Lodestone is the folk magic term for a natural magnet formed from magnetite or magnetized iron ore. Magnetite is naturally attracted to magnetic fields but is not necessarily itself magnetic. In fact, magnetized magnetite is relatively rare and usually found only near the surface of the earth. It is not completely clear how these pieces of magnetite become magnetized but many believe that the process occurs during lightning strikes when electro-magnetic fields are created.
Thales of Miletus is the 6th-century Greek philosopher who is often credited with the discovery of lodestones and their attraction to all things magnetic–including other lodestones. Ancient Chinese texts dating back to the 4th century mention lodestones. Lodestone artifacts have been discovered in archeological digs in central and south America. The scientists Michael Faraday & James Clerk Maxwell both made use of lodestones in their laboratories and in so doing discovered the electro-magnetic field.
In both ancient and modern magical systems, lodestones have often been worked with by magicians, witches, and spiritual workers to attract & draw various things, people, situations, & events.
In sympathetic magical theory (wherein like attracts like), lodestones are believed to be powerful, natural magnets that can magnetize objects like money or individuals and lending an undeniable charisma and attraction to them. Sympathetic magic encompasses the ideas held in ancient Greece, China, India, other parts of the Mediterranean and continental Europe, that each stone, tree, rock, flower, and animal have a unique and vital spirit and that eros, now most commonly translated as erotic desire, was actually an animating force that encouraged each being to seek out that which made them whole. So a flower would seek out a particular spot of shaded wood in which to grow and a lodestone would seek out iron and other metals that respond to the electro-magnetic force.
In Mexican folk magic traditions and Conjure cunning craft traditions, lodestones are treated like living beings as opposed to inanimate minerals. The cunning man or woman speaks of “feeding” their lodestone with magnetic sand (magnetized iron filings that can be purchased commercially or found at a smithy near you!), and may also anoint their lodestone with ritual oils, special colognes or waters, and in some cases bodily fluids such as blood, sweat, urine, sexual fluids, or tears.
Often a special lodestone that is worked with again and again is given a name, just as a pet would be named. In contemporary folk magic practices single lodestones are advertised and sold as appropriate for drawing money, attracting jobs, gaining decisions in one’s favor, and in some cases attracting people or opportunities in a specific direction.
Paired lodestones are most often two stones that were at one point at unity and either were intentionally or unintentionally broken apart. Paired lodestones are sold and worked with in all kinds of love magics-where 2 people are drawn close together-usually over a period of several days. In some cases, the lodestone pair will be divided into “he” and “she” stones or “he” and “he” or “she” and “she” depending on the sexual orientation of those seeking or in a relationship. When determining the gender of a lodestone, a few key points are examined. If the stone is rounder or has red rust spots then it is usually assigned the gender of female (due to a woman’s natural physical curves and the menstruation cycle). If a stone is pointier and has small white flecks on it then it is assigned the gender of male (due to the phallic pointy shape and the white spots which to some workers symbolize semen).
Lodestones also come in a variety of sizes: small, medium, large, and specimen sized. Specimen sized lodestones are often purchased both wholesale and retail according to weight as they are larger stones. Size does not correspond to magnetic pull however–I possess a specimen sized lodestone that has a very powerful magnetic field but I have also seen smaller stones that can pack a big magnetic punch!
Because they are natural magnets as opposed to synthetic-lodestones pull at each other much more gradually–although it is certainly possible to have a very powerful lodestone that pulls things quickly. This gradual attraction is preferred by some spirit workers because it allows the other magics surrounding the lodestone time to take effect. In some cases lodestones are worked with for a discreet amount of time or for a very specific purpose.
In both Conjure cunning tradition and Mexican folk magic, lodestones that have served their purpose are returned to the earth. If a lodestone does not possess magnetic qualities or if the magnetic qualities leave, then it may also be buried and returned to the earth.
I have been taught that lodestones need to be cleansed and re-charged or consecrated once a year and that the time to do this is during the autumnal equinox. I have also been taught that a monthly cleansing coinciding with the full moon is appropriate. To cleanse and consecrate your lodestone you will need whisky, magnetic sand, anointing oils of your choice, and a special wash or water. This can be a traditional cologne like Hoyts, Florida, or Kananga Water or it can be holy water. If cleansing and anointing a matched pair of lodestones you might also want to have sexual fluids handy.
Begin by brushing any magnetic sand or iron filings off of the stone. I find that a strong bristled paint brush for children works well for this. You may collect the magnetic sand on a plate or dish and re-use as long as it is clean and still magnetized. Once your lodestone is completely cleaned you may then douse it with whisky. Some witches will mouth spray whisky on their lodestones. Once the lodestone has been well doused with whisky leave it out for an evening.
If you are cleansing the stone on a monthly basis (recommended for long-working stones) leave it out under the full moon light. If you are cleansing the stone during the autumnal equinox leave it out under the night sky. If you have not named your stone you might want to consider doing some dream magic so that the stone’s name appears.
The next morning anoint your lodestone with appropriate anointing oils–if you are going to work with the stone primarily to draw money then use a money drawing oil, if you are going to work with the stone to primarily draw love work with love drawing oils. You may also add a splash of holy water or cologne to the stone at this time and your personal concerns. For business and money matters I recommend you set the stone on top of a few hairs from your head and fingernail filings, for romantic matters use sexual fluids and pubic hair.
Many cunning folk like to place their lodestone on a china plate. Money, images of desired objects, names of people, ventures, opportunities that the individual would like to draw to them go underneath the stone. It is then fed with magnetic sand. I was taught to light a candle the first night I set my lodestone working for me and again after a cleansing-the candle “lights the way” and wakes the stone up so it can start working again. Lodestones that work hard should be fed every single day while lodestones that are less permanent may be fed once a week. Burial is the most popular way to defuse or honor a lodestone, but it is also popular to place smaller lodestones in mojo hands, charm packets, and magical containers like honey jars. These smaller stones may be used in altar work first and then added to their magical ritual container.
Listen to your lodestone, work with it consistently, and heed the messages you receive from it.
Once you have established a good, working relationship with your lodestone you may use it to charge up smaller lodestones that can then be used in future ritual craft. The power of magnetism is one of the most ancient and profound. Honor these natural magnets and see where they take you!
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