Thursday, April 19, 2007


Copper's history is ancient. It was the first metal we discovered, the first metal we worked and learned intimately. Just like the Sun's bright energy to which Copper is frequently associated with, our day to day lives would be almost impossible without this sunny red ore.

Historians and archeologists are uncertain as to when, or how or even who first discovered this metallic crystal. It could have been found while heating stones for boiling water or cooking a meal. Copper melts at 1083 C, and wood fires do get that hot. Ancient fire pits have been found that show evidence of being used for smelting (melting metallic ores out of stones).

It could have been discovered as an outcropping in ancient basaltic stones. Much like the enormous Copper belt the first nations worked near what is now the upper peninsula of Michigan.

While it's discovery pre-dates recorded history, our knowledge of Copper and how it behaves far exceeds our awareness of any other metal because it has been a part of our lives for almost ever.

Copper is a plentiful element. Not only is it prevalent in the Earth's crust, it is also an important nutrient in animals that aids with blood and collagen formation, a component of many plants including most of the edible ones and chocolate.

There are two classes of Copper: Sulfates, which are Copper bearing ores that also have Sulfur in them; Oxides which are Copper minerals that have been changed or altered by Oxygen. These include many of the Copper gemstones like Malachite, Turquoise and Azurite. About 160 different Copper minerals have been described by geologists.

Crystals of Copper are primarily cubic, dodecahedron or octahedron, and on rare occasions are arborescent (branch or tree like). Some Mexican Agates have exotic dendritic Copper crystals imbedded in them. Copper and Copper Sulfates are a brickish red and can be polished to a bright copper red color. Oxidized Coppers come in a range of hues from green to blue.

Native Copper, pure Copper in a natural state is now almost nonexistent. Though there have been some significantly large discoveries in Copper's history. In Michigan's upper peninsula only remnants remain of what was once the world's largest mass of native Copper. On Isle Royal in Lake Superior and along the Keeweenaw Peninsula was once a four mile wide belt, that was over 100 miles long and in some places went two miles deep. Pure, solid native Copper.

Jesuit missionaries first wrote about area Natives working with Copper from the Michigan territory in Paris in 1636, though at that time the true extent of the vein was unknown. Before the Treaty of Paris was signed to end the revolutionary war in 1783, Benjamin Franklin made sure that the region the Jesuits wrote about was included in the young United States. Commercial mining finally began in 1853 and by the end of the 1960s over 9 billion tons of Copper had been removed, as well as tons of Silver and other metal by-products.

Some of the record solid pieces pulled from the Michigan mines include a 46 feet by 18 feet chunk that weighed 420 tons. A smaller, 3.6 feet by 3.8 feet piece weighing only 6500 pounds is on display at the Smithsonian Institution.

Some prize crystal specimens of Native Copper can still be found near old mined out locations like the Keeweenaw Peninsula. They are of little commercial use, but eagerly sought out by collectors.

There is still plenty of the metal to be found in a variety of ore around the world. The largest, modern source of Copper is Chile and the US is a close second. Canada, Zambia, Russia, Poland, China, Mexico, Indonesia, France and England all have healthy Copper mining operations.

Most of the "new" Copper that is now mined comes from a Copper Sulfate called Chalcopyrite. Chalcopyrite is processed down through a fairly complicated procedure that leaves Copper imbedded particles floating (along with some sulfates and arsenic) and allows it to be skimmed off. The skimmed goo is heated, mixed with Silica, heated again, separated into liquid layers, goes through a couple more steps then it is finally purified by electrolytic refining. Oxidized Coppers are much easier to process (throw them in a furnace with some carbon and viola), but usually don't yield as much metal as Chalcopyrite and other sulfate Coppers.

At least half of all Copper used comes from recycled supplies. Some stats imply that nearly half of all the Copper ever mined is still in use.

Cuprum is the Latin root for Copper. Cuprum comes from an older Latin word, cyprium, which means Cyprian Metal. Rome's primary source for the metal was Cyprus Island. Police in the US picked up the nickname "cops" or "coppers" because at one time their uniforms were fastened with Copper buttons.

Three features of Copper that have made it so popular and useful are that its ductile (can be easily shaped), malleable (stretches thin) and sectile (cut into sections). Its ability to conduct electrical energy made it invaluable once the electricity was turned on. Add to this that it resists corrosion (but does turn green), and is impervious to most chemicals and you have a perfect metal.

Our fondness for this golden red metal can be dated back 11 to 10,000 years ago. That is the age of a pendant and some beads of Copper found in Northern Iraq. Sometime around 3900 BC the Egyptians began experimenting with Copper and came up with the first alloys. They discovered that by mixing it with Tin they could produce a new, stronger metal called Bronze. Thus began the Bronze Age. Their experiments produced another alloy. When Copper was mixed with Zinc, it became Brass.

About the same time across the ocean in the America's, residents were working Copper into bells, weapons, armor, beads, jewelry and an array of ornaments. Their skills and knowledge equal to or surpassing the skills of the Egyptian and Asian metallurgists.

Today Copper can be found in almost every aspect of our lives. The average family's house in the US contains around 439 pounds. It's in our wiring, plumbing, appliances; there's 50 some pounds of Copper in an US vehicle, 9000 pounds of it in a 747 jet. Copper is used in the making of some wines, as a fungicide and insecticide in agriculture. It is even used in the making of synthetic cloths.

But then, we've always put this bright metal to practical uses. A Copper plumbing system in the Cheops Pyramid in Egypt has 5000 year old Copper fixtures. Columbus used Copper sheathing on the hulls of his three ships to protect them against barnacles and extend their use. Paul Revere, the US's most famous coppersmith produced the Bronze cannons, spikes and pumps on the floating fort, Old Ironsides.

Some of our very first weapons, swords and knives were fashioned from the metal. It also has been popular in decorative art. Egyptian jewelers fashioned elaborate crowns and headdresses from it. In Africa it was used in pottery beginning around 4000 BC.

It is used in almost all coins. In the US our pennies have the least amount of Copper than any other coin minted here. They contain less than 10%. Silver coins have more Copper than the penny, almost 93%.

In India, it's use had significant spiritual relevance. Prayer Diagrams were carved onto Copper plates so that they could be conducted safely to the Spirit World.

Egyptian death rituals call for placing Copper mirrors under the head of the deceased. Even christian traditions call for the use of Copper, Silver or Bronze. Chalices that hold consecrated wine must be made from one of these metals. Egyptian, Sumerian and Indian (India) traditions also require the use of Copper containers for rituals involving wine or water. Old Chinese traditions surrounding Confucius call for the use of a Copper basin during a purification ceremony.

In some old European traditions a Copper belt was worn by a Queen or High Priestess to help balance her sexual passions with a wise heart. Discs of Copper were worn in their sandals to help the draw up Mother Earth's power.

Copper's conductive energies are at the heart of it's power, both physically and spiritually. Because this crystal metal doesn't hold a charge, but instead, sends or conducts it on, it is a very useful power tool. It is also important to work diligently with your Copper tools because of this. It can take years for your tool to become acquainted with your personal energies, but once it does, it will conform and adapt itself to your every need. In fact Copper talismans that are carried around for years by the same person can become quite powerful. So it's not such a dumb idea to carry around a lucky penny (or dime or quarter) that you found.

Wands made from Copper are exceptionally strong, especially one that you have used for several years. Again, it's conductive qualities make it excellent for projecting and directing energy. A simple hollow Copper tube with a Quartz point (or crystal of your choice) mounted in one end can be a very useful tool, even more so for those with Earth energy.

If you have trouble getting yourself motivated or fall easily into lazy habits, Copper can keep your spirits bright and your body active. Copper is another teacher of selloff. It assists you in learning that all you need in this life is within you; to search elsewhere is futile. It will also illuminate the self-inflicted barriers that keep you from reaching your highest goals.

You can use your Copper tools to send your thoughts or to connect with someone that is physically distant from you. It is a lucky metal and can sometimes be used to assist in the recovery of lost property.

It is a great metal for setting powerful gemstones and crystals into. It's conductive powers assist your stones in generating and sending out their strongest vibrations. Garnets set in Copper promote a sunny or rosy outlook and can be a source of energy for individuals that have to deal with grueling schedules. Peridot is also fond of Copper, both make perfect companions if you are having to deal with dating and meeting potential companions. Copper and Peridot individually can aid in helping you choose mates wisely, using your heart instead of other organs. Copper oxides like Turquoise, Malachite and Azurite are also enhanced when set in Copper.

Copper will open and balance the base and heart Chakra. It's Earth/Fire energies make it the perfect conductor to allow energy to flow freely between the first four Chakra.

Healers will like Copper's conductive and nonmagnetic powers. Using it in healing ceremonies and rituals will allow you to work with your patient without your tools becoming clogged with harmful energies. Since Copper doesn't retain a charge, makes it easy to use on multiple individuals without worry of spreading "infection".

Copper is an important nutrient in human health. However, we usually get way too much Copper in our diets. Our bodies require 2 mgs of the metal for healthy blood and other body functions, but we can consume as much as 5 mgs of Copper daily. Wilson disease is associated with an increase in Copper levels in the blood tissues, particularly when those increases are in the brain or liver. It is important to be aware of the amount of Copper you are taking in. Remember it is present in most of our plant foods and all of our meats.

Many ancient traditions prescribe Copper for relief from arthritis and rheumatism. It is essential for the formation of blood and collagen in our bodies. It has anti-bacterial qualities and has been used to cleanse and heal wounds. It may also improve your body's metabolic processes, aid with bursitis and will increase your circulation.

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