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The Ritual Use of Colors

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on August 20, 2012 | Comments (6)

Today I am honored to share this guest post by Jean-Louis de Biasi, Grand Master of the Ordo Aurum Solis, Hermetic philosopher, and author of books such as Secrets and Practices of the Freemasons, and The Divine Arcana of the Aurum Solis.

A Brief History of Color and Magic

For many years now, it has been very easy to find various writings about the ritual use of colors. It seems evident that colors constitute a very old knowledge which was associated with ritual practices from the very beginning of the use of rituals. It is easy to imagine that there must have been a good symbolic understanding of the use of colors in ancient Egypt, but proof of this is very rare in the old texts. In ancient writings, few colors (such as green for example) were really linked with a precise idea, such as, in this case: rebirth.

Long before the birth of Qabalah, earlier authors (such as the byzantine writer Ioannis Lydi) began to write about the symbolism of colors. He related colors to days, planets, and Divinities, and he explained the mythological origin of these relationships. Yellow became the color of Venus because of the color of her hair, Gold for the sun, etc. Following in the Hermetic tradition, the Master of the Golden Chain, Marsilio Ficino (Florence, Italy, 15th century), wrote extensively about the use of colors, music and perfumes in rituals. You can see aspects of this tradition in the occultism of the 19th century (Eliphas Levi, Papus, etc.).

Candle Magic

Today this heritage is very well developed and frequently used in candle magic rituals. The principle is simple:

If you know the correspondences between a color and the result you want to achieve,
you must light a candle of the correct color when you perform a ritual to obtain the result you wish.

The color will attract and intensify the energy you need to achieve this goal. If you know a little more, you can direct the power so that it flows in the right direction and thereby increase the efficacy of your ritual.

Two essential issues deserve further treatment:

  1. The accuracy of these common correspondences
  2. The use of color

The first issue requires further development, and I will do that in another post. The second issue is as important as the first, but somewhat easier to understand.

A Magickal Experiment

In order to get a clear understanding of how to correctly use color, I want to invite you to perform an experiment. Whether you are using your imagination or actually doing this, the first step will be to choose two candles (each one should be a different color) to use in this ritual. For example, you could use one green candle, and one red. You should have no difficulty finding information about the meaning and common use of these two colors. Place the first candle on your table, light it and then turn your back on the candle so it is behind you. You can see the light of this candle on the wall in front of you. Breathe deeply in silence feeling this special atmosphere. Now turn back, extinguish the candle and light the other candle. Turn your back on it as you did before. Breathe deeply again and feel the difference in the light. There is none! You may conclude that something is really wrong with this candle magic…

But perhaps you felt a tiny difference. If so, I suggest that you repeat the experience, but ask a friend to light each candle successively, without telling you which one is burning. The goal is for you to feel the energy of the flame, in order to be able to identify which one (which colored candle) is burning without seeing it. As you will see, this is difficult to do and it seems that there is still something wrong with this candle magic.

If this is a very ancient tradition, how can we explain this absence of efficacy? The answer is simple and obvious: the light! The sun/fire is the source of all power and life. Consequently light is the source of the energy you are trying to attract, select and use. Whether you use candles that are green, red, blue, etc the light has exactly the same color. When the candle is behind you, the light around you is always the same color. There is no difference in the vibration produced by the light. Consequently, changing the color of the candle will create no difference in your ritual. You will have the same result and save money by buying natural (beeswax) candles!

The Secret of the Use of Color in Ritual

So is this traditional and esoteric knowledge stupid? The answer is no! But it is the light you must consider, not the color of the candle. If you want to channel red light (for example) you must be able to change the color of the light you are using, so that the light itself is red. In order to do that, the teachings transmitted in the Hermetic Tradition explain that you have to use colored glass, or stained glass that you place in front of the light of the candle. Italian blown glasses are well known for their intense colors and a little tea candle placed inside a holder with appropriately colored glass has a powerful effect on the invisible planes.

As you will see, even if you put this colored glass behind your back, the entire area will be affected by this intense color. When the Ogdoadic Tradition provides instruction involving this kind of ritual, the direction that is given is always to use a “green light” or “red light” and not a “red candle.” You now understand the reason. Marsilio Ficino and the ancient Masters worked in the same way. If you change the color of the light, you are changing the character of the energy you are using. The sun is the source of all life and you will undoubtedly be eager to use this renewable source of energy in your Theurgic or magic rituals. So, simply choose a good, natural candle and put it in a beautiful colored glass. It will be an ecological, economic and effective esoteric choice!


Did you find this post controversial?
Does it make sense to you or do you disagree?
Please comment below.

Reader Comments

Written By Luis A. Valadez (Oracle)
on August 20th, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

There is an interesting phenomenon known as “synesthesia.” It is the apparent ability in which stimulation of one sensory pathway in turn automatically stimulates another sensory pathway. For example, in one manifestation of the condition there are people who will register certain numbers, letters or words with a particular taste or smell (even color). The latter tends to be quite common, and is found mostly in artists such as writers, painters, etc.

It is an involuntary and automatic response that links two apparent non-related effects (i.e. color and words). It has always been highly suspect to me that some of the earliest writings linking color with correspondences to numbers, stones and Divinities may have come from occultists who were synesthetic. In this respect, synesthestia reveals hidden links. I believe a part of the neuro-synapses are uncovered which may have been a part of early man in our evolution as we sensed the worlds (invisible and visible) around us.

It is highly probable that when people who do not ordinarily manifest this ability consume entheogens, they are activating those parts of the brain which are already linked in people with synesthesia.

Further research should be done in this area. But suffice it to say that whatever may be the underlying cause, it confirms one thing: the apparent link between color, sound, vibration and the environment. The next step is that by affecting one, we affect the next link in the domino chain. Magick is born!

Thank you for this interesting article! It has certainly started the juices flowing. 🙂

Rev. Luis A. Valadez

Written By peregrin
on August 20th, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

Thanks for this post, Jean-Louis.

It is very sensible, and from my training and experience not controversial at all. I am actually a little surprised folk may find it so. Coloured glass has always been the most effective tool for this form of magic. 70s glassware is the best 🙂

Written By Jason Lowe
on August 20th, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

The condition that Luis is referring to is supposed to be in relation to the close proximity of the portions of the brain. Still this may show great effect in creating new neuro pathways in the brain by way of corispondances, cabalistic or other wise, and this only on the physical plane.
I would tend to agree that the use of colored light has a greater effect than dose the use of a flame on top of a colored candle. A color is a wavewhich means that is is also a sound, geometrical pattern which would link it to number, among a host of many other substances. This, I belive, is reason enough to use colored light rather than colored wax to help create the proper atmosphere for what ever working one may be setting out to accomplish.

Written By Kenneth
on August 20th, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

i found it interesting, and it makes sense, i mean lighting a red candle for example versus having a red color lamp even still considering intent and will, i am sure the lamp would be more intense having the room lit up in the color you are working with. i also think it would make it easier to connect with the energy of the color rather than a colored candle in that case.

Written By Paulo T. Vasconcelos
on August 21st, 2012 @ 9:53 am

Dear De Biasi, I must say that I somewhat disagree with what was exposed and would like to share my opinion for your consideration.

First of all, I don’t disagree regarding the eficience of the use of colored glasses. Indeed I agree with you with the neurological and perceptive effects of the light.

What I somewhat disagree is that we are attaching the relevance of the effect to the sensitive consequences: the red light is different because it is sensitive.

However, this seems to be akin to saying that the incense is effective due to it’s perfume, when I have some empirical evidence among my friends that the perfume is just part of the question, since people with olfactory disabilities are able to distinguish between the different kinds of incenses.

Besides, not only some differences in the color are noticeable (probably due to the reflex of the light in the wax) but I cannot dismiss the thought that the fire transmutates the wax and it’s color.

So, already thanking you for your point of view (that obviously is very helpful – why not combine the color of the candle with the color of the glass?) I’d like to know your thoughts about what I just suggested.


Written By Rosswell Monsters
on May 12th, 2013 @ 5:27 am

A key question for this subject would be, what gets affected by the colour? Is it our consciousness or our AURA?. The human aura is triadic in nature and partly Divine. It has psychoactive qualities that our conscious mind is almost completly unaware of. Colour is a cosmic vibration, as is the human aura. The two will have an effect upon each other.

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