Color Philosophy

Symbolism of Remaining Shades  

Symbolism_Remaining Shades


    While color symbolism is universal in its application, not all of its exponents agree as to its uses.  However, it is true that the purity of a color will have its counterpart in the purity of its symbolic meaning.  Thus primary colors will correspond to primary emotions (such as those of children or basic types), while secondary or more subtle colors express meanings of further complexity.


    White is the color produced by reflection of all the rays of the solar spectrum, and it is from White Light that all color radiates.


    White multiplies and projects the properties and powers of light.  Everywhere accepted as the symbol of goodness and purity, it also indicates holiness, pardon, and innocence of the soul.  When used for religious habits, it signifies innocence of soul, purity and holiness of life.


    White light is both the synthesis and the negation of color.  Any color can be diluted with white almost to the extent of obliterating it.  In like manner the grosser elements of man can be visualized as being gradually transformed into finer and finer essences through the spiritual power of white light.


    White light can only be used imaginatively by the effort of visualization, picturing it, for instance, as a fountain of water with the sun sparkling on it, or a beam of radiant light shining down on the patient, producing a unifying and harmonizing effect.



    The visualization of white light in connection with respiration has had interesting results in conducted experiments.  Patients are asked to visualize the colors of the spectrum in their order from red to violet.  The red increases the respiration in the upper part of the chest; the green affects the epigastric expansion; the violet produces deep abdominal breathing.  If the response to the various colors is normal the breathing will be smooth and regular from the upper part of the chest downward.  If the patient fails to respond to any one of the colors, the breathing will become jerky or irregular as the color is visualized.  But when contemplating white, such as white flowers, or a snowfield, the breathing will be fuller and deeper than when thinking of any of the colors.


    White is stimulating to those who respond to its high rate of vibration.  It is the end product of color.  There are many variations of white, dead white, bone white, snow white, pearl white, foam white.  It speaks of virginity, purity, peace, and holiness.


    As the color of Light itself, it represents illumination, ascension and revelation.


    Black, on the other hand, negates and absorbs the powers of light.  Having no brightness or color, reflecting no light – in absorbing, it “takes” rather than gives light, and thus symbolizes the opposite factors, the absence of light, or darkness.  Some of its symbols are: matter,



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fermentation, putrefaction, occultation, ignorance, and penitence.  Mineral life, fertilized land, germination in darkness, Prime Matter, and the mystery of the Unknown.


    Black and white, when used together for religious habits signify humility and purity of life.


    Gray: Any two lights of exactly opposite color unite to produce white light, but two pigmentary colors, being opaque in nature, when mixed with direct opposites produce gray.  For this reason, gray is said to be the symbol representing the perfect blending or neutralization of any two pairs of opposites.


    There are many tones of gray, each with its own significance.  The color of ashes, it has been used to portray humility, inertia, or indifference; neutralization: depression or sadness; death of the body and immortality of the spirit.  In Mystery teachings, as the union of opposites, it represents Wisdom.


    Each color causes a reaction on the retina of the eye, which tends to arouse the activity of its opposite or complementary color.


    One can test this by staring hard at any strong color for a moment in bright light, then closing the eyes or looking at a blank white sheet of paper, and watch the opposite color appear.  Sometimes one will see the rim of this opposite color around objects, an effect of his own visual perception.


    Brown is the color of earth, a dark color combining red, yellow, and black.  From an external or negative standpoint brown signifies worldly status, materialism and sometimes decay.  Golden brown indicates worldly pleasures.  Dark dingy brown signifies greed or miserliness.  Muddy brown is earthiness.  Clear, pleasing shades of brown are warm and comfortable to the eye, with a feeling of friendliness.


    Brown used in religious habit signifies renunciation of the world.


    Pink is a pale hue of crimson, the color of flesh.  It suggests affection, light emotion, or sensuality.


    Silver symbolizes the Moon, and the lunar currents in the nervous system.


    Gold symbolizes the Sun, the states of glory, the solar rays and currents.


    The usual spectrum colors have already been discussed, except for their symbolism in religious garb, which is given as follows:


In Religious Vestments:   


Red signifies Power and fire; blood and sublimation; charity and active love.  It is associated with emotions, love and hate.  Among the Romans it meant sovereign power.  The Cardinals

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dress in red.  It is the color ascribed to St. John , and the martyred saints.  It signifies love of action, and was used during Pentecost to denote the Holy Spirit.


Blue is the color of the sky, and suggests the unveiling of Truth, as the heavens with clouds pulled back.  It also represents heaven and heavenly love.  It suggests prayer as an ascending scale of blue light; or aspiration with stars flying upward.  Blue is the traditional color used in the church to represent the Virgin.


Indigo relates to higher metaphysical thought.


Yellow poses opposite meanings: of the Sun and divinity on the one hand; or when murky, it relates to Judas’ deceit and treachery.  A pure yellow also represents revealed Truth, and St. Peter is some- times depicted robed in yellow.


Orange-Yellow: in the Orient, carries the meaning of renunciation.


Green garb relates to vegetation and spring, and to the immediate or natural life – growth and sensation.  It also represents triumph of life over death, as spring over winter.  In pagan initiation rites it symbolizes water.  St. John is sometimes shown in green, for spiritual initiation.  It also refers to the epiphany season, the visitation of the Magi and initiation rites in the life of Christ. 


Violet: stands for Love, Truth, or passion and suffering.


Purple is for penitence, sometimes sorrow.  Also for royalty and imperial power, as well as spiritual power.  It is sometimes related to God.


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