An exploration of the vibrational qualities of the physical world by Mark Stephen John.
Molybdenum is the 42nd element in the periodic table. It was apparently known to the ancient civilizations, though was often mistaken for lead as they have similar appearances. It does not appear as a pure element in nature or an easily identifiable mineral, hence, there is no alchemical symbol for this element. More is written about molybdenum in its role in earth functions and the water soluble forms are important in the initial development of life on the planet.
There is not a lot of definitive information about how molybdenum is incorporated in the living sphere. It seems that humans and bacteria need trace amounts. It is associated with the sulfur balance in the body and important in liver detoxification. The molybdenum based enzymes are important with this function. They also cleanse nerve cell transmitter molecules and keep the nervous system working in balance.
Arsenic is a metalloid meaning that it has characteristics between a metal and non-metal. It is number 33 in the periodic table. The references to arsenic go back to ancient times with numerous cultures using arsenic compounds, it is rarely found in a pure state. Our name comes from the Greek. Zosimos, the Greek Alchemist, (circa 300 AD) describes working with arsenic. Alchemical records show that it was recognized as a poison, but also it was used medicinally in small doses. It was the poison of choice for the royalty in medieval Europe and had the title of the, “Poison of Kings and King of Poisons.”
Although some references state that arsenic is used in the human body, I could not find any clear evidence that this is so. It has been added to the feed of commercial meat producers to increase weight. Poultry producers have used it extensively; the birds aren’t going to live that long anyway—yuck! It is mostly used industrially, as a semi-conductor- when you throw away that phone chances are it contains arsenic. It shows up in treated lumber – don’t use treated lumber for play structures or raised vegetable beds! – food, fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and drugs. Because of this, most of us have measurable arsenic in our bodies. It is especially prevalent in water. I just couldn’t find much to commend this element for humans, plants or animals.
Zinc is a metal and number 30 in the periodic table. The earliest record comes from India about 3,000 years ago. The alchemist, Paracelsus, is thought to have named the element. Alchemical names include philosopher’s wool and nix alba. In current metaphysical texts zinc is related to the planet Mercury, the heart chakra, heart, circulation, respiration and nervous system. It helps harmonize and integrate the body systems.
It is an essential mineral for the human body with about 2 to 3 grams in each human body. Zinc is considered an essential trace element for humans, animals, plants and microorganisms. In fact, it is the only metal that appears in all enzyme classes. Between 100 and 300 different enzymes require zinc and up to 3,000 out of 100,000 proteins contain zinc.
I have included a representation of “zinc fingers” helping to read sequences in DNA. (See Wikipedia for credits.)
Zinc Sound Sketch
I am consistently amazed by the qualities of elements and their interaction with life. Mendeleev, when he organized the elements in the periodic table by their qualities put them in a system that, quite often, aligned them in a manner that also reflected human attraction to those elements. Copper, silver and gold are all elements that are in the same grouping, and, they are also found in pure form on the earth. Hence, they all have had a significant impact on the psychic attraction to people. Humans do love shiny, malleable metals.
Copper is one of the ancient metals. There are indications of its use 10,000 years ago and evidence of it first being refined 7,000 years ago. The first alloys include copper. The name comes from Latin-cuprum. It is a soft, malleable metal that has a high thermal and electrical conductivity, second only to silver. It imparts a blue or green color in minerals such as: azurite, malachite, and turquois. Like silver, it is an anti-microbial substance and bacteria cannot live while in contact with copper. Copper handrails, doorknobs and cooking surfaces all prevent the spread of virulent microbes. Also, it is one of four metallic elements with a color other than silver or grey.
Copper is essential for life. It is part of a respiratory enzyme, it is found in the liver, muscle and bone. Copper is considered an essential micronutrient with an average of about 0.1 grams in a body. Some crustaceans use copper instead of iron to transport oxygen.
In the realm of alchemy, Copper is ruled by Venus. It is connected to the nurturing aspects of women, love and lust, charisma, feminine beauty, artistic creativity, affection, curing and balance. It is a healing metal that teaches about living a fulfilling life.
Copper Sound Sketch
Nickel is very similar to cobalt, though there is no known role in humans. Recently, the biological role in some microorganisms and plants has been established. If those microorganisms are in the human body and there is an excess of nickel in the body, then there can be some toxic responses to these organisms. Navy beans can contain this element. Interestingly, it is believed that a substantial amount of nickel arrived on our planet via meteorites. Early cultures used nickel with iron to make a non-rusting steel and also added it to glass to create green glass. Also, the Peruvians identified it as a type of silver.
Nickel Sound Sketch
Cobalt is found only in chemically combined forms. The distinctive color, cobalt blue, is a compound of Cobalt, Aluminum and Oxygen. Like many discoveries, the Chinese have the earliest know uses of cobalt. Examples have been found in Tutankhamen’s tomb about 1350 BC, in Persian glass and jewelry and even back to the bronze age about 5000 years before present.
In the body, cobalt is an important micronutrient used in a coenzyme, B12. Also cobalt is important in blood formation and in the nervous system. Bacteria, fungi and algae also use cobalt in their metabolisms. On average, there is one milligram of cobalt in an adult body.
Cobalt Sound Sketch
Manganese is the 25th element in the Periodic Table. Manganese (Mn) is the element before Iron (Fe). It is found in combination with many minerals and often with iron. It is a silvery grey metal and it resembles iron. I just spent time being confused between the element Magnesium (Mg-12) and Manganese (Mn-25). The two have similar names and both are biologically essential in all life forms. (Hence my confusion- See the post on Magnesium for its fascinating similarity to hemoglobin in the chlorophyll molecule). Many enzymes contain Manganese and in photosynthesis it helps free Oxygen. In humans it strengthens bones and is active in many different physiological processes.
Manganese Sound Sketch
Chromium is a hard silvery metal with a blue tinge. Like some of the other metals in this group, Chromium may or may not have a biological role in humans. There is some indication that it is an essential element in the assimilation of glucose and is found in brewer’s yeast, wheat germ and in kidney. The French chemist Nicholas Louis Vauquelin first isolated it and was amazed by the range of colors it produced in solution. He hence named it from the Greek word “chroma” meaning color. The green in emeralds and the red in rubies are from chromium.
Chromium Sound Sketch
Vanadium is the 23rd element in the periodic table. It is a silvery grey transition metal and is found almost exclusively in combination with other elements. There are some contradictory statements about whether vanadium is used in the body. The Royal Society of Chemistry states that the body takes in about 0.01mg per day of vanadium and that it might have a biological role in humans. Wikipedia and other sites indicate that vanadium is much more prevalent in sea creatures and with some birds, mammals and chickens (also a bird). Industrially vanadium is used in steel and as a strengthening alloy.
Vanadium Sound Sketch
22-Ti – Titanium
Titanium is the 22nd element in the Periodic Table. It is a lustrous white metal that is very strong and light. Its primary uses are for airplanes and spacecraft because it easily alloys with aluminum, iron and molybdenum. It is also found in golf clubs, bicycles and other sports related equipment. Although there is no know biological role, titanium bonds with bones and is used for joint replacement and implants.
Titanium Sound Sketch
Strontium is the 38th element in the periodic table. It is classified as an alkaline earth metal. Strontium is found mainly in the minerals celestite and strontianite. The element is named after Strontian, Scottland. It is very reactive in air and water, catching fire in water and oxidizing to turn yellow in air. It is very similar in its characteristics to Calcium and is incorporated into bones in the same way. Some studies indicate that the use of Strontium increased bone density, however, there is not a known use for Strontium in the body.
This appears to be the primary use in humans. Because of this similarity, radioactive Strontium-90 is also readily absorbed by the body and used by the bones and has been attributed to causing bone cancer. Strontium-90 is a radioactive product of nuclear testing and from nuclear power plant accidents.
Strontium Sound Sketch
See https://musicoftheperiodictable.com/strontium/ for the individual tones.
After my last post, Restoration Agriculture, earlier this year, I took a break from publishing the elements. Several factors were drawing my attention away from this project. I became very much interested in the idea of harmonizing the earth and began the first steps of developing a permaculture on 7 acres of land in Wisconsin. A convergence of idea, land and people created the impetus to learn-listen-hear the land. How does it work to come into harmony with the earth. The entire, spring, summer and fall I immersed myself in learning to “farm.” What I am attempting to facilitate is the growing of soil. Soil, a much-misunderstood word, is much more than a medium for growing. Soil is a living organism. Everything alive springs from the soil, including us. These concepts I will explore at a later date as my experiment of reconnecting to the land continues. Let it suffice to say, that is one “excuse” for taking a break from this work.
Another is a bit more of a personal dilemma. When my father died a little under three years ago, I cleaned out his study. In it were notebooks full of numbers and graphs and various unintelligible scribbling. When I looked at my project, I saw a very similar picture and I wondered if I was leaving a similar legacy – stuff – only useful to me, and even then, for what purpose? When talking with my father, a nuclear chemist, I once asked him about the ‘force of life.’ He unequivocally stated that there was no such ‘force.’ And then he went out to the garden to battle the ‘non-existent force of life’ as it threatened to overrun his tomatoes, peppers and squash. So my second block was having a clear purpose to doing all of this analysis of the light of the elements.
With the end of the season, the land with its contour swales carved into the hillside and the alleys sub-soiled to bring water and air into the long compacted fields, I have had a chance to reflect on what the initial impetus for this project was. I became overwhelmed with the magnitude of tones and number of elements and it was only this last week that I realized that focusing on the elements of the human body would be a great way to bring my work into something that has the potential to be useful and was in alignment with the original intent.
The body has 28 elements, more or less, and depending on who is counting. Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen make up 96% of the body by weight. Hydrogen, the lightest of the known elements, is also the most abundant in the body making up 62% of the total elements. Calcium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine and Magnesium make up an additional 3.7%. So about 99.7% of the body’s weight is represented in these eleven elements. The rest of the elements show up in trace amounts and most of them have a beneficial relationship with all of the life forces within the body system. All of these percentages are like the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of nutrients. They are averages applicable to a tiny fraction of the human population. In other words, everyone has their own number, hence color and tone.
And when these elements combine, we have all of the water, fats, proteins, carbohydrates and DNA/RNA. Yet with all of these elements, vibrating, singing and dancing us onto the soil there are finer vibrations. Consciousness, awareness, connection with the force of life, pulsing and communicating with all of the elements that we can measure, are there too. When the force of life retreats, our bodies return to energy, the elements slow their dance, wander off, seek new adventures in other life forms. Each carries with it a bit of consciousness, experiences learned from their last home, perhaps vibrating just a bit differently, interacting in new ways, creating new life.
This piece is part of the dance, the Song of the Elements. Earth Tones. Tones from the Bottom of the Sky. Tones as a gift. Tones as reflection.
This winter births the tones from the elements of the body. And from there, I can’t wait to see where the muse will lead.