The Witch of Positano to Guide Me

Portrait of the artist Vali Myers by Eva Collins

My recent designs have been inspired by organic lines and shapes, and the power behind certain materials that have come my way. Ritual enters into it, and the afterglow of superstition. And there’s the wild kitsune-fuel of Vali Myers who I fancy is overseeing the process.

I have written previously about the quartz stones which came to me in a large lot, earth still on them. I have cleaned them– both literally and ritually— and they have soaked up the full-moonlight of the Longest Night.

The other objects are ancient beads from, I believe, Mali. These stone beads defy dating, and are a contentious subject. It is certain they are not modern. Dirt from burial still clings to them, and they vary in material and size. My research has put some as neolithic, others 600-300 years old. One thing they have in common, they all look like hag stones.

Hag stones are naturally occurring stones with a hole– they are also called adder stones, druid’s eggs, Odin stones or sometimes holey stones. A traditional holey stone was originally thought to be made by water coursing through a stone to make the hole. Pliny claimed they were made from the saliva of a congress of snakes which I kind of wish were true.  No doubt this is where the “adder stone” moniker comes from. It reveals the way language works in correspondence with the will– even if the drool of knotted snakes didn’t make them, surely the chthonic energies of earth and water did.

So when I say these old beads look like hag stones, I know they are not. A hag stone is naturally made, and these are stone beads are most definitely handmade. I am interested in these contradictions, and in simulating excavated talismans, perhaps from a fairy people of my own imagining. Vali whispers in my ear.

The Vali. Quartz crystal point and antique granite bead by Feral Strumpet
The Vali. Quartz crystal point and antique granite bead by Feral Strumpet

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