Article by Mimosa’s own Cathy Douglas
Like quartz, glass is composed of silicon dioxide, and both materials are clear in their purest state. The difference is in the way they form. Quartz forms very gradually, aligning its molecules one by one into a perfect crystal lattice. In contrast, glass forms when the silicon is heated and quickly cooled, either by the earth or by man. The quickly cooled molecules have no time to form a lattice, and instead solidify with no particular pattern.
So the question sometimes comes up: Since crystal healing works by aligning the perfect structure of crystals with the energy field of the human body, does glass even have metaphysical properties? What, if anything, are the various forms of glass good for?
The answer is that glass has its own kind of magic.
While it lacks crystal structure, other characteristics give the various forms of glass their own power: color, included materials, light refraction or reflectivity, shape, tradition and history. In fact, humans have used glass so long, we could think of glass as sort of the “domestic dog” of the mineral world; it’s such a part of human culture that our paths are intertwined. Tools and weapons using obsidian date back to prehistory, including some of the oldest artifacts known. Glass jewelry has long been treasured. And glass mirrors gave people the ability to look at ourselves, bringing us to reflect on our own identity.
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Glass and Quartz are polymorphs: same substance, different form. When silicon dioxide builds up gradually over time, its trigonal lattice forms into the hexagon shape distinctive of Quartz. But in some cases, both natural and artificial, the silicon dioxide cools much more quickly, and doesn’t have time to form this structure. Instead, the molecules align themselves randomly. Glass is a non-crystalline amorphous solid.
Natural forms of Glass:
Obsidian has a long record of use. Not only did its sharp points come in handy for weapons and tools, its reflectivity made it an excellent material for mirrors. In fact, a piece of polished black obsidian still makes the best and most natural black mirror for scrying (divination) and meditation. Obsidian’s properties include exposing the truth in any situation, removing negative energy, grounding and balance, finding and correcting one’s own weaknesses, and addressing power struggles. Obsidian mirrors are also ideal for a number of shamanic uses, including divination and time travel. Obsidian is mostly silicon dioxide, but also contains other minerals that turn it dark.
Some special forms of Obsidian:
Sheen Obsidian, which may contain air bubbles (gold sheen) or magnetite (rainbow sheen).
Snowflake Obsidian forms when, over time, obsidian begins to crystalize. The “snow” in this obsidian is actually crystals of cristobalite – similar to quartz, but with its own distinctive structure. The snowflakes are called “phenocrysts.”
A natural form of volcanic glass — mainly obsidian, often with a dusting of perlite. The name “Apache tears” comes from a combination of history and legend. In the 1870s, a band of Apache warriors was hiding from the US Cavalry in the rugged mountains of Arizona. They believed their hiding spot was too remote for anyone to find, but the soldiers managed to track them, taking them by surprise with overpowering numbers. Fifty Apache men were killed in the ambush; the rest escaped only by running their horses off a cliff and falling to their deaths.
For years afterward, people found their bones among the stones of the Pacacho Canyon. They also found the globules of dark, volcanic glass we now know as Apache tears. The legend arose that these were the tears of the Apache women, frozen into stone so their grief might never be forgotten. A later addition to this legend claims that anyone given an Apache tear as a gift will never have to cry again, because the Apache women shed enough tears to last forever, for all the people of the world. People carry them now as a reminder of the cleansing power of grief.
A type of glassy, impactite meteorite formed when a meteorite hits the earth. The heat from the impact melts terrestrial silica-bearing materials, which get spewed out into the air. There it quickly cools, forming a type of glass. This glass contains other terrestrial minerals, and sometimes even traces of extraterrestrial ones. Some tektites have special names, like the Libyan Desert Glass of the Sahara or the Darwin Glass of Tasmania.While tektites from different locations have distinctive qualities, we can generalize certain properties that are common to most: tektites work with both the root and third eye chakras, and are helpful for grounding and protection, shielding the aura, and psychic and intuitive skills. A small piece under your pillow can be a great tool for dream recall or lucid dreaming.
Moldavite is a special, forest-green tektite. This tektite was the result of an asteroid impact almost 15 million years ago — an impact so powerful it sent molten aluminum-laced silicon dioxide flying into the air, where it quickly took form and solidified. Moldavite, which comes only from the Czech Republic has a very high frequency that causes some people to experience strong reactions. The rarest specimens are known as “angel chimes”; pieces will actually “ring” if dropped onto a sheet of glass. (You can check out a video of them here.) Moldavite is a stone of spiritual transformation, traditionally used in ritual objects. Pieces even appeared at the same site as the Venus of Willendorf. Even though it’s not a crystal, moldavite is considered one of the most high-energy, high-vibrational minerals.
A natural glass that forms in the shape of a tube when lightening strikes silicon-rich material. People have found it useful for aiding concentration and eliminating distractions. The same material, called lechatelierite, can form through human-created energy sources, such as downed electrical lines. The kind that formed during nuclear testing even has its own name: Trinitite.
Man-Made Forms of Glass:
Goldstone is also called avventurina, a name that comes from the Italian word for “by chance.” This derives from the story about goldstone’s beginnings: that it was developed by chance by alchemists trying to transform copper into gold. Another story goes that a monk working with both molten copper and glass accidentally mixed the two together, and in a classic “You-got-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter” moment, goldstone was born. Either way, goldstone reminds us that accidents can have happy results.
Nowadays, red goldstone is made by suspending copper particles in glass, which results in a reddish sparkling mineral It’s good for balancing physical and etheric bodies, grounding, and motivation. Blue Goldstone uses the same process, but substitutes cobalt or manganese for copper, and is good for overcoming negative thoughts and vision work. Green Goldstone, glass colored with chromium, is great for amplification of energy and all-around good luck. All forms of goldstone can help relieve arthritis, promote self-love, and replace unnecessary complications with simplicity.
Some of what is sold as hematite is actually glass mixed with iron. In fact, Magnetic Hematite isn’t really hematite at all. It looks like polished hematite, smooth with a metallic sheen, but it’s manufactured by mixing ground-up hematite and magnetite into glass, then exposing the mixture to a strong magnetic force as it cools. Pure hematite can be magnetized, but the charge will be weak and temporary. So if you bought a “hematite” ring that is magnetic, or even a non-magnetic one that doesn’t feel heavy enough, it’s probably man-made glass mixed with some form of iron. Since this material still contains iron, it will have similar protective and fire element properties, just probably not as strong. Some people also find the use of magnets and magnetic jewelry very therapeutic, especially for joint problems such as arthritis.
Opalite is a 100% man-made material. A small amount of opacifier — often ground fluorite or titanium dioxide — is added to molten glass, which is then cooled slowly enough that some of the Silicon dioxide crystallizes. The resulting glass is very appealing, a semi-opaque glass showing flashes of blue and orange. It’s used to clear and balance the energy centers, to connect one with the air and water elements, to transmute negativity into positive energy, for emotional balance, to instill a sense of childlike wonder, and to promote a feeling of comfort and safety. It’s sometimes also called Tiffany stone (not to be confused with the rare purple, natural Tiffany Stone).
Gaia Stone is just one of the names given to the gorgeous volcanic glass formed after Mt. Saint Helens’ 1980 eruption; it also goes by Green Obsidian, Helenite, Emerald (or sometimes Ruby) Obsidianite, and Mt. Saint Helens Emerald. The eruption itself produced no obsidian. But later on, when workers came to salvage equipment buried in the blast, they noticed that the heat from their acetylene torches transformed the surrounding ash to brilliant glass — sometimes green, other times bright red. The Gaia Stone we see now is colored by the same trace elements as the original: aluminum, iron, chromium, titanium and copper. Because this lucky find seemed like a gift from the Earth herself, it came to be known as Gaia Stone, after the ancient Greek Earth goddess. This connection helps us discover the stone’s heart-chakra properties of love and connection with Mother Earth.
Andara Crystals are controversial. Opinions run the gamut from “They’re the most amazing thing ever” to “They’re just slag glass someone found lying around outside an old factory.” Since the claims in favor of Andara crystals generally seem to come from people trying to sell them, most well-informed crystal collectors are skeptical.
Glass that is Just Glass:
Mirrors are glass with a metallic coating bonded to the back surface. Feng shui uses bagua outside the home to ward off the energy of pointed objects, such as a road that points traffic at your front door or a telephone pole. Black mirrors used for scrying may also be regular mirrors with a black coating behind the glass.
An even better-known divination tool is the Crystal Ball. Some of these are made from quartz, reconstituted quartz (which is materially the same thing as glass, but made from ground-up quartz), or other natural minerals, but glass balls also make excellent divination tools. The spherical shape produces interesting optical distortions that can help free the intuitive mind to look for insight.
Swarovski and other faceted crystals are made of leaded glass, usually hung in a window so that the prisms cut into the surface produce rainbows. They are not part of older feng shui traditions, but are popular today. They distribute good energy and light, and pretty rainbows, too! Some come with a metallic coating, similar to that of aura quartz, which changes the color of the light.
So, what do YOU think about crystal healing with glass? Would you use only natural glass? Or none at all? Let us know in the comments below!