Bizarre Olmec Obsidian Spiritual Mirrors

It makes logical sense that any reflective and highly polished stone surface would be associated with the power of the sun. After all, these ancient Olmec mirrors reflected light quite well. To a modern eye, they looked very little like the mirrors we know. Earlier archaeologists did not even recognize them as such until they found an excellent example at La Venta city. Some were fashioned from rough iron ore, others from black obsidian glass, and from other stones like hematite and magnetite.

The religious significance of these mirrors was obvious. They hung around the necks of priests and shamans. Seated rulers also were depicted with concave mirrors on their chests. People of importance were buried with them as honorifics to help them carry on into the underworld.

Besides looking quite impressive, these curved mirrors could reflect light parabolically and could be used to light fires. Evidence, especially in the later Mayan civilization gives clues to how the priests used them. Throughout time, everything from reflective bowls or water to crystal balls have been tools of divination. The mirrors were also used for this purpose.

Other associations besides water included deity gods, fire, which could reflect its light and come from mirrors, and images of the sun. All these things logically go together and are the source of great power. Fire, of course, was one of the most important and potentially dangerous things the early people could harness.