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Color Magic & Symbolical Meanings of Colors in Different Cultures

Updated on November 13, 2017
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Niina is a folklorist and a story teller who loves to explore myths all over the world.

Colors of the rainbow

One of the things I remember from three mandatory color-theory courses from art school is that there are three primary colors and all the colors between them are secondary colors. Colors are all around us. The officially recognized colors are found from the spectrum. Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. Secondary colors are purple, orange, brown, green and all the shades between them. White and black are not official colors because they don´t exist in the spectrum. Yet we can find them in nature. Color symbolism is very interesting especially because in different cultures colors have different meanings.

Red

Element: Fire

Planet: Mars

Day of the week: Tuesday

Horoscope signs: Scorpio, Leo, Gemini and Aries

Red is often said to be the color of life because blood is red. Red is color of passion, fire and energy.

In China red is color of good luck, happiness and prosperity. Often Chinese bridal dresses are red. Relatives and friends give red envelopes for the Wedding couple. These envelopes have money inside but it is not the money that counts. What counts is the amount of envelopes which symbolizes fertility.

Color red is connected to war fare and aggressiveness. Color red gives warning signs from the coming danger. Red is color of sex, eroticism and passion. This is why from several cities you can find questionable "streets of the red lanterns". War and love are often connected together. It is no coincidence that color red is connected to both Cupid and the Christian devil. In politics color red usually refers to nonconformist groups. Red is also the color of love and connected to Valentine´s Day. Symbol of Valentine´s day is a red heart. In flower symbolism red rose represents ever lasting passionate love.

Magical use of the color red

Red is connected to courage and bravery. Could this be the reason why Gryffindor colors are red and gold in the Harry Potter books?

In magical use color red symbolizes confidence. If you want to get noticed wear red clothes with pride. It is often used in love magic and a women´s healing spells that are related to menstrual cycle.

Red is one of the most sacred colors in India and there it has many meanings. In India red symbolizes: wealth, power, fire, purity, fertility, love, beauty and seduction. In South-Africa color red symbolizes mourning and in China red is the color of the new year and represents long life to the people.

Yellow

Element: Fire

Planet: The Sun

Day of the week: Wednesday

Horoscope signs. Taurus, Gemini, Libra, Archer and Pisces

Yellow is connected to optimism, summer, sun, childhood, inner child and friendship. Bright yellow is color of getting attention. Combination of yellow and black is often used in warning signs. Black and yellow is one of the easiest color combinations to see long distances. This is why taxis and school buses are painted with yellow and black.

Very bright yellow with another stimulating color like red can cause great deal of stress for people. This is why many don´t feel good about staying long time periods in places that are painted with yellow and red. This kind of color psychology is often used in fast food restaurants. Color stimulation invites clients in but because of the stimulation clients wont spend that much time sitting inside the restaurant.

Yellow is connected to memory and intelligence. People who like yellow tend to have good imagination. Yellow can also increase mental activity and stimulate the nervous system.

Yellow color is often associated to spring
Yellow color is often associated to spring | Source

Yellow is the color of spring and Easter/Ostara. Symbols of Easter like eggs, and small chickens can all be yellow. Many spring and summer flowers are yellow like daffodils, sun flowers, dandelions and buttercups. Yellow symbolizes the sun and the time when sun is closest to the earth.

Yellow is spontaneous color and it is often used in children´s products and marketing advertisements aimed at children.

In different cultures yellow has different meanings. In Japan yellow is the color of bravery and courage. In India yellow is the color of merchants. In Egypt both yellow and gold are colors connected to death. They were used to decorate the mummy sarcophagus and tombs before going to the after life. In Africa color yellow is connected to people with wealth because it is the color that is closest to gold.

In magical use yellow fits well to spells performed during midsummer solstice. Color yellow can attract new friendships and exiting events.

Source

Blue

Element: Water, Air

Planet: Neptune, Jupiter, Mercury and Uranus

Day of the week: Friday

Horoscope signs (dark blue): Virgo, Taurus, Libra and Archer

Horoscope signs (light blue): Libra, Taurus, Archer, Aquarius and Pisces

Blue is calming and healing color. Blue represents peace, tranquility, inspiration, freedom, sensitivity and the dream world. Blue is color of both sky and the sea and is connected to open spaces. Color blue can have positive effects to our body and mind. It can cause body to produce chemicals that are calming and reduce our stress level.

There are different shades of blue. Indigo blue is connected to consciousness and is used to decorate meditative spaces. In folk magic color blue was used to protect people from the evil eye.

In Greece there was a custom to paint all doors and window frames blue to prevent evil spirits from entering
In Greece there was a custom to paint all doors and window frames blue to prevent evil spirits from entering | Source

Once in a blue moon

English expression once in a blue moon refers into an event that is very rare. In folk magic term blue moon refers into a month when moon is full twice and the second one is called the blue moon.

Color combination of black and blue is dynamic and can be found from gym and sport clothes. Flags of Finland and Greece only have white and blue in them. In Finnish flag white symbolizes the sky and blue Finland's´s thousands lakes. In Greece´s flag white symbolizes the sky as well and the blue symbolizes the sea.

Blue can be a very strong color. It is used to symbolize sincerity and heraldry. In many cultures blue is important religious color in rituals. Color blue communicates trust and this is why police officers and fire men wear blue uniforms.

In Hinduism blue is the color of Krishna. One of the most beloved Hindu gods who embodies love and happiness.

In Judaism blue is color of holiness. In many Latin American countries blue is the symbol of hope and purity and the color of Virgin Mary. In many Middle Eastern cultures blue symbolizes heaven, spirituality and immortality.

There are not that many blue foods around. Blue is a healing color that can be used as meditative color for weight problems, self-care and self-love.

Green

Element: Earth

Planet: Earth

Day of the week: Saturday

Horoscope signs (dark green): Taurus, Aries, Crab, Libra, Capricorn and Aquarius

Horoscope signs (light green): Virgo and Pisces

Green is the dominant color in the natural world. Green is connected to life, Gaia, earth, trees, health, happiness, summer, growth, fertility, safety, harmony, balance, jealousy, finances, money, wealth and banking.

Green is connected to motherhood, planet Venus and inner child. It is also told to be the favorite color of fairies and pixies. Green is about growth and rebirth connected to seasons of spring and summer. Time when nature is coming alive again.

Green helps to control nervousness, depression and anxiety. This is why hospital interiors are often painted with light shades green and doctors wear green clothes. Green stands for safety and environmental friendliness. It is commonly used to promote nature friendly products.

Green can also have more sinister meanings. Color combination of black and green has been often connected to evil witches. Green can also symbolize jealousy, misfortune and addiction. Green drink absinthe is also known as the Green Fairy.

Combination of green and red are often associated to Christmas. Red and green are also complimentary colors and come out as vibrant when used together.

Term "Green eyed-monster" refers to an envy or a jealous person.

In many South-American cultures color green symbolizes death.

In China men should not wear green hats it means that their wives are cheating on them.

In magical use color green ifs perfect for self-care and groundng. Green color is also fitting for money and prosperity spells.

Orange

Element: Fire

Planet: the Sun

Horoscope signs: Leo and Archer

Day of the week: Sunday

The color orange is connected to the sun, flames, fire, passion, optimism, self-confidence and inspiration. In many western cultures orange is considered to be wild and edgy color. Orange is stimulating and vibrant. Combination of fiery red and more calming yellow.

Color orange can create the sensation of heat. It is warm and hot color. Combination of black and orange are the colors of Halloween. Color orange itself is the color or autumn and harvest and can be found from color changing leaves and pumpkins.

Orange is popular color in restaurants representing contentment, hunger and stimulation. Fruits that are orange often have vitamin C and vitamin A in them.

In Egypt orange is the color of mourning and sadness.

In Netherlands orange is the color of the royal family.

In Japan and China orange symbolizes love, courage and happiness. In India color orange is color of life and vitality.

In magical use color orange can be used for refreshing.

Because orange is connected to harvest, autumn and seasons changing, color orange can be used to represent different transformations.

Purple

Element: water, air

Planets: Neptune and Pluto

Horoscope signs: Crab, Aquarius, Libra and Gemini

Day of the week: Thursday

Purple is a magical color that represents meditation and spirituality. Color purple is often connected to nobility, royalty, power, luxury and ambition, material and possession. In the past purple die was extremely difficult to produce because it was extracted from sea nails. As result purple and violet clothes were expensive and were only available for kings, queens and other rulers.

In many Catholic countries color purple is connected to sadness and grieving. In Brazil color purple is only recommended to use in funerals. In Lutheran church purple is also color of mourning.

Light purple or lavender represents womanhood, femininity and beauty. Light purple flower such orchids, lilacs and violets are considered to be gentle and delicate.

Because color purple is combination of both cool (blue) and warm (red) colors. It has both cool and warm properties. Color purple can inspire, boost up creativity and imagination. It can also be moody and melancholic.

Purple is a color that rarely exist in nature. It is considered to have other worldly meanings and is believed to be highly spiritual color. In magical use color purple is excellent for those who wish excessive their third eye and for anyone who has difficulties to focus on one thing at time.

Pink

Element: water

Planets: Venus and Neptune

Horoscope signs: Gemini, Libra and Virgo

In many western cultures color pink is connected to love, romanticism, dreams, poets, femininity, caring and tenderness.

Compared to bright red pink is vivid but it is more calm and represents harmony and balance. Pink is connected to childhood, friendship, innocence and kindness. Hot pink communicates playfulness while light pink communicates tenderness. Both red and pink are colors of love but when red symbolizes passionate love pink is the color of charm, romance and flirting.

In Japan pink is gender-neutral color and is worn by both men and women. In Korea pink symbolizes trust.

It is believed that color pink reduces violent behavior and this is why many prison holding cells are painted with light shades of pink.

The color pink represents love so it can be used in love and relationship spells. Also in spells to attract more love and friendship to one´s life. It is also a color that is relaxing and creates serenity and it can be used to reduce stress.

Black

Element(s): water, earth

Planet(s): Moon, Saturn and Pluto

Day of the week: Saturday

Horoscope signs: Scorpio, Aquarius and Capricorn

Color black is connected to night time, mysticism, wisdom, soil, growth, death, hatred, sophistication, mysterious, magic and darkness. According to folklore in all parts of the world world was born from darkness. Black color is told to be magnetic color that holds all colors inside it. Soil and dirt are black yet all life grows from them. Black is the color of both life and death.

In many western countries black is the color of mourning. During pre-Christian times it was believed that black color hided the funeral folk from the fay folk and evil spirits. In the past black fabrics were expensive. It was not unheard of for women to get married wearing a black dress.

In western cultures black was also color of misfortune and bad luck. This belief most likely started from people´s fear towards the night time and darkness. Black cats and black dogs were deliverers of bad news. Seeing a black bird was considered as a bad omen.

In magical use color black can be used in rituals where we are ready to let go of the past and welcome the new.

Source

White

Element: Water, air

Planet(s): Moon and the Sun

Day of the week: Monday

Horoscope signs: Aries, Gemini, Crab, Pisces and Leo

Color white is associated with illumination, purity, virginity, softness, spirituality, heaven, love, humility, understanding, wisdom and goodness. Starting from 19th century by Queen Victoria of England white has been popular color of the wedding dress. White wedding dress symbolizes purity and virginity.

White is often connected to sterility and cleanness. It is also a very neutral color that is not disturbing or extremely stimulating. This is why many hospitals have white interiors. Because snow is white white is also connected to coolness. It is said to be color where all the other colors come from. Colors are born when ray of light touches the spectrum.

In many Asian countries white is the color of dead and mourning. In China funeral clothes are traditionally white.

In Finnish folklore white animals were believed to be omens of death. It was believed that death was peaceful and not to be feared. Only a gateaway between the new and the past life.

In magical use color white is widely used in rituals related to channeling, divination and fortune telling. It can also be used in rituals connected to imagination and lucid dreams.

Brown

Element: earth

Planet: Saturn

Horoscope signs: Taurus, Virgo, Scorpio and Capricorn

Brown is the color of the earth and it is very grounding color. Color brown symbolizes home, nature, safety, parenthood, wood, sand, dirt and harvest. It is connected to the seasons of Autumn and Winter. Brown is considered to be very cozy color creating feelings of relaxation.

Combined with green these two colors represent nature and anything earth-related. It is also believed that color brown increases appetite and this is the reason why it is often used as decorative color in restaurants.

In magical use color brown is connected to shape sifting and shamanism. Animals that have brown fur are common totem animals and represent wisdom and understanding. Nature plays big part in shamanic practice. Most simple way for grounding is to go for a walk in to the forest.

What is your favorite color?

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© 2017 Niina Niskanen

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