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Color Divination

Common Associations with Colors

Common associations only apply within a specific culture; so if these don’t resonate with you, use your own connotations. With regard to the first eight colors, please note that I have bracketed the quality or qualities that are associated with the chakras in the Hindu tradition at the end of each list of attributes.[2]

Red — love, courage, passion, excitement, stimulation, energy, fire, anger, fear, embarrassment, “Stop” [first chakra, survival (“blood”)]

Orange — playfulness, optimism, autumn, Halloween, visibility, shock, surprise, insanity [second chakra, sexuality]

Yellow — sun, happiness, creativity, radiance, clarity, caution, jealousy, cowardice, optimism [third chakra, will power]

Green — nature, growth, health, vigor, harmony, rejuvenation, money, envy, disgust, inexperience, unripe, “Go” [fourth chakra, love]

Blue — water, sky, sorrow, tranquility, contemplation, comfort, the unknown (“out of the blue”), friendship (“true blue”) [fifth chakra, self-expression]

Indigo — the unconscious, the psychic, imagination, insight, dreams, relaxation [sixth chakra, intuition]

Violet — spirituality, peace, wisdom, understanding, inspiration, creativity, bliss [seventh chakra, connection to the divine]

White — light, purity, protection, abstraction, transcendence [seventh chakra, spirituality]

Black — darkness, death, mystery, fear, grief, despair, gloom, hiddenness, grounding (earth)

Brown — earth, dirt, soil, decay, dullness, feces, ingratiation (“brown nosing”)

Gold — wealth, preciousness, vitality, radiance, sun, joy, success, talent, abundance, excellence, admiration

Silver — wealth, adornment, clarity, moon, psychic abilities, eloquence (“silver tongue”), hope (“silver lining”)

Pink — love, sweetness, femininity, harmony, health, comfort

Gray — indeterminacy, old age, neutrality, bleakness, conformity, in-between

Purple — royalty, spirit, justice, honor, ornateness (“purple prose”)

Blue green/turquoise — health, ocean, communication, expression, stimulation

Pale green — spring, newness, relaxation

Dark green — summer, forest, plushness, fertility, ripeness

A profusion of color surrounds me as I sit on my deck: the bright-orange day lilies lining my street, the deep-blue summer sky, the forest-green trees reflected in Lake Mendota, plus the red, yellow, orange and rose flowers in my own yard. Colors provide us with some of life’s simple pleasures, as Alice Walker rightly noted in her novel The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”[1]

As a major component of visual symbolism, color has played a significant role in the world’s religions. Seasonal colors adorn shrines — think of Christian churches with their purple altar cloths at Easter or red and green at Christmas. Color designates a person’s religious station — consider the saffron robes worn by Buddhist monks or the red miters of Roman Catholic cardinals. Color marks the sacred directions in many indigenous cultures — for instance, the Lakota association of white for north, red for east, yellow for south and black for west. It has symbolic significance on religious paintings — for example, on Tibetan thangkas, medieval Christian canvasses, and Hindu yantras. It shouldn’t surprise us to learn that color can also connect us with our inner vision in divination.

Visual stimuli contain two main elements: shape and color. Many visual divinations depend on identifying shapes. Color can provide similar oracular guidance, but I think it affects us in a deeper, more emotionally charged way. Why else would we talk about feeling blue? seeing red? being green with envy? calling someone yellow (cowardly)?

In fact, quite recently the emotional significance of color came to light in school systems on the East Coast, where parents objected to the use of red ink on their children’s assignments. For Americans over thirty, red ink means “wrong,” “mistake,” or “incorrect” and usually a “bad grade.” The parents saw red — both literally and figuratively — finding the color “stressful,” “abrasive,” and “negative.” Instead purple has emerged as the new color of choice for teacher’s ink, seen as positive and reinforcing rather than negative.

Divination Methods

Anchor yourself firmly in the here and now in preparation for your color divination. Once you’ve decided on your question, begin by relaxing and attuning yourself to the energies of earth and sky, using your favorite means of grounding and centering. When you have finished, thank the universal energies as well as the palpable presence of color for the guidance you have received.

Color Cards
This is the most straightforward of the color divinations I have gathered here.

  1. Create your color cards. Cut out same-sized squares of paper or swatches of cloth in a variety of solid colors. Or color one side of blank notecards, so you can use them as you would any other type of deck. I suggest that you include the rainbow colors associated with the seven chakras (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) plus white, black, brown, gold, silver, pink, gray, purple, blue green, pale green, and dark green. Add any other shade that you find particularly significant. Note: For a basic set of color cards, you can use a color printer to print color_cards.doc.
  2. Place your cards in a pouch or box.
  3. Devise an oracular query.
  4. Ground and center.
  5. As you think about your query with your eyes closed, draw one of the colored pieces from your box or pouch.
  6. Interpret your oracle. For common associations with the color you have selected, see my list in the sidebar. Usually, one of the qualities in this table will spark an association that will immediately shed light on your question. In some cases, however, you will also need to use free association to analyze your divination (see my Free Association article (MatriFocus, Samhain '06) for more information about this method).

Interpretation of your color often concerns personal experience. As usual, if you have a specific tie with the color you have chosen, that correlation overshadows any associations I offer in the sidebar. The qualities listed there resonate with what most people in our culture think of these colors, but not necessarily what you would associate with them. Beyond that, the specifics of your question may also predispose you to understand the color you have chosen in a particular way. For instance, if your issue concerns fear, white might indicate white knuckles. If it involves whether or not you should give up in some arena of your life, white might have to do with the white flag of surrender. If, however, your question relates to whether or not you need to safeguard yourself, white might imply surrounding yourself with the brilliant white light of protection.

Clothes Make the Oracle
This is an excellent divination method for early morning when you’ve just gotten out of bed. You barely have to awaken for it to work. In fact, it’s better if you’re still half-asleep, in what scientists call a hypnagogic state. To perform this oracle:

  1. Shape your divinatory question the night before.
  2. As you doze off, resolve that you will choose clothes the next morning whose color(s) reflect your issue.
  3. When you awaken, choose the first outfit that draws your eye.
  4. Sometime during the day, notice what color clothes you are wearing.
  5. When you have a chance, interpret your oracle. How do you understand your question in light of the color(s) you selected? In some cases, you will know immediately what your color choice(s) imply. Other times, you may need to use Free Association to analyze the hues in which you have clothed yourself.

You can adapt this divination in a number of ways. Instead of beginning the night before, you can remind yourself of your question before you rise, and then note what color clothes seem to beckon to you. If you wear jewelry, you can also use your choice(s) for the day as color signs pointing to the oracular answer(s) you seek.

Walking your Rainbow
Whether you choose colors in nature or the varied hues of an art gallery, strolling through a place full of tints and shades will probably light up your intuition.

A word of advice before you begin: An oracular result may elude you unless you select a place that has a number of colors, but not an overabundance. Until you feel secure in your own intuition, I wouldn’t choose a grocery store for this oracle. I also wouldn’t walk through an overcast, snowy landscape. Either extreme — either too little or too much color — complicates this divinatory method. An outdoor location in the spring or summer is optimal, because you will find flowering trees and bushes as well as traffic signs or even colorful trash. To begin this oracle:

  1. Draft a divinatory question.
  2. Choose one of these two options:
    • First color. Interpret the first color you notice as the answer you seek.
    • Open-ended. Remain aware of all the colors that draw your attention throughout your walk. If you choose this second option, you may want to bring along a writing pad and pencil to record your color sightings.
  3. Decide where you will “walk your rainbow.”
  4. Ground and center at this location.
  5. Take your divinatory walk.
  6. Interpret your divination. If you selected a “first color” oracle, the hue you initially notice will provide your answer. Otherwise, you will need to consider all the colors that appealed to you. Often the first hue that attracts your attention will offer primary guidance, while the other shades you observe may expand on that original advice.

If you want a simple answer, “first color” is probably the way to go, since an open-ended rainbow walk will give a more complex response to your divinatory question. Of course, even if you decide to perform a “first color” oracle, you may notice more than one hue, giving further nuance to your divination.

The World is Your Oracle
by Nancy Vedder-Shults

Nancy's forthcoming book, The World is Your Oracle, compiles hundreds of divination methods, from ancient oracles to modern-day techniques. The excerpts published here will describe a few of the ways to access the deeper layers of our minds and broaden our sense of perception.

A good oracle puts us in touch with ourselves. It lets us discover our motivations, feelings and thoughts about the question we're exploring. And it connects us with the atmosphere or environment surrounding that question — making us aware of the water we swim in, but usually don't notice.

To receive inner guidance, all we need is to open ourselves to what our body/mind tells us, what our emotions display, and what our unconscious knows. In this way, we can begin to hear with our inner ears and see with our inner eyes. Using these mystical senses — what we might call the sense organs of the unconscious — we perceive holistically, noticing relationships and patterns rather than isolating, classifying and judging what we observe. Once we have gathered this wisdom, we can then use the rational mind to interpret what we have learned.

We live in an interconnected world, a web of life. Each segment of that web reflects the whole just like fractal designs or holography. That's why the patterns we discover through divination give us information. They mimic the relationships of the whole at a particular moment in time.

Food Colors
In the past few decades, scientists have discovered that the more vibrant our food, the healthier it is for us. Brightly-colored edibles contain flavonoids and anti-oxidants that protect us from a variety of ills. In fact, flavonoids constitute the color pigments in plants such as grapes, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, sweet potatoes, grains, cabbages, beans, garlic, onions, berries, and many fruits, among others. Some of the best-known flavonoids fight cancer, including resveratrol — found in red wine as well as green tea and pomegranates, lignins — found in tomatoes, flaxseed, barley and wheat, and genisteins —found in beans, peas and lentils.

In this divination method, you consume the color that calls to you. This literally allows you to digest your divination, and figuratively, permits you a longer period of reflection and intuition concerning your query. Choose wholesome foods; the divination is enhanced when you know that what you’re eating actually supports your health. To begin:

  1. Formulate your oracular question.
  2. Ground and center.
  3. Determine your divinatory color by drawing from your color cards or by walking your rainbow.
  4. When you have discovered which hue answers your question, you then need to find a food of that color.
  5. Once you have found a suitable food, the divination proceeds like a meal at a mindfulness retreat; you chew and swallow your oracular food slowly and thoughtfully, being mindful of your experience.
  6. As you eat your divinatory color, be open to further guidance in the form of a vision, sound or feeling.
  7. Interpret your oracle. Sometimes you will know instantly what your oracle means. Other times you may need Free Association.
  1. Alice Walker, The Color Purple (New York, Pocket Books, 1982), p. 203.
  2. Depending on which system you consider, the colors of the seven chakras change. In some traditions, the last two chakras are associated with indigo and violet, while in others they are violet and white. I’ve noted the chakra associations for both indigo and white.
Graphics Credits
  • clothes, courtesy of Rich DuBose
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