Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass that is formed when lava that is rich in feldspar and quartz is cooled too rapidly for crystals to form. It is basically a beautiful chunk of dark-colored glass and behaves as you’d expect glass to behave, it is hard and brittle and breaks into very sharp shards.
History and Folklore
The name Obsidian comes from the name Obsius, a Roman credited with discovering a similar stone in Ethiopia (though Obsidian was in use by humans well before Romans started writing things down).
Obsidian is prized flintknapping material as it makes a wonderful, sharp blade that was once the preferred tool for circumcisions in the Middle East and is used for surgical scalpels even today. The Macuahuitle, or Aztec War Club was a fearsome weapon used by the Aztecs consisting of several obsidian blades on a wooden handle. This weapon was capable of inflicting nightmarish injuries. (See it in action on Deadliest Warrior)
Obsidian also polishes to a highly reflective surface, making it useful for mirrors and decorative objects. Obsidian scrying glasses and crystal balls are popular. John Dee had a scrying glass of obsidian that is currently on display at the British Museum and Nostradamus is said to have used one as well. Small pieces of obsidian make lovely beads and cabochons and a thin slice of obsidian placed behind an opal cabochon offset’s the opal’s fire.
Archaeological sites where obsidian was mined and used to manufacture tools have been found throughout the world and obsidian tools have been found thousands of miles from the nearest obsidian outcrop, suggesting that it was an important prehistoric trading commodity.
Healing and Magickal Uses for Obsidian
Body: Obsidian is said to be helpful in healing related to the digestive system and muscular system and to help relieve pain. It is also said to be a helpful ally when combating bacterial infections.
Mind: Meditate with obsidian to help clear unconscious blocks and buried emotions and to bring issues to the surface before they build up and get out of control. Obsidian can be worn to protect against bouts of depression and to help fight chronic depression.
Magick: Obsidian is a protective stone that can be used to guard against all forms of negativity and in spells designed to remove negativity from a person, object or area. Obsidian jewelry can be worn to protect against psychic attack and obsidian blades can be used in rituals to cut unwanted links between people. Obsidian cut into the shape of an arrowhead is a powerful protective amulet. Place four obsidian arrowheads around your home, pointing in the four cardinal directions for protection.
Obsidian is also useful for grounding.
Care and Cleansing of Obsidian
Obsidian can safely be cleaned using a soft cloth and soap and water, though soap residue can build upon it, so rinse well and polish afterward. Take care to store your obsidian in a soft case away from hard objects as it can easily be scratched. For this reason, obsidian is not recommended for rings.
You can cleanse your obsidian in running fresh or salted water and recharge it in either moonlight or sunlight.
Varieties of Obsidian
3Apache tear is a translucent form of obsidian found in Arizona, USA. The stones are round and anywhere from .5 to 5 centimeters in diameter. According to legend, a group of Apache Indians was cornered by soldiers during a battle in the 1870s on a cliff overlooking what is now Superior, Arizona. They had run out of arrows and to avoid capture, they leaped to their deaths from the cliff where they were trapped. The women of the tribe wept so bitterly that their tears turned to stone.
Apache tears are carried to protect from grief. Whoever carries one need never cry again as the Apache women have shed enough tears for their whole lives. Apache tears may be used to help work through grief and other troubling emotions. It is also useful for healers to help protect them from becoming polluted with the energies causing the illnesses they are treating in others.
Apache tears absorb negative energy and should be cleansed often.
4Mahogany obsidian shows swirls of brown and black together. This is an excellent grounding stone that helps instill confidence while protecting the wearer from the effects of negative thoughts, self-doubt and the doubt and scorn of others. This stone can be used in healing to improve circulation and relieve pain.
5Snowflake obsidian is black obsidian with white “snowflake” designs in it caused by the formation of crystals within the stone. Snowflake obsidian is useful for bringing things to the surface: emotions, secrets, anything hidden that needs to be revealed. It also helps maintain grounding and a sense of balance, especially during times of stress brought about by change.
6Rainbow obsidian is a black obsidian with tiny crystals in it that give it an iridescent look. Rainbow obsidian helps banish negativity while drawing joy into your life. It is also used to enhance clairvoyance.
Fire obsidian is an iridescent variety found in Glass Butte, Oregon. Its iridescent appearance is due to very thin layers containing tiny crystals of magnetite. Fire obsidian can be used the same way as rainbow obsidian as they are similar in nature though fire obsidian is a bit more intense. You will also want to take the magnetite into account when considering uses for fire obsidian. Very protective.
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