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What is a Lodestone?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A lodestone is a form of magnetite which demonstrates distinctive magnetic qualities. These qualities led to the use of lodestones as an early form of compass, since they could be used to point the way north. As often happens with scientific phenomena which are difficult to explain, lodestones were historically associated with magical or alchemical events, and many people who practiced magic used lodestones in their work. Magnets and objects with magnetic qualities continue to be popular in alternative medicine and the practice of magic.

Magnetite is a form of iron oxide. When the stone has a particular crystalline structure and chemical composition, it has the potential to become magnetized. If the stone is magnetized, it will be attracted to the Earth's magnetic pole, and when it is suspended in the air, it will slowly turn to point towards the pole. It will also attract iron, as was observed by the Chinese in the fourth century CE. Sailors used lodestones in their navigation; the Chinese appear to have been the first to discover the properties of magnetite in the context of navigation.

Lodestones led to magnetic compasses.
Lodestones led to magnetic compasses.

The word, in fact, is derived from its early nautical use. “Lode” originally meant a leader, so sailors would “follow the stone” to a specific destination; in the sense of mining, miners also “follow” a lode or rock or minerals to extract the material. The use of a lodestone on board probably made navigation much safer, and it paved the way to creating magnetic compasses and other more sophisticated navigational aides. Lodestones were viewed with some awe by sailors, since the properties of these rocks were quite mysterious.

Superstitious people and mystics also had beliefs about lodestones. Their remarkable ability to always point north made them useful to many people who believed in magic, as lodestones suggest that some sort of supernatural higher power really does exist. Many magical rituals called for the use of a lodestone, and alchemists experimented with the rocks in their hunt for deeper meaning in life. Early medical practitioners used lodestones as diagnostic tools, and they believed that the stones could be used to cure certain medical conditions.

The term “lodestone” is also used to refer to something or someone with strong attractive properties. Many poets, for example, use the term euphemistically, especially in love poetry. This usage suggests that lodestones have played a very important role in human history and development, since many people have strong associations with the word “lodestone.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a lodestone?

A lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet, which is a piece of the mineral magnetite that has been magnetized. Intriguingly, it possesses the ability to attract iron, steel, small pieces of metal, and other lodestones. It's formed from iron oxide and is typically found in the Earth's crust. Lodestones have been used for navigational purposes since ancient times due to their magnetic properties.

How does a lodestone become magnetized?

Lodestones become magnetized through a process involving the Earth's magnetic field. This usually occurs when magnetite is struck by lightning or is formed in an area with strong geomagnetic forces. The intense heat and energy from these events align the magnetic minerals within the rock, giving the lodestone its characteristic magnetic properties.

Can a lodestone lose its magnetism?

Yes, a lodestone can lose its magnetism over time or if it's subjected to heat, shock, or strong magnetic fields. Heating a lodestone above a certain temperature, known as the Curie point, which is around 580°C for magnetite, can cause the magnetic particles to realign randomly, thus demagnetizing the stone.

What historical uses did lodestones have?

Lodestones have a rich history of use, particularly in navigation. Ancient mariners used them as an early form of the compass, called a "lodestone compass," to determine direction while at sea. They were also thought to have magical properties and were used in various rituals and medicinal practices throughout history.

Where can lodestones be found?

Lodestones are found in various locations around the world, often in areas that have a history of volcanic activity or where lightning strikes are common. Significant deposits have been located in the United States, particularly in the Magnet Cove region of Arkansas, as well as in Sweden, Italy, and India.

Are lodestones still used today?

While modern compasses have replaced lodestones for navigation, they still hold educational value in teaching the principles of magnetism. Lodestones are also popular among collectors of minerals and are used in alternative therapies, although the scientific basis for such treatments is not well-established. Additionally, they serve as a natural example for scientists studying Earth's magnetic properties.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllThingsNature researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

Discussion Comments


@anon321528: You need to check your historical dates. Christmas and Easter celebrations pre-date the Christian influence in the British Isles. Christmas actually runs roughly parallel to the Ancient Roman celebration of Saturnalia, while Easter has always been in the spring, with its date dependent on the "Paschal" moon. The English *name* for Easter does indeed come from the Anglo-Saxon "eostre" (or similar), which was a festival for a goddess.

In most other countries, Christians use the Greek form "pascha" or similar, which is from the Hebrew word for Passover. The First Council of Nicea in AD 325 established the date of Easter, so that far pre-dates Christianity's spread to the British Isles and contact with the Druids.

There's no question that many Christmas and Easter traditions have their roots in pre-Christian rituals and symbols. Certainly, they are more appropriate, regardless of their roots, than the secular, greedy, materialistic shopping traditions that have grown up around Christmas and are trying to take over Easter.


Magnetic hematite is used by Christians everywhere in stupid stretchy bracelets and other nonsense, yet a lodestone, which is similar in properties is "not for Christians." Why? Because it's tied to another faith? Is it because it's not as shiny and polished? Newsflash: Christmas came from Yule, and Easter is really Ostara. It was a ploy to try and convert all those pesky Druids to good little Catholics.

Magnetic properties don't draw out the devil. They simply regulate blood-flow.


w0wpow3r: To answer your question,yes, there is be something more to "drawing out the devil" than that particular belief. Personally, I believe in one God who created the world and all that is in it – and that includes plants, animals, minerals (even lodestones) and humans. However, I do not believe that God created a magnet, such as a lodestone, to "heal" someone or cast out the devil from a person. The Bible says that demons are only cast out through the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God's Holy Son who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father (God in Heaven) but through Me," as quoted from John 14:6. Jesus Christ is our only true source of hope, peace, and ultimately, forgiveness of our sins and eternal life in Heaven after we die here on earth.

So, being God's Son, Jesus is the only true and perfect human being that ever walked this earth. The Bible explains that Jesus came to earth in human form, born of a virgin (Luke 1:29-35), lived about 33 perfect years, making no mistakes whatsoever, and eventually died on a cross in the place of a murderer. Why? Through His death on the cross, Christ would ultimately defeat sin, Satan (the devil), and eternal death (life experienced in Hell forever and ever). He died, was buried for three days, and after the third day, God raised His Son up from the grave. He is alive today and forevermore living with God the Father in Heaven!

So what does this have to do with anything? The Bible explains that all who believe in Jesus Christ and follow Him as their Lord and Savior will not only have the eternal gift of Heaven after life here on earth, but also, Mark 16:17, Jesus says, "and these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they cast out demons..." Satan (who is the devil), and all of his demons are afraid of no one here on earth, but they are afraid of God and His Son Jesus Christ. Even at the very mention of the name of Jesus, the devil flees and all his demons with him. Anyone who "talks to the devil" or his demons (most commonly, and mistakenly, called ghosts), or anyone who practices anything pertaining to "talking to the dead" (which is actually talking to Satan's demons, called his followers), is practicing a lie.

If they do not quit these practices and call out these demons in the name of Jesus Christ and believe on His name in their own hearts and confess to God Himself that they are in need of Jesus in order to go to Heaven (since we cannot do it on our own), we are going to spend forever and ever in Hell after we die. So what about those who claim that they see their ancestors or other relatives who have passed away and have communicated or are now communicating with them? Well, these "ancestors" and "relatives" are nothing more than Satan's demons who are master deceivers. If they can, they will fool anybody by taking the form of a loved one or anyone who has died, and "communicate" with them. One should find it incredibly scary, and perhaps exaggerating, to think that they are communicating with Satan and his demons themselves, but they are. When they think they are "communicating with the dead", they are actually communicating with the devil, Satan, and all his followers(demons). And all who practice these things are destined to perish in Hell forever, because they rejected God, Jesus Christ, and His Word, which is Truth, the Bible.

So, in summary, the devil cannot be "drawn out" except through the blessed name of Jesus Christ.

"Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11).


A lodestone is a rock that is a natural magnet.


Wow, I know that would have totally freaked me out to see a stone get hit with lightning and then start attracting metal -- I think it's all to easy to make that mental leap.

I'm not sure about how I feel about using lodestones for healing though -- I know that some people say that the magnetic properties can "draw out the Devil," but I would think that there's more behind the practice than that belief, right?

Can anybody give me some more information about this?

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    • Lodestones led to magnetic compasses.
      By: vagabondo
      Lodestones led to magnetic compasses.