Also known as Aquilaeus, Gagites, Lapis Aquilaris, "The Pregnant Stone" and "Eagle Stone."
From the Greek aetos (eagle), it is a stone composed of oxide of iron with a little silex and alumina which, according to Pliny, can be found in the nest, neck or stomach of an eagle. It was also believed to help eagles in reproduction.
Pliny actually described four types of this mystical stone. The first was egg-shaped, white, and filled with a soft sweet-tasted clay; this was the female. The second, reddish-colored externally, contained a stony substance, and passed for the male. The third was filled with a sweetish sand. The fourth, the Laeonian, had inside it a crystalline core, called the Callimus. The best kind were asserted to be found only in the nests of eagles, which could not breed without their aid; hence their name.
In occult tradition, this stone was thought to offer protection at childbirth, among other magical and medical properties.
Theophrastus (3rd century BC), a pupil of Aristotle, stated that "the most astounding and greatest power of these stones (if indeed this be true) is that of bearing progeny." Marbodus of Rennes called the Aetites "the guardian and defender of nests." Aetius wrote of this stone in the 6th century AD:
"The aetites serves to discover thieves, if anyone places it in the bread which they eat; for whoever has committed a theft is unable to consume the bread. It has also been stated that, if cooked with any kind of food, the aetites unmasks thieves, since they cannot eat such food. If taken with wax from Cyprus, with fresh olive oil, or with any other calefacient, this stone greatly helps those suffering from rheumatism and paralysis."
The 16th century English version of the The Book of Secrets a type of magical almanac falsely attributed to Albertus Magnus, but probably written by one of his followers refers to the Aetites as a stone of purple color that can be found near banks of the ocean, and "containeth always another stone in it, which soundeth in it when it is moved."
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The stone is big with another inside it, which rattles, as if in a jar when you shake it. According to occult lore, it should be worn bound to the arm to prevent abortion, and on the thigh to aid parturition. Dioscurides, Plutarch, and others believed that the stone actually pulled out the unborn child and retained its power of traction long after the birth. A 16th century physician reported that a woman suffered a fatal prolapse of the uterus because a large eagles stone was not removed from her immediately after her delivery. Dioscurides also describes the Aetites use in a form of divination, specifically to discover innocence or culpability:
"The Aetites should be powdered and mixed with flour to form balls of dough the size of hens' eggs. Persons suspected of theft are brought to court and given one of the balls with a small drink. The guilty among them will be unable to swallow the dough and will choke if they try."
The Talmud also recommended its use for magical and healing purposes.
Other allegedly magical properties include conferring sobriety, increasing riches, and moving the wearer to love; it was also said to bring victory and popularity, and preserve children from harm.
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Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Dictionary of the Occult, Caxton Publishing; (3) Cooper, J.C. (editor), Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend, Cassell; (4) Best, Michael R., and Brightman, Frank H. (editors), The Book of Secrets, Weiser Books; (5) Bonner, Campbell, Studies in Magical Amulets, University of Michigan Press.
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