Obsidian is a simple, yet classic black gem – just like onyx. While it might be (slightly) less eye-catching than other sparkly minerals, it definitely shouldn’t be ignored. This volcanic glass also has some fiery properties, making it a favorite of many.
Physical Properties of Obsidian
Obsidian is jet black volcanic glass. It is created in the process of rock formation when felsic (feldspar-containing) lava cools rapidly, and no crystal growth occurs. There are different varieties of obsidian, including Apache tears, mahogany obsidian, rainbow obsidian, sheen obsidian, and snowflake obsidian. The hardness of obsidian usually ranges between 5 and 5.5 on the Mohs scale. Since obsidian is a volcanic stone, it can be found in volcanic areas. Hence, it’s available worldwide: in Latin America, Australia, North America, Europe, and Oceania.
History and Uses of Obsidian
Obsidian was used as early as in the Paleolithic era, when it served as material for arrowheads, as protection from invaders and wild animals. This is probably the most commonly-known use of obsidian, which we've seen shaped into blades and arrowheads.
But really worth mentioning is the role of obsidian in the development and culture of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. Its popularity is often attributed to the lack of metallurgic sources in the area: it’s safe to say that obsidian was "the steel of the Mesoamericans."
In fact, obsidian can be found in every archeological site. Some of the artifacts found include knives, projectile points, beads, vases, masks, grave goods, human effigies, ear spools, and animal figures. This tells us that obsidian was used in a variety of activities, including hunting, butchery, agriculture, food preparation, funeral ceremonies, and different rituals. It is known that obsidian was also sometimes used in blood-letting sacrifices instead of stingray spines. The Mesoamericans believed that our blood originates from underground, and that’s why obsidian was perfect for cutting the skin.
Obsidian was widely used in temples, potlatching, and offerings. In Tikal, a popular Mayan site, obsidian was considered to be the stone of local gods. It is said that Mayan upper classes exclusively owned the rare Teotihuacan green obsidian; lower class citizens owned less expensive types of obsidian. The Aztecs knew obsidian, as well, and called it itztli.
Metaphysical Properties of Obsidian
Obsidian is a birthstone of Scorpio, one of the darkest signs. It governs muladhara (the root chakra), responsible for feelings of safety and security. This is why it's such a great stone for dissolving all kinds of trauma. It is said to help soothe fear and help us get over unpleasant shock.
Obsidian has long been said to be a protective talisman, known to bring clarity, protection, and balance. Obsidian is natural volcanic glass, formed when lava flow cools rapidly. Obsidian has been used for centuries, carved into arrowheads for protection; polished into mirror-like spheres and disks for scrying; and as energetic support for grounding and clearing away any psychic or emotional “junk” you’ve been holding on to, including bad habits and negative emotions.
It's also said to be a stone of truth: it will allow you to understand what you really are, and cast away all false preconceptions on who you are. Obsidian will walk you on the path that's right for you, even if you're starting anew after losing everything that mattered to you. If you're struggling with an obsession or compulsion, or feel you're under psychic attack, you may want to try working with obsidian. It's a potent, protective stone that will keep away negative energy.
No matter how hurt you've been, the presence of obsidian is likely to help. It's said to gather the scattered energies back and, at times, this is precisely what we need to get back on track. Obsidian combines the power of fire and earth, making it ideal for cleaning out emotional debris, growing up, and creating new, better things.