~ Obsidian ~
In most of my articles, I try to stick with those that are mostly from the crystal quartz family. But in this article I will be talking about the history and uses of Obsidian. Even though it is not technically part of the crystal quartz family and some Obsidian do not even fall in the definition of a crystal (a clear or transparent mineral or glass resembling ice). I just had a feeling that this stone is one that I should be doing an article on. I also want to apologize for any grammatical errors that may occur in this article; I wasn’t able to put as much time as I would have like to in this article.
History and Lore:
Obsidian is a natural glass that is formed by volcanic melts that cools rapidly through glass transition temperature and freezes without sufficient time for crystal growth. The usual color for Obsidian is black, but brown and gray are also frequently found. Rare colors of red, blue and green are seldom seen and very expensive. Obsidian may be a solid color, but it can also be striped (often seen in Rainbow Obsidian) or spotted (often seen as Snowflake Obsidian). The Blue variety is often found on the British and Norwegian coast, while the dark brown and black obsidian are found in the Italian Lipari Islands, Iceland, and the United States. Sometimes very rare brown obsidian with red flame markings are discovered but no information on where these stones have been discovered is currently available.
Obsidian was popular in early human history. It was commonly used to make knives, spears, arrowheads, mirrors and ornamental objects. Ancient cultures in Mexico called this stone “Itzli”: they got their supply from the hill of Knives, which is not far from Timapau. They fashioned obsidian into images of the god Tezcatlipoca* (“shining mirror”) and into magic divinatory mirrors. They knew obsidian as “iztli” or “teotetl” (“the divine stone”). Obsidian vases and mirrors are often discovered in ancient Mexican graves.
Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans' use of obsidian was extensive and sophisticated; including carved and worked obsidian for tools and decorative objects. Mesoamericans also made a type of sword with obsidian blades mounted in a wooden body. Called a macuahuitl, the weapon was capable of inflicting terrible injuries, combining the sharp cutting edge of an obsidian blade with the ragged cut of a serrated weapon.
Other Native American cultures used this stone in ceremonies to sharpen the inner sight. The “Apache Tear” comes from a legend of the Apache warriors. After a great Defeat in battle and the death of many brave warriors, the Apache women mourned over the bodies. Their tears solidified and turned into this stone. It is said that anyone who has an Apache Tear will never cry again.
In the Hawaiian Islands there is a type of Obsidian called “Pele’s Hair” which is named after the Polynesian volcanic goddess Pele*. The ancient Polynesian culture believed that Pele, who kept the souls of the dead in her Underworld realm, sent them back to the earth along with her lava, so they could be reincarnated.
The Romans and Greeks used obsidian to make cameos and other jewelry. The Roman Pliny wrote that obsidian got its name from a man called Obsidius, who discovered it in Ethiopia.
Obsidian connects the mind and emotions by grounding the spiritual energy in the physical plane. It absorbs and destroys negative energies, thus clearing subconscious blockages and reducing stress. It can be used to help understand and use the state of detachment. It can also help you understand the deep silence and wisdom that is found in meditation. Obsidian has also been used to help protect against evil spirits and aiding in developing clairvoyance. Use can also use it to draw the aura more tightly about the body and regroup your scattered energies. With these kinds of abilities, Obsidian is also helpful in understanding, dealing with, and balancing the negative and positive cycles in life. Its power is blunt as it brings up the unvarnished dark areas of the subconscious that need changing before one can advance.
Without properly preparing your self to face both positive and negative aspects of reality, Black obsidian can be one of the most difficult stones to use. Since it energies spiritual forces and easily connects with the first chakra, black Obsidian can make you face present challenges and past-life lessons that you still need to learn. The third eye is often activated in connection with processing of past-life positive and negative karma. It is often best used along with clear quartz.
Black, brown or golden Obsidian can help in eliminating bad habits by reducing the cravings. Mahogany Obsidian can make one feel sexier and more at ease with one’s sensuality. Rainbow Obsidian can aid in balancing and stabilizing energy; good for calming fears after any abusive situation by balancing mental distress. Snowflake Obsidian (black and gray) can help you slow down and balance activities. By slowing down you can think more clearly and logically. You can also keep a piece of Snowflake Obsidian with your money to keep it from running out. You can also carry Snowflake Obsidian to keep people from taking advantage of you. Snowflake Obsidian will also reveal what needs to be changed within your life, so you can advance. Apache Tears are good for channeling spirit guides and higher beings. It also aids in creating harmony, balance and moderation and is in excellent tool for increasing psychic powers.
Obsidian is also useful to have around you to absorb and transform negative energies, and to release vibrations of calmness and security and to stabilize the energies of all persons within its reach. A good stone to have around the office or at home if there is a lot of tension.
This stone was especially useful to me when I was 19 and 20. It did help me realize the cold reality of what has occurred, but it also help calm my fast pace thinking to see some bigger things. It helped me a lot when I was making the transition from child to adult, sometimes I still use it to help me see the bigger picture on some matters. Of course if you also have a child that is scared of ghosts and evil spirits, giving them an Obsidian stone could help them sleep better at night. I know it has helped my child out some when it comes to ghosts.
* Tezcatlipoc was an important deity in Aztec religion, associated with a wide range of concepts including; the night, the north, the earth, obsidian, enmity, discord,
ruler ship, divination, temptation, sorcery, beauty, war and strife. His name is Nahuatl for "Smoking Mirror" alluded to his connection to obsidian, the material from which mirrors where made in Mesoamerica and which was used for shamanistic rituals. The Tezcatlipoca figure goes back to earlier Mesoamerican deities worshipped by the Olmec and Maya.
* Pele is a goddess of fire, lightning, dance, volcanoes and violence. She is a daughter of Haumea and Kane Milohai, and lives on Kīlauea. Pele is known for her violent temper, but also for her common visits among mortals. She is said to appear either as a tall, beautiful young woman or as a very old, ugly and frail woman. She is often accompanied by a white dog and typically tests people by asking if they have any food, drink and in more recent times, rides to another part of the island. Those who show kindness are rewarded and spared. Those who are cruel or disrespectful are punished by way of having their homes or crops destroyed. When enraged she may appear as a woman all aflame or as pure flame. She is also known as the Goddess of the Underworld.
Written for paganpages.org October 2007 issue