Colour Symbolism

Colour SymbolismWhen I researched colour symbolism in Tarot, I came across information about how colour is perceived in different cultures. I realised that my perception of colours are based on the Western culture I have grown up in, whereas people from different backgrounds will link colours with different meanings. For example, in western culture the colour ‘white’ is associated with weddings, purity and innocence, but in Eastern cultures such as India and Japan it is linked with funerals and death.

Therefore, in the following table I have included not only my personal ‘western’ perception (including the correspondences of the Golden Dawn), but also the meanings of colours in different cultures.

However, when interpreting the cards, you need to establish your own view on colours, which thoughts and feelings they evoke in you, so you may disagree with some of the meanings suggested below. But that’s fine, because remember that there is no right or wrong; it’s all about your intuition.

When you look at a card in more detail and study its colours, you may find that some colours stand out at different times. That’s when you can pay attention to your understanding of the colour’s meaning and perhaps hidden message.

Watch out for shades and hues; lighter colours may be associated with the conscious mind, darker colours with the unconscious. Opposite colours indicate contrast. Complimentary colours in juxtaposition may suggest balance.

Colour Western Tradition Other Traditions
Black the unknown, mystery, hidden things, darkness, fear, death, funerals, emptiness, lack of insight China: Colour for young boys
Blue Spirituality, healing, depression, sadness, cold; colour of the fifth (throat) chakra; water; sky.Ruling planet: Moon. The suit of Cups. Iran: Colour of heaven and spirituality
Indigo (Blue-Violet) Intuition, creative insight, clairvoyance, psychic sensitivity, mystery, dream work; colour of the sixth (brow) chakra. Ruling Planet: Saturn
Gold Masculine energy, luxury, success, material value, the sun, illumination
Green Growth, vitality, nature, harmony, healing, Spring; colour of the fourth (heart) chakra, which can also be pink. Ruling Planet: Venus. The suit of Pentacles. China: Green hats indicate a man’s wife is cheating on him; exorcism

India: Islam

Ireland: Symbol of the entire country

Grey Sadness, dreariness, cold, gloom; neutrality, integration, balance of opposites (a mix of black & white)
Orange Energy, zest, vitality, fire, warmth, confidence, creativity; colour of the second (sacral) chakra. Planet: Sun. Ireland: Religious (Protestants)
Pink Love, friendship, femininity; colour of the fourth (heart) chakra, which can also be green
Purple Wisdom, spirituality, power, healing, Royalty; colour of the seventh (crown) chakra.Ruling planet: Jupiter Thailand: Colour of mourning (widows)
Red Passion, courage, life, excitement, danger, blood; willpower; colour of the root chakraRuling planet: Mars. The suit of Wands. China: Good luck, celebration, summoning

India: Purity

South Africa: Colour of mourning

Eastern: Worn by brides

Silver Feminine energy, the moon, spirituality
White Purity, innocence, peace (white dove); truth, light Japan: White carnation symbolizes death

Eastern: Funerals

Yellow Joy, vitality, health, rejuvenation, hope, summer, warmth; colour of the third (solar plexus) chakra. Ruling Planet: Mercury. The suit of Swords. China: Nourishing

Egypt: Colour of mourning

Japan: Courage

India: Merchants

The Major Arcana cards are also associated with specific colours according to their ruling planet or zodiac sign:

Colour Planet Trump
Red Mars Tower
Orange Sun Sun
Yellow Mercury Magician
Green Venus Empress
Blue Moon High Priestess
Indigo Saturn World
Violet Jupiter Wheel of Fortune
Colour Zodiac Trump
Red Aries Emperor
Coral Taurus Hierophant
Orange Gemini Lovers
Gold Cancer Chariot
Yellow Leo Strength
Olive Virgo Hermit
Green Libra Justice
Turquoise Scorpio Death
Blue Sagittarius Temperance
Indigo Capricorn Devil
Violet Aquarius Star
Magenta Pisces Moon

These are all Golden Dawn correspondences; useful if you work with the RWS (Rider Waite Smith), Crowley’s Thoth or the B.O.T.A. deck.

Further Reading:

Angela Wright: The Beginner’s Guide to Colour Psychology

Sandra  A. Thomson : Pictures from the Heart – A Tarot Dictionary

Israel Regardie, Robert Wang: Golden Dawn Tarot Deck [Cards]

 

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