Obsidian is the most abundant form of naturally occurring glass, the result of volcanic lava cooling quickly. Technically obsidian may have any composition, but usually it’s a glass with inclusions of hematite and rhyolite. The iridescent form known as Rainbow Obsidian contains nanoparticles of magnetite, and Snowflake Obsidian contains tiny white clusters of cristobalite.
Because it’s easy to chip and forms a sharp point, it has been an invaluable material for toolmaking throughout history, thus contributing to the evolution of the human race’s evolution. Many cultures also used it to make mirrors and figurines. In fact, one way archaeologists can trace the development of trade is by testing the composition of obsidian objects found along trade routes to find out where it originated, and thus how far it had traveled. More recently, obsidian lore has made its way into popular culture as “dragon glass” in Game of Thrones, or as a “witch’s blade.”
Safety and care: Obsidian breaks easily and forms sharp edges, so be careful you don’t get cut, and keep this in mind if children will handle it. When buying obsidian, be careful of sellers promoting obsidian in various bright colors; this material is usually fake.
Apache tears: Apache tears are a natural form of volcanic glass — mainly obsidian, often with a dusting of perlite. The name “Apache tears” comes from a combination of history and legend. In the 1870s, a band of Apache warriors was hiding from the US Cavalry in the rugged mountains of Arizona. They believed their hiding spot was too remote for anyone to find, but the soldiers managed to track them, taking them by surprise with overpowering numbers. Fifty Apache men were killed in the ambush; the rest escaped only by running their horses off a cliff and falling to their deaths. For years afterward, people found their bones among the stones of the Pacacho Canyon. They also found the globules of dark, volcanic glass we now know as Apache tears. The legend arose that these were the tears of the Apache women, frozen into stone so their grief might never be forgotten. A later addition to this legend claims that anyone given an Apache tear as a gift will never have to cry again, because the Apache women shed enough tears to last forever, for all the people of the world. People carry them now as a reminder of the cleansing power of grief.
Black obsidian: Use at the 1st Chakra (Root Chakra/Base Chakra) for protection, to reveal the truth in any situation, to expose areas of oneself that need growth and development, to facilitate past life ascension and regression, to block negative energies from entering one’s auric field, for grounding, to shield one from electromagnetic pollution, to banish negative energy, to bring peace and calming, to encourage living in a virtuous manner, to encourage personal growth, to increase courage, to facilitate compassion, to reduce arthritis pain, to detoxify the physical body, to maintain proper circulation, for use in scrying divination, to balance the mind, body, and spirit, to aid in acceptance of one’s weaknesses and to begin to heal and correct them, to address issues of control and power struggles, for use in shamanic ceremonies and rituals, and to remove negative thought patterns and conditioning.
Snowflake obsidian forms when, over time, the obsidian begins to crystalize. The “snow” in this obsidian is actually crystals of cristobalite, which is the same substance as quartz but with a distinctive crystal structure. As the obsidian continues to weather, it turns into something else, which is why you don’t find very ancient obsidian deposits. Use at the 1st Chakra (Root Chakra) for protection, to reveal the truth in any situation, to expose areas of oneself that need growth and development, to facilitate past life ascension and regression, to block negative energies from entering one’s auric field, for grounding, to shield one from electromagnetic pollution, to banish negative energy, to bring peace and calming, to encourage living in a virtuous manner, to encourage personal growth, to instill determination, to facilitate communication with one’s guides and angels, to increase courage, to stimulate intuition, to facilitate compassion, to reduce arthritis pain, to detoxify the physical body, to maintain proper circulation, to balance mind, body, and spirit, to encourage independence, and to improve circulation.