Oh, the spectral delight that is Opal, the “Eye Stone.” Like lightning in a rainbow, it flashes its brilliance with even the slightest movement and claims notice by all who witness its phenomenal “fire.” This is a stone so dedicated to the eye, so pleasing to the sight, it inspires love and hope, innocence and purity, luck and happiness.
The Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, described opalus - the Opal, as a precious stone containing the fiery flame of the carbuncle (Garnet), the resplendent purple of the Amethyst, and the sea-green glory of the Emerald - all shining together in incredible union and exquisite pleasure. It was considered by all in the ancient world to be the most bewitching and mysterious of gems, worn for its virtues of soothing and strengthening the sight, healing diseases of the eyes, and capable of providing great luck, as it possessed all the virtues of the gemstones whose colors reside within it. Yet for all its beauty and enviable desire, this “Queen of Gems’” reputation, for a time, fell from grace - linked with rumors, misfortunes and mysterious fatalities. Despite the superstitions, Opal was redeemed in the twentieth century, and is today an absolute favorite gem, especially as the birthstone for those born in October. Traditionally, it is also the gift given for a 14th wedding anniversary.
In the metaphysical world, Opal acts as a prism within the aura, bringing a full spectrum of Light energy to the system, soothing and clearing the emotional body, and boosting the will to live and the joy of one’s earthly existence. It enkindles optimism, enthusiasm and creativity, and allows for the release of inhibitions inspiring love and passion. Opal enhances cosmic consciousness and stimulates flashes of intuition and insight, yet is a protective stone for deep inner work, meditations, and lower world shamanic journeys.
Opal is most known for its ability to bring one’s traits and characteristics to the surface for examination and transformation. Just as Opal absorbs and reflects light, it picks up thoughts and feelings, desires and buried emotions, amplifying them and returning them to the source. While magnifying one’s negative attributes may prove to be uncomfortable, it allows for understanding how destructive these emotions can be and assists the process of letting them go. Opal also illuminates the positive actions and emotions of the self, enhancing the good and true, and fostering one’s highest potential. It is a karmic stone with a reminder that what one sends out will return.
The term opal is adapted from the Latin opalus, but is believed to originate from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone.” References to the gem by Pliny the Elder suggest it may have related to Ops, the wife of Saturn and goddess of fertility. It was also called opallios in Greek, meaning “to see a change in color,” pederos meaning “the child of love,” and paederos “the delicate complexion of a lovely youth.” The opaluscame to be known as ophthalmos, or ophthalmius, in the Middle Ages - “The Eye Stone,” a term which helped in part to reflect its ophthalmic virutes.
Opal is hydrated silicon dioxide - submicroscopic silica spheres bonded together with water and additional silica, sometimes containing the minerals cristobalite and tridymite. It is amorphous, meaning it has no crystalline structure and no definite chemical composition and is therefore considered to be a “mineraloid” rather than a “mineral.” Over time, this gelatinous mix seeped deep into fractures, veins and between the layers of underground sedimentary rock, and the solidified material, Opal, formed as much of the water evaporated. In rare circumstances, Opal formed in masses exhibiting botryoidal growth, in stalagmitic form, or became replacement material in fossils. Even after solidifying, Opal maintains a water content ranging from 3% to 21% by weight, usually between 6% and 10%.
Of the three basic types of Opals, “Precious Opal,” also called “Rainbow Opal,” is the rarest, mined in a limited number of locations worldwide and produces brilliant flashes or streaks of iridescent color when turned in the light, a phenomenon known as “play of color.” The color is not due to any pigment in the stone, but are optical effects created when the microscopic spheres of silica hardened in an orderly grid-like pattern, similar to layers of ping-pong balls in a box. The spacing between the spheres causes light waves traveling through Opal’s internal structure to diffract and break up into the colors of the spectrum. The size of the spheres and their geometric packing determines the color and quality of the diffracted light, and the value of the Opal.
“Common Opal,” or “Potch,” is found in many places throughout the world and forms with spheres of unorderly sizes or stacking, and does not exhibit play of color. It usually has a milky or pearly luster, known as “opalescence.” The third type, “Fire Opal,” is a transparent to translucent Opal with a body color of vivid red, orange or yellow, most commonly mined in Mexico. It typically shows no play of color, though occasionally a stone will have a weak display or exhibit bright green flashes.
Opals form as colorless, white, yellow, red, orange, green, brown, black or blue, and may be transparent, translucent or opaque. They have a brittle tenacity and are usually cut en cabochon to show their full play of color. Solid Opal refers to stones consisting wholly of Precious Opal, while thin, but beautiful layers are sometimes made into doublets (with a supportive backing), or triplets (having a backing and a crystal dome over the top for protection). Opal is the national gemstone of Australia who produces 97% of the world’s supply. These Opals are formed in a sedimentary environment and are highly stable and resistant to breakage. Other Opal forms from volcanic processes and is called hydrophane for its ability to absorb water; these Opals are porous to varying degrees and more prone to crazing or cracking.
Some of the most common varieties of Opal are listed below with brief descriptions and a summary of their metaphysical properties:
Andean Opal or Peruvian Opal - Common Opal from the Andes Mountains of Peru; translucent to opaque, soft pastel blue, blue-green or pink with a pearly sheen, sometimes cut to include the black or beige matrix in the more opaque stones. Andean Opal is considered to be a gift from Pachamama, the earliest Inca Goddess of Fruitfulness and Mother Earth, and is wonderfully soothing for children and animals, and adults overwhelmed by life. It is particularly useful for healing old emotional wounds, from this life or another, bringing an inner peace to carry one through difficult times. Andean stones promote right action for the highest good and stimulate connection with others and communication from the heart. They increases awareness of the need to heal the Earth, and are useful for those who manifest and transmute the changing vibration through their own body. Andean Opal is an excellent journeying stone, highly receptive, inducing a mild hypnotic state for enhancing divination and metaphysical gifts. These stones carry Water energy, and are great for activating the Heart and Throat Chakras.
Black or Precious Black Opal - Precious Opal with a dark body color, usually black or dark gray, deep blue or green; the deep body color makes the iridescent play of color strikingly different from light Opals. The majority of Black Precious Opals come from Lightning Ridge, New South Wales, Australia and are the most famous and sought after Opals in the world. Black Opal is considered to be extremely lucky and the most uplifting of the Opals, bringing Light into the aura. It eases distress and dissolves depression and hopelessness, helping one face their darkest fears and to release that which is holding one back. Linking the Root and Crown Chakras, Black Opal connects one’s highest spiritual aspirations with one’s physical body, making it a powerful magnifier of intention and manifestation. It is a protective stone for deep inner work, soul retrieval or past-life recall, and can be used for “gazing” into the past, present or future. It is highly prized as a power stone for magic ritual and can be used for “reading eyes” in order to scry the truthfulness or intent of a person. Black Opal is a Storm element stone of death and re-birth, and utilizes Fire energy.
Boulder Opal - Precious Opal that forms within voids or fractures of its host rock, usually ironstone or sandstone, and because the veins are quite thin, is cut with the stone left on the back for support or as layers of Opal within the matrix stone. Mined in Queensland, Australia, each finished piece is unique and special. As close-to-nature talismans, Boulder Opals carry not only warm Earth energies, but also the illuminating energy of Fire. They assist practical people in developing their spiritual sides, and help spiritually minded people succeed in the everyday world. Boulder Opals are great for reconciling conscious and unconscious thought, bringing clarity and emotional security, and assist those who find it hard to put down roots to establish a stable home environment without sacrificing a spirit of adventure. Use these stones for perseverance when the going gets tough, and hold in earthy places to connect with earth and plant spirits.
Common or “Potch” Opal - Opal found in many locations around the world that is generally opaque and does not exhibit play of color. It forms in nearly all colors, has a lustrous sheen, and can be cut into gemstones that accept a high polish. Common Opals are magnificent for metaphysical purposes, vibrating at a lower frequency than the transparent or fiery Opals, and provide gentle, nurturing support for the emotional body. They help alleviate worry, chronic stress and depression, and are perfect antidotes for sleeplessness and nightmares, and healing subconsciously held pain. Common Opal combines Earth and Water energies, and may be used to balance the male/female energies within the body, and to both align and balance the chakras. Stimulating the proper flow of energy through the physical body, Common Opal facilitates attunement with the higher self and the ethereal realm, bringing a calm, centered mind for prayer and meditation. These lovely stones can attract angelic beings and are ideal gifts to leave for them in some unseen spot.
Crystal Opal - transparent to semi-transparent Precious Opal, with an exceptional play of color; the “see-through” body color can be colorless, light or dark. Crystal Opal is an extraordinary stone of health and healing, supporting the entire being. It brings high spirits and a deep feeling of joy and exuberance to one’s life. Utilizing the element of Fire, it inspires cleverness, imagination and creativity, art and poetry, and helps one understand that which will continue to exist after the completion of one’s “stay” in the physical body. Crystal Opals may be used for “gazing” and to stimulate visions from within the realms of eternity.
Ethiopian Opal - hydrophane Opal that forms in nodules within volcanic ash in seams between rhyolite layers. It occurs in a variety of colors and patterns and usually displays brilliant flashes of color. The new Opals from the Welo district of Ethiopia discovered in 2008 have proven to be extremely stable despite their porosity, able to absorb water and change transparency or opacity, then revert back to their original state with no adverse reaction or cracking. These stones are marvelous for utilizing Water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification. Metaphysical healers may be more familiar with the original red or brown-based Ethiopian Flash Opal discovered in 1994 at Yita Ridge, the high-vibration Fire energy stones of ancient wisdom that burn off karma from the past and open the way to rebirth. These stones carry a soul holograph and lend access to the past, present and future, stimulating all of one’s metaphysical gifts. Activating the Base and Sacral Chakras, these are joy-filled gems, uniting all the subtle bodies into equilibrium so the whole body functions harmoniously. Ethiopian Opals carry positive dragon energy, for both personal and planetary use.
Fire Opal or Mexican Fire Opal - a transparent to translucent Opal named for its body color of vivid red, orange or yellow, usually without opalescence or display of color; the most significant sources come from Mexico. Specimens with iridescent flashes are referred to as Precious Fire Opal, or “Firmament Stone.” Fire Opals utilize the elemental energy of Fire to awaken one’s passion, from bodily desires to spiritual ecstasy. They stimulate the Base and Sacral Chakras, activate one’s chi, and can give rise to the kundalini energy. They are perfect for stimulating the triple-burner meridian in acupressure/acupuncture. Fire Opals attune to the creative energy of the Universe and promote the expression of one’s emotions through art. Ideal stones for business endeavors, Fire Opals draw in money, facilitate change, and usher in progress. They make excellent charms for those who wish to be independent and live by their own rules, and for those who wish to make their mark in life, either personally or professionally. Fire Opals protect against danger, and are especially empowering for removing oneself from situations of injustice or mistreatment, and may be used to release deep-seated feelings of grief, even if these stem from other lives. Wear to become more optimistic, socially outgoing and confident.
Girasol Opal - a true Girasol Opal is a bluish-white translucent Opal with reddish reflections and a bluish glow or sheen that follows the light source as the stone is turned; because of its gelatinous appearance, it is sometimes called “Jelly Opal.” It is not a play of color as seen in Precious Opal but rather an effect from microscopic inclusions. The two most notable sources of this Opal are Oregon and Mexico, sometimes referred to as Water Opal when it is from Mexico. The term “Girasol Opal” has been mistakenly and improperly used to refer to Fire Opals, as well as a transparent to semi-transparent type of milky Quartz from Madagascar called Girasol Quartz, Blue Opal Quartz, or Madagascar Star Quartz that displays an asterism, or star effect. True Girasol Opal is an emotionally comforting stone, enhancing communication, and bringing solutions to difficulties. It helps bring untruths to light, especially where they could not have been spoken of in the past. Girasol increases connections between members of a soul group, conveying the beneficial support for one’s present life, and dissolves imprints on the etheric blueprint, restoring cellular memory. It aids one in separating psychic impressions from one’s own feelings, strengthens boundaries and teaches one how to be secure in one’s own right. Gridding with Girasol Opal creates a quiet space in which to work and meditate.
Green Opal and Prase Opal - green varieties of Common Opal, the first being a mixture of Opal and nontronite, the second being Opal containing nickel. Both are cleansing and rejuvenating stones, bringing energy and quick recovery from illness, exhaustion or mental angst. Whether helping one to unburden the heart or providing assistance in relationships, Green Opals have the ability to filter information and reorient the mind, giving meaning to everyday life and bringing a spiritual perspective. Green Opals activate the Heart Chakra and utilize Wood energy, the energy of family and health, prosperity and abundance.
Hydrophane Opal - a milky variety of Opal that turns translucent or transparent when immersed in water (hydrated). The term “hydrophane” comes from the Greek words meaning “water-loving” and describes their ability to absorb water and change from opaque or semi-translucent, to translucent or even transparent. They may emit streams of bubbles and even the appropriate sounds as they gradually become clearer. Sometimes this highlights the play of color within the stone, while in rarer cases, may hide the color play. After removal from water, the Opal will dehydrate and return to its original state, ranging in time from minutes to more than a week, depending on the stone body type, size and environmental conditions. Hydrophane Opal varies widely from source to source, so it is important to learn the characteristics of gems from a particular mine rather than consider them to be alike in appearance and in tolerances for this process. Hydrophane Opals are marvelous for utilizing Water energy, the energy of stillness, quiet strength, and purification.
Matrix Opal - Precious Opal interspersed within a host rock, usually ironstone or sandstone, where the Opal occurs as a network of veins or an infilling of pore spaces; usually displays “pinfire” color in the natural state. The most famous Matrix Opal comes from Australia, most notably from Andamooka as well as Queensland, including “Yowah Nuts” from the southwestern Opal fields near Queensland. Yowah Nuts are small rounded pebbles of sandstone infused with Precious Opal. Honduras Black Opal is also a Matrix Opal of basalt sought after for its black body color and pinfire flashes. Metaphysically, Matrix Opal intensifies all experiences, deepens emotions, and brings comfort during fear or grief. It assists one in remaining centered during decision-making and brings clarity to problematic situations. A beautiful stone for calming the inner soul, Matrix Opal engenders emotional balance, helping one to love their body and earthly existence, and to recognize one’s true desires, aspirations, ambitions and dreams, and work toward fulfilling them. Utilizing both Earth and Fire energies, Matrix Opal can be used to access one’s spiritual guides and animal guides, and may be used in medicine-wheel ceremonies to stabilize energy and promote contact.
Milk Opal - generally Common Opal, though the name is sometimes applied to milky-white Precious Opal, or cloudy Opal with a light background. Milk Opals were called the milk drops of the Mother Goddess in a number of cultures, and serve as special talismans of protection, nurturing and support. They soothe and clear the emotional body, and stimulate hope and optimism, boosting one’s joy and will to live. Milk Opals encourage one to be open-minded and accepting of oneself and others, aids communication efforts and enkindles companionship. They help create a warm, safe environment, and are ideal for those who care for babies, children, mothers in distress, or anyone who is vulnerable. In the workplace, Milk Opals are good for calming angry people, especially in areas of customer service, helpdesk or helplines.
Moss Opal or Dendritic Opal - milky white to brownish Common Opal with dark-green moss, tree or fern-like inclusions (dendrites) of various silicates, hornblende or manganese oxides; shows no play of color. Dendritic Opals are excellent for getting in touch with the environment and for communicating with Nature spirits. They promote growth, both physically and spiritually, and can provide help when needed in entering relationships and group dynamics, allowing one to remain open and approachable in spite of bad experiences. Dendritic Opals serve to heal wounds from the past, or past lives, and bring the ability to approach others without prejudice. They are great for enhancing the achievement of personal goals and bring abundance and prosperity to one’s life.
Oregon Opal - a unique variety of transparent to translucent Opal found only in Opal Butte, Oregon that is surprisingly clear and flashes dusky blue-violet or yellow-orange opalescence when faceted; not to be confused with the Common Opal and other varieties that are also mined in Opal Butte. Discovered by a shepherd over a century ago, this Opal was marketed by Tiffany’s and avidly sought after at the turn of the century. Oregon Opal carries the energy of Fire and is a highly spiritual stone, allowing one to move between dimensions and past-life exploration for karmic healing. It is a stone of truth, searching out lies and delusions, both from other people and self-deception, and helps release old grief, trauma and disappointment. Where other Opal can magnify the experiences of difficult emotions, Oregon Opal gently stimulates the Solar Plexus Chakra and amplifies the joyful side of emotional release, facilitating self-expression, decisive action, and trusting one’s own guidance and instincts. It encourages one to enjoy the process and exploration of life, breaking free of limiting visions of what is possible.
Owyhee Blue Opal - Common Opal discovered near the sacred Indian springs of Owyhee, Oregon in 2003, characterized by a rich sky blue color; often translucent when first removed from the ground, but can gradually turn opaque when exposed to the air and dehydration begins. Owyhee Blue Opal imparts a high, celestial vibration connecting one to the highest angelic guidance and to one’s own spirit guides. As a dream stone, it opens metaphysical abilities, heightens intuition, and facilitates kything - two way communication with the spirit world. It is a protective stone for shamanic journeys and multi-dimensional exploration, and utilizes the calm, quiet strength of Water energy for personal empowerment. It helps overcome shyness, confusion, unfounded fears of failure and indecisiveness. Combining the pure Blue Ray of the Throat Chakra with the Third Eye Chakra, this stone assists one in drawing on one’s own power to see, speak and act with clarity, authority and confidence, without being arrogant or confrontational. It is imbued with the softness that comes from certainty and the ability to reach the goals one sets for oneself.
Water Opal or Hyalite - colorless, water-clear Common Opal with no play of color, formed in botryoidal (grape-like) masses or otherwise unusual shapes; its structure is more network-like, similar to silica glass, rather than separate gel spheres; also called Muller’s Glass. Hyalite is a most unusual Opal, representing all the magical qualities of Opal, yet encourages the individuality and inner radiance of the wearer to shine through. It is a good stone for clearing a distorted body image or self-consciousness about one’s physical appearance that prevents social interaction. It is also a stone of attraction for accumulating anything one needs, whether resources, money, or friends. Water Opal connects the Base to the Crown Chakra, stabilizing one’s mood, enhancing meditation and stimulating connection with the spiritual world. Its watery depths may be used for scrying, and can assist those making the transition out of the body, the temporary vehicle for the soul.
White or Precious White Opal - Precious Opal with a light body color, usually white, yellow or cream, with a rainbow flash of color; best-known of the Opals and most widely used in jewelry. The majority of White Precious Opal comes from Australia, most notably the town of Coober Pedy, nicknamed “Opal Capital of the World.” White Precious Opal is the happiest of the Opals, radiating optimism and good humor, enthusiasm, imagination and creativity, and invigorates anyone who comes into regular contact with its energies. Utilizing the elements of Fire and Light, White Precious Opal illuminates and intensifies all aspects of the emotional body, helping one to identify and release old wounds, fears and anger, and other patterns of negativity that harm the self and ultimately others. It then infuses the aura with a frequency of joy and nourishment, and manifests the Light of the Divine into one’s energy field. It is marvelous for connecting with angelic beings and feeling one’s spirit guides more strongly. White Opals are also a symbol of lasting love on a very deep level and are traditionally exchanged between twin souls who have existing love responsibilities to fulfill. As a rainbow gem, White Precious Opal is a wish stone, uplifting those who have suffered many disappointments to renew their faith in life; also great for reversing a run of bad luck. It is particularly lucky to wish upon an Opal if there’s a rainbow in the sky.
Wood Opal and Opalized Nature - Precious Opal which has become fossilized over time by partially replacing the organic portions of tree, plant or animal remains; these formations have been found in dinosaur bones, marine creatures, in bogs, as limb casts, or within wood structures, at times still forming the trees’ original growth rings. These talismans of Wood energy attune to the energy of growth, expansion, new beginnings, nourishment and health, and are ideal for providing the impetus to action needed to progress one toward one’s destiny. Nature Opals are stones of grounding and strength, and lead one in the search for serenity which is inherent in all life. They are ideal for removing trifling annoyances by spurring the actions needed to eliminate the situation, and assist one in dissolving worry over things of little importance, teaching one to “change what you can, and worry not about the rest.”
Opals promote a sense of calm security, easing stress and depression, and encouraging one to stop brooding in order to better direct one’s thoughts and energies. They are antidotes to restless thoughts and racing minds that rehash the past or anticipate the future. Opals center the mind and are stones of happy dreams, particularly soothing for children and those who have always slept badly or had recurring nightmares with no apparent reason. Precious Opal relieves any issues a child may have with an invisible or imaginary friend, and is especially helpful before sleep if the child wishes the friend to go away at bedtime.
A stone of protection, Opal is a marvelous shield to keep from absorbing other people’s negative thoughts and energies. Just as it uses interference and diffraction to produce its colors, it can also run interference around challenging people or situations that affect your mood or hurt your feelings. Opal can also provide a “cloak of invisibility” in circumstances where one does not wish to be noticed or needs to fade into the background. It is highly beneficial when venturing into dangerous places, or in shamanic work where stealth is required.
Opals resonate with energies of the Mother Goddess and are exceptional gifts for mothers or mothers-to-be. Gift a new piece of jewelry for the birth of each child. A tiny Milk Opal buried beneath a willow, the mother tree, or any fruit tree at full moon aids conception. As an emotional support, Opal helps overcome fears of childbirth that may prevent a woman from trying to conceive, and can alleviate overwhelming fears during pregnancy and early months of a new baby’s life. Opal is also consoling to mothers experiencing empty-nest syndrome.
Opal is a seductive stone, associated with love and passion, desire and eroticism. It can be used to intensify what one is feeling and to release inhibitions; however the stone can divide and scatter energy so one should be well-centered before using Opal to explore or amplify feelings. Have other stones standing by to aid integration.
Opal may be utilized to send healing to the Earth’s energy field, repairing depletions, and re-energizing and stabilizing the grid.
Opals are wonderful occupational crystals, encouraging humanitarian love and service, lightness, spontaneity and dynamic creativity. They are excellent stones for those who work in or around water, such as physical therapists who employ hydrotherapy. White Precious Opals and Fire Opals inspire all who write, dance, play music or sing, or who teach or organize creative or performing arts. Owyhee Blue Opals expand energies for channels, mediums, psychics and teachers who communicate higher guidance through speech and sound. Black Precious Opals support hypnotherapists, past-life regression counselors, shamans and others who access the deepest realms of the self and mind in order to heal.