Opals are renowned for their mysterious, shimmering colors. From the bright reds and oranges of a fire opal, to the almost pastel shades of other opals, it’s easy to see why it gave us the term “opalescent.”
Interestingly, not all opals share these colors — some of the specimens prized by healers and practitioners of magic don’t show any opalescence at all.
Opals are amorphous silicates with a high water content — they may even be as much as 21% water. These mineraloids are broadly divided into two categories: precious and common.
Precious opals are what most people think of when they hear the term “opal,” since they’re the ones that show brilliant plays of color. Common opals may have a glassy or waxy luster, but lack the colors of precious opal.
Precious opals get their flashes of color from their internal structure. Within these opals are tiny spheres of silica, closely packed together in a lattice. These diffract light that enters the stone, creating a rainbow of colors.
These opals are commonly cut and polished into cabochons to show off their colors. Since light poorly penetrates thick opals, they may also be sliced thin and placed against a dark-colored backing.
Natural black opals are the most rare. White, gray, and green precious opals are more common.
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Opal Healing Properties & Benefits
Each type of opal has its own particular strengths, but there are some emotional and physical attributes shared by all opals.
Emotionally, they are said to be helpful for healing and strengthening. They root out hidden emotions, trauma, and patterns and bring them to the surface, where they can be resolved or discarded as needed.
These stones aren’t suitable for everyone, however — opal requires a certain level of self-awareness and willingness to introspect, which may be painful for some.
Physically, this stone is said to be helpful for the hair, nails, skin, blood, eyes, and kidneys. Since it has a high water content, it’s sometimes used to soothe inflammation and balance water levels within the body. Some crystal healers use them to reduce fevers and ease menstrual or menopausal symptoms.
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Opal Magical Properties
Magically, opal acts almost like clear quartz. Precious opal, with its all-encompassing play of color, is said to hold all of the elements within it. It also amplifies energy, and so many be used for virtually any purpose. That said, opal is more easily damaged and less predictable in character than clear quartz, and so should be used with caution.
Opal cabochons are sometimes used as scrying stones, or worn as jewelry to enhance psychic abilities. They’re also said to enhance creativity, and make good charms for musicians, artists, and writers.
These stones are also considered lucky for those born in October. Ideally, an opal should be given as a gift, not purchased by the user themselves.
In terms of color magic, opals cover pretty much everything. Black opals are tied to black, which is associated with banishing, cleansing, protecting, and rebirth. Red opals are for vitality, physical strength, ambition, and lust.
Pink are for love, beauty, friendship, and reconciliation. White are tied to spirituality, cleansing, and protection. Blue are for healing, truth, and peace. Yellow opals are associated with learning, focus, and intellect. Orange are for creativity, confidence, and pride.
Opals with a variegated color or intense internal play of color may easily encompass more than one color, and therefore share properties with all of the colors they contain.
There are too many varieties and sub-varieties of opal to cover them all here, but each one has their own magical and metaphysical properties. More specifically:
- Andean opals are common opals in blue, green, or pink. They are said to soothe, instill inner peace, and aid meditation, divination, and journeying work.
- Black opals are the rarest precious opals. They are believed to help with depression, hopelessness, and shadow work. They can also be used as a protective stone during past life regressions, journeying, or soul retrieval.
- Boulder opals form in veins within their host rock. They are commonly used for clarity, reconciling the logical and intuitive minds, and spiritual development.
- Common opal have a waxy or glassy luster, but no play of color. They are helpful for insomnia, nightmares, regulating the flow of energy through the body, and assisting attunement with one’s higher self.
- Fire opals have very bright colors. Where other opals may be pink, blue, and green, these show red, orange, and yellow, with or without a play of color. They’re often used for business, prosperity, change, and transitions. They are wonderful talismans for those seeking to make their mark in life, and can serve as protective talismans against accidents.
- Hyalite, or water opals, are clear stones without opalescence. They often form in spheres, and make good attraction stones capable of drawing in anything the user requires.
- Moss opals show mossy or dendritic inclusions, similar to moss or tree agate. These are good for getting in touch with nature and fostering growth, both physically and spiritually.
- Wood opals form in fossilized trees, bones, and other biological structures. They’re associated with growth, change, transitions, and destiny.
In terms of chakras, opals with brilliant plays of color are considered to work with all seven energy centers. Specific colored opals may be more strongly tied to one chakra over the others.
Blue opals, for example, are best for working with the throat chakra, Visuddha. Green are best for Anahata, the heart chakra. Red are for the root chakra, and so forth.
The chakras are energy centers and gateways for the life force circulating throughout the body. When they become blocked or unbalanced, they can produce a variety of physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms.
Wearing opal jewelry near its corresponding chakra, or meditating with a loose opal near that area, is thought to help open these energy centers and restore balance.
How to Cleanse Opal
Opals aren’t the easiest stones to cleanse. They’re very soft and easily scratched, and damage can disrupt the way that their internal spheres interact with light, changing their play of color. With that in mind, there are a few ways to safely energetically cleanse an opal.
Some methods for cleansing Opal include:
- Bathe it in fresh, demineralized water.
- Set it in the light of the full moon. Be sure to remove it before dawn.
- Fumigate it with cleansing herbs or incense smoke.
- Use your personal energy.
- Play chimes, bells, music, or singing bowls. If you use a bowl, avoid placing your opal directly inside — the vibrations may damage it.
With their high water content, opals are sensitive to heat. Avoid putting them in direct sunlight for prolonged periods, or passing them through the flame of a candle.
It’s also a good idea to avoid putting them in a charm bag or other container with other crystals — anything harder than a 5.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness can easily harm them.
Getting Started With Opal
Opal is a wonderfully versatile stone, but can be a bit tricky to get started with. Precious opals tend to be very expensive, and it’s said that they should be received as gifts, not purchased directly, for best results.
If you choose to purchase your own opal, make sure that your supplier obtained it in an ethical fashion. There’s a very high demand for precious and semiprecious stones, especially with the increasing popularity of crystal healing, magic, and collecting. Any reputable seller should be able to confirm where their stones come from, and how they were mined.
Try to avoid purchasing opals stored in oil or water. While opal has a high water content, and some collectors prefer to store their specimens in liquid to preserve this, it can also be a coverup for a stone that looks dull and opaque when dry.
When choosing an opal, hold it in your non-dominant hand. This hand tends to be more receptive to subtle energies, so you’ll have an easier time determining how the opal’s energy meshes with your own. As long as it feels pleasant to hold, and doesn’t trigger any feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety, it should be suitable for you.
Once you have your opal at home, you should cleanse it. All crystals have their own, innate energy, but this energy can be affected by the people and places with which the stone comes in contact. That means that, before you begin working with it, you’ll probably want to get it back to its energetic baseline. Any of the cleansing methods mentioned above will work, so you can choose whichever resonates with you and your opal.
After cleansing, your stone should be ready for use. If it’s a piece of jewelry, you can wear it as-is, or program it with a specific intention first. If it’s a loose stone, you can meditate with it, use it for divination, or work with it how you please.
Like with other gemstones, your relationship with your opal will strengthen the more you use it. The stronger this is, the more powerful it will become.
Opals are a bit finickier than other stones, however. They’re prone to cracking and chipping, so you’ll have to take some pains to store it properly. Since they have such a high water content, there’s some concern about them losing water over time.
Opals that “dry out” can develop cracks and crazing on their surfaces. This is why some collectors keep their stored either in water, or in a sealed plastic container with a damp cloth. You might want to get a clear plastic bag and a piece of cotton to store your opal when not in use.
Opals are captivating stones, and part of their charm is their ephemeral nature. While there’s nothing quite like the beautiful play of color in a precious opal, all of them will eventually crack, craze, and dull with time if they aren’t carefully stored and taken care of.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an opal in your life, treat it well. It’s a powerful — if temperamental — energy amplifier, healer, and source of all color magic.
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