The mystery of colors

Color is something that has enamored humans for, as long as we have been around. Different colors have even been given different meanings. Perhaps the most profound colors are those that have all or none. Black and white; even now the word processing program I use utilizes the high contrast black and white. Why have we ascribed such a high importance to something as abstract and solidifying as color?

Different spiritual paths have different color systems. The Kabbalah or the Jewish mystic tradition has different color representations for the different spheres of the sephiroth. Each sephiroth represents a different place in one’s spiritual consciousness or evolution. For example Malkuth the bottom sephiroth on the tree of life is citrine, olive, russet, and black. The colors representing the gross material plane. So the colors would be arranged like this.

  1. Kether white
  2. Chokmah gray
  3. Binah black
  4. Chsed blue
  5. Geburah red
  6. Tiphareth yellow
  7. Netzach green
  8. Hod orange
  9. Yesod violet
  10. Malkuth citrine, olive, russet, black

The first color being the pinnacle of the tree malkuth being white, representing purity.

The kabbalah isn’t the only spiritual system to use color Santeria also makes use of colors in its candles. Some colors used in Santeria are

  • white
  • black
  • red
  • purple
  • blue
  • green
  • yellow
  • pink
  • orange
  • brown

unlike the kabbalah though these colors are a little more intuitive to what the colors mean. For instance black candles are used in black magic, while white candles are used in contacting the higher divine essences.

Colors are also ascribed meaning in dreams. The colors and meanings given to dreams are also the same given to read auras. These are rudimentary descriptions and some colors are often combinations of primary colors. An example of a combination description is the color pink.

  • red is anger or lust
  • blue is sadness or sometimes spirituality
  • black is evil, darkness, death or mystery
  • white is purity, goodness, hope, faith
  • violet is deep spirituality, royalty, sometimes insanity
  • green is health or balance
  • yellow is cowardice, or intellect
  • pink is love
  • orange is motivation, sometimes hidden rage
  • brown is practicality or nature

With colors taking such a prominent position in culture, how then are these meanings and purposes given to colors? It perhaps all directly correlates to our vision and ability to see and perceive color. It is really an amazing process if you take the time to think about it. The human eyes can only perceive a very small part of the visual spectrum. We can’t see ultra-violet light or infrared light but we know it is there. What would we give for meaning to these “colors” if we could see them. Our desire to give meaning to colors comes from our need to understand our surroundings, the process or ways that we can even see are simply astounding. For a moment look at an object near you pick out a color. Stare at it. Why is the object that color ? Yes, you can come up with a scientific meaning or reason why the object that color. The real question still remains what is color and why do we perceive it? Unfortunately I don’t have an answer but it does give something for retrospection during meditation.

Further reading:
* The great color legends

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