maltese cross (photo, left.) The most rare fairy stone is the Maltese cross shape.

The fairy stones come in five colors said to represent the whole human race: red, white, yellow, light brown, and black. Sometimes garnets are attached to the stones with the staurolite crystals.

Dashed Hopes

I would rather believe that fairies carved these cute little novelty stones, but alas, it seems like science has provided the answer. But isn’t the answer a bit magical? I mean these shapes were formed 7 miles below the earth thanks to a certain amount of pressure provided by the volcanic processes, then eventually forced to the surface and slowly revealed over time by the action of wind and rain. The fact that they come in three tantalizing shapes, shapes that are significant to a major portion of the world’s population is kind of mystifying.  Even the colors are meaningful.

JanFairyMaybe I’m grasping at straws to alleviate my childhood disappointment that fairies weren’t involved.  I don’t care. I still think they’re incredible.

And I’m still hoping fairies do exist.

So what do you think about all this?

References

http://articles.dailypress.com/2000-09-05/news/0009050002_1_stones-crosses-service-station

http://geology.com/minerals/staurolite.shtml

http://www.gemfoundation.com/FStoneStory.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soapstone

 

 

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