Obsidian arrowhead necklace, photo by Allison Giguere

A sacred stone given to me by my grandfather is an Apache tear, also known as obsidian. Half of a sphere, my stone is black and fits in the centre of my palm. It is rough on the rounded side of it, and smooth, shiny glass on the other side. My grandfather gave this to me when I was 11, shortly after I had been removed from my father’s rural home and moved to the big city. Along with a few other sacred stones, it was one of the few treasures from my childhood that has remained with me throughout the years.

When I became interested in the spiritual and emotional resonance of crystals, I began to researched all the stones that I own. Finally identifying this glassy black stone, I came to the realization that my sacred stone is half an Apache tear.

Apache tears is the popular term for rounded pebbles of obsidian or obsidianite, and it is composed of black or dark coloured natural volcanic glass, usually of rhyolite composition, and bearing conchoidal fracture. Partly transparent, these volcanic stones range from dark brown to black. My half of an Apache tear is jet black, sharp edged, and shiny.

Obsidian, photo by Garik Asplund

Their mythological name

This myth is associated with how the Apache tear got its name.

During the battle for the ownership rights of the American southwest, Apache warriors fought the illegal encroachment of the United States soldiers. Overpowered and outnumbered, the Apache warriors faced certain capture.

However, rather than be captured by the United States cavalry, Apache warrior braves jumped off of cliffs to their deaths below in the desert sands.

The distraught women of the Apache tribe wept for the loss of their brothers, fathers, sons, and lovers. The women’s tears of grief fell to the earth and formed these dark glassine stones that were subsequently called Apache tears, so that no one would ever forget what happened. Their hard, black surface reminds us of the difficult history of oppression and illegal land seizure practiced against First Nations peoples. 

These black obsidian stones are found throughout south western United States and Mexico where the Apache First Nation people reside.

Related: Trauma-informed meditation: Processing the past, by Chrysanthemum White Alder

Related: Dark Mirror Oracle, reviewed by Joie Grandbois

Hawai'ian sand, photo by Mouser Williams

Using obsidian or Apache tears 

Because of their association with grieving, obsidian and Apache tears have been used to bring comfort, calm, and emotional healing to people through difficult periods of grief.

Envision draining deep emotions into the stone. This can help clear many of the physical manifestations of the overwhelming emotion of grief, thus helping ground and protect our tender hearts from strong emotions. Apache tear absorbs and clear a variety of negative and complicated emotions. I like to think that my grandfather gave me the stone to help me process the grief I faced when removed from the only home I had ever known and was relocated far away. 

Like the departed Apache warriors of myth, the stones are also used for protection. When carried concealed in the bra or shirt pocket, Apache tear can absorb emotional, spiritual, or psychic negativity in every situation. Even when we are not fully aware of psychic attack, or how negativity could be affecting us, Apache tears can help with psychic and emotional self-defense in the moment. By absorbing all forms of negative energy, Apache tears help to clear the auric field leaving us clear, calm, and revitalized. 

Because of their clearing and absorbing qualities, many healers working with the emotional, spiritual physical, and psychic wounds of others use obsidian to absorb and ground energy coming from the people they work closely with, ensuring they stay safe and unaffected by other people’s released energy. 

When working with emotions, Apache tears are renown for healing issues of blockage in the heart chakra, resolving old hurts and softening the tough tissues resulting from a broken heart. Used regularly, Apache tear can absorb the negativity of abuse, enabling people to recover their joy and self-esteem, and find the resolve to leave both abusers and the patterns of abuse behind. 

In the physical realm it is said that Apache tears work with the base or root chakra, clearing blockages, and facilitating grounding with the earth. When the blockages are cleared we are more able to assimilate, digest, and be nourished by life’s experiences. 

Similar to how they act in the emotional and psychic realms, obsidian and Apache tears can reduce the toxic load carried physically in the body. By absorbing toxins, free radicals, allergens, and irritants, Apache tears help to purify the blood, enhance immunity, and promote vitality, and strength. They can even ease muscle spasms by absorbing the stagnant energy of lactic acid in the muscles, stimulating the flow of oxygenated blood to heal. 

Not just used to heal humans, Apache tears can be used to heal our animal companions by removing the negative effects of trauma, shock, abuse, and fear. Tucking a small piece of Apache tear into a cat bed, or dog kennel can work wonders, transforming past trauma and releasing it. 

Related: A Mystic Guide to Cleansing and Clearing by David Salisbury, reviewed by Donyae Coles

When you are working with magical tools, Apache tears can also used to cleanse and restore them. Whether you want to clear an athame, pendulum, or other healing crystals, lay them with Apache tears and let the stagnant and negative energy be absorbed and transformed. Regular cleansing with Apache tears can facilitate the maintenance of high vibration healing tools. 

Related: Energetic hygiene: Magical solutions to practical problems, by Chrysanthemum White Alder

Related: Magical cleansing basics: How to get started, by Donyae Coles

Obsidian, photo by Quinn Dombrowski

The sacred work of obsidian

I have used my Apache tear many times in my life. When I finally left an abusive relationship, I carried the stone that heals grief tucked inside my bra for almost six months. Not only was I aware of the remarkable healing energy of the stone, but it often felt like I held my grandfather’s protective energy close to my heart. 

I no longer grieve for what I lost as a child, but I have come to rely on the steady and focused energy I enjoy as a result of regular use of this powerful magical crystal. 

Image credits: Allison Giguere, Garik Asplund, Mouser Williams, Quinn Dombrowski