Published May 2014  •  Updated February 2024  •  Read Time: 8 minutes
Apache Tear Obsidian are Black Obsidian nuggets that are found only in the historical territory of the Apache Tribe, in the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.  When polished the are often translucent, similar to a Smoky Quartz.  According to legend, these little gems were created following a great tragedy during the Apache Wars (1849-1886) between the Tribe and the United States.  Today, they are considered the most powerful healing stones for grief and mourning.  Energetically they are exceptionally comforting and validating, giving us all the time we need to heal (if possible) or to adjust (if necessary) to life with a broken heart.

Apache Tear

Apache Tear Obsidian Meaning

Spiritual Healing Properties

Apache Tear Obsidian has a more gentle energy than regular Black Obsidian, making it a perfect choice when we need to accept life-shattering truths. Apache Tear helps us to process through negative emotions thoroughly so that we can understand the depth and breadth of our new emotional landscape. It encourages us to feel the pain, rather than trying to get rid of it as quickly as possible. It reminds us the pain is there, because love is there, and that sweeping the pain away too quickly is a disserve to the love. Apache Tear encourages us to grieve honestly and then to release the grief when we are ready. When used intentionally, it can help us to take our raw emotions and transmute them into hard-won wisdom and a much greater degree of compassion. It also gives us courage and support if we need to forgive ourselves or others.

Metaphysical Properties Apache Tear Obsidian
Chakra Root and Heart
Element Earth
Numerology 1 and 6
Zodiac Sagittarius and Aries

Emotional Healing Properties

Apache Tear Obsidian is highly recommended during times of grief. It can be used around the clock, for weeks, months or even years. Hold the Apache Tear and let the grief flow through you and into the stone. Sometimes the grief is sadness, at other times it might be expressed as anger, numbness or confusion. It doesn’t matter how it expresses, or whether it is loud or quiet, the grief can always be poured into the Apache Tear and be exchanged for comfort and grounding. Apache Tear has an extraordinary capacity for holding emotions and doesn’t need to be cleansed or recharged like other stones. Instead it can simply hold the energy, allowing us to lean on it energetically without judgement. The value in this is that it gives us space to grief and doesn’t rush the process. When we prematurely bury grief, it often leads to new problems down the road. So it is better to process the grief, regardless of how long it takes or how awkward it might feel. When grieving is over, some people may want to return the Apache Tear back to Mother Earth, either by burying it or putting it in a natural body of water. For some griefs, the pain never goes away entirely. In such cases, the Apache Tear may be put away for most days, but taken back out during anniversaries or whenever the pain resurfaces. Ultimately, however, Apache Tear’s goal is to help us to accept the new reality and find our way back to peace.

Mental Healing Properties

Apache Tear Obsidian inspires emotional intelligence, especially in regards to the complexity of sadness and grieving. For anyone who has buried grief, out of shame or fear, Apache Tear helps us to gently unbury the pain so we can understand it, heal it and release it. It is an excellent stone to take to therapy or whenever we are trying to understand our negative emotions. It helps us feel safe enough to talk about the hardest memories and feelings. It offers a steady rock to cling to, when intense emotions threaten to sweep us away. Apache Tear shushes any judgmental voices that tell us that we “shouldn’t feel like that” or “shouldn’t act like that” or “shouldn’t feel that this long” or “should have felt that longer”. Apache Tear replaces those unhelpful “shoulds and should nots”, with a very helpful acceptance that grief is a child of love. Like any child, it deserves to be treated kindly and wisely.

Physical Healing Properties

Apache Tear Obsidian is recommended when grief has assaulted our body and we feel it as a physical pain. The pain may be expressed in different ways depending on how a person processes grief. It can be a sharp pain or a dull pain, or fluctuate between the two. For some people it will be felt more acutely at the initial moment of grief and then subside, for others the physical affects may not appear until long after the shock has worn off. Anyone who feels as though they might die of a broken heart or feels their life has been reduced to a gray shadow world, would do well to hold tight to an Apache Tear. It is extremely comforting and non-judgmental and can help us to process our grief in a healthy way. This in turn reduces physical problems associated with grief, such as higher blood pressure, vulnerability to infections, inflammation, fatigue, etc.

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Apache Tear Obsidian Mineralogy

Where does Apache Tear Obsidian come from?

Obsidian is found all over the world wherever volcanic activity has occurred.  Apache Tear Obsidian is a variety of black, sometimes translucent, Obsidian that is found only in the southwest United States and northern Mexico, in the historical territory of the Apache Tribe.

Mining and Treatments

Apache Tear Obsidian may be found on the surface of the Earth and requires little to no mining to extract.  Some of it is found scattered across the desert, while large piles can be found in the tailings of old mines for Copper, Silver and other precious and industrial minerals

Obsidian is a natural stone, enhanced only by  cutting and polishing.  The variety known as Apache Tear is often translucent when polished.

Apache Tear Obsidian Placeholder
Apache Tear Obsidian

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Mineral Family

Obsidian is an igneous rock that forms immediately following a volcanic eruption.  When molten magna reaches the surface of the earth it becomes lava.  If the eruption is small, the lava may remain inside a volcano’s caldera, bubbling and glowing.  But if the eruption is large enough, the lava can escape the caldera and flow downhill like a river. As it travels away from the hot spot inside the volcano, the lava cools down and eventually hardens into various rocks.  To create Obsidian, the lava must solidify so quickly that there is no time for mineral crystals to grow within it.  Obsidian is sometimes referred as “volcanic glass” due to its glass-like texture. It is typically jet black, but minor mineral inclusions can create colorful patterns.

Apache Tear Obsidian’s energy works well with its family – other igneous rocks.  Try it in combination with Chinese Writing StoneGarnieriteIndigo GabbroMoonstone Tourmaline, Preseli Bluestone, and Unakite.  For a subtle energy shift, try it with other varieties of Obsidian including Black, Golden Sheen, Mahogany, Rainbow, Silver Sheen, and Snowflake.

Apache Tear Obsidian Formation and Crystal Associates

Obsidian is formed when lava from a volcanic explosion solidifies so quickly that there is no time for mineral crystals to grow within it. It is sometimes referred as “volcanic glass” due to its glass-like texture. Obsidian is typically jet black, however the inclusion of various minerals can create opaque colored varieties such Mahogany Obsidian or Snowflake Obsidian.  Rare forms of  Obsidian have a colorful sheen that appears when moved in the light.  This effect is usually created by small inclusions of waver vapor bubbles trapped in the glass.  These bubbles have been stretched nearly flat in a series of layers which reflect back light with a metallic glow.  Examples of this include: Golden Sheen Obsidian, Red Sheen Obsidian, and Silver Sheen Obsidian.  Rainbow Obsidian has a similar iridescence, but the colors actually come from nanoparticles of Magnetite.  It is thought that the different colors are due to differing cooling rates of the molten lava.

Apache Tear Obsidian’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment.  Try it in combination with Peridot, Petrified Wood, Red Jasper, Turquoise, Vanadinite, and Variscite

Mineralogy Apache Tear Obsidian
Rock Type Igneous Rock
Major Minerals Volcanic Glass
Minor Minerals Feldspar, Hematite
Color Black
Texture Vitreous
Transparency Transparent to opaque

History of Apache Tear Obsidian

Apache Tear Obsidian was “discovered” relatively recently by the metaphysical community and so it was not included in any early lapidaries, texts that describe gemstones and their powers. However, various forms of Obsidian were used by many nearby indigenous cultures to make weapons, tools, and ornaments, as well as for healing and spiritual purposes. From this it can be inferred that Apache Tear Obsidian would have been similarly used.

Apache Tears are a form of Black Obsidian found only in the American Southwest, in the historical territory of the Native American Apache Tribe. The name “Apache Tears” comes from a legend that arose following a particularly heartbreaking episode in 1870. The event took place during the height of the Apache Wars (1849-1886), between the United States Army and the Apache Tribes. It was a time in which hatred proved stronger than compassion, and sorrow was the result.

In 1870, an Apache band in southern Arizona had established a secret settlement on top of a large rock pile called Big Picacho. The trail to the settlement was hidden away among the sheer mountain cliffs, and so the Apache felt themselves secure. The young men of the band occasionally perched as lookouts on the edge of Big Picacho and scanned the wide desert, but no one thought to guard the trail to the camp. Close by, an American army camp had been established to protect the white settlers from Apache attacks. The army officials had long suspected the Apaches were on Big Picacho but were unable to flush them out. However, eventually the white settlers, crazed with hatred, found the secret pathway leading to the Apache camp.

The settlers attacked at dawn from three sides, killing men, women, and children indiscriminately. Soon approximately 2/3 of the tribe had been killed or mortally wounded. The survivors realized that no mercy was to be had, and so ran West in the one direction that remained open to them. They ran towards the edge of the mountain, where sheer cliffs stretched hundreds of miles over the desert floor. Without any hesitation, they leapt off the cliffs and fell to their deaths. The entire band, numbering approximately 75 people, was completely destroyed.

According to legend, when other Apache bands heard the story they cried so bitterly that when their tears hit the earth, they formed black stones. Today, Apache Tears are considered the very best stone for processing through grief.

San Carlos Apache Woman, Apache Tear Obsidian

San Carlos Apache Woman

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