Published July 2014  •  Updated August 2022  •  Read Time: 7 minutes
Onyx is a black stone that is sometimes described as a Chalcedony and sometimes as an Agate.  It can be pure black or striped black and white.  It is found naturally in a few locations, but many pieces have actually been dyed pure black!  In recent years, the name “onyx” is sometimes given to a variety of stones such as “Green Onyx” or “White Onyx”, but these are actually striped Calcites.  Historically, Onyx was thought to encourage frivolous behavior, but is now celebrated for its exceptionally sensible energy.  It has been used as a talisman during labor & delivery for centuries and is still used today as a good luck charm for a quick and easy birth.

Onyx

Onyx Meaning

Spiritual Healing Properties

Onyx teaches us the importance of self-mastery, or the ability to harness our own strength and focus, in the pursuit of our most important goals. It is a wonderfully grounding, centering, and balancing stone for anyone with great spiritual aspirations, as self-mastery is one of the most important aspects of self-realization. Attaining Enlightenment, or any other high spiritual state, takes enormous dedication and a willingness to look deeply at ourselves and our world. Onyx provides that strength, and also the steadiness of vision to see the truth and align ourselves accordingly. Onyx also provides a deep root connection, allowing us to draw energy from the wider world and universe to augment our own energy pools.

Metaphysical Properties Onyx
Chakra Root, Solar Plexus, and Third Eye
Element Earth
Numerology 6
Zodiac Leo

Emotional Healing Properties

Onyx has a very calming energy, which can help to reduce anxiety and grief. It promotes self-confidence, self-control, and independence. Onyx can help us to logically work through our emotions, particularly negative emotions like fear or anger. It can show us the root cause behind our unhappiness and the simple solutions to most problems. These solutions are simple on the surface, but often require dedicated work on our part. Onyx provides us with strength and determination so we can do what is necessary. Onyx is also a fantastic stone for conflict resolution, as its energy encourages us to sit in non-judgment, carefully listening to both sides of an argument and assessing the facts, before coming to any conclusions.

Mental Healing Properties

Onyx is an excellent tool for students and anyone who is actively learning new information or a new skill set. It stimulates logical, analytical thinking and the ability to see connections and arrive at accurate conclusions. Onyx is also particularly helpful when we need to take a closer look at our own life and make some wise decisions. It helps us to realistically examine our actions and beliefs, and determine what course of action will best serve our own Highest Good. Onyx reminds us to stay focused on the things that are inside our circle of control and to not waste precious energy complaining about those things which we cannot control. If our hearts are set on making a difference, then Onyx can show us how to get involved and expand our circle of influence.

Physical Healing Properties

Onyx has been used for centuries to ease childbirth and hasten labor. Today, it is widely used by metaphysical healers to treat conditions in the feet and lower half of the body. It is also believed to significantly increase endurance and physical strength, making it an excellent talisman for athletes, particularly anyone training for marathons, triathlons, and other demanding competitions. Onyx is also said to be a good stone for anyone needing to regain their physical vigor, for instance, after suffering a chronic illness or major health crisis.

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Onyx Mineralogy

Where does Onyx come from?

Chalcedony is found all over the world and in every shade of the rainbow.  Black Chacledony, more commonly known as Onyx, mainly comes from India and Peru.

Mining and Treatments

Onyx is commonly mined in tandem with other precious metals and minerals.  It is typically mined from primary deposits which still have their original relationship with the host rock, usually in small-scale artisanal mining environments.

Much of the “Onyx” being sold on the market is actually striped Calcite, rather than Chalcedony.  It may also be dyed a deeper or more consistent shade of black.

Onyx Placeholder
Onyx

Mineral Family

Onyx is the black variety of Chalcedony and a silicate mineral.  Silicates are minerals which contain the elements Silicon (a light gray shiny metal) and Oxygen (a colorless gas). There are six main groups of Silicate minerals, and these main groups are further subdivided into secondary subdivisions, such as Quartz and Feldspar. Quartz is divided into two main groups, macrocrystalline and microcrystalline.  Macrocrystalline quartz has well-formed crystals that are large enough to be seen by the naked eye, for example, Amethyst or Clear Quartz.  Microcrystalline quartz has crystals so small they can only be seen through a microscope.  These are typically grouped together under the name Chalcedony, or it’s subcategories Agate and Jasper.  Microcrystalline quartz can be colorless or appear in every shade of the rainbow.  When it is black, or striped black and white, it is called Onyx.

Onyx’s energy works well with its family – other Chalcedony minerals.  Try it in combination with Blue Chalcedony, Carnelian, Chrome Chalcedony, Chrysoprase, Pink Chalcedony and Snow Quartz

Onyx Formation and Crystal Associates

Onyx are created after a volcanic explosion has transformed magma and lava into igneous rock. During the cooling down period, various gases form bubbles, which then become hollow spaces in the igneous rock.  The rocks also shift and break, creating empty cracks, fissures and other hollows.  Chalcedony is formed long afterwards, when silica-bearing water permeates the rocks and begins to fill these hollow spaces.  As the space fills, the water evaporates leaving the silica behind to harden into a Chalcedony. The silica-water may have picked up trace minerals along the way, which result in different colors and patterns in the new stone, including Onyx.

Onyx’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment.  Try it in combination with Carnelian, Clear Quartz, and Sardonyx

Mineralogy Onyx
Chemical Formula SiO2
Cleavage None
Color Black, or black/white stripes
Crystal System Hexagonal/triagonal
Form/Habit Microcrystalline
Fracture Uneven
Hardness – Mohs Scale 7
Luminescence Greenish-white (long wave) / Green (short wave)
Luster Vitreous
Mineral Family Tectosilicate
Specific Gravity 2.7
Streak White
Transparency Opaque

History of Onyx

While today most people think of Onyx as a pure black stone, in ancient times the name Onyx was used to refer to a wide variety of light colored Agates. The name Onyx comes from the Roman onux, meaning “claw or nail,” which is thought to be a reference to a group of relatively common stones such as Alabaster, Pink Chalcedony, and Onyx Marble, all of which have a soft pinkish-white color, similar to the luster of polished fingernails. In Hebrew, onux means “shining stone.”

According to one Roman myth, Onyx stones had a very unique origin story. When the world was still new, Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, was sleeping on the banks of the sacred Indus River, in India. Her son, Cupid, god of desire, kindly gave her a manicure, using one of his enchanted arrows to do the work. As the nail parings fell into the water, they sank to the bottom and were transformed into Onyx!

Today Onyx is usually thought of as a black stone.  It has the rare distinction of being known for mainly negative qualities, rather than positive! According to one medieval lapidary, a text which describes gemstones and their powers, “[Black] Onyx… has bad virtues because he who wears it at the neck or on the back will see devils; it causes many frivolities, brings anger and disagreement, but it gives hardiness.” People were advised to instead wear Sardonyx, or if they intended to wear Black Onyx, to wear Carnelian as well.

Other lapidaries offered more positive traits, suggesting that Onyx calmed lust and otherwise cooled emotional passions. Camillus Leonardus, an Italian physician, astronomer, and author of Speculum lapidum (1502), described Onyx in his work, stating that Onyx helped quicken labor and bring about the safe delivery of infants, as well as preventing epilepsy falls. Throughout Europe, Onyx was widely believed to be one of the best stones for pregnant women. A fist-sized Onyx was once part of the lost silver reliquary in the Abbey of St. Alban in England. It was reportedly engraved with an image of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of healing. This large Onyx was left unset and was taken to the homes of nearby women so that they could hold it during labor and thus ease the pain of childbirth. It is thought that this stone was probably an old pagan amulet that was later given to the shrine and assigned Christian meanings.

Asclepius, Onyx

Asclepius, God of Healing