Color meanings and their customs

Colors over the years have come to mean many things to different cultures. Celtic peoples ascribed different colors for different elements as did Native Americans and other earth based spiritualities. Christianity even banned green for its connection as a pagan color. Symbols and metaphors help us understand our everyday language and figures of speech. Almost every item, every word, every idea hides a certain symbolism. Colors are rich in hidden meanings and symbolisms. What is more, colors have a very interesting story to tell. Some of them, such as feeling blue, seeing red, or green with envy, associate colors with specific human emotions. Others, such as blue blood, white cockade, and red carpet originated in the Middle Ages. And still others, among them yellow journalism, the Red guard, Purple Heart, Black Market and the yearly favorite among sports fans the Orange Bowl, all have an interesting, although more recent history. The foundation for color symbolism has been built upon many centuries of history, religion, tradition and superstition. Practically every race and culture has used color symbolically assigning a variety of qualities and even specific objects to certain colors. The reason is probably that the sensation of color is a primitive one. Reaction to it, recognition of it, requires little effort of intellect or imagination. Color conveys moods that affix themselves quite automatically to human feeling.

Sir Isaac Newton in his early physics experiments decided the colors of the rainbow were Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. Many of us remember them as ROY G BIV. Are there only seven colors? Newton believed in numerology and thought special numbers governed all natural phenomena. Seven is a very special number. There are seven days in the week, seven openings in our head, seven seas, seven continents and many other important sevens. So, of course he found exactly seven colors. In reality, the rainbow colors merge gradually into one another. Our eyes sort them into groupings.

Some professors have gone a bit further associating the sound-elements of a color name with the position your arms have when you say that name. Based on the rules of the Physical Foundation of Language they try to explain why a color has that specific name and not another one; why red for example is called red and not green. In environmental study with color and light, conducted by visual-arts professor Harry Wohlfarth and Catharine Sam of the University of Alberta, the color environment of fourteen severely handicapped and behaviorally disordered eight to eleven years old was altered. It involved substituting yellow and blue for orange, white, beige and brown and replacing fluorescent lights with full-spectrum ones. After a change in color and lighting environment, the children's aggressive behavior diminished and then blood pressure dropped. Interestingly, the same effects were found in both blind and sighted children in Wohlfarth and Sam's study. This suggests that color energies affect in ways that transcend seeing. One hypotheses is that neurotransmitters in the eye transmit information about light to the brain even in the absence of sight, and that this information releases a hormone in the hypothalamus that has numerous effects on our moods, mental clarity, and energy level. In what Wohlfarth calls the science of ÒColorpsychodynamics, Ó colors that seem to increase blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rate are, in order of increasing effects, warm colors such as red, orange and yellow. This effects the same as Faber Birren's study which mentioned before.

The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Indians had believed in chromotherapy, or healing with colors. In chromotherapy, red is believed to stimulate physical and mental energies, yellow to stimulate the nerves, orange to stimulate the solar plexus and revitalize the lungs, blue to soothe and heal organic disorders such as colds, hay fever, and liver problems, and indigo to counteract skin problems and fevers. (Paul '89) Most people have skeptical opinion about color healing, however, the medical profession makes use of color in certain treatments. For instance, premature babies with jaundice are cured by a chemical reaction triggered by exposure to blue light for several days. The relation between blue light and jaundice is beginning to be well understood scientifically.

The warm colors are active and exciting such as a red and its neighboring hues. The cool colors which are passive and calming are blue, violet and green. Likewise, light colors are active, while deep colors are likely to be passive. Red colors tend to increase bodily tension, to stimulate the autonomic nervous system, but green and blue colors release tension and have a lesser physiological effect. Below you will find the most common meanings assigned to certain colors as well as some mystic beliefs associated with that color. I will list the colors in a way that you would see them in a rainbow. this also mirrors how the colors are presented in relationship to the Hindu Belief regarding chakra color.


is the most exciting color and is known to escalate the body's metabolism. Dark red has anger implications it indicates high energy, determination, and much passion. The color red has been part of the English language since about A.D. 900. It is the primary color at the lower or least deflected end of the visible spectrum. Its name is used for shades ranging from very bright, bold red, to reddish yellow or reddish brown. Found not only in the lores of ancient medicine but in the superstitions of modern times, red has been viewed as the vigorous color of health. Red wool was applied to relieve sprains in Scotland, sore throats in Ireland, and to prevent fevers in Macedonia. The ruby, a precious gemstone with a brilliant red color, was worn in China to promote long life. The color red has also been a representation of love within a relationship between two people. A red rose, given to the bearer's lover or mate has always been known as a symbol of love. As well as the ever-popular red heart on Valentine's Day. Red has come to mean beauty, love, stength, energy, courage, career, goals, power, and willpower.Red is the color most associated with the South direction. In Christianity, red symbolizes Love, blood and the martyrdom of Christ. In Hindu belief, red represents the Kundalini or genital chakra.


is the only color of the spectrum whose name was taken from an object, the well-known and popular fruit called the orange. The fruit comes from an evergreen tree, Citrus aurantius, and the word "orange", comes from the Old French orenge. Since about 1300 it has used as part of the English language. Because the tree is evergreen and everbearing, the color orange became associated with fruitfulness. On the visible spectrum this reddish-yellow color lies between, red and yellow the two colors that when blended together are the creators of the color orange. In folklore the color orange stands for fire and flames, lust, vigor, excitement, adventure and wholesomeness. Orange also has meaning for success, stimulating energy, justice, attraction, endurance. In Hindu belief, orange represents the sacral chakra.


is cheerful but can become irritating if alone for too long. dark yellow can be oppressive while light yellow is breezy. The bright golden color yellow lies between green and orange on the visible spectrum and is, along with red and blue, one of the primary colors. Since about A.D. 900 the color yellow has been integrated into the English language, stemming from closely related words in the Latin and various Germanic languages. In heraldry, where it is called for (for gold) the color yellow stands for the positive virtues of faith, constancy, wisdom, and glory. It also has been thought of as being a color that represents playfulness, light, creativity, warmth, mental powers, charm, confidence, vision, joy, enthusiasm, optimism, and an easy going attitude about life. The color yellow also has many negative associations as well, among them are jealousy, treachery, cowardice, aging, and illness. Yellow represents the direction East. In Hindu belief, it represents the solar plexus chakra


is peaceful, the color of a spring meadow. Bright green can be uplifting and dark green evokes the mental image of a grove or forest. Green is the color of freshness and renewal, and has been in Western culture since the earliest of times. The word "green" comes from the Old English gréne, in turn from grêne in Old Frisian and various related Germanic languages. Reappearing in springtime, after the dull, seemingly colorless winter, it became a symbol of fertility and growth, of abundance and external life. The color green represents harmony, growth, abundance, vitality, healing, and nature and radiates a feeling of fullness. When thoughts of nature come to mind, green, being the color of grass, trees and plants, 99% of the time is the dominant color of one's mental images. On the visible spectrum green lies sandwiched in between blue and yellow. Green has come to mean youth, growing, healing, success, good luck, and beauty. In Celtic myths the Green man was the God of fertility. Later in the millennium, Early Christians banned green because it had been used in pagan ceremonies. In the 15th Century, the color green was the best choice for the bride's gown because of its earliest symbolism, heralding fertility. Green was a sacred color to the Egyptians representing the hope and joy of spring. Green is a sacred color to Moslems. In modern times, anyone who chooses a green m & m (an American candy which contains an assortment of different colored chocolate sweets) is sending a somewhat similar message. Green has been reinterpreted by late 20th century American culture to signify a state of heightened sexuality in this specific situation. Green It is said that green is the most restful color for the human eye. Green has great healing power. It can soothe pain. People who work in green environments have fewer stomachaches. Suicides dropped 34% when London's Blackfriar Bridge was painted green. Green is associated with the direction of North. In Christianity, green means hope and growth in Christian Life. In Hindu belief, green represents the heart chakra.


is the most calming color. It is considered to be the second most powerful color after red and blue is the color of constancy and faith, the color painters used for the Virgin Mary's robe, the color of the heavens and the oceans. The soothing color blue stands for sky, good health from good air, sensitivity, truth, sleep, healing, hope, friendship, protection, calm, creativity, patience, wisdom, peace, loyalty and ones desire to nurture. The word "blue", from Middle English blew and Old English Blaw, has been used since about 1300 to describe a color of the spectrum. In the symbolism of heraldry blue is called azure and signifies piety and sincerity. Around the twentieth century it became a symbolic representation of the male gender. In Christianity, Blue symbolizes Mary and Advent. In Hindu belief, blue represents the throat chakra.

Indigo or dark blue,

is the color that indicates dignity, tranquility, higher intuition, psychic powers, and trustworthiness. It is as calming and shares many traits with blue but being darker the affect is more intense and powerful. Since indigo has some of the shading of violet, it shares some of the traits of violet as provides calm and coolness without cooling your intent. In hindu belief, it is the color of the thrid eye chakra.

Violet or purple,

is the color of royalty but rare in nature and perceived as artificial. Light purple or lavender is a fashion favorite while dark purple implies wealth. A combination of red and blue, purple is a color that has been associated with royalty since ancient Roman times. The color purple is symbolic of power, spiritual goals, passionate belief, visionary leadership, respect and wealth and has been worn by emperors, military commanders, and other high-ranking officials. It also has come to symbolize psychic ability, success, wisdom ,power, spiritual growth, and independence. Lavender has come to mean reverence and royalty. The word "purple" comes from the Greek porphura, a species of shellfish that yielded, through an elaborate process, the dye called Tyrian Purple. Very expensive to produce, it was reserved for special cloth and garments, such as those of kings. In Christianity, purple means penitence. In Hindu belief, purple is the color of the crown chakra.

So ends the rainbow but other colors have meaning as well. You will find their meanings below.


is a dichotomy with innocence on one side and sterility on the other, it means everything and nothing at the same time. Expensive china is white but so are paper plates. White is, literally speaking the absence of all color. Or rather, it is the "color" produced by reflecting almost all kinds of light found in the visible spectrum. This is why white clothing is considered cooler than other colors on a hot summer day; since it reflects back sunlight (and heat) rather than absorbing it; as black does. The word white comes from the Old English hwít, which in turn is related to very similar words in old Germanic languages. Symbolically white symbolizes truth, purity, peace, protection, happiness, and the masculine divine. White can sometimes have a negative meaning as well. It can symbolize the pallor of death. In China it symbolizes age, autumn, misfortune, virginity and purity and is the color of mourning. In heraldry white is also called argent. This word comes from the Latin argentum, for silver. The color white projects feelings of calmness, relaxation and an inner peace with ones surroundings and inner soul. In India, as in Christian weddings, while most brides wear white, but it is usually relieved by at least a touch of some other color. If a married woman wears unrelieved white in India, she is inviting widowhood and unhappiness. In Christianity white symbolizes joy, glory and the road to heaven and it was thus the color of newly baptized Christians as well as the Pope. In Hindu belief, white symbolizes energy in the hands.


can represent evil or imply elegance it is popular with artists Literally, black means absorbing all light, without reflecting any of its rays. Yet long before the physics of light was understood, the word black was in common use. In Old English it was blaec, closely related to its equivalents in Old High German (blah, blach) and Old Norse (blakkr). In many languages and cultures, black was associated with evil (and white with good). Both in art and in religion black signified despair, sin and mourning, satanic ritual, darkness and the underworld. Its use in mourning is very old, it probably comes from the ancient Semitic custom of blackening the face with dirt or ashes to make it unrecognizable to the malignant dead, as well as a mark of grief and submission. The tradition of today's funeral is the wearing of black garments to mourn the loss of a family member, relative, or close friend. Despite the color's many negative associations, in heraldry black, called sable, also stands for virtues of constancy, prudence and wisdom. It also has positive meanings of purity, binding, repelling, remembrance and protection. In Christianity, it stands for Death.


is the color of romance. Pink also symbolizes love, fidelity, friendship, honor, harmony, compassion and faithfulness. In Hindu belief, pink is also a color associated with the heart chakra.


is the color of the earth, evoking wistfulness or melancholy. light brown confers genuineness. Dark brown is reminiscent of fine wood and leather. Brown symbolizes animal majick, home, friendship, grounding, herb majick and Earth and the direction of North. In Hindu belief, it symbolizes the energy in the feet.


is the color that symbolizes encouragement, removal of negativity, and moon majick.


is the color that symbolizes solar deities, solar majick, and attraction.


is the color of neutrality and glamories.

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