What is Obsidian?
Obsidian is actually molten lava, or volcanic glass, that cooled extremely quickly. In fact, it cooled so quickly that it has no internal crystalline structure and is therefore classified as a mineraloid instead of a crystal. Other examples of mineraloids are Amber, Jet and Opal.
This lightweight, translucent crystal was named after its discoverer, the Roman explorer Obsius who came across Obsidian in Ethiopia. Obsidian is a smooth, glossy crystal however you may also find it to be brittle and have sharp edges ... it rates as a 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale which makes it weaker than Quartz which is a 7, however it is much stronger than Calcite which is a 3. Obsidian can be found in Ecuador, Indonesia, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the United States and other volcanic areas.
Different types of Obsidian
The most common colour of Obsidian is black however it can also be brown, tan, red or green. Sometimes two colours are mixed together, such as Mahogany Obsidian, which is made up with a mixture of brown and black Obsidian. Rarer forms of Obsidian can have a metallic 'sheen' to them which is due to light reflecting mineral inclusions or gas bubbles. For example, Golden Sheen and Silver Sheen Obsidian get their 'sheen' appearance from left over gas bubbles from flowing Lava. Rainbow Obsidian flashes beautiful rainbow colours when light hits it and has a green-tint to it. Snowflake Obsidian is another variety of Obsidian which has white or grey patterns that look like snowflakes. These 'snowflakes' form when the Obsidian changes and becomes partially crystallised, forming Cristobalite which is a type of Quartz.
Obsidian is a crystal that needs to be cleansed after each use as it soaks up so much negative energy.
Obsidian in history
Historically, many ancient civilisations used Obsidian to make arrowheads and blades as Obsidian could be shaped into extremely sharp weapons. Obsidian was also polished to make some of the earliest mirrors known to exist. Meanwhile on Easter Island, Obsidian was not only used for weapons, it was also used to decorate the eyes on their statues.
Today, Obsidian is being trialled for use as blades in surgery as they are much sharper than standard steel scalpels.
Variations of Obsidian
Black Obsidian is a very powerful and protective crystal, it grounds the soul and magnifies any negative energy so that it can be addressed. It can also increase self-control and provide support during any change. Black Obsidian can be used to protect you against environmental pollution. Some people find Black Obsidian too overwhelming ... If this is the case for you, try working with one of the more gentler forms of Obsidian such as Snowflake Obsidian.
Golden Sheen & Silver Sheen Obsidian
Golden Sheen Obsidian is said to help with patience and can balance energy fields. This crystal is a protector, providing a feeling of safety and compassion. In the crystal book Crystals for Energy Healing, Ashley Leavy shares a Mexican legend about Golden Sheen Obsidian where "a woman named Xochitzol, meaning "flower of the sun", who was separated from her love when he was sent off to war. She vowed to wait for him until his return. When much time had passed, Xochitzol realised that her mate was not going to return, so she began to cry. The gods, feeling pity for her, turned her tears to Golden Obsidian."
If you'd like to try your hand at crystal gazing, try using Silver Sheen Obsidian. Melody, the author of 'Love is in the Earth' recommends using Silver Sheen Obsidian for gazing as it "acts to provide information concerning the "root" of the problem or situation." and "It can also be used as a mirror to the soul, one to stimulate seeing the self as others see you". Silver Sheen Obsidian is also considered to be a great crystal to use whilst meditating or when you need to be focused and have more patience.
Not only is Snowflake Obsidian a very pretty crystal, it is also a very calming and soothing crystal. This crystal is known as a 'stone of purity' and provides balance and helps with centering. Snowflake Obsidian will help release unhealthy thought patterns and ease loneliness.
Apache Tears are another form of Obsidian and are found in the USA. When you hold them in your hand they look black however if you hold them up to a light you will see that they are actually a dark grey-brown colour and are translucent. Apache Tears are said to absorb negative energy and are known as a crystal for grief. It is said that an Apache Tear will become darker in colour as grief is absorbed. The legend of the Apache Tear is recorded in Wikipedia: The name "Apache tear" comes from a legend of the Apache tribe: about 75 Apaches and the US Cavalry fought on a mountain overlooking what is now Superior, Arizona in the 1870s. Facing defeat, the outnumbered Apache warriors rode their horses off the mountain to their deaths rather than be killed. The wives and families of the warriors cried when they heard of the tragedy; their tears turned into stone upon hitting the ground. American singer songwriter Johnny Cash wrote a song entitled "Apache Tears" for his 1964 album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian.
Rainbow Obsidian, a base chakra crystal, is a gentle variety of Obsidian which can bring love and happiness into your life and help you see the beauty in everything. In addition, you can use Rainbow Obsidian for protection, grounding and soaking up negative energy from the aura.
Mahogany Obsidian is a much gentler variation of Obsidian than Black Obsidian. This crystal is grounding, protective and provides strength when you need it. You can use Mahogany Obsidian to help diffuse built-up anger and release energy blocks. Physically, Mahogany Obsidian can dispel pain (especially teeth or gums) and assist with circulation and dust mite allergies.