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The Magic of Rocks and Stones

Obsidian

(The Wizard Stone)

by Patricia J. Martin

As the weakened Sun begins to slide into its long seasonal sleep here in the Northern Hemisphere, there is no better stone than Obsidian to accompany us through the spectral nights of Autumn and protect and guide us through the trials of Winter! 

A lustrous rock, rich in silica and born of volcanic origin, Obsidian is a type of natural glass, formed when lava is rapidly cooled.  It can be found all over the world wherever volcanic activity has occurred, but most notable deposits are located in Obsidian Cliffs, Wyoming, and in Utah, Nevada, Arizona and California in the U.S., and Mexico, Italy, Iceland and Scotland worldwide.   

Obsidian's color is most often a vitreous (glassy) jet black or very dark brown which is due to Iron and Magnesium inclusions, but it can also be found in dark green or gray.  Small naturally rounded water-tumbled pieces that often exhibit conchoidal markings are called Apache Tears, named after a sorrowful event when Apache tribe women wept at the base of the cliff that their husbands had been driven over to their death during an ambush.  It is said that whoever carries the Apache Tears stone will never know deep sorrow, for it has been wept for them already.      

Other colors of Obsidian can occur when small bubbles of air become trapped within Obsidian's layers just before cooling.  In this case it can create what is known as Sheen Obsidian - these can be in hues of red (containing Hematite), blue, purple, gold, or even a full rainbow sheen. 

Obsidian containing small white inclusions of Cristobalite is called Snowflake Obsidian.  Larger pieces of Obsidian appear opaque, but thinner specimens show that it is actually translucent when held up to the light.  The word "obsidian" derives from the Latin "obsidianus," a misprint of "obsianus (lapis).  According to Pliny, the stone was named after the prominent ancient Roman, Obsius, who was credited with finding it in what is now Ethiopia.

          

Apache Tears  -  Sheen Obsidian  -  Snowflake Obsidian

Obsidian is of Granite or Rhyolite composition and has the same chemical formula as Quartz, but lacks any crystalline structure and is amorphous, thus registering only a medium hardness of 5 to 5.5 on the Mohs Scale.  For this reason and because it can be shaped easily, it was often used by Native Americans to make arrowheads and spear points, for when broken or cut, it has a razor-sharp edge.  Prior to that, artifacts reveal it was used during the Stone Age to make knives and other tools.  Incas utilized it for constructing weapons, mirrors, masks and jewelry, while the Mayans once carved idols of their god Tetzcatlipoca from this veritable black beauty.  Incidentally, the name Tetzcatlipoca means "shining mirror," so Obsidian was likely beloved by or chosen to mimic the god's attributes.  The Mayans also used polished Obsidian as "magic mirrors", a divining tool.

"Obsidian is effective when carried or used in protective rituals.  One involves surrounding a white candle with four Obsidian arrowheads that each point to one of the directions.  This sets up aggressive energies which guard the place in which it is set up." 

"Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic" by Scott Cunningham 

Many considered this useful stone to be a powerful talisman that enhanced psychic ability, and many a Shaman used it in ritual along with carrying it on their person.  Later in time, black Obsidian was much sought after for use as scrying mirrors.  During the Elizabethan Era, the famous magician, alchemist, mathematician and astrologer, Dr. John Dee, is said to have utilized an Obsidian scrying mirror.

This was the mirror used by the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and magician, Dr. John Dee (1527-1608).  Together with a small smoky quartz crystal ball (also known as a shew-stone), these are just a few of the many polished, translucent and reflective objects that he used as tools for his occult research.  Those shown above are on display at the British Museum in London.  

As we look to Autumn and begin preparing for Winter - the time of deep reflection - Obsidian can be of great help within our inner sanctum and in showing us just what is possible.  As a scrying tool and because of its deep mirroring ability, this shiny Fire and Earth stone is known as the "Stone of Prophecy" and is excellent for peering into its depths to detect the past, present and future.   But it wasn't simply the dark and mysterious reflective physical characteristics of Obsidian that made it one of the better surfaces for gazing into; this stone is also rich in metaphysical wonders.  Not only is it known to enhance clairvoyance by promoting acute awareness of what needs fixing, it provides clear guidance on much needed remedies.  It is also an excellent stone for grounding, meditation and protection, and provides a strong shield against all forms of negativity.  It will even transform an area or situation into a more positive one.  It cools anger and frustration while at the same time creating the impetus for change.  

For physical healing, Obsidian has been known to dissolve blockages and banish stagnation of any kind.  It can ease aches and pains, lessen phobias and relieve stress, depression or grief, and can generally bring clarity to the cause of a disease while working to dismantle it.  Whatever it is used for, Obsidian can be counted on to be a very blunt and to-the-point stone.  It increases one's psychic ability, making it appear even stronger in the answers it provides.  It has the uncanny and sometimes unsettling ability to dig deep into the shadows, bringing forth great insight and knowledge, both personal and worldly on things which could and should be made better.  Obsidian is like a truth serum; you will not be able to delude yourself when in its presence.  This volcanic stone can cut the ties that bind.  It is a projective stone, and its ruling planet is Saturn. 

I would say the ancients knew what they were doing.  For, beyond their practical uses of the stone...in the task of mask-making, it can be seen as Obsidian's power to shield and protect us as we take the journey within.  In the task of weapon-making, it coincides with Obsidian's ability (both physically and metaphysically) to cut to the chase and swiftly slice directly through to the core of an issue, as we hunt for that which will spiritually sustain us.  As a tool and divining device, it blends with Obsidian's usefulness in allowing us greater access to the Ancestors, the spirit world and Akashic records. 

This Mabon, and beyond, let the depths of the Obsidian mirror give back to you what wisdom awaits to be found!

Sources:

http://www.galleries.com/minerals/mineralo/obsidian/obsidian.htm

"Stones Alive!" by Twintreess

"The Illustrated Directory of Healing Crystals" by Cassandra Eason

Obsidian, itself.

First published in The Controversial Cauldron - the group newsletter of Email Witches

September 2009 © Patricia J. Martin

Best wishes and Blessed Be

 

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Traditions Part 2 Gardnerian Wicca /  Georgian Tradition /  Henge of Keltria /  Hereditary Witchcraft /  Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) /  Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) /  Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition /  Nordic Paganism /  Pagan Federation /  Pectic-Wita /  Seax-Wica /  Shamanism /  Solitary /  Strega /  Sylvan Tradition /  Vodoun or Voodoo /  Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /

 

Other things of interest:

 

Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) /  Esbats & Full Moons Links to Personal Friends & Resources Wicca/Witchcraft Resources What's a spell? Circle Casting and Sacred Space  Pentagram - Pentacle Marks of a Witch The Witches Power The Witches Hat An esoteric guide to visiting London SatanismPow-wowThe Unitarian Universalist Association /  Numerology:  Part 1  Part 2  /  Part 3A history of the Malleus Maleficarum:  includes:  Pope Innocent VIII  /  The papal Bull  /   The Malleus Maleficarum  /  An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum  /  The letter of approbation  /  Johann Nider’s Formicarius  /  Jacob Sprenger  /  Heinrich Kramer  /  Stefano Infessura  /  Montague Summers  /  The Waldenses  /  The Albigenses  /  The Hussites /  The Native American Sun DanceShielding (Occult and Psychic Protection)  The History of ThanksgivingAuras  - Part 1 and Part 2 /

 

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The Sabbats in History and Mythology /  Samhain (October 31st)  /  Yule (December 21st)  /  Imbolc (February 2nd)  /  Ostara (March 21st)  /  Beltane (April 30th)  /  Litha (June 21st)  /  Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st)  /  Mabon (September 21st)

 

Rituals contributed by Crone:

 

Samhain / Yule Imbolc Ostara /  Beltane Litha Lammas Mabon

 

Tools:

 

Tools of a Witch  /  The Besom (Broom) /  Poppets and DollsPendulums / Cauldron Magick Mirror Gazing

 

Animals:

 

Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) /  AntelopeBatsCrow Fox Frog and Toads Goat / HoneybeeKangarooLion OwlPhoenix Rabbits and HaresRaven Robin RedbreastSheep Spider SquirrelSwansWild Boar Wolf /  Serpent /  Pig /  Stag /  Horse /  Mouse /  Cat

 

Trees:

 

In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar.  For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following:  Birch /  Rowan / Ash /  Alder /  Willow Hawthorn /  Oak /  Holly /  Hazel /  Vine /  Ivy /  Reed /  Elder

 

Sacred Sites:

 

Mystical Sacred Sites  -  Stonehenge /  Glastonbury Tor /  Malta - The Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni /  Avebury /  Cerne Abbas - The Chalk Giant /  Ireland - Newgrange /

 

Rocks and Stones:

 

Stones - History, Myths and Lore

 

Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:

 

Apophyllite  / Amber Amethyst Aquamarine Aragonite Aventurine Black Tourmaline Bloodstone Calcite Carnelian Celestite Citrine Chrysanthemum StoneDiamond  /  Emerald / Fluorite Garnet /  Hematite Herkimer Diamond Labradorite Lapis Lazuli Malachite Moonstone Obsidian Opal Pyrite Quartz (Rock Crystal) Rose Quartz Ruby Selenite Seraphinite  /  Silver and GoldSmoky QuartzSodalite Sunstone ThundereggTree AgateZebra Marble

 

Wisdom and Inspiration:

 

Knowledge vs Wisdom by Ardriana Cahill I Talk to the TreesAwakening The Witch in YouA Tale of the Woods I have a Dream by Martin Luther King /

 

Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:

 

Murdered by Witchcraft The Fairy Witch of Clonmel A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) /  Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife /  The Story of Jack-O-Lantern The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) /  The Two Brothers - Light and Dark

 

Old Masters of Academia:

 

Pliny the ElderHesiodPythagoras

 

 

Biographies

 

Witches, Pagans and other associated People

(Ancient, Past and Present)

 

Remembered at Samhain

(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)

 

Abramelin the Mage /  Agrippa Aidan A KellyAlbertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” /  Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” /  Alison Harlow /  Amber KAnna FranklinAnodea JudithAnton Szandor LaVey /  Arnold CrowtherArthur Edward Waite /  Austin Osman Spare /  Biddy Early /  Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel /  Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke Cecil Hugh WilliamsonCharles Godfrey Leland /   Charles WaltonChristina Oakley Harrington Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" /  Dion Fortune /  Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki Doreen ValienteDorothy MorrisonDr. John Dee & Edward Kelly /  Dr. Leo Louis Martello /  Edward FitchEleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” Eliphas Levi /  Ernest Thompson Seton /  Ernest Westlake /  Fiona Horne Friedrich von Spee /  Francis Barrett /  Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca /  Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft /  Gwydion Pendderwen Hans HolzerHelen Duncan /   Herman Slater - Horrible Herman /  Isaac Bonewits Israel RegardieJames "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches /  Janet Farrar and Gavin BoneJessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” /  Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" /  John Belham-Payne John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" /  John Gerard /  John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred /  John Michael Greer /  John ScoreJoseph John Campbell /  Karl von Eckartshausen /  Laurie Cabot  - "the Official Witch of Salem" /  Lewis SpenceMargaret Alice MurrayMargot AdlerMarie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" /  Marion WeinsteinMatthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” /   Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" /  Monique WilsonMontague Summers /  Nicholas CulpeperNicholas RemyM. R. SellarsMrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" /  Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning GloryOld Dorothy Clutterbuck /  Old George PickingillPaddy SladePamela Colman-SmithParacelsus /  Patricia CrowtherPatricia Monaghan /  Patricia “Trish” TelescoPhilip HeseltonRaymond Buckland /  Reginald Scot /  Robert CochraneRobert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" /  Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” /  Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) /  Rudolf SteinerSabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" /  Scott CunninghamSelena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" /  Silver RavenwolfSir Francis Dashwood /  Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough"S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” /  Starhawk /  Stewart Farrar /  Sybil LeekTed Andrews The Mather Family - (includes:  Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) /   Thomas AdyT. Thorn CoyleVera ChapmanVictor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" /  Vivianne CrowleyWalter Brown GibsonWilliam Butler YeatsZsuzsanna Budapest /  

 

 

Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete.  If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below.  Many thanks for reading  :-)

 

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