Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence
Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Article ID: 12391
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,135
Times Read: 3,738
RSS Views: 30,908
Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: May 4th. 2008
Times Viewed: 3,738
We use many tools to work our magic. We have our sacred tools, of course, like athames and wands, chalices and charms, spells and symbols, and the like. We also have herbs and stones and special oils. We cast circles and call in the elements and the directions. These and other tools we use to move our consciousness to that place between the worlds where we can exert our wills to bring about our intention. There is another powerful tool that we rarely talk about, but which we can use to great effect, if we employ it purposefully – color.
To use color effectively, it is important to know a little about how color works. There is an excellent article on the subject at www.webexhibits.org. Michael Douma and his colleagues produced this article and it is provided as a public service of the Institute for Dynamic Educational Advancement (IDEA) and Brandeis University.
Douma describes three parts of color perception: capturing the image, processing it, and finally interpreting it. Most animals do not see color. Bees, however, can see yellow, green, and blue (but not red). Birds can see more colors than we do because their eyes are more complex. Even butterflies can see colors. They go for the prettily colored flowers when feeding because that is where the nectar is, but they deliberately go to dark green leafy places to lay their eggs because caterpillars eat leaves, not flowers.
Psychologists have long known the effects of color on human subjects, whether the effect is instinctive or learned. Red often excites, yellow cheers up, and institutional beige, gray or green dulls. That’s probably why the bordello parlor is red and the doctor’s waiting room is beige. We all know that a flashing blue light in the rear view mirror causes fear, often followed by a colorful expletive on our part.
Marketers have referred to psychological studies to use color more effectively in packaging. Smart chefs are keen to use color in their dishes for a more appealing presentation. Politicians dress up the most fatuitous crap in red, white, and blue to make it look patriotic – even if it is a “bridge to nowhere”. If these people can use color for commercialism, why can’t we use it for worship?
We can. The Catholic Church tapped into the power of color long ago. They don’t use it much nowadays, but in the pre-Vatican II mass, color was everywhere. Purple was for Advent and Lent, white for high holy days, red for martyrs and the holy ghost, and green for the ordinary time from May to December. Black was worn at funerals and there were even two Sundays when pink was in. In Spain and some Latin American countries, blue vestments signaled a holy day for Mary.
You saw the color even before the priest came out. The tabernacle was screened in the cloth of the season, as was the chalice and the pall (a square envelope in which the sacramental napkin was kept). The priest wore a white alb with a cincture rope belt in the color of the season. He also had a stole around his neck, the chasuble cloak over his shoulders, and a maniple on his left arm – all color coordinated to fit the occasion.
The effect of this uniformity of hue is to focus energy and intention. It creates a sense of atmosphere; it sets the tone and the mood of the mass. Just as mood rings reflect the wearer’s emotions by changing color, the colors at mass trigger the audiences’ emotions toward the meaning of that day’s ritual.
We pagans can use colors in our rituals, too. A good place to learn about colors in pagan rituals is in a table of correspondences, which can be found in the back of almost any Neopagan or Wiccan textbook, like Starhawk’s Spiral Dance. There we find that yellow is often associated with the East, red with the South, blue with the West, and green with the North.
The Mayans and some other Native American tribes associate red with the East, yellow with the South, black with the West, and white with the North. Whatever system is used, this could be a good starting point for using color in our seasonal rituals. Since the directions are often associated with seasons, their colors can be carried over into our Sabbats.
In my own circle, we place great emphasis on color. At Ostara the color is green. That means we will have a green altar cloth and green directional candles. The communion drink may be minted and for the bread we may use key lime pie! Of course all the women will wear green. We do not require that everyone come robed in full green witch regalia. A green t-shirt or dress works just as well. It is the uniformity of color around the circle that creates effect of helping to focus our attention.
Having a different color for each Sabbat helps raise energy, too. We often photocopy our Sabbat invitations in the color of the season. Instead of wearing the same old thing every time, we have to check the invitation and scrounge our closets. We may even have to visit the local thrift store or make something quick and creative. In effect, we are preparing for the ritual days or hours before we get there. We are transforming our appearance to align with the intention well before the casting. And seeing everyone dressed in the color of the Sabbat creates a sense of unity and community, which automatically helps get the energy flowing.
Which color to use at which Sabbat is up to each circle to decide. We use white at Candlemas as a symbol of purity and a clean slate upon which to write our course for the coming year. Spring Equinox is green for new growth and new hope. Beltane is red, pink, or purple for passion; that is, if we wear any clothes at all!
Summer Solstice is often shades of blue for lighthearted fun, but it can be pastels for Midsummer with the Fey. Lammas is yellow or light green for the joy of sunshine (this is Seattle, you know!) and the ability to be outdoors without a sweater.
Autumn Equinox is a riot of fall colors – yellows, oranges, reds, and browns as we satisfactorily complete what we started. At Samhain we let go of it all and enter death in black. At Winter Solstice we rest in space and time, wearing deep rich blues, maroons, magentas, or black.
How’s a witch going to keep that many outfits in her wardrobe?
Actually a creative witch can get by very well with only a black cloak and a white robe if she accessorizes cleverly. Scarves, shawls, and jewelry can transform a white robe into appropriate garb for any Sabbat from Candlemas through Mabon. Dark jeans and t-shirt can be very witchy under a black cloak for the winter Sabbats.
There are other ways to use color in the ritual itself. At Spring Mysteries, put on by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (www.aquatabch.org) every year at Ostara, we all gather in a grand opening circle. The priestess leads us in visualization as we raise huge shields of yellow, red, blue, and green, corresponding to the four directions. These shields contain the energy we raise during the four days of Pagan playfulness and ward off the negative energies that may be directed towards us. At the ending circle, we carefully bring down these shields and return the park to its mundane state.
Barbara Walker, in her book Women’s Rituals, suggests using black and white at the equinoxes to symbolize the balance of day and night. One could go further and halfway through the ritual, clear the altar and change the altar cloth from white to black (autumn) or from black to white (spring).
The witches at Concentric Circles, a multi-tradition gathering every September sponsored by Our Lady Of The Earth And Sky (www.oloteas.org), did a very effective ritual last year employing color. The white witch was shadowed by a black witch through the first half of the ritual and then she retired to the throne while the black witch performed the second half.
At our Women Of The Goddess Circle’s Spring Equinox, we have one of our senior priestesses garbed in black to sweep the circle, and then she doffs the black to reveal her green dress underneath when a junior priestess comes forth as the Spring Maiden.
There are lots of possibilities for using color effectively to add power and depth to your worship practice. So next time you are planning a ritual for one or for a whole circle, consider using color as one of your tools. The magic you work may be more powerful for it and it adds a lot of fun as well!
For more information on color, see Color in Nature: A Visual and Scientific Exploration by Penelope A. Farrant. The book focuses on a dozen different topics, such as "the universe" and "animal pigments." Answers why snow is white, a leaf green, ocean water blue, and a zebra striped? Not too technical. (Published 1999, Blandford Pr, ISBN: 071372806X. 208 pages).
There is also Color and Light in Nature by David K. Lynch and William Livingstone. (2nd edition. Published July 2001, Cambridge Univ Press; ISBN: 0521775043. 288 pages.)
Copyright: Janice Van Cleve; Copyright 2008.
Janice Van Cleve
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Janice Van Cleve - Click HERE
Bio: Janice Van Cleve is a priestess in the Women Of The Goddess Circle. Her closet is a riot of color. Copyright 2008.
Other Articles: Janice Van Cleve has posted 27 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Janice Van Cleve... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).