If you’ve been to Haida Gwaii, it’s likely you’ve heard of the importance of copper. The Haida and many other coastal nations have depended on this resource for centuries due to its ability to be bent and shaped into any form the maker chooses. Many spiritual elements come into play with copper as well and can assist you in your healing practices.
There are natural deposits of copper along the coast of British Columbia that have been used during trade between nations that still exist today. Copper does form naturally on Haida Gwaii, however, these deposits are small and often not sufficient enough to make large creations like a copper shield. These shields are formed in a special way, knowledge which is held by master carvers and passed along to their apprentices.
Haida Chief “Highest Peak in Mountain Range” in front of “House Where People Always Want to Go.” Haina, 1888. His ceremonial garments include a spruce-root crest hat and Chilkat robe, and he holds copper shields.
This beautifully engraved copper depicting a Sculpin is a classic Haida object. The bulbous top panel displays the crest of the owner, and the well-fashioned T-bar in the lower half represents the backbone of an ancestor.
Acquired from the Kaigani Haida circa 1900 by George T. Emmons for the Lord Bossom collection. CMC VII-X-1080 (S94-6768)
Haida artist, James Sawyer engraved an eagle and raven in 2008 on this Copper Shield made by Master Haida Carver, Christian White in 2002.
This metal has been honoured as a traditional high standing form of currency, often given away during the public business held at a potlatch. Seen as an immense symbol of wealth, to receive a copper shield as a gift is as an incredible honour. Value can be added to these shields the more they are used, making their capacity of wealth immeasurable.
In more recent times, ancient ceremonies have been brought back through the use of the copper shield. In 2014, Haida carver (now Chief Gidansda) Guujaaw and Kwakwaka'wakw Chief and artist Beau Dick took a copper shield across Canada to the parliament buildings in Ottawa. In a public ceremony, the two broke this shield on the front steps showing the broken relationship between the government of Canada and First Nations peoples.
There are several metaphysical components to copper that can be used for healing. Stimulate energy flow, initiative, optimism, and independence with the healing properties of copper. This mineral is a bestower of good, and has been used successfully to amplify and transmit thought. Use this metal to channel wealth and good luck, as it carries powerful abilities to attract good energy to your life.
Copper allows you to release all of the restrictions which have been placed on you and forge a new path independent of bias and orthodoxy.
Copper is known to bring relief to both the mind and body, making it an excellent balancer of the chakras. Copper helps to detoxify the body, ease joint stiffness and arthritis and works as a natural antiseptic. This mineral opens the flow of blocked energies, both physical and mental. place copper on your body to feel its instantly soothing properties. (Source: Love is in the Earth by Melody).
Knowing how copper can most benefit you will make it easier to choose a piece that best suits your needs. View our selection of copper jewelry to learn more about the wonderful healing nature of copper and the rich history it shares!
About the Author:
SGaana Gaahlandaay haanuu dii kiiGa ga. My name is SGaana Gaahlandaay (Spirit of the Killerwhale).
Wagyen Yaatsxaayda kihl gii Alix. And my English name is Alix.
Kayhll ‘Laanas Ts’aahl ad uu kiigawa ga. I come from the Kayhll ‘Laanas Ts’aahl clan.
Alix was raised in the village of Skidegate, Haida Gwaii and there is no place that makes her happier. She does traditional dancing and singing in ceremony, and has been working on becoming fluent in her language. She also enjoys weaving, hiking, surfing, and bracing the tough elements of our island (You know you’re from Haida Gwaii when getting soaked to the bone by an unexpected wave and blown to the ground by crazy southeast wind is your idea of a good time.)