Friday, April 15, 2022

M is for Moonstone Magic (Gemstone Folklore)

Welcome to the 2022 A to Z Blogging Challenge! My theme this year is Gemstone Folklore. Because I love stories about shiny things. Read the introduction to the project here.


Moonstone is a kind of feldspar with a pearly white sheen that, according to popular belief, resembles moonlight. Pliny the Elder claimed that it changes its brilliance according to the phases of the moon (which is not true, but it sounds fun).

The serpent's moonstone
Spanish/Basque legend

Two churches in Navarre, the Santa María de Eunate and the San Miguel de Olcoz have almost identical Romanesque portals at their entrance, like mirror images - and an old legend to explain the similarity.
The legend says that when the Santa María was built in Eunate sometime in the 12th century as a convent for the Knights Templar (allegedly), the master tasked with the work had to take a leave. He was away longer than intended, doing reparations somewhere else and also due to illness.
In his absence, the monks hired a local stone cutter to make the portal for the entrance, and he did so, in an astonishing three days' time. (Some versions of the legend say he was a jentilak, a Basque giant). When the master returned, he was furious to see someone else had done part of his work. To pacify him, the abbot paid him to make an identical portal - provided he could do it in the same amount of time.
The master, desperate, turned to a witch (or lamiñak) for advice. She told him that every Noche de San Juan (midsummer night) a large serpent appears at the nearby river, and deposits a magic moonstone on the bank while it goes bathing.
The master managed to steal the moonstone, and use its power to create an identical portal before the deadline. He placed it in a golden bowl of clear spring water on San Juan's Eve. As the water reflected the portal in the moonlight, the master said magic words, and the mirror image of the portal appeared on the church wall (except it was a little bit off, for the master jostled the bowl by trembling with excitement).
However, when the local stone cutter / giant saw his work, he grew furious, and hit the entrance with such force that it flew over to the neighboring village of Olcoz. The locals did not look a gift portal in the mouth, and built a church around it. There it remains to this day.

Sources: Read the story here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.

If you had the magic moonstone, what would you use it to build?


  1. Magic moonstone for building, what a fascinating story. Well if I didn't have to worry about planning permission, I'd find myself a nice manor house and recreate that. Big enough to have lots of friends stay all at the same time, and not have to bring blow up mattresses.
    Tasha's Thinkings: YouTube - What They Don't Tell You (and free fiction)

  2. That is a fascinating legend!
    My building wishes are much less grand. I need a new deck. I have to watch where I walk! I like my house just fine. Unlike Tasha (comment) I don't want a lot of room for people to stay over! I'm not a people person!

  3. What a fabulous story - definitely made me laugh. I love moonstone, and if I could harness the magic, I'd love to have a sky observatory with a sliding roof and a number of telescopes.

  4. Wow, that's a lot of drama about porches! Moonstone is beautiful, and if I could magically build with it I'd be very tempted to make myself a library addition to my house! But I think I'd really use it to build a school or a real community library someone that needed one.
    M is for Magic and Mutant

  5. Wow, such an intriguing story! I rooted for the giant more than the master, honestly.

  6. The moonstone sounds so beautiful. It might be my favorite.
    The door flew to the next village and it's there yet with a church built around it! I would like to go through that door.

  7. I first heard of a moonstone in Vampire Diaries :-)

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: M

  8. I suppose if a gift portal appeared "magically" via a giant's temper, it only makes sense to build a church around it! *laugh*

    (I wonder if there is a similar story explaining the existence of Stonehenge? Disgruntled giants probably account for quite a few earthly anomalies.)

  9. I'm not sure what I'd want to build. Perhaps a safe place for some friends who need one, but not sure where I would build it. Perhaps I need to build an island first?

    Stopping by from the A to Z ROAD TRIP!
    "Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present." - Jim Rohn

    J Lenni Dorner (he/him 👨🏽 or 🧑🏽 they/them) ~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, OperationAwesome6 Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

  10. I wish I had time to read more of your posts; they are fascinating!