The Alchemy web site on Levity.comCopper and Venus
By Nick Kollerstrom
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On average, women have about 20% higher copper serum than men and for iron it is the other way round, with men having a one-third higher iron level than women in their blood. The deep significance of this fact is entirely ignored by modern medicine. Iron and copper levels are sex-linked in exactly the way expected from the gender symbolism of their planets. The level of copper in human blood is critical, being around one part per million by weight, and normally it remains fairly steady around this value.
Copper in women's blood serum has a monthly cycle in tune with their menstrual period, peaking a week or so before the period arrives. This is because their serum copper exists chiefly as the protein, 'ceruloplasmin', whose metabolism is closely linked to the female sex hormone oestrogen. The Pill works by emulating conditions of pregnancy where oestrogen is high, and this has a drastic effect upon serum copper levels. During pregnancy, copper serum in the mother climbs up to double its normal level, reaching 1.9 parts per million. Conversely, iron in foetal blood also increases as the time of birth approaches, so a copper-iron polarity develops between mother and child. Insomnia, depression and changeable moods towards the end of pregnancy have been related to the raised copper levels. A woman taking the Pill has blocked off her monthly rhythm of serum copper, and instead retains a permanently high level corresponding to the ninth month of pregnancy. Evidence suggests that copper has a dynamic role in the reproductive process, rather than just being a by-product of the raised oestrogen.
In the early 1970s it was discovered that coil contraceptives using copper were much more successful than previous coil designs. The 'copper-7' coil became the most popular design and was marketed world-wide, used chiefly by women who have already had one child. Despite intensive research however, no-one had any idea as to the mechanism whereby copper in the coil helped prevent conception. Copper ions have a biological action on the inside of the uterus, preventing implantation of the fertilised ovum. Its modus operandi is thus quite unconnected with that of the Pill, where overall blood serum levels are raised. The sole connection is that in both situations a striking Venus-quality is shown by copper's behavior.
Having compared copper and iron in the blood, lets compare them in other aspects - as their two planets are nearest to us, one within Earths orbit and the other outside it. Pure copper is a metal of reddish-pink hue, and has a warm, beneficial glow which contrasts with the cold glint of steel. With something made out of iron one may feel 'how strong' or 'how useful', whereas with something made out of copper, the first impression is more aesthetic. Whether it is a copper bowl, a trumpet, or a green-domed copper roof, it is the visual appearance rather than the utility of the metal which first strikes one. It is such a soft and pliable metal that it needs to be alloyed with other metals, into brass or bronze, before it can be used for a structural purpose.
In an exhibition of mineral ores those of copper first attract the attention, providing a joy to the eye as do those of no other metal. Look at the delicate green-blue hues of malachite or azurite- how different from the massive, solid forms of the iron ores, pyrites or haematite! The pyrite crystals form perfect cubes, expressing Martial power and strength. A contrast to this is the copper ore malachite, often cut and polished for decoration, to disclose its swirling patterns and sea-green hues. The names of the ores of copper point to gentle Venus qualities: azurite, malachite, turquoise, chalcopyrite and peacock ore.
A room in which iron or steel predominates has the atmosphere of an office or a factory. It demands a mood of efficiency from us. A room in which copper predominates, in contrast, has a warm, homely atmosphere, in which we can relax. This is a key concept to the English pub. Americans dont understand this, and have drinking-bars where the cold glint of steel is evident, as promotes their violent and restless society. The high resonance of copper makes it suitable for a wide variety of musical instruments-in the strings of a string instrument, in the brass section, in percussive instruments, and so forth. Traditionally astrology associates the arts of music with Venus.
No-one has better appreciated the glowing hues of copper than the American artist Maxfield Parrish. His natal chart (25 July 1870) had strong Venus-aspects ( it was conjunct Mars and Moon and in opposition to Saturn). One of his pictures is here shown.
By Maxfield Parrish 1924
To trace the connection of copper with Venus we have to go back to a distant mythological era: back, in fact, to a Mediterranean isle, once ruled by a love-goddess - the island of Cyprus. This island was regarded as the domain of Venus-Aphrodite. Aphrodite was referred to as the 'Cyprian goddess'. In Botticelli's picture, The Birth of Venus, she is depicted as being born from the sea on to the shores of Cyprus. It is from the name of this island, Cyprus, that the word copper derives. The word copper comes from the Latin word cuprum and this derives from the Greek work Kyprus. Cyprus was in antiquity the principal source of copper, and so the metal was named after it. Venus was felt by antiquity to dwell just where such large amounts of copper had condensed. Venus was credited with a sea origin, and copper reminds us of this connection with the water element. All copper salts are sea-coloured, blue or green. All the ores and all the salts of copper are hydrated, water containing. Nearly all copper salts are highly soluble in water. The iridescent hues of a peacocks tail (see picture) derive from green-blue copper complexes.
Venus in Splendor Solis 16th century, used with kind permission of the British Library
In various sea creatures the breathing process is by means of copper, not iron. They do not need the fiery Mars-energy, but have a more tranquil mode of being. A simpler, copper-containing molecule is used instead of the iron-molecule haemoglobin. The conch shell in Botticelli's picture, always traditionally associated with Venus, comes from such a creature, one which respires by means of a copper-process. The octopus and the scorpion both respire using a copper-molecule in place of the iron-based haemoglobin.
That same polarity functions in an inorganic realm in the principle of the dynamo, where the relative motion of iron and copper generates electricity. Iron creates the magnetic field and copper wires carry away the current generated. The energy powering our civilisation derives from a pulsating Mars-Venus interaction, making alternating current. There was a Mars-Venus conjunction in the sky on the day when Michael Faraday discovered the dynamo principle (17 October, 1831).
As Mars and Venus in mythology were closely related, so are they found bonded together in the depths of the earth: the principle copper ore is in copper-iron pyrites, in which copper occurs together with iron. The darker threads of iron run through this sea-green ore of copper.
Modern uses of the red metal range from computer microchips to solar power cells, and it remains a key material for telecommunications, even though optical fibres are now preferred for trunk lines. A mobile phone has several grams of copper in it. There isnt a great deal of it left to mine - another about thirty years worth, maybe which has caused it to become a highly-recycled metal. Architects appreciate its pliability and visual appeal. Coppers lovely turquoise patina normaly takes a few decades to mature, from exposure to the elements, but modern techniques can accelerate this process into a mere couple of months. Londons skyline has some fine copper roofing, e.g. on the Planetarium, Old Bailey and Royal Festival Hall.