Stones, rocks and minerals are a great source of power, but most of the information available about them is new age nonsense. There is a great deal of evidence in folklore for the use of stones and minerals in magic, here is how I work with them in my own practice.
1. Don’t buy stones if you can help it. Find them. Riverbeds are a good place to start, abandoned quarries, the seaside, mountains. Contact your local rock hunting club for good locations to search. Pick up stones from sacred sites (with permission and common sense, don’t go chipping off chunks of Stonehenge obviously), local spirits will often give you stones by putting them in unexpected places, treasure them and leave something in return.
2. Use them raw. Stones don’t need to be polished to show their beauty, they don’t need to be cut or set in silver. Their raw texture, still dusted with the earth of their birthplace is powerful. If you want smooth stones, use those polished by the sea or the river.
3. Appreciate common stones as well as rare. Common stones are versatile, there’s a lot that can be done with a chunk of white quartz, which is not a hard stone to find. Coal is used in a lot of old spells. Slate is brilliant stuff for drawing sigils on. Chalk is terribly useful, as is red ochre. The geological name of a stone is less important than its shape, colour, features and origins.
4. Inherited stones also have unique powers. Your grandmother’s emerald engagement ring, the stone your great uncle carried in his pocket for good luck. They absorb power and build up a relationship to your family. My best working stone is a chunk of raw amethyst my Grandfather found in the desert which then sat on his mantelpiece for years, watching.
5. Research is not easy. Most books about the magical properties of stones and crystals are rubbish. Throw out anything that mentions atlantis to start with. Instead read folklore, read old grimoires, learn how stones were used by Scottish seers and renaissance astrologers, learn which stones were valued by the native peoples of your area, study the uses of hagstones and various fossils. The lore is out there, it’s just scattered. Check your sources.
6. Minerals are more than just stones and crystals conveniently sized to fit in a pocket or charm bag. They include rocks the size of houses and sand as fine as dust. Dust and dirt is particularly useful as an ingredient in natural magic. Graveyard dust, footprint dust, red sand, white sand, black sand. Become aware of and work with the entire mineral kingdom and you will gain insights and a relationship to the land that goes down to the bedrock.
7. Use stones as tools, not ingredients. While small fragments of minerals and sands can be added to charm bags and the like, most magical stones are tools in the way a wand or a knife is a tool. They aren’t one use wonders. Work with them regularly, keep them close to you. Scry with them, heal with them, speak to them. Develop a working relationship over years and you will be rewarded with a powerful ally.
8. Be aware of correspondences, but not bound by them. Planetary correspondences in particular can be useful in determining the particular virtues of a mineral (one again, check your sources), but working with the stone itself will reveal its powers. Colour symbolism will help, as will folklore, but in the end each stone is an entity with its own strengths, which it will communicate to you if you listen.
9. Precious and semi-precious stones have their virtues too, and I’m not suggesting avoiding them altogether. Just be aware of where they are sourced, how ethically they are obtained, and the fact that their monetary value and exotic beauty does not necessarily make them more useful than the rock from your back garden.