SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION: Opal is hydrous silica, often with some iron and
aluminum. Its chemistry is SiO2.nH2O; amount of water varies up to 10
percent. It ranges in color from White, yellow, red, pink, brown to
gray, blue and even colorless. It is most easily recognized by its rich
internal play of colors (opalescence). Its hardness ranges from 5-1/2 to
6-1/2. It is vitreous and pearly. The streak is white. It is not found
in crystal form, rather is is usually massive, botryoidal, reniform,
stalactitic, and/or earthy.
ENVIRONMENT: Opal is a low-temperature mineral and usually develops in
a wide variety of rocks as cavity and fracture fillings. It requently
develops as amygdules in basalt and rhyolite of volcanic rock and
replaces the cells in wood and the shells of clams.
OCCURENCE: Common opal is widespread and can be readily obtained at many
places, but localities for precious opal are rare and seem to localized
in W United States and Mexico. Magnificent examples of opalized wood can
be found in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington, and lively
green fluorescing opal (hyalite) occurs in seams in pegmatites in New
England and North Carolina and in cavities in basalt near Klamath Falls,
Oregon. Beautiful precious opal, as a replacement in wood, has been
obtained in Virgin Valley, Humboldt Co., Nevada. Excellent fire and
precious opal occur in laval flows in N Mexico. Nevada, Australia, and
Honduras are sources for black opal; Australia and Czechoslovakia
for white opal; Mexico and SW United States for fire opal.
GEMSTONE INFORMATION: Black, dark blue, dark green opal with dark gray
body color and fine play of colors is called [black opal;] opal with
white or light body color and fine play of color is called [white opal;]
and transparent to translucent opal with body color ranging from
orange-yellow to red and a play of colors is called [fire opal.] Play of
colors depends upon interference of light and is not dependent upon body
color. Black opal is the most highly prized, and fire opal is the most
valued of the orange and red varieties. Most opal is fashioned into
cabochons, but some fire opals are faceted.
NAME: The word is from the Sanskrit [upala,] meaning “precious stone.”
LEGEND and LORE: Opal is a birthstone for October.
“October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know;
But lay an Opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those foes to rest.” (5)
Opals have traditionally been considered “lucky” stones…but only for
those born in the month of October. It has been considered bad luck to
wear them if you were born in any other month.
MAGICAL PROPERTIES: Opal is considered to be able to confer the gift of
invisibility on its wearer. To accomplish this, Cunningham says “The gem
was wrapped in a fresh bay leaf and carried for this purpose.” He also
says, “Opals are also worn to bring out inner beauty. A beauty spell:
Place a round mirror on the altar or behind it so that you can see your
face within it while kneeling. Place two green candles on eithe side of
the mirror. Light the candles. Empower an opal with your need for beauty
— while holding the stone, gaze into your reflection. With the scalpel
of your visualization, mold and form your face (and your body) to the
form you desire. Then, carry or wear the opal and dedicate
yourself to improving your appearance.” (2)
HEALING: Opals contain all the colors of the other stones, thus, it
could be used in place of any of them. (They are akin to quartz
crystals, in this aspect.) Generally speaking, Opal is used more
frequently for healing the spirit, rather than the physical body.
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE: Opals are probably my favorite stone. This may be
partially due to the fact that they are my birthstone, and I have been
surrounded by them all of my life. For me, they are protective and
invigorating. I normally use them during Journeying, and when doing
“readings” for other…anything where I am using altered states of
consciousness. I find that they help me to understand the symbols of my
visions in a way that makes them meaningful for others.
1. Scientific, Environment, Occurance and Name are from (or paraphrased
from) “The Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and
2. Legends and Lore, Magical Properties are from “Cunningham’s En-
cyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic”, by Scott Cunningham.
3. Some of the healing information may come from “Color and Crystals, A
Journey Through the Chakras” by Joy Gardner.
4. Personal Experience is from MY personal experience, journals and
notebooks, by <grin> Tandika Star.
5. Birthday poem from “The Occult and Curative Powers of Precious
Stones” by William T. Fernie, M.D.
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