Archives for July 2019

What are rainbows and how do they affect us?

Over the past few months we have looked at many colours. Today we will look at the rainbow which shows us all the colours of the visible light spectrum.

A rainbow is an arc of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Rainbows are caused by the reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets and appear in the sky directly opposite the sun when it is raining and sunny at the same time.

Rainbows are fascinating culturally. We have already seen the way the seven rainbow colours represent the seven chakras, the energy centres of the body, a model which originates with the Ancient Indian Vedas. The Celts saw rainbows as the promise of new life provided by the Divine Feminine. In Greco-Roman mythology, rainbows were considered to be a path between Earth and Heaven made by Iris, a messenger. In Chinese mythology, the rainbow was a slit in the sky sealed by the goddess Nüwa using stones of five different colours. In Ireland, leprechauns are said to hide their pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, which, of course, can never be reached. Australian Aborigines say that the Rainbow Snake governs water. Judaism teaches from the Old Testament of the Bible that rainbows are a symbol of divine anger and patience and Christians believe that God put the rainbow in the sky after Noah’s flood as the sign of His promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water.

In some South American cultures, however, rainbows are seen as negative. In Amazonian cultures they are associated with malign spirits that cause harm and in one of the languages of central Peru certain diseases are called ayona’achartan, meaning “the rainbow hurt my skin”. The tradition of closing one’s mouth at the sight of a rainbow in order to avoid disease appears to pre-date the Incan empire.

Not all rainbows are single and the Chinese art of Feng Shui tells us that double rainbows are symbolic of transformation and that the earthly world is represented by the first rainbow while the second represents the spiritual world.

The rainbow is used by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement as a symbol of hope and rainbow flags are used all over the world as a sign of a new era of social change. Rainbow flags have been flown since the German Peasants’ War in the sixteenth century as a symbol of the Co-Operative Movement. They have been flown in Italy, Peru, Bolivia and the Middle East as a symbol of peace. They have been used by the Jewish Autonomous Oblast to represent the International Order of Rainbow for Girls since the early 1920s and in the 1990s, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and President Nelson Mandela described the newly democratic South Africa as the Rainbow Nation as its symbol for diversity and multiculturalism.

Rainbows are symbolic not only of hope, peace and a new world order, but also of potential, harmony, expansion, connection, spirituality and the unity of earth and sky, body and spirit.  The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of several works of poetry written in the 1980s and 1990s that speak of an other-worldly place where pets go after death and where they will eventually be reunited with their owners.

If you are in need of rebalancing and recharging, try this rainbow breathing exercise, to be done preferably outside when the sun has just risen. Stand with your feet slightly apart facing the sun with your arms down by your sides, palms open. Close your eyes and breathe in red for three breaths. Then follow with orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Be still for a few minutes afterwards as the colour courses through you.

Enjoy July and experimenting with rainbows and next month we will conclude our journey into colours.

Love Laurelle