Apache Tears

Apache Tears are tears shaped nodules of obsidian found mainly in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, where where Apache Indians lived. Perlite is obsidian that has been weathered and altered to the point that it has become porous, lightweight, and Apache Tears are embedded in this material.


Apache tears are formed by siliceous lava flows, lava domes and ash particles. The spherules develop as cores within perlite masses with texture similar to onion-skin fractures. This process may be influenced by differential cooling, various alkali compounds, and water content. Excessive water in rhyolitic lava during cooling causes obsidian to hydrate (water entering the glass converts it to perlite). Where perlite is insufficiently hydrated, fresh obsidian cores remain embedded in the white matrix, and this is what we know as Apache Tears.


When held up to the light, Apache Tears look like smoky quartz. While they are an obsidian, Apache Tears have a less crystalline & more coarse look and a pitted irregular surface.



A legend of the Apache tribe attributes the name Apache tears to a battle between Apaches and the US Cavalry on a mountain overlooking Superior, Arizona, in the 1870s. A group of 75 Apaches and the US Cavalry fought there. Losing the battle, the outnumbered Apache warriors rode their horses off the mountain rather than be killed. Families of the warriors wept when they heard about the tragedy. Upon hitting the ground, their tears turned to stone.  In 1964, Johnny Cash released the album Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian, which included a song called “Apache Tears”.

Symbolism: Protection, Luck

Elements: Earth, Fire

Apache tears carry good luck, but they are also used for protection and all the other purposes of obsidian. Scrying glasses and crystal balls made of obsidian are popular. The British Museum currently displays an obsidian scrying glass from John Dee, and Nostradamus is also said to have used one. 

In Crystal Healing, obsidian is believed to relieve pain and aid digestion as well as the muscular system. It is also said to be a helpful ally when combating bacterial infections.
You can meditate with obsidian to help release buried emotions and unconsciously held blocks before they overtake you. You can wear obsidian to fight depression and prevent depression from occurring.

In pagan traditions,  stone is a powerful protective stone, which can be used in spells designed to expel negativity from the body, room, or object. It is possible to wear obsidian jewelry to guard against psychic attack and to cut unwanted linkages between people using obsidian blades during rituals. Cutting obsidian into arrowheads is a powerful amulet for protection. For protection, place four obsidian arrowheads around the perimeter of your home, one pointing in each of the cardinal directions. Additionally, obsidian is beneficial for grounding.

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