Obsidian Volcanic Glass, Journey beyond the Ordinary, and Interview with Alva May’s Experience while Surface Mining Obsidian
Embark on a captivating journey as we delve into the personal experiences of Alva May, a passionate surface miner, and her quest to find black obsidian in Glass Butte, Oregon.
Through this interview, we explore Alva May’s encounters, discoveries, and the spiritual connection she shares with the mesmerizing world of black obsidian.
You also will learn helpful tips covering safety and what to bring when surface mining for obsidian crystals.
The Drive to Glass Butte
Where did you find obsidian?
I drove to Glass Butte, Oregon with my sister on a road trip. It was a wonderful adventure driving to Glass Butte, Oregon and finding a phenomenal amount of obsidian all over the ground. This volcanic glass had blown out of a volcano.
Can you describe the drive from Maricopa, California, to Glass Butte, Oregon?
At the time I was living in Maricopa, California. From Maricopa, I took Highway 166, there were a lot of oil wells on the way to Highway 5. Then going north, saw a lot of rural farmland, almond and pistachio nut orchards and citrus orchards.
Then taking east Highway 80 to Reno, on the way saw beautiful tall pine trees, and lakes. Got to Reno, Nevada and took Highway 395 north, there was a lot of sage brush and desert on the drive. Then I stopped off and picked up my sister.
We then got back on Highway 395 north, headed towards the Oregon border. There was a lot of desert and sagebrush for about 165 miles, then we turned left of Highway US 20 west for 28 miles. You can see Glass Butte looming on the horizon. There are road signs directing you to Glass Butte. The sage brush smelled so fresh. This journey felt very uplifting, driving to a new adventure in life. I still remember the smells in the air of the sage brush to this day.
Oregon Discovery states,” Glass Butte is the largest obsidian deposit in the world.”
Navigating Mining and Safety Precautions
Could you elaborate on the rules and regulations surrounding surface mining in Glass Butte, Oregon?
Be careful where you drive when you get to the Glass Butte area. If you see a lot of pieces of broken obsidian glass, only drive over it if you have thick, strong, durable tires.
You can park your car in a safe area and walk around as much as you want. We are allowed 250 pounds of obsidian per year. Most surface miners look for the more high quality pieces of obsidian, and do not remove that much in one visit. We were there in late fall, and there was hardly anybody there.
Maybe 5 people. It was nice to have a picnic too. There were no out houses. Its primitive. So dig a hole, then cover it up, don’t leave any personal garbage or papers or plastic behind. Make sure you pick up after yourself. Its also pet friendly. Make sure you have a leash for your dog.
What types of obsidian are at this Mine?
There are several types of obsidian, black obsidian, rainbow obsidian, gold sheen and silver sheen obsidian and mahogany. Some is called fire obsidian because it looks like red flames streaming through the black obsidian. Its beautiful.
There are some pieces that are banded and transparent, like glass. these are rare. I had only found a few smaller pieces of this.
Some of it is of gemstone quality, but most of it is black. Also, mostly smaller pieces, but people have found large pieces, as big as 5-10 lbs.
I found one piece that I liked, it was 3 lbs.
The Magic of Primitive Camping and Timing the Visit
Are there any certain times you recommend visiting Glass Butte?
The best time for primitive camping is late spring, summer, and fall. However, do not camp there when it snows and rains because your vehicle can get stuck because its not a paved road.
Just so you know ,unless you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. It can snow in this area because its at a higher elevation, about 6,000 feet. Check a weather report before you start your obsidian mining journey, just to be prepared.
Obsidian Essential Mining Supplies
What essential supplies and equipment did you bring for the mining trip?
To do surface mining in Glass Butte for obsidian, we had thick gloves because some of the obsidian has sharp edges. Use as needed.
It would help if you brought a small shovel and a little bucket or bag to put your pieces of obsidian in.
Bring water and make sure you have food, also bring a camera to take pictures of all the obsidian you find for your fond memories.
As far as shoes, they should be thick soled, because the obsidian definitely would tear up flip flops, so you need protective shoes and preferably jeans and thick pants but other than that, you should be okay. If its a hot day, you may want to wear a hat or cap with a brim. Bring a first aid kit, and snake bite kit. I didn’t need first aid and I didn’t see any snakes. Better to be safe than sorry.
“There are no restaurants, so bring your food supplies for however many days you plan to be there mining.”
Black Obsidian and the Spiritual Connection
How do you use black obsidian, Is it just for the beauty, or would you like to share any healing properties or benefits with us?
I discovered that black obsidian was used in ancient days for scrying and predicting the future, especially the real shiny pieces with a large face.
“It’s also a protection crystal that protects you from evil and negative forces.“
Black Obsidian energy also reveals the truth of situations and circumstances. You should prepare yourself to be able to handle when the truth is revealed to you. That is why I have obsidian in my home and at the entrance of my house for protection, and only those “Walking In Truth” shall enter my home. Black obsidian protects you from negative energy. It is a protection stone.
What is it like personally to experience surface mining for your crystals and to be able to bring those back to your home?
When you mine for your crystals or rocks and find them, this is very rewarding and emotionally fulfilling. You know it’s a real organic crystal or stone and creates a sense of peacefulness in your heart and you know its pure. Just walking around in all this obsidian for the first time can be very overwhelming at times.
There is so much to chose from. Never ending. However, the more you surface mine, the more selective you become, because so much of it is so beautiful and shiny it can become overwhelming. Which makes it a lot of fun.
The Difference in Mining Styles
One last Question, Please explain the difference in mining styles of crystals and gemstones.
Regular mining is when there’s heavy equipment, and they’re digging deep into the earth, and you need protective headgear. You must know and be trained professionally in the safety procedures. This deep earth type of mining offer safety courses before you are allowed to mine.
Surface Mining is just walking around looking at the surface of the Earth and finding rocks and crystals wherever they lay. Some of them you can dig a little bit out with a shovel because you see part of it on the surface. Surface mining is very easy, and it’s for the non-professionals. Its also relatively safe.
Tailings is pieces of stone or crystals that the regular miners discard in a pile of dirt. In this big pile of dirt, you dig through it and you find whatever the leftovers are. Sometimes you get lucky and find a high quality stone or crystal.
Okay, so surface mining, tailing mining, and regular mining are all three different types of mining, got it.
In this personal interview, Alva May shared her journey in surface mining for black obsidian in Glass Butte, Oregon.
Through Alva May’s insights and experiences, I am thankful that she shared some personal and very helpful tips when surface mining for black obsidian crystals.
Obsidian Scientific Facts:
Obsidian is a natural volcanic glass that forms when molten lava rapidly cools and solidifies without crystal growth. It is created from the rapid cooling of silica-rich lava, typically from explosive volcanic eruptions.
The color of obsidian can vary, with black obsidian being the most common, but other varieties include rainbow obsidian, mahogany obsidian, gold and silver sheen, banded and snowflake obsidian.
Various civilizations have used obsidian throughout history for both practical and spiritual purposes.
For example, its sharp edges made it helpful in crafting tools, weapons like arrowheads, and cutting instruments.
You can also contact Forest Service to learn about Glass butte and Obsidian Mining.
We also wrote an article on black obsidian chakra that covers the metaphysical aspects of this sacred stone.
There are also plenty of other things to do while you visit, like hiking, watering holes, and swimming. Oregon is a beautiful state, worth the visit.
Also, please get in touch with us if you have any wonderful stories of personal experiences you would like to share in our crystal community blog.