Thursday, August 24, 2017

Color Symbolism: How to Read Color into your Tarot Readings

[The following is a submission by Charmaine Frapp, a longtime blog reader.  She recently developed her own tarot platform, and would like to share some of her knowledge.  I think you will find this interesting!  Colors are very powerful, both symbolically and physically, and I enjoyed reading about their significance with regards to tarot.]

Although early tarot decks were printed in just three colors to accommodate the difficulty of early color printing methods, nowadays decks use every color in the rainbow making color a fun and informative element to use in performing tarot readings. In the Rider-Waite deck, the most important and symbolically charged colors are: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, black, gray, and white. Each color adds a layer of meaning, and you can use it to interpret each card alongside the other symbols such as suit and number. Keep in mind that a color’s meaning is not static and often changes over time within or across cultures and depending on your own personal associations with that color. Each color has both a positive, negative, and neutral meaning and should be interpreted within the context of the card drawn, the type of tarot reading you are performing, and the person receiving the reading. Here are some general rules for how to interpret color in your tarot readings with examples from the Rider-Waite deck.

The color red represents lifeblood, passion, and robustness. It is often associated with royalty, meatiness, confidence, strength, and muscle as well as heat and fire. Many connect red to love, and it represents hot and intense sensual passion and physicality. It can also mean aggression, arrogance, and ruthlessness. For example, The Emperor - a Major Arcana card - is cloaked in red and has a red robe as well. It means he has his body on the line and that he is in touch with the extremes of physical human existence, both life and death, comfort and disease. If you draw this card, it means be strong and use your muscle. Alternatively, it could mean you have overexerted physically. On a different card - the Ten of Cups - red symbolizes something different. Red here is in balance with all the other colors of the rainbow and does not, as on the Emperor card, represent overexertion. Rather, this red implies confidence, happiness and achievement.

Orange represents creativity, change, and transformation. It is a bright, energetic color and is a mix of red and yellow. It is also joyous, radiant, and fiery.  In the negative, orange can mean restlessness, paranoia, or living in a fantasy and putting too much emphasis on your dreams. In The Sun card, a naked child rides a horse and an orange banner flags out behind her. If you draw this card, the orange symbolizes adventurousness and playfulness leading to a new stage of maturity and understanding. However, on the Nine of Wands, the orange tunic symbolizes uncertainty: the character stands with shifty eyes, and if you draw this card, be careful not to take on more than you can handle emotionally.

Yellow is the color of the Pentacles or Coins suit of tarot and represents, earth, greed, drought, materiality, and superficiality as well as sunshine, hope, wistfulness, and yearning. In the Three of Wands, the sky is completely yellow as well as the sea - perhaps the sun is setting making the ground look aflame. If you draw this card, it could mean you are doing your work on earth but are not yet connected to a deep sense of spiritual purpose, and to find that connection, continue on your path with a sense of wistfulness. In the Nine of Cups, however, the yellow sky and ground and the yellow-gold cups represent a tendency toward greed and putting too much value on your own emotions. Conversely, yellow on this card means being a good listener and helping others transform hopelessness into positive energy.

Green means virility, vivacity, life, new growth, beginnings, fertility, harmony, good health, natural cycles, epiphany, and - of course - nature and the natural world. If you draw the Ace of Pentacles, on the bottom of the card is a verdant garden and cultivated archway. Here the green means your positive behavior toward the natural world has garnered you a heavenly gift and brought you a sense of fulfillment and peacefulness. It means you have found a way to live sustainably, or that you are trying to do so, and that if you succeed, you will be rewarded somehow. In the Four of Cups, green has a different meaning: patience. A young man wears a green vest and meditates on a green hill under a green tree. He is growing like the tree and seeking answers, but he must slow down for rushed epiphanies are not sustainable. If you draw this card, it means take a cue from nature: pause, reflect, and give things time to grow naturally and without too much prodding or artificial stimulants which produce false success.

Blue has been called the most spiritual of colors. It represents transcendence, emotions, equilibrium, and also heaven. It can also represent detachment or coolness. While the Knight of Swords features an energetic knight in blue armor speeding on his horse through the blue sky, on the Two of Swords we see a calm blue ocean and still blue sky. If you draw the Knight of Swords, the blue teaches you to harness your mental energy and push to the ends of your ability in order to conquer an intellectual project or conundrum. It is also a reminder that as you pursue these mind-games, life continues and you may be surprised how the world has changed once you put your feet down again. Drawing the Two of Swords, blue means something else: unconscious emotions that you need to get in touch with in order to make a decision. The blue means quieting down your thoughts to achieve clarity. Additionally, if you draw The World card, blue can mean spiritual transcendence but also the loneliness that comes from this perspective.

Associated with darkness and mourning, the color black can also symbolize the unknown, freedom, concentration, magic, trying times, challenges, and difficult but important lessons. It also represents endings or the end of a cycle, emptiness, grief, and resilience. In the Nine of Swords, a sleeper wakes in the middle of the night, feeling anxious and unsettled. If you draw this card, the black sky behind nine floating swords represents your ability to contain difficult and mixed-up thoughts no matter how hostile they feel to you. Black here also represents coming into contact with a new aspect of yourself which is at once frightening and also expansive. In the Three of Pentacles card, there is black in the walls of a cellar where a young man is working alongside two priests. Here the black represents undistracted focus, arduous study, and the magic that comes from putting in hard word. If you draw the Three of Pentacles, the black means minimize distractions, hunker down, and focus on deepening your work even if it means temporarily losing touch with your more amenable and daily self.

Gray is associated with uncertainty, naivety, cloudiness, forgetfulness, melancholy, ennui, old age, dust, and ashes. It can also mean impurity, weakness, feebleness, and immovability, petrifaction, sternness, and stoicism. If you draw the Ace of Cups, you will see a gray bird, gray sky, and cloudy gray cuff; here the gray feels more tinged with silver than in other cards meaning treasure and gift. On this card, a cup seems to have been lifted out from the ocean by a large, disembodied hand and water fountains from it back into the sea below. The gray represents life’s monotony and jadeness, but the cup and water mean to expect a surprise and stay open to new experiences. In the Six of Coins, the gray ground and sky behind the wealthy man dispensing crumbs to the poor reminds you to be kind and fair to others because you never know how things can change, whether the gray sky forebodes a storm or sunshine.

Innocent and pure, the color white represents goodness, kindness, peace, and trust. In Temperance, the angel wears a white dress, and if you draw this card it means your actions are authentic and earnest. It could also be a reminder to get back in touch with an essential aspect of your nature that you may have stopped paying attention to. On the other hand, in the Page of Swords card, the roiling white clouds in the background, the page’s white color, and the white stripe on his sword represent eagerness to do good but also naivety. The page is ready to swing into action, but he is not sure what his calling is or just how to get to work at it. If you draw the Page of Swords, it means you are ready for action, so keep your eyes out for a chance to play and when you do, make sure you act with goodness in your heart or else your ignorance could get the best of you. In the Five of Cups, the white has a more complex meaning. The snow on two homeless beggars means coldness and harsh conditions, but also represents the purifying and cleansing effect of such trying times on the soul.

There are other colors on these cards such as brown which can signify masculinity and violet which can mean distant desire, but those listed above are the most meaningful and common. To add to your understanding of each color, pay attention to the palette of your life and use your observations to add depth and nuance to your tarot readings.


Beloved Shiningstar said...

Wonderful information, thank you!!!!!!!

Robert Schoen said...

There is a lot of power in how colors are used in other ways. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard on color was to avoid wearing black, which has become an almost de rigeur uniform in many urbane circles and other communities, and pick the colors of the energies you want to project and embody. Save black for funerals.

jake travis said...

I have the same rider waite tarot cards. Does anyone know why most of the cards have roman numeral numbers at the top and the rest dont? I think its 20 cards without roman numerals...its 78 cards total. I believe a deck of playing cards is 54 cards or something.

Kalamota Kook said...

@jake travis Would the cards without numerals be the court cards, four suits of Page Knight Queen and King, plus Aces maybe? All the others are numbered cards up to 10 for each suit, then the major arcana are all numbered. I haven't got the Ryder Waite deck to check, maybe that's it?

Kalamota Kook said...

Tarot news flash - I have just learned that Doreen Virtue, who's made a fortune and a big name for herself via all things New Age, Tarot, Mediumistic, etc, as well as being the star author of Hay House, has gone over to Christianity and denounced all her previous doings - although I don't know if she's 'denounced' all the wealth and property it has brought her. She now seems to be speaking out against the Occult. I have literally just found out via a random youtube recommend, and the comments were very interesting. A lot of people noted that she was always stuck only on the 'love and light' and ignored the shadow, and now she appears to have split into the old Good/Evil Heaven/Hell nonsense just as so many of us have moved on from the old duality polarisation. I wonder how this is going to play out in New Age circles, and her publisher. Has the cash cow gone feral?

I remember getting a red flag from her a few years ago. She was being interviewed about the Tarot, and she had decided that any card that had any negative message or represented bad vibes, she just removed them from the deck altogether, then designed her own decks with all the bad stuff left out. Of course, a wise Tarot reader knows that all the cards, even the super positive lovely ones, have their shadow, their negative manifestations. Ignoring the shadow is exactly what gives it power.

In the UK we had a likeable Olympic Triple Jumper called Jonathan Edwards, who was a sweet man but went on and on (and ON) about his Christianity, for years. Then one day he sheepishly 'came out' as an atheist which was a bit 'Blimey!' This news about Doreen Virtue is another 'Blimey!' moment.

Jac JacJacqui said...

thanks sooooo much for this post!! i love it! much appreciated x

Kalamota Kook said...

OK for anyone who might be interested in the Doreen Virtue situation (and it's possible no-one is), here's a summary of some of the points I've gleaned reading around the web.

She released a video describing her new direction, which included referring to a number of her followers as having demonic and dark energies. The video was quickly taken down, possibly requested by Hay House. She has denounced many of the 'Ascended Masters' she previously worked with, and has told people to burn whole swathes of her previous work.

While no-one objects to anyone following their own path, the way she has dealt with this has been rather poor. Many of her followers and students feel abandoned, confused, insulted. There has been no communication, and any questions on her forums and pages are deleted without engagement or explanation. There was even a person who had literally just signed up for one of her courses, and then found out about this and that s/he was being condemned as demonic and the course she'd just registered for denounced, even as Virtue and/or her people were still accepting bookings (and money) for it. That's pretty shabby.

Many people commented on how Virtue came across in recent videos - this is after all a tribe heavy with intuitives - and observed that she seemed constrained, her body language and voice have gone flat, she appears to have retreated into an energy of fear and judgementalism. Some suggested she has relapsed either with her old addictive patterns, or into co-dependence with her current husband, who is (apparently) quite a hardline Christian.

I don't think people would be so disappointed if Virtue was still glowing, accepting and positive, and happy, but she's gone for the dogmatic head-based Bible-study form of the faith and does not seem to be in a healthy place. So she has in effect swung from the unbalanced extreme-feminine rainbows-and-unicorns archetypal realm, over to the rigid patriarchal side. Apparently there may be legal issues about who owns the right to sell her products so she may not be able to delete or destroy them. I imagine all is not well behind the scenes at Hay House to say the least. Virtue says that all proceeds from existing products will go to 'charity' but some suspect the 'charity' may be her enormous farm and animal sanctuary.

As for denouncing card reading and divination, she has nonetheless announced she's bringing out Jesus Oracle cards and whatnot instead. She sounds very confused. I feel compassion for her descending into turmoil, but also for the millions of people who looked up to her and who paid cold hard cash only to be told, effectively, that they were going to Hell.

She wrote a book about not letting people dull your sparkle, and sadly that seems to be exactly what has happened. It is interesting to me in terms of eclipse-watching. This is a classic eclipse happening. Her previous existence has been eclipsed and the light's literally gone dim. What the subsequent fallout will be I don't know, but I find it interesting. There will be a lot of ripples from this.

jake travis said...

You are right, they are court cards. I wonder if these cards should be taken out before doing a reading.

Kalamota Kook said...

@jake travis No don't take them out, they are a normal element of readings. They represent people with regards to the scenario in question, maybe yourself but other people too. Some tarot readers like to choose a court card to represent the person having the reading. In that case it'll be taken out before picking the rest of the cards.

Serene said...

Very interesting about Doreen Virtue. I watched her latest video, and she looks unsettled. I imagine Hay House is up in arms about this.

I'll go out on a limb here and suggest she's been influenced (and not in a good way) to infiltrate and discredit the "New Age" movement (which is actually Old Age, there really is nothing new about it), and to make those that follow it look ignorant and foolish.

Keeping people in fear is the best way to keep them controlled..."trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." is a big one. I'll wager that one did not come from God. We have to wonder what is going on behind the scenes.

Please send Ms. Virtue Loving Light!

Kalamota Kook said...

That's an intriguing theory, Serene. I must admit, I had prepared myself for surprises and big changes coming, but this one really was a surprise. I'm almost looking forward to the next shock around the corner. It's all so...interesting!

Kalamota Kook said...

I felt I had to come back and just finish off my comments here with the news that Louise Hay died on the 30th August. She had certainly reached an excellent age where death would be no surprise, but the timing, and the context as described above, make me feel very sad about the situation. After all that success, to have her realm unravel in such a way by her star client must have been very painful. I can't imagine what stress, or even betrayal she may have felt, or what turmoil or panic had suddenly surged among the company family, and perhaps that just pushed her over the final edge. It's a very sad note to end on. Another eclipse happening. Wow. This is not the last we'll hear of this saga. RIP.