Copper Symbolism & Spiritual Properties in Myth and Religion

Copper & it’s connection to Venus/Aphrodite

In the West, the planet Venus has historically been associated with the female sex, women, and with the female aspects of biology, botany, medicine, and other natural sciences.

And since antiquity, Venus has also been linked to copper. In cartography, the Venus symbol is used to identify a copper mine.

The alchemical symbol for copper is the same as the sign for the Goddess Venus (Aphrodite), since one of the greatest supplies of copper in the ancient world was the island of Cyprus, whose name means “copper” and which was always described as the home of Aphrodite (or her Roman version, Venus).

The metal extracted from Cyprian mines and processed by Cyprian smiths became the Goddess’ metal, which was connected with her in a variety of ways.

Copper, for example, is the magical mirror of divination for Friday (Venus’s day) and is symbolic of the planet Venus, just as silver is symbolic of the moon and gold is symbolic of the sun.

Copper jewelry was thought to have healing powers since ancient times, and these powers were eventually given to the goddess herself.

Copper is compared to Venus in alchemy. Venus is said to be warm and wet, feminine, and good for beauty, leisure, and sexual pleasure.

Copper and its mythological opposite, iron

Throughout most cultures, copper and iron are metals that are in opposition to one another.

In the Old Testament and ancient Chinese tradition, for example, iron is set against copper as the base versus the noble metal, Water to Fire, north to south, black to red, yin to yang.

The Iron Age is the “hard” age when humanity settled into its current state of perpetual conflict and treachery, while the Copper Age was the one before it, where nobility still existed in some sense.

In Mali, the Dogon mythology also contrasts the symbolism of iron with that of copper. Iron is the ruler of darkness and night, whereas copper represents light and day.

Copper in astrology and alchemy

Before modern science established itself, many cultures believed cosmic energy could be trapped in solid form.

This belief explains some of the symbolism and attitudes of ancient peoples toward metals.

In this theory, metals, like humans, were earthly things with celestial potential.

These metals were personified, had love affairs, and even produced children.
Thus, copper (Venus) had a love affair with iron (Mars) and represented a common belief among the Romans that Love and War were secretly connected, as were Aphrodite and Ares in Greek mythology.

Because each metal had its uses and some were rarer than others, the ancients created a cosmic hierarchy where all the metals were linked with the seven known planets of the time. These were, in ascending order, from least precious to most precious:
• lead with Saturn;
• tin with Jupiter;
• Mars with iron;
• copper with Venus;
• mercury with Mercury;
• silver with moon;
• gold with the sun.

Among its many intricate symbolisms, the Star of David includes the seven basic metals as well as the seven planets, which represent the whole of the Heavens .

The center (see image) is occupied by gold (the Sun); the higher point is occupied by silver (the Moon); and the bottom point is occupied by lead (Saturn). The top point on the right is copper (Venus), and the lower point is mercury (Mercury), whereas the upper point on the left is iron (Mars), and the lower point is tin (Jupiter).

Because both metals and humans were thought to be animated by the same cosmic energies, alchemists believed that by mixing metals, they could manipulate existing energies or even create new ones.

And since alchemists could manipulate the energies within metals, they could even manipulate human nature and limitations. This is why alchemists so strongly believed in the possibility of creating an Elixir of Life or Philosopher’s Stone, two sources of immortality.

Thus, alchemists separated, purified, and mixed one metal with another.

Copper symbolism in dreams

Dreams containing copper are generally lucky dreams since copper in dreams represents intellect, a kind personality, or the urge to share something vital.

Giving children copper pennies foreshadows the return of lost possessions.

Copper is frequently associated with love and a happy, fulfilling life, as well as pride.

Seeing a copper coin in a dream means that a problem that has been going on for a long time will be fixed.

Copper wire, on the other hand, indicates that you’ve gotten yourself into a strange position.

If you see anything made of copper, it means your anxieties are unfounded. If it’s engraved, it demonstrates that you have costly taste.

Cracked copper indicates that you are going through a moment of discomfort or a small problem.

A copper dream means that the goals you have set for yourself will motivate people around you to help you achieve them.

Copper dreams can also indicate that you will be saved from a tough position from which you did not expect to be rescued or that you will feel nostalgic for something or someone.

Copper as money and a means of exchange

Gold, silver, and copper are the three metals that have been used as money in the Western world. After silver and gold, copper has the longest and most diversified history as a monetary metal.

Copper, which is resistant to corrosion and malleable, was utilized by ancient peoples to create beautiful utensils, such as hammers, knives, and cups.

The Romans reffered to copper “aes cyprium,” which became “cyprium” over time. The term “copper” originates from the Latin word cuprum, which was a corrupted form of cyprium. Copper’s chemical symbol, Cu, is derived from the first two letters of its Latin name.

Copper or bronze stayed the standard for money in Rome until the Roman Republic fell apart in 30 b.c.

Although copper was not as precious as gold or silver as a unit of weight, it served a purpose in the monetary system.

It would be quite difficult for a person wanting to buy a property to transfer the amount of copper required to complete the payment. Gold was appropriate for such significant business transactions due to its high value per unit of weight.

However, the amount of gold required to purchase a drink or food item would be incredibly small, too small to be conveniently weighed and handled.

Silver was preferred for intermediate purchases, whereas copper was best for tiny sales in marketplaces.

Copper as an Age of Man

The ancient Greeks believed history had experienced four ages and named each of them after a particular metal that symbolized it best.

The Golden Age was a perpetual springtime, free of fear and violence, a time when rivers flowed with milk and nectar and all animals and humans lived in harmony.

In the Age of Silver, Zeus (the Roman Jupiter) created the four seasons, which drove mankind to seek shelter during the cold, winter months.

In the Age of Bronze (as a copper alloy, bronze has it’s own symbolism), people became savage and more prone to war, but they were still not evil.

The Age of Iron brought with it treachery, deception, brutality, greed, and conflict.

This symbolism shows that among the Ancient Greeks, iron was considered a vulgar metal in comparison to copper, bronze, and gold, all of which were chosen for the manufacture of holy objects.

Copper as a symbol of good fortune for miners and craftsmen

Copper has traditionally been connected with the color green in Russian folklore beliefs. Ural, the “Mistress of the Copper Mountain,” has emerald eyes and wears a malachite gown.
As a mountain spirit, she protects and owns the treasures that are buried deep underground.

A person who sees the Mistress falls under her influence, according to folklore. She is kind to honest people and skillful artisans, assisting them in their search for jewels and riches, but if her conditions are not satisfied, the individual loses all his luck and skill and may even die. She may allow or prohibit mining in specific areas, as well as grant or accept money.

Lizards, copper, and malachite were her defining features.

Copper as a symbol of water, fertility, and life

Among the African Dogon people of Mali, copper signifies the essential element, water, the vital basis of all things; light, which emanates from the copper helix coiled around the Sun; speech, another route of fertility; and sperm, which covers the walls of the womb.

Copper, being a sign of water, is also a symbol of plant life. So, like the Aztecs, the Dogon consider the colors red and green to be equally significant since they both represent life energy.

In the Dogon tribal region, there exists a mountain particularly rich in copper ore and called ‘Mount Copper-Water.”

The spirits of the deceased are said to arrive there to replenish their supplies of copper, or water, before embarking on their lengthy trip to the realm of the dead, which lies to the south. Because copper is made of water, people who wear copper jewelry avoid wandering along river banks for fear of drowning.


Resources:

  • A dictionary of symbols by Cirlot, Juan Eduardo
  • A dictionary of symbols by Chevalier, Jean
  • Dictionary of symbols by Chetwynd, Tom
  • A dictionary of dream symbols : with an introduction to dream psychology by Ackroyd, Eric
  • Illustrated dictionary of symbols in eastern and western art by Hall, James
  • Dictionary of symbols and imagery by Vries, Ad de
  • Symbolism : a comprehensive dictionary by Olderr, Steven
  • Dictionary of mythology, folklore and symbols by Jobes, Gertrude
  • The complete dictionary of symbols by Tresidder, Jack
  • The book of symbols : reflections on archetypal images by Ami Ronnberg & Kathleen Martin
  • Man, Myth & Magic by Richard Cavendish

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