Obsidian is created when liquid silica (lava) is ejected from a volcanic eruption. It is cooled so quickly that it doesn’t have a chance to form any crystalline structures. It’s known as volcanic glass for this reason. It’s usally a smooth, dark, brittle stone that shows very sharp edges when it’s broken. It’s usually dark brown or black, though there are rare examples of clear obsidian. There are varieties of obsidian with various distinguishing features. Snowflake obsidian contains inclusions of cristobalite crystals which form a snowflake-like pattern. Tiny bubbles caught in the flowing lava when it cooled can also produce various sheens, including golden or silver-sheen obsidian. Microscopic magnetite inclusions can even produce a beautiful rainbow sheen. Apache tears are rounded pieces of obsidian that are found in perlite deposits (perlite being obsidian broken down by water).
Because of its occurrence around volcanos, it’s heavily associated with fire and with primordial volcano deities. It’s been used to create sharp blades, arrowheads, and has been polished to create some of the world’s first mirrors. In fact, obsidian has long been used to make scrying mirrors because of its deep black color and glassy smooth surface. If you have trouble scrying in clear quartz, try obsidian. The darkness may help you focus your mind a little more.
Magickally, obsidian is very grounding, centering and earthy. The deep black color makes it useful for protection and absorption of negativity as well. Because it’s so powerful in absorbing negativity, it can also bring up your own negativity and force you to deal with it, so it’s important to use it with caution. Make sure you’ve released old hurts and fears before you spend a lot of time with obsidian, and be aware that it can even bring up negativity from past lives. It will reveal the truth in all things, so don’t use it if you don’t want to REALLY know where negativity is coming from
As it’s been used traditionally to make blades, it’s useful for anything that you need to ‘cut out’ of your life, and this goes back to removing negativity.
Black obsidian is the most powerful of all the obsidians, but it may be a bit too much to work with if you haven’t dealt with your own negativity. Gold sheen obsidian is especially useful for prophecy and scrying, while mahogany obsidian also has the added benefit of strengthening you while you deal with any negativity that may come up. Rainbow obsidian can help you keep in touch with your spiritual nature and release past loves, while snowflake obsidian is a gentle purifier. Apache tears are good to keep with you as they bring up negativity and purify it, but in a very gentle, gradual way.