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  • Writer's pictureAina Sullivan

Exploring the Ancestral Roots of Copper: How I Incorporate My Afro-Indigenous Heritage into My Art

Welcome to the Black Stone Alchemy blog! My name is Aina and I am a coppersmith and artist based in the ancestral land of the Abenaki people. I have been creating jewelry and other art forms for over ten years, and Black Stone Alchemy is a collection of my handcrafted, wire-wrapped and forged natural gemstone jewelry.

Copper has been a significant metal in Africa for centuries, and its importance can be seen in the many uses it has been put to by indigenous peoples. According to the book Red Gold of Africa*, copper has been used to make a variety of objects such as bracelets, vessels, staffs, masks, and even swords and guns. It has also been used to mark important life events, such as the passage of girls to womanhood, and to protect against malevolent forces. Copper was often exchanged for goods and services, and it was considered a valuable metal to possess. In some cultures, copper was even buried with the dead as a way to honor the deceased.

In more modern practices*, copper is believed to be ruled by the planet Venus and associated with the element of water. It is said to have a receptive energy signature and be linked to deities such as Aphrodite, Astarte, and Ishtar. Some people believe that copper has the power to direct energy, provide healing, bring luck, offer protection, attract money, and amplify and direct the energy of the practitioner toward their desired goal. It is also thought to have the ability to reduce inflammation and restore balance in the energies that one takes in and projects. These beliefs about the properties of copper are not based on scientific evidence and should be viewed more as a source of inspiration and personal contemplation.

As an Afro-Indigenous artist, I feel a deep connection to my roots and the traditions of my ancestors. This is why I incorporate copper into my art, specifically into my wire-wrapping and weaving. I feel a deep connection to the land and its protection. That's why I strive to use ethically sourced materials in my work at Black Stone Alchemy. Not only do these semi-precious gemstones hold a special energy and meaning, but by choosing to source them ethically, I am also doing my part in protecting the earth and its resources. Each piece of jewelry I create is designed with the intention of bestowing wisdom upon the wearer, and I believe that wearing adornments from Black Stone Alchemy can serve as a reminder of one's inner strength and a tool for self-protection and self-amplification. Whether you are drawn to copper for its supposed healing properties, its connection to the divine, or simply its beauty, I hope that my pieces at Black Stone Alchemy can bring a little bit of magic and inspiration into your life.

*Herbert, Eugenia W. Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture. University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

*Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem & Metal Magic. Cunningham's Encyclopedia Series, 2. Paperback, January 1, 1998.

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