Stones have always had a special place in folklore. Stone folklore includes wishing stones, tossing stones and healing stones; all powerful geological creations that could offer people unique opportunities to change the course of their lives.
Here are two examples:
An apacheta, according to Inca culture, is a stone cairn or rather a shrine of sorts that is built along a trail as a special place where an individual can atone for their sins or ask for forgiveness. This place was believed to be endowed with supernatural powers from the gods. Such locations and/ or objects found there (or left by others) were viewed as holy and were referred to as huacas. These special sites were found around springs, caves, mountains, and rocks.
Their tradition required the recital of incantations to the gods for protection and for permission to pass through the region.
Apachetas have been part of Inca culture for centuries and are best known in Latin American countries such as Argentina. They were built as the Inca ascended the Andean mountains; over time individuals placed a stone alongside or on top of the pile of stones they came upon.
Sometimes, rather than a stone, sea shells and other sacred items such as specific tree leaves would be used.
The word apacheta itself refers to a source of spiritual power. It also refers to the source of the Amazon River which was a significant source of sustenance. Interestingly, the Apacheta River has even been proven by geologists to be the source for the Amazon River.
Besides being spiritual in nature, apachetas also served as markers for the hiking trails of the Inca along the mountain terrain. The Inca also used them as an identifier for trails that crossed through the mountains’ rugged, uncertain terrain.
According to Irish folklore Bullaun stones were among the most powerful place one could go to utter a blessing, or a curse. They were recognizable by their hollowed centre which some think might have also been used for baptisms in early Christian times.
Some folklore indicates that the rainwater collected in the stone's hollow had healing properties and although they are believed to have been created during Neolithic times, old Christian legends say that the original stone was created in the 6th century when at birth Saint Aid's hit his head on a stone.