color

The Naked Goddess III

April, 2018

I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.

Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.

My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.

Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.

This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.

We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.

Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.

I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.

I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.

The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.

It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.

Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.

 

 

Wiccan Basics

January, 2011

Basic Color Chart

Black: Usually associated with the energy and ministerial figures, black stops gossiping, meddling people right in their tracks.  It’s also great for breaking bad habits, or for any work that involves separation, wisdom, secrets, or invoking the Crone aspect of the Triple Goddess.

Pale Blue: This shade goes a long way in relieving confusion, anxiety, and loss of control.  Try it for effects that involve calmness, peace, tranquility, healing, and pleasant dreams.

Dark Blue: If you need to get organized and add some structure to you life, this is the color for you.  It’s also a wonderful hue for invoking the Water Element, or calling upon feminine deities.

Brown: If you tend to bounce off the wall with excess energy, try brown.  It works wonders when it comes to grounding and centering, as well as for magical work involving stability and common sense.  Try it too, for diffusing potentially harmful situations.

Gold: generally used in altar candles to represent the God, gold tends to make us feel financially prosperous and personally secure.  It’s also great to perk up efforts involving financial increase and general success.

Green: If you lack ambition, hate challenges, and always feel that you’re dependant on someone else, this color can help.  use it, too, for invoking fertility, prosperity, growth, general independence, and the Earth Element.

Lavender: This color is a fabulous tension-reliever, even in the most stressful situations.  It’s also great for workings that involve the intellect and knowledge retention, controlling erratic energy, and for making inner beauty come to the surface.

Orange: If personal motivation is a problem, try orange.  There’s nothing quite like it to make you want to get off your duff and take action.  It’s also great for attraction rituals, gaining positive test scores, and business projects, and proposals.

Peach: Because peach is a safe, reassuring color, it works wonders wonders during those times, when a gentle, nurturing and nonthreatening appearance is necessary.  It’s also a great asset to efforts involving friends, kindness, sympathy, empathy, and well-wishing.

Pink:  because it stimulates self-love, this color can help you to become your own best friend.  It also works well in efforts that involve romance, love, friendship, and harmony.

Purple: A terrific color to wear on job interviews, purple helps you gain respect.  Try it too, for work that deals with spirituality, mental and psychic power, and for invoking the Akasha Element.

Red: Especially helpful to shy folks who hold positions of authority, this color really shines when it comes to taking charge in difficult situations.  It also works well in efforts that involve passion, sexual drive, vitality, and physical strength, energy and activity.  use it, too, when invoking the Fire Element or the Mother aspect of the Triple Goddess.

Silver: Commonly used in altar candles to represent the Goddess, this color also works well in rituals to relieve inner turmoil and gain a personal sense of peace and serenity.

Turquoise:  A must for workaholics, this color focuses you to take a step back and look at your workload through new eyes.  It works well in rituals that involve stress relief, study, and knowledge retention and finding logic in situations where none seems to exist.

White: To relieve tension and bring focus to life goals, try white.  It’s also great for efforts that require clarity to spiritual guidance, and for invoking the Maiden aspect of the Triple Goddess. (Note: Since white is a culmination of all colors, it may be substituted for any color during magical work.)

Blessing until next Month

Magickal Colors

January, 2010

White

It is winter now, utterly. I gaze out the window at snow falling on the landscape, covering the Earth in a blanket of sleepy contemplation. The world seems cleaner, sharper. I find myself sleeping more, and in my sleep, more dreams. Even while awake, I sometimes catch myself drifting in a stasis of no-thought, like an unconscious meditation.
Gently, gently, the whiteness covers all. The branches that seemed so verdantly green and brown in summer now appear as black twigs, reaching for the sky in stillness. “All is calm, all is bright.” Silence descends, and it seems as if there is no growth or life at all.
Yet beneath this monochrome veil, seeds germinate, little babies sleeping safe within the mother’s womb as they imagine and create their future forms, waiting to spring forth into birth.

A few days past, I had a dream of my mother, and her departure from this physical plane. As I mourned her passing in the dreamstate, (in a room with a white angel mobile, a twig frame covered in white plastic to resemble an androgynous figure with wings), she appeared outside the room. Separated by a pane of glass, surrounded by a nimbus of white light, she looked at me with a piercing glance for only a moment, as if to say “Hey! Do not mourn me, I will never be truly gone!” The glance lasted only a moment, then she turned and walked down a hallway outside, lit periodically with white orbs. I watched her disappear, thinking to myself in the dream that I had witnessed a miracle. I remember the peace I felt within the pain (pane?)– the absolute knowledge that she would always be with me, and that one day we would no longer be separated by veils and would touch once more.

This time of year has always been a time of death. The old ones of the tribes generally chose winter as a time of their physical departure, weakened by the cold and wishing to conserve food and resources for the stronger, younger ones. Left behind in the depths of winter, the people mourned. Yet their awareness of the natural world was more acute than our modern senses, and they took comfort in the solstice, with its message of light returning, and subsequently, life. While still they held sadness in their hearts, they celebrated the gain of new ancestor spirits to which they would pray and make offerings to in the years to come. Around the fires made to stave off the cold and the darkness, they told the stories of their ancestors and their deeds, that their wisdom, bravery, and knowledge would never truly leave the tribe, that their spirits may always remain close.

As a tribute to this season, and the thoughts and dreams it engenders, I write of the color white.

Scientifically it can be said that white is not a color at all- it is a reflection, a rainbow of all possible colors condensed and unseen. When we see white, all three types of cones in the human eye are being stimulated equally at once. In the “color temperature” index, the coordinates of white are RGB 255, 255, 255. In numerology, this breaks down to the number 9.
Nine is associated with qualities of all of our great spiritual teachers in history– generosity and selflessness to the point of sacrifice, idealism, concern with the well-being and harmony of the world around them, and egalitarianism.

In our modern-day Pagan practices, white has encompassed a vast array of beautiful concepts and associations. White is often used during full-moon rituals for the obvious connotations, and also due to the extra energy it may generate as it reflects the moonlight. It is also a color of protection in purity. Often when I feel threatened, for any reason, I calm myself and tune into the beam of white light connecting my chakras and keeping them whole, beaming in both directions infinitely, or connecting to the center of the earth and the heart of the sun. I then can envision a powerful, impenetrable white egg around me, protecting me and keeping my spirit whole whilst still remaining present in the moment. Along those lines, white can also be used for birth and rebirth rituals, purification, initiation, and in some cases, banishing of negative energy. White candles are considered acceptable substitutes for any other colors, due to the all-encompassing nature of the color.
White is the color of the top chakra, or Sarhasrara. This energy center is located on the very top of your head, directly in the middle. When activated in harmony with the rest of the chakras, it has the ability to connect one’s consciousness directly with the divine Source of energy. I form this connection before I do any magickal work, checking my energy system as I do so and correcting any imbalances before beginning the working. This chakra completes the circle of energy as it flows up the spine and out through the top of the head, joining and mingling with the Universal energy before cycling back down into the earth and the base chakra, to begin its journey again. It is the joining place, microcosm to macrocosm.

The fragrant herb, White Sage has been used for centuries successfully to cleanse auras and remove negative energies from any space. It was most commonly used in the Native American traditional ceremonies, and is to this day. Visitors and participants in ceremonies are all cleansed with the smoke before they step into the circle. This past summer solstice, I was sitting quietly and cleansing myself with sage smoke, when I had a glimpse of tiny little particles of white light within the smoke, zipping here and there. I was instantly filled with a sense of well-being and calm joy.
I also found it interesting, while researching plants and herbs associated with this color, that some of the most healing and some of the most poisonous plants (which I did not include as many of) were both associated with white. In keeping with the spirit of this mutable color, I am reminded of the ancient herbalist’s quote, “The harm is the healer”.

Of all the colors, white is the one most often associated with the “Otherworld”, the worlds beyond this one, or life after death. Angels in the Western traditions usually appear with white wings and robes, Ascended Masters of the Theosophy tradition have white auras (indicating spiritual enlightenment, purity and awakening), and of course there is the Christian biblical reference to “pearly gates” through which the righteous pass through to Heaven. Christ’s mount for his second coming is believed to be a white horse. Many other traditions and cultures around the globe, including but not limited to Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and neo-Pagan, consider white the symbol of death, mourning, afterlife, and in cases where reincarnation is a belief, rebirth. It is commonly accepted in spiritualist circles that before death, one’s aura turns a bright white. It is interesting to note that many who claim to have been to the “Other Side”, and come back, speak of a tunnel of white light.
Along that same line, some psychics believe a white aura or white spots within to be indicators of imbalance, even drug use. Some claim just the opposite however, and assure us that white spots are a sign of emerging higher qualities and enlightenment. Also, it has been my personal experience that when one begins to see auras, they can all appear as white light until the “second sight” is more fully tuned.

White is the color of the snow, shades of it composing the winter sky. Dreamlike clouds, puffs of sacred smoke, the blank beauty and potential of the clean white page, ready to be manifested upon. It is the color of peace and reconcilitation, the white dove and the flag waved in the war zone. It is the unobtrusive color of most walls- a canvas upon which we embellish and create. The color of burial shrouds, Western wedding dresses, and christening gowns. It is the color of the brazen sunlight, the mysterious moonlight, the quiet stars as they twinkle from above in their myriad of rainbow colors. It is All and None- the harmony of the universe.
White is the joiner of realms, the color of potentiality. It is nothing but a pure reflection of light, unaltered.

And ever do the celestial bodies shine their pure light down to us, lifting our spirits and inspiring dreams. Beaming and reflecting off the snow, they create an otherworld right here on Earth, a winter wonderland that glows and sparkles. Our usually unseen breaths come as silvery clouds, seeming to highlight that there is more to this world than meets our physical eyes– that it is Below as it is Above. The newly reborn Sun God lifts his head and coos, and even now strengthens as he sleeps most of the day away below the Earth, dreaming dreams of cocreation.
Even here in Alaska, in the darkness that can often seem oppressive, the abundance of this magical color (or lack thereof) reminds me that even within the darkest shadows, there is light to be found. That nothing ever really dies, merely moves behind a curtain to emerge in a different costume. That we can never be truly alone.

White:

Elements: All. Can be used as a substitute color for any direction or purpose.
Tarot Card: The Moon
Astrological Sign: Cancer
Planets: Moon, Saturn, and Venus
Plants: White Sage, Willow, Jasmine, Magnolia, Camellia, Gardenia, Baby’s Breath, Peace Lily, white Yarrow, Cow Parsnip, Orange Blossom (Neroli)
Day: Monday
Metal: Silver
Stones: Clear Quartz, Howlite, Selenite, some Agates, Diamond, Pearl, some Opals, Herkimer Diamond, Moonstone

Peace, truth, justice, innocence, meditation, enlightenment, intention, universal energy, psychic pursuits, benevolence, kindness, purity, clarity, cleansing, sincerity, protection/warding, spirituality, strength, healing, Moon Goddesses, women’s mysteries, the Moon (most often full), the Lady and Lord together, astral travel, soulmates, age, respect, spiritual wisdom, authority, life/death/birth/rebirth, union, oneness, wholeness, all and nothing

New To The Craft

September, 2009

The Essence of Color

Color-based magic is quite popular amongst witches, and is one of the first set of correspondences many of us study.  In a spellworking the colors may be coordinated from the candles, to the altar cloth, to any stones/crystals, etc., with all of the elements combining to symbolize the intent of the worker.  Green items may be gathered for a money-drawing charm, or perhaps red for a spell to give courage and strength.  Witches also typically use the primary colors of vision and pigment to represent the balance of the elements: red for fire, blue for water, yellow for air, and green for earth.

While there are many books available on the market that offer pre-made lists of the associations for various colors, it also tends to be true that no two are the same!  Most agree on the colors of the elements (though even in that there is variation between traditions).  Beyond this you tend to find very long lists that are difficult to memorize let alone comprehend the reasoning behind them.  One of the most meaningful exercises I ever did as part of a class on correspondences was to come up with my own associations.  For that reason I will not supply yet another list of colors and their meanings here.  Instead I would like to delve into the nature of color itself, and perhaps uncover a new layer of meaning for use in magical work.

What is color?  As humans the hues we perceive and acknowledge are based on our visual system.  The standard eye has both rod cells, which perceive only shades of black and white, and cone cells, which differentiate colors.  Color vision was a crucial adaptation for our ancestors, allowing humans to tell ripe red fruit from green for one thing.  Other animals also possess color vision, but the colors we as humans perceive are determined by the ranges of wavelengths of light our cone cells respond to.  The longest we are capable of seeing is about 700nm (red) and the shortest is about 400nm (violet).  There are three types of cone cells in the eye, nicknamed “red” “green” and “blue” cone cells for the primary wavelength of light they react to.  When a ray of light hits the retina the wavelengths present stimulate the appropriate cone cells and the brain interprets this as color.

As an example, suppose you are looking at a computer screen which emits only yellow light.  The wavelength of this light (~590-560nm) hits your eye and stimulates your cone cells to tell your brain what you see is “yellow.”  Here is where it gets interesting.  That wavelength of light is actually stimulating both the red cone cells and the green cone cells, whose ranges overlap.  However it does not stimulate any blue cone cells.  So what happens if you were to shine both a red light and a green light into the eye instead?  You’d see yellow!  This is exactly what happens if you cross a red and green beam of light and shine it on a surface: the overlapping area appears yellow.  What does this mean?  It simply means that the human eye is limited in the colors it can perceive based on its anatomy, and that some colors are not only analogous to wavelengths of light, but also to combinations of cone cell stimulation.

Think of it this way: light as we know it is a continuous band of electromagnetic energy all the way from 400-700nm.  If our eyes were capable we could tell the difference between a wave at 560nm and one at 570nm, or all of the bands in between.  What we detect as the ROYGBIV colors in a rainbow is unique to us as human beings, and evolved as a consequence of what helped us to survive.  Many insects could be said to see “colors” we cannot because they can see into the ultraviolet range.  Some use ultraviolet vision to see patterns on flowers invisible to our eyes, but which aid them in finding food.  The colors we distinguish exist because there are only so many combinations of cone cell stimulation possible with a red/green/blue system.  Just like on/off switches: red plus green equals yellow, red plus blue equals purple, etc.  All cone cells “on” equals anywhere from gray to white, and all “off” equals black.

This gets us to an interesting consequence of the whole system that I’d like to bring back to the idea of using colors in magic.  Yellow is both a specific range of wavelengths and a perception created when red and green are seen in the absence of blue.  In this sense yellow is another way of your brain saying “no blue.”  Visually we perceive yellow and blue to be exact opposites!  Red’s opposite is a combination of green and blue light that we call cyan.  Likewise the absence of green is seen as purple.  Conceiving of color choices in this way can bring a whole new dimension to a working by considering not only what energies are present, but also what energies are specifically not present.  Direct light and pigments work slightly differently in this regard, but the basic principle is the same.  An unlit, dyed candle would appear purple not because it is emitting light itself, but rather because it absorbs the green portion of the spectrum from the light sources around it, while reflecting back primarily red and blue.  It would not be a stretch then to consider the candle as being “green” under its surface rather than purple!  This is not in a literal sense (after all, anything not exposed to light is black), but it has energetic implications that could be harnessed.  A spell calling for a cyan/light blue candle for healing could work in both those energies and the strength and vigor of the red absorbed within.  I’ve seen one of the magical associations of purple listed as a way of ending bad luck.  Is it any wonder then that green is usually associated with being lucky?  There is a great deal of room here for exploration and investigation of the underlying relationships between these color-pairings, and I hope that this contributes to others experimenting on their own to see what can be found.  Using the knowledge of how colors work in this way can bring an added dimension to any witch’s workings, and make any spell that much more effective as a result.

Journal for the Month of August:

More on colors: last year I read an amazing article online, “Violet is not Purple: Is digital imaging broken?”, that got me started on this whole line of thinking about what color really is.  I’m still trying to find a way to see an exhibit of Yves Klein’s artwork so that I can experience some real violet!  Color is such a visceral and emotional part of being human, and contributes to a great deal of the beauty we find in the world.  I felt driven to explore its true nature, not to break it down into cold, scientific terms, but rather to understand how I am blessed to experience something as amazing as a rainbow or a spectacular sunset.  To know that color as we know it really is unique to our human experience makes me feel even that much luckier to have the ability to perceive it.

Harvest season is upon us!  I’m definitely looking forward to the equinox and the fall.  Many of us continue to experience tough times, and I believe it’s especially important now to give thanks for what we have, even when our needs are greater.  For those that are able it is more vital than ever to lend a helping hand to your neighbors and friends.  If nothing else we can all offer our prayers or good wishes to those we love, while knowing that we also receive their love in return!

Until next month, blessed be! )O(