For thousands of years, people have imparted metaphysical powers to crystals and rocks, using them as healing or protecting charms or talismans. Occasionally, these objects are remarkably eye-catching – so much so that we might assume they are unnatural. Our pattern-seeking brains tend to see faces or human features in nature. I came upon the photo of an object, said to be a rock, that looked back at me. I intended to find out if it was authentic or a fraud.
Originally posted 19-Nov-2019. Updated 26-May-2020 and 4-Oct-2021.
So here is something very creepy:
Two glassy eyelike objects are embedded in a white matrix. It is said by the internet sharers to be a natural rock. What the heck is it and is it actually natural?
The rockhound would immediately say “agate”. Yet, the “eyes” are so obvious and striking – the top one looks like a porg eye and the lower one a bird’s eye – that it feels contrived, deliberately scary.
Observe that the layers for both “eyes” are naturally similar in color with the top eye having a much larger dark center than the bottom eye. And, the layers match nicely with the exposed portion at the bottom. Some signs point to it being natural but the abstract quality gives it the appearance of a bizarre living thing embedded in stone. There is no scale in the picture making it look about egg-size or larger and the depth can not be discerned.
This image was posted to Reddit in June of 2018 with the title “This is a rock”. Commenters automatically associated it with Behelit, from the Berserk manga series – an egg-shaped supernatural object with randomly placed facial features.
One can’t get far into crystals without encountering the very widespread belief in their special powers. According to various crystal promoters and shops online, agate has all sorts of metaphysical properties including preventing insomnia, curing skin diseases, diverting storms, stimulating fertility, and relieving allergies. None of that is true.
Eye agates are real and sometimes really weird
Agates are obviously real and can be spectacular. Agate forms when a silica-rich liquid fills in spaces in the rock (the mineral formed is called chalcedony). When a rock has vesicles, the resulting agate filling is round. Other minerals in the fluid produce the colors and the layers crystallize from the outside inward, forming layers or concentric banding. Because agate is porous, many grey or white agates (the most common colors) are dyed to be more dramatic.
When the formations are round with concentric layers, they are called eye agates. Eye agate comes in some special forms marketed as “evil eye”, “shiva”, “third eye”, or “goat eye”. These objects are used to ward off bad luck and protect the wearer from danger.
I first thought the double whammy evil eye agate photo was of a fake. It was difficult to obtain enough detail from one picture that was circulated without context or references. (UPDATE: See addition at the end!)
I contacted a mineral collector and he concluded it is genuine. The person polishing the piece likely had no intention of making it look like this. It was just lucky that the layers revealed themselves this way as the weathering rind was removed and the internal banding of the agate was exposed.
This is done with “shiva” or “third eye” agates where rocks washed up on a riverbank in India are shaped and polished in such a way that they look extremely eye-like from above. A side view reveals they are elongated and have been carved to enhance the layers and eye-like effect. These objects are fairly inexpensive and popularly used by those who believe they can help in connecting to positive aspects of life, awakening hidden intuition, and warding off those nasty psychic attacks.
I was finally able to trace the original image of the mystery agate back to a reputable Etsy gemstone seller in Turkey. It was listed in July of 2015 as an “Ultra-rare Turkish pseudomorph agate cabochon; Natural and unpainted; From North Ankara/Turkey. The measurements given were 43x28mm and 11mm thick. Here is the display picture.
Perhaps the owner wore this incredible piece proudly in a necklace to ward off evil eye curses. That’s what I would do. It is certainly intimidating enough to provide the wearer with some extra confidence to eliminate that pesky negative energy.
So, mystery solved.
Always be cautious when buying interesting minerals and gems as they are so readily replicated with cheaper materials or enhanced. Make sure you know what you are purchasing including its origin.
Know more about this piece or eye agates? Leave a comment.
Special thanks to Blake Smith and Keith Brady for their contributions to this piece.
The owner of the piece described here, Eric, found this post and offered additional photos of the piece, now fashioned as a wire-wrapped pendant (Sterling Silver and 14k Rose Gold wire).
As a collector, he also showed off his “All-Seeing Eye” (also Turkish agate), and another weird white eye that has uncertain provenance. It is real, though, and eerily realistic, he says. “It has a weird chatoyance to it that is really hard to describe. Imagine light shining through clear-ish jello, moving and bending as you move the piece. It’s super weird!”
Thanks, Eric. These are awesome and pretty freaky examples of nature.
Addition – Eye of Artigas
I found a picture of this great sphere “eye” on Twitter. It comes from Artigas, Uraguay, which is well known for gorgeous mineral specimens. From what I can gather, the agates are abundant because of the spaces created by gases in the flood basalts in Artigas. The mineral-rich waters percolating through these spaces depositing the bands. The geodes and stalactites have been extracted, polished and sold to collectors. As far as I can tell, they are natural and not artificially colored.