Mineral Species: Copper
Mineral Group: Elements
Chemical Formula: Cu
Hardness: 2.5 – 3
Crystal System: Cubic (Isometric)
Colour: Copper red
Typical Appearance: Usually massive, also dendritic and rarely as prismatic crystals.
Birthstone: Secondary birthstone for Taurus and Sagittarius
Chakra Alignment: Aligns with the Sacral Chakra
Element: Fire (metal in the Chinese system)
Origin of Name & Mythology: From the Greek 'kyprios', of Cyprus, the location of ancient copper mines. Copper is considered to be one of our most important metals, and has a history of human usage rivalling that of amber. Native copper has been in use for at least 10,000 years. Earliest estimates place its discovery at around 9,000 BCE. A copper pendant was discovered in what is now northern Iraq that has been dated to 8,700 BCE. There is evidence of copper metallurgy, including smelting, in southeastern Anatolia (Turkey) from around 7,500 BCE (Neolithic period). Malachite mines (malachite is an important copper ore) in Sinai date to around 4000 BCE, and the Great Orme Mine in Wales is a well-known example of Bronze Age malachite mining in Britain. There are examples of polished copper mirrors from Mesopotamia from around 4,000 BCE. The smelting of copper was independently discovered in China around 2,800 BCE and 1,000 CE in the Americas, specifically Peru. The discovery of using copper as an alloy to create bronze and brass changed human history and heralded the Bronze Age. Egyptian copper artifacts date from 3,000 BCE, and they used malachite medicinally from at least 1,800 BCE – probably much earlier. In antiquity, copper was associated with Venus/Aphrodite, and later, in Mediaeval Europe, the alchemical symbol for copper was the symbol for Venus (Venus’s Hand Mirror). There are more recent traditions around copper, which are discussed in the properties section.
Copper conducts heat. This quality has led to its use in bracelets for the treatment of arthritis, the idea being that it will conduct away the heat of inflammation. Studies are inconclusive, but many users are convinced it works. Copper and copper ores such as malachite are still used as anti-inflammatories in modern crystal healing. Copper is also an excellent conductor of electricity (second only to silver), and for this reason copper tubing and wire are employed in making wands, with the intention of directing, transmitting and amplifying energy. Copper, malachite, and copper alloys are naturally bacteriostatic. In ancient Egypt malachite powder was used to prevent and cure eye infection. As with silver, numerous efficacy studies were carried out over the past decade or so, showing that its antimicrobial properties extend beyond bacteria to some viruses and fungi. This quality is now recognised and embraced by the medical profession, and the EPA has approved a long list of touch surfaces for this purpose, such as bedrails for hospital beds, door handles, grab rails on public transport, etc.
In spite of its alignment with the Sacral Chakra, copper can be very grounding and soothing. It balances, calms and regulates the body’s electrical impulses, and earths excess electromagnetic radiation picked up through use of electronic equipment such as computers. Copper is often used as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of arthritis, physical trauma and structural pain (such as lower back pain), plus it helps to reduce fever, and eases the pain and discomfort of IBS. It supports the immune system and strengthens the body’s ability to fight infection.
Energetically, it can be used to direct and amplify healing energy, and help us to release unnecessary anger (when we are emotionally inflamed!). Dendritic native copper appears to form a framework or structure for its work, allowing it to spread its current throughout the physical and energetic body. It is pliable and ductile, symbolic of an ability to bend without losing strength or breaking, and can remind us that we can become more pliant and let go of rigidity in our thoughts, beliefs and the way in which we interact with others, without loosing our integrity and inherent strength.