As You can see, I live in a beautiful place!
Since I moved here I have seen more rainbows than any other location I have ever been. I recently started an abstract series featuring water, fire and rainbows (among other things). As I was contemplating my first one of this series, I discovered connections in the archetype of a rainbow to myself, to others and onward.
Rainbows are a symbol of hope, protection and new beginnings.
The birth of each rainbow begins with millions of tiny rain droplets. The rain droplets serve as a type of reflector of light. White light enters one individual rain droplet and exits as one specific color of the spectrum. Without millions of rain droplets, a rainbow would not occur. I see this as a metaphor of us as the Human race. Each one of us is a reflector of light, and we are not intended to be isolated from each other. When light enters our being, it combines with our unique characteristics, making our unique color statement to the world.
If you only had a few rain droplets you would only see a few colors. This is typically why rainbows appear after a storm.
Each rain droplet has a function in the formation of the rainbow. Sunlight enters the rain droplet at a specific angle and the rain droplet separates the white light into many different colors. This angle is a fixed measurement between your eye and the sun. What color is refracted depends upon the critical angle, which is the angle the sunlight strikes the back of the rain droplet.
In Alchemy, the most powerful combination of elements is the combination of fire and water. A rainbow is one representation of this combination. Another archetypal meaning of the rainbow…great power.
Red light bends the least, exiting the rain droplet at a 42 degree angle, while Violet light bends the most, exiting the rain droplet at a 40 degree angle. All of the other colors of the rainbow exit the rain droplets at some angle between 40 and 42 degrees, thus making up the colors of the rainbow…Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. This order never changes.
Our color wheel is a depiction of this order.
Each rain droplet reflects all colors at a given point and time, but only one color comes back to your eye, requiring million of rain droplets to create a rainbow. As the rain droplets fall through the sky, the colors of the spectrum being reflected and refracted are constantly changing.
Rainbows form a complete circle, however only half is visible.
Picture from the web site of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Arizona State University
For me, there is an uncanny connection to this fact and the Native American Medicine Wheel.
The Medicine Wheel is many things on many various levels and has many different meanings and uses. It is a circle which represents natural and personal powers in complete balance, and which shows that everything is interconnected and part of one cosmic whole. It is the circle of awareness of the individual self, and a circle of knowledge that gives power over one’s life. It is a shamanic map, or philosophical system, that can be used as a guide to help us find our way and ground us when we embark on inner journeys. We can use it to understand ourselves as well as life itself. It can be used for finding direction in life and for aligning physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realities. And, we can use it to attune to Earth influences and to the natural energies that affect their lives.
Other cultures have special meanings associated with the rainbow as well. Remember the Irish the rainbow and their pot-of-gold? The unique thing about this story is the special trait that a rainbow has…it can never be reached. As you move towards it, it moves away at equal speed. The Irish have a special sense of humor…they knew this about rainbows.
As we look to the rainbow, on an archetypal level we are reminded to look within. In the lovely song above is a line that says..”follow the fellow that follows a dream”. Our rainbow, our pot-of-gold lies within us. Attuning with Earths influences starts with paying attention. Next time you see a rainbow then, remember YOU are a glowing droplet in this universe and the power of fire and water lives within you.