The Significance of Color in Symbol and Ritual
As many color therapists, interior decorators and New Age Professionals will tell you, color affects us on a deeper level than just sight.
Red is the color of fire, passion and of energy. Red can create a feeling of warmth, vibrancy, and speed.
Blue is the color of water, it is calming and peaceful. Blue invokes images and feelings of serenity and gentle movement.
Green is the color of the Earth and growing things, it’s also the color of money. Green feels lush and seems to have foresty scents that come to mind upon seeing it.
There are just three simple examples of how color can affect us. Colors are an aspect of light. Light is vibration, each color vibrates at a different rate, and these vibrations have an effect on us as people.
Colors also have automatic associations; most people will struggle with a picture of a blue carrot, or a green sky for example.
To take this further – how is it used in symbol and ritual?
A symbol is a simple object or image that represents something else. That something else being represented can be as big as the world, or as abstract as an emotion, it can be an ideal, another person, a dream, a fear or a relationship. The symbol is concise and simple, but usually very personal – what it means to you may be different from what it means to the next person. A key can symbolize security, or it can symbolize hiding precious items away, or it can mean privacy, for example.
Likewise, colors can be symbols on their own, or add another dimension to a symbol. A white rose is often said to symbolize purity, while a red rose is for love and passion.
A ritual is created for a reason, there are many levels to ritual, but one of them is to create the setting for your mind to go to work creating change in the world. The mind is a glorious thing and relies heavily on symbolism especially in any magical work or ritual.
When designing a ritual, or even using an existing one, think about the purpose of the ritual. What are you hoping to achieve? What symbols are you using to this end? What colors are appropriate to both the symbol and the ritual? Are you working for growth or for removing something? Is it a ritual about pure worship? Is it a seasonal celebration ritual?
However, don’t overthink it! What colors first come to mind? How would they be used? Check with websites or books to see if the colors are appropriate if you’re not confident in your own choices.
The simple use of color is cloth or fabric.
It can be used as an Altar cloth, to mark a space in the circle, to identify quarters, as clothing, poppets, or as a veil. Colored candles are another simple tool that can be used in or out of ritual. Makeup or face paint can be used to add color and more symbolism in the style or manner of makeup or face paint.
Look at the colors used in advertising logos, or on the covers of books, then look at the symbols you use either consciously or unconsciously. Think about the colors that are present in rituals, and what that means. Don’t be afraid to experiment with colors a little. Find for yourself that dimension to your practice that you probably didn’t realize was there.