The Spear and the Mirror
Dark as the void of space and reflective as a polished mirror, obsidian has long fascinated humankind. This midnight black stone is volcanic in origin, a natural glass that originates when silica-rich lava cools too quickly for crystallization to occur. Its name is owed to its discoverer, Obsius, who is thought to have first encountered it in Ethiopia.1 For some cultures it was the prime material for knapping into blades and points for projectiles; for others it served as a magic mirror to the other realms. In today’s world, it can serve as the stone of initiation, for its fiery birth can help us become reborn and its sharp edges can cut away the obstacles in our path while granting insight and clear vision.
OBSIDIAN AS AN ARCHETYPE: THE SPEAR
The earliest known use of obsidian among early civilization is in blades and projectiles. Arrowheads and spear points are easily knapped from obsidian due to its brittle structure, and the conchoidal fracture will yield a deft cutting edge. In areas where obsidian is present, native cultures used it as a tool for both the quotidian and the consecrated.
The archetype of obsidian as the spear or the blade is the archetype of the warrior. The warrior teaches us that we must undergo a transformation whereby our power is claimed. The first stage of this metamorphosis is an internal one; we begin to change our attitudes about the blows we are dealt in life. Just as a raw piece of obsidian is gradually transformed into a blade as the flint knapper strikes again and again, we are also molded and sculpted by life. Trauma, pain, and suffering can be tools to refine our consciousness if we give ourselves the opportunity to apply them. Each time we feel as though life has knocked us down, it is an opportunity to use that state to surrender to the process of becoming.
Flake by flake, the raw stone is chipped away and the point is revealed. In our own lives, obsidian helps us to be more present through pain and to surrender to the process of unfolding. When we hold or meditate with obsidian during times of transition, we can access the stillness in our being that is capable of weathering any storm. When we offer resistance, we cling to the shards of our lives that appear to be broken off, rather than seeing the transformation that is occurring. Obsidian asks us not to look upon the broken pieces that lay on the ground; rather, obsidian helps us to see ourselves as the perfection that is revealed from within when the unnecessary parts of ourselves are stripped away. Only by surrendering to the mystery of the process and by allowing the Divine to slowly help us release that which no longer serves can we become complete. Every piece that we lose is really part of our false identity--the ego--which is gradually broken down and left behind. Through the stages of breaking down and chipping away, we are revealing our best selves hidden beneath.
Obsidian has long been touted for having a protective and shielding influence. It is often carried to defend against psychic attack as well as to shield the holder from disruptive environmental influences, whether they are present spiritually, mentally, or physically. As we embrace the energy of the warrior, we find less need to create barriers between ourselves and the rest of the world. The role of the spiritual warrior is to accept responsibility and accountability for one’s actions and to defend the Light of the world. Obsidian serves to arm the spiritual warrior with a tool that cuts through illusion and pain. The sharpness that is typical of obsidian endows us with a mental attitude that is similarly penetrative, and this helps cut through the allure of the material world and those who are ruled by it.
The spear gives us the courage and the power to strip away the parts of ourselves that weigh us down. When we can honestly look at our lives and recognize a behavior or choice that does not serve our highest purpose, we can cut it out and hand it over to the higher power that permeates all that is. This is the ultimate message of the blades used in sacrificial rites; by offering our hearts willingly and authentically, we are given the opportunity to release what isn’t working and receive true strength. No illusion originating in the material world can survive this strength.
HONING YOUR STRENGTH
To begin, select a piece of obsidian; I prefer an arrowhead or raw, broken obsidian with a sharp edge. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in a powerful “warrior stance.” Take a couple of deep breaths to begin to relax. Note where tension dwells in your body. Hold your obsidian to your solar plexus with both hands keeping it in place; this chakra is the seat of our power, and obsidian will fortify it.
As you stand with the obsidian in place, breathe rhythmically into the belly in such a manner that the solar plexus gently expands and contracts with each breath.
Allow your mind to call the source of fear, pain, or worry. As you begin to feel the tug of these emotions, breathe into the obsidian and surrender to the moment. Know that this moment, with all its challenges, is the opportunity to sharpen your mind and your focus.
Lean into the discomfort and uncertainty, and remain grounded through the stone. As you recognize the authentic source of discomfort as uncertainty, the familiar tension in your body will begin to dissipate. Accept the strength that comes from being fully present in the surrendered state. Ask the Divine for guidance if you still feel uncertain, and know that it will be provided.
When you feel centered and at ease, bring the obsidian to your heart and offer gratitude to the stone and to the Universe.