Hagstone in the collection of the Clitheroe Castle Museum
Wikimedia Commons

Hagstones, also known as adder stones or witch stones, are pebbles pierced by a naturally occurring hole.[1] They are believed by some to be a protection against witchcraft, and an effective treatment for diseases caused by spellsVerbal charm to be spoken or chanted, sometimes a single magic word such as Abracadabra or the Renervate encountered in the fictional Harry Potter series of books. or the evil eye, and in particular hag-riding, a phenomenon now known as sleep paralysisDemon in male form that seeks to have sexual intercourse with a sleeping woman..[2] Some believed that a hagstone only became effective once a cord had been threaded through the hole to hang it by.[3]

The occultist Aleister Crowley, dubbed “the wickedest man in the world” following the publication of his book Diary of a Drug Fiend in 1922,[4] spent his final years in the seaside town of Hastings.[5] He is alleged to have cursed the town’s inhabitants, compelling any who left it to return. The only means of a lasting escape was to always carry a hagstone taken from the beach at Hastings.[6]