Fairy Stones (natural crosses)

Almost all minerals, gemstones and rock types are associated with some superstitious or supernatural motifs. A common twinning habit of the mineral staurolite guarantees it will be perceived as magical. It is prevalently found twinned at a 90- or 60-degree angle forming a stunning cruciform shape. “Stauros” is the Greek word for “cross”. Because of this shape, it was historically considered a protective charm, especially by Christians. Fine-shaped crystals are made into jewelry and “good luck” charms.

One supernatural legend of the creation of these crosses is found in association with a deposit in Patrick County Virginia that later became Fairy Stone State Park:

Hundreds of years before Pocahontas father, Chief Powhatan, reined over the land that is now Virginia, fairies dance and played around springs of water with naiads and wood nymphs. One day an elfin messenger arrived from a city far away and brought news of the death of Christ. When the fairies heard the story of the crucifixion, they wept and as their tears fell upon the ground, they crystallized to form beautiful crosses. Historic superstitions held that possessing one of these rare stones would protect its owner from illness, accidents, and even warding off a witch’s curse.

Staurolite deposit.

Another legend tells of Richard the Lionhearted using staurolite as a healing stone to cure malaria and the wounded during the Crusades. I can find no solid reference for this, however it’s a handy story used by crystal dealers to sell their product.

“Fairy stones” are promoted by mystical crystal healers as helpful in grounding the individual to the earth, providing a calming effect against stress and fear. Their magic is claimed to even help you stop smoking. One site boldly pronounces “they embody an energy that will help you to make contact with beings from the natural world”. I guess that means other rock hounds!

Because of their visual, spiritual, and mythical appeal, “fairy stones” or natural crosses are widely sold. Many of these are not actual staurolite but manufactured from ground stone and clay. Geology.com notes that “if you see a selection of staurolite crosses offered for sale that are all the same size, same shape, and have air bubbles on close examination, they might be manufactured.” Genuine staurolite has a rough surface and is opaque and brown. Smooth and uniform samples have likely been ground or cut from another material.

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