Historical practices of witchcraft: Day 1 “The Toad Stone”

Photo © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2015

Engraved on the silver band: ” Toad Stone the Charm long used by the Mearns Witches. Bequeathed by the last of them to Jean Donald and by her to James Maxwell Graham Esqr in 1813″. (SOURCE) 

The “Toad stone,” also known as the witch stone, is a an old, worn down glass marble that has a silver brand wrapped around it. The stone is worn as a protective amulet. The particular photo, above, belonged to a family of witches, in which the charm was passed down the generations and grew in strength.

The “Toad stone” is said to contain mystical power believed to be produced by a toad. It was said to be able to cure any poison.

Sweet are the uses of adversity;
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

– Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in Act 2, Scene 1, lines 12 through 14

Typically, Toad Stones were “the fossilized teeth of Lepidotes,” (SOURCE). So it is curious that a marble would be called a Toad Stone. Though, I believe it may have been found around or within a toad and absorbed its power “jewels cut from the brain of a toad,” (Balthazar’s Daughter). 

A 1497 illustration by Johannes de Cuba, depicting the extraction and use of a toadstone

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