Obsidian

Obsidian is a well known volcanic glass, rather common in many locations around the world. Named for the lapis obsidianus found in Ethiopia by Roman explorer Obsidius, Obsidian is very loved for its use as an ornament and gemstone. Although pure obsidian is glassy and jet-black in color, hematite (iron oxide) can produce red or brown varieties – most notable being Mahogany Obsidian. Gas bubbles or other inclusions may create a golden sheen or dark bands of different hues.

Formation

Obsidian is a type of igneous rock that is formed by the rapid cooling of lava after it is ejected from volcanoes.

Properties

Obsidian is 65% to 80% silica, low in water, and similar in chemical composition to rhyolite. Obsidian is hard, brittle, and amorphous, so it shatters into sharp edges when broken. Historically, it was widely used in the manufacture of cutting and piercing tools, and it has been tested as a surgical scalpel blade. An obsidian blade is about 3 nanometers thick at the cutting edge, a lot sharper and smoother than high-quality steel surgical scalpels. Even though it has proven medical benefits, its brittleness is a disadvantage. It is not approved for surgical use on humans currently.

Symbolism

Protection, clarity. Element: Earth

Legends

Aztecs and Mayan used Obsidian for anything from weapons to decorations and jewelry, and considered it more valuable than gold. It was the Maya prophets who used polished obsidian mirrors to predict the future through scrying. Being so sharp, it was revered by Aztecs as material for protection arrows, as well as a tool to cut into the darkness to reveal the truth.

 


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