Obsidian is a talisman of those who dare to see…the past, the future, or one’s own inner demons and darkest truths. It is no ordinary stone, but nature’s glass formed from volcanic lava and hardened so quickly it formed no crystalline structure. It has no boundaries or limitations, and works rapidly with great power. Its edge can be razor sharp, and its dark, glossy surface polished into cold, hard glass, a “mirror stone” for those prepared to look deep into the inner being, the subconscious, to reveal one’s shadow self…flaws, weaknesses, fears, all. Nothing is hidden from obsidan.
This shamanic stone can be brutal and direct, yet it carries the wonderful power of catharsis and deep soul healing. It reveals the reasons behind one’s imperfections and causes of dis-ease, and provides a clear picture of the changes needed to ameliorate them. It impels growth and resolution, and lends solid support and direction during the process. Obsidian provides essential grounding, connecting the base of the spine to the heart of the earth. It is highly protective, shielding one from negativity in the environment, from others, and from within the self. [Melody,
The use of Obsidian dates to the Old Stone Age, and many cultures relied heavily on this material in their daily, ritual, and spiritual lives. Obsidian’s conchoidal fracture allows it to break into pieces with curved surfaces and very sharp edges, and it has been found around the world fashioned into arrowheads, spear points, knives, axe heads, scrapers and various other cutting instruments. Pre-Columbian Mesoamericans fashioned a sword with Obsidian blades mounted in a wooden body, called a macuahuitl, that was capable of inflicting horrific injuries, and Obsidian daggers were reputed to be used in bloodletting and human sacrifice. In the Middle East, it was esteemed for its sharpness and precision in ritual circumcision, ancient Melanesians honed pointed pieces for tattooing the skin, and peoples on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) made multipurpose tools called mata’a for food preparation and cultivation. They also chose Obsidian as the pupils of the eyes in their famous Moai (statues) to endow them with authority and a spiritual essence
The mystical properties of Obsidian also date back to early civilizations, most notably in Mesoamerica, for its reflective quality and ability to be polished into mirrors. Deep black, or sometimes with a murky transparency, these mirrors reflected shadow images and were metaphors for sacred caves and pools of water. They were conduits for supernatural forces; to the Maya they were a means to communicate with otherworld entities, and to others they were a portal to realms that could be seen but not interacted with.
In ancient Mexico and surrounding regions Obsidian was known as iztli or teotetl, meaning “the divine stone,” used to carve amulets, jewelry, grave ornaments, and images of the god Tezcatlipoca, whose name means “smoking mirror,” and who was said to see all that occurred in the world and heavens through his Obsidian mirror. The Olmecs fashioned concave mirrors capable of lighting fires, and the Maya and Aztecs wore Obsidian mirrors to show elite status, and polished it into sheets for divining a person’s destiny. Ancient Greek civilizations used Obsidian balls and flat mirrors for scrying, and Native American cultures used Obsidian in their spiritual ceremonies to sharpen inner sight.
Obsidian forms from molten lava in the last stages of volcanic eruptions, the remaining silica minerals that flow onto the surface and are super-cooled into glass before crystallization can occur. It is an amorphous material known as a “mineraloid” with a hardness of 5 to 5.5, and is usually opaque except on thin edges. Obsidian is most frequently jet black, but can be dark brown, gray or gray-green. Trace elements or inclusions and refraction of microscopic gas bubbles can produce rare color variations, markings, and iridescent or metallic “sheens.” The name comes from the Latin obsidianus, an erroneous transcription of obsianus, meaning “the stone of Obsius,” the prominent Roman who discovered it. It is also referred to as “volcano glass,” “mirror of the Incas,” and “Iceland agate.” Obsidian is famous for producing an edge thinner and sharper than the best surgical steel, and is currently being used in scalpels for some of the most precise surgery.