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Mineralogy of Black Obsidian
Rock Family: Igneous Rock
Major Mineral: Volcanic Glass
Minor Minerals: Feldspar, Hematite
Color: Black, gray
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Location: Obsidian is found all over the world; however, currently the most important Obsidian deposits are in Ecuador, Indonesia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the United States.
Rock Family: Obsidian is not a mineral, but rather a rock. An easy way to understand the difference is that rocks are like cookies and minerals are ingredients like flour or sugar. Many different minerals are used to create a rock! In the case of Black Obsidian, it is an igneous rock made of pure black volcanic glass.
Formation: 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 colored varieties and sheens.
Mining: Obsidian may be found on the surface of the Earth and requires little to no mining to extract. It is much prized by indigenous cultures for crafting weapons, tools, and ornaments.
Enhancements: All Obsidian is natural, enhanced only through tumbling, cutting, and polishing.
Synonyms: Volcanic Glass, Natural Glass
History of Black Obsidian
Obsidian was not included in most early lapidaries, texts which describe gemstones and their powers. However archaeological evidence reveals that Obsidian was used to create some of the very oldest cultural artifacts in human history. In fact, Obsidian was also used by our evolutionary ancestors and cousins! Which makes it one of the few healing crystals that can help us understand who we are, where we came from, and perhaps where we are going…
We are the only species in the history of our planet capable of writing – and we only developed this skill in 3000 BCE. Anything before that time period, therefore, requires a certain amount of conjecture. Is a stone figure of a female body proof of goddess worship? Maybe. It could also be a stone Barbie… The line between purely practical and possibly spiritual are not always easy to detect in the archaeological record.
The very earliest Obsidian tools date to the Oldowan, at the very dawn of the Paleolithic/Stone Age (2.6 million -10,000 BCE). Archaeologists believe that the very earliest hominid to use stone tools was Australopithecus garhi (2.5 million BCE) who lived in Ethiopia and is believed to be one of our direct ancestors. Among the fossil remains for this early hominid are obsidian tools used for chopping, scraping, and piercing. Sometime later two other early hominids began making stone tools; Homo habilis (2.4-1.4 million BCE), whose name means “Handy Man” precisely because he used stone tools, and Homo erectus (1.89 million – 143,000 BCE), the first hominid to stand upright like a modern human. Whether each species discovered stone tools independently, or were taught to use them, is a matter of speculation. Equally so, it is impossible to know whether these tools were purely practical or if they had any spiritual purpose.
By the time we Homo sapiens came along (about 200,000 BCE) we shared the Earth with three other hominid species, Homo erectus in Africa, Europe, and Asia; Homo neanderthalensis (200,000-40,000 BCE) in Europe; and Homo florensinsis (95,000-17,000 BCE) on the island of Java; all of whom used stone tools, including spear points. Once again, it is not always easy to determine if there was any spiritual purpose behind these tools. However, we can tell from Neanderthal sites that they buried their dead, made ivory jewelry, and possibly created art, even tattoos! This indicates they were sophisticated enough to have some type of spirituality, which may have extended to giving ritual purpose to stone tools. If they did, Obsidian would have been the obvious choice.
At the dawn of human civilization and writing, we know that Obsidian was definitely being used for ritual purposes. In Egypt, Obsidian knives were used for ceremonial circumcisions, as well as to make mirrors and various decorative objects found in tombs. The actual name “Obsidian” was first used by Pliny the Elder (CE23-79) who named it after a Roman citizen/explorer, Obsius, who “discovered” it in Ethiopia. During the ancient and medieval period, Obsidian was thought to drive out demons, and was used as an aid in rituals. It was also used to heal wounds and alleviate pain.
Obsidian was also widely used in the Americas. In Central and North America, Obsidian was a symbol of Tezcatlipoca, the chief god of the Aztec religion. Tezcatlipoca was the god of night, storms, kings, shamans, war, and beauty. He was depicted as a Jaguar, an incredibly potent symbol for spiritual power and authority. When the Aztecs practiced human sacrifice, it was an Obsidian knife that was wielded. The name Tezcatlipoca translates to mean “smoking mirror,” likely a direct reference to Obsidian mirrors used by Mayan priests for divination and shamanic purposes. These mirrors were carved out of pure Black Obsidian and were said to reveal a person’s flaws as well as the steps needed to make the appropriate change. Obsidian was widely traded throughout both South and North America. Each volcanic explosion creates a unique type of Obsidian, and so it is relatively easy to trace trading routes. In addition to making knives and mirrors, Obsidian was also used to make talismans for protection.
On Easter Island, Obsidian was used to make the eyes of the Moai statues. Today, the eyes are long gone, but stories passed down through the generations bear testament to what they once looked like.
Healing Properties of Black Obsidian
Spiritual: Obsidian is a very powerful stone that forces us to have more integrity in our thoughts and actions. This stone bluntly shows us our shadow sides and flaws so that we can accept them and step more fully into our Highest Self. Obsidian is a stone for warriors and shamans. It demands incredible courage from us, but gives true clarity and strength in return. It is particularly good for anyone who honors aboriginal and/or pagan spiritual practices, as well as those interested in the Aztec and Mayan religions. Obsidian is attuned to the Root Chakra and linked to the astrological sign of Sagittarius. It is connected to the Element of Earth and vibrates to the number 1.
Emotional: Obsidian is a protective stone for anyone who is actively experiencing shock or trauma. It helps us see the truth of situations and to purify ourselves after pain and suffering. It is particularly useful for anyone who is actively choosing to move past patterns of self-abuse and toward becoming more loving and kind. However, care should be taken to avoid Obsidian if one is suffering from chronic depression as this stone may add additional “heaviness.”
Mental: Obsidian helps us to see the truth in situations and to change restricting beliefs and behavioral patterns. It helps us sharpen our senses and intellect, and may additionally reveal gifts for true prophecy. Anyone who is engaged in active or continuous “problem solving mode,” will benefit from keeping a piece of Obsidian nearby. Obsidian is especially helpful for dissecting beliefs and habits that have been passed down to us by our families, allowing us to decide for ourselves whether these ideas are true and useful.
Physical: Obsidian is often used by metaphysical healers to help relieve pain and tension throughout the body. It is particularly helpful for healing injuries that have been self-afflicted. It has been used in shamanic rituals to “cut away” diseases and disorders from the physical and etheric bodies.
Always use wisdom when considering crystal therapies for healing.
Earth to Pocket
Earth to Pocket is the Moonrise Crystal business mission. It’s the promise that any stones purchased here will be consciously sourced and the journey of the stone, from the Earth and into your Pocket, will be as transparent as possible.
These Obsidians were mined in the United States and tumbled in South Africa.
I met the owner of the South African tumbling company at the 2014 Gem and Mineral show in Tucson, Arizona. This company only sells tumbled stones twice a year, once at the Tucson show and later at the Sainte Marie Aux Mines International Mineral and Gem Expo in Provence, France. They offer the largest selection of high quality tumbled stones in the industry, and are one of my favorite suppliers.
It would be my pleasure to hand-select a beautiful Obsidian for you.
This price is for one stone.
You can buy a single Black Obsidian or several, depending on your individual needs. Each Black Obsidian measures approximately 1 inch at its longest length and has a unique shape with soft edges. Tumbled stones are natural products and variations are part of their beauty.
The stone I choose for you will be smooth, pure black, and free of chips. If you buy multiple stones, I will choose stones that look and feel particularly good together. Stones will be cleansed and smudged with sage before being shipped to you.
With their pure and clean energies, these Black Obsidians are perfect for crystal healing. Add them to a medicine bag, place them on an altar, use them in a crystal elixir, fashion them into jewelry, or simply carry them in your pocket.
Safe Handling of Black Obsidian
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