Beyond their common symbolism, colors are endowed with profound worldly and spiritual meanings, entrenched in the ancient traditions and in the great religions of the world.
Spiritual Meaning of Blue
As the lowest color of the rainbow, blue (dark) represents the color of productive function, of the immediate reality, associated with the earth.
Blue has the least amount of substance of all colors which appears in nature in the translucent and essential form of the sky and waters. For this reason, spiritually, blue rather symbolizes spiritual power, spirit, inner peace.
Light blue is the color of meditation and dark blue that of dreams. The conscience surrenders little by little to the subconscious in the same way that the light of the day gradually acquires the dark blue of the night.
Spiritual Meaning of Yellow
In a worldly sense, yellow signifies in the Hindi tradition the “middle” color associated with the Vaishya caste.
From the spiritual perspective, as the warmest color of the spectrum of light, yellow is connected with the sun and gold, two symbols of spiritual influence, of wisdom. Transmutation of lead into gold is associated with the rebirth of the being and the resurrection of Jesus. Located in the middle of the rainbow spectrum, yellow represents the “middle way.”
It symbolizes the channel of communication between heaven and earth, between blue and red. In ancient China, it was the imperial color. The Emperor ruled over the “Middle Empire” as the sun reigned over the heavens.
Because of its high spiritual characteristics, yellow was often associated with the blackness it came from. In different traditions of the world, yellow symbolizes the investment of kings and emperors with divine power.
Spiritual Meaning of White & Black
White symbolizes the principle of manifesting the colors of the rainbow and all that exists in the human universe in general. This color corresponds to the being who has been reintegrated into the Center of Being, which has surpassed the human stage and has acceded to the superhuman or spiritual one.
White is the color of the druids of the Celtic traditions and of the Brahmins (members of the highest caste in Hinduism) of the Hindu tradition. It symbolizes the spiritual and sacerdotal authority/leadership that reigns over the temporal, worldly power.
White expresses the presence, manifestation (of colors), and black, the absence, manifestation (of colors). The alternation between white and black represents the constant relationship between the visible and the invisible, the oscillation between the world of appearances and that of essences.
White also personifies the initiatic path that crosses all spiritual stages and is based on self-confidence and renunciation of the world. Achieving the highest spiritual steps and the Center (of the Being) means returning to the Principle. In contrast to the white color, as the source of the manifestation of what it is, the black color describes the non-manifestation, the absence of color.
Seen from outside, from the manifestation’s point of view, the Center is white. From the inside, from the perspective of the non-manifestation, the Center is black. Black is somehow the true center, the sum of all the rays, including the seven corresponding to the rainbow.
Some initiations of the Islamic tradition include 7 or even 8 steps, the latter being black, a sign of accessing the final step of spiritual fulfillment.
Therefore, black symbolizes the manifestation of the cycle or the Principle and end of the cycle. Consequently, black represents both the brightest and the darkest light: non-manifestation and manifestation.
The juxtaposition of white and black symbolizes natural pairs such as light-dark, day-night, yang-yin. Yang’s white and yin’s black indicate the yang prevalence over yin from the point of view of the manifestation. This prevalence is accompanied by a profound mutual complement between the two principles, which is reflected in the intertwine between white and black in the yin-yang symbol.
Alternating the white tiles with the black ones on the pavement of Catholic cathedrals has a similar meaning. The same meaning, found on the chessboard, suggests the constant relationship between the manifestation and non-manifestation by the indefinite number of possible moves.
Spiritual Meaning of Violet
In a worldly sense, violet is the color of moderation as it manages to tame the violent red. It is also the meaning of the episcopal vestments (of Catholicism). The bishop must watch over his flock and moderate the heat of passions.
In the spiritual plane, composed of equal parts of blue and red, purple also defines a balance of colors between heaven and earth. As opposed to yellow (designating the path from death to rebirth), violet suggests the opposite, that is, the course of life from birth to death. Because of this, Catholic churches are decorated in purple on Good Friday.
Before the Renaissance, many Bibles and other holy books were written in golden letters on a purple background so that the reader always remembers the meaning of the Lord’s passion. Later, in Western society, purple was designated as the color of mourning.
Spiritual Meaning of Red
From a worldly perspective, as the color of the arson of the enemy’s fortifications and the bloodshed during the wars, red is the symbol of courage and, in a broader perspective, the power within this world. As the top color of the rainbow, red corresponds to the highest rank in the temporal or worldly hierarchy, a rank traditionally attributed to the warriors and their ruler, the king. It is the color of Kshatriya, the second in rank after the brahmans in the Hindu tradition.
The red cross of the warrior monks, of the Templar Knights, has the same meaning. The Catholic Church considers this color the symbol of the sovereignty of the Cardinals.
From a spiritual point of view, if white symbolizes sacerdotal authority over the principle of knowledge, red represents sacerdotal temporal power. In this sense, red symbolizes love for the divine principle.
Spiritual Meaning of Orange
While yellow is associated with the sun in the fullness of its force, orange is linked with the sunrise and sunset. In other words, orange characterizes both the flight to the light and the downward road to the darkness (ignorance).
Spiritually, as a mixture of yellow and red, orange is a combination of spiritual gold and temporal, worldly red, symbolizing the balance between the heavenly world and the terrestrial world, that is to say, a deep justice or harmony.
This path of balance has been attempted by ancient ritual orgies promising an initiatic revelation. For this reason, Dionysus is portrayed in orange. Nowadays, orange vestments of Buddhist monks also symbolize such harmony.
Spiritual Meaning of Green
The most common color of the vegetation, green represents from a worldly point of view both the life of the plants and their decomposition. For this reason, green is related to the cycle of death and rebirth. Moreover, positioned between the so-called warm colors (red, orange, yellow) and the cool ones (blue, purple), green is the color of neutrality, serenity, calm, and hope.
In the spiritual plane, as a combination of blue and yellow, green is the color of awakening, regeneration, and access to spiritual knowledge. Myths often refer to the way green and red complement each other.
In Egyptian tradition, the body of Osiris (green) was brought back to life by Isis (red). In the Christian version of the Holy Grail, the emerald vessel (green) contained the blood of the Lord (red) as a human being.