It is safe to say that the world is presently going through one of the darkest times that we as a collective whole have experienced in several decades.
While many of us are presently in self-isolation or, if that is not possible, engaging in vital social distancing and limiting time spent in public places as much as possible, the seasons are still, thankfully, proceeding along as usual.
One of the most iconic natural phenomena associated with springtime is the majestic rainbow.
Rainbows occur when the right set of circumstances involving reflection, refraction and dispersion of light take place within droplets of water in the atmosphere. When this happens, a gorgeous spectrum of different shades of arcing light can suddenly span a portion of the sky for a little while (the longest known duration that a rainbow has lasted is just under nine hours).
While we might not be able to conjure up rainbows overhead at will and rainbows are certainly more common in some parts of the world than others, we can all avail of rainbow magick regardless of where we live or if there’s presently a stunning bow of multiple colours smiling down upon us.
This spring, perhaps more than ever in many of our lives, we need all the light we can get coupled with the positivity and beauty inherent in rainbows.
With that in mind (and rainbow loving child of the 1980s that I am) I’ve put together an in-depth guide to rainbow magick to help make this spring a bit brighter and hopefully more positive for all of us.
What is rainbow magick?
Rainbows are as real as an apple, a sunflower, or your beloved pet cat and yet unlike these things, it is not possible to physically hold an actual rainbow in your hands.
This means that the magick we work with rainbows is generally symbolic, correspondence based, or that it involves materials (such as water, magickal tools, crystals, or food) that we’ve charged in the presence of a rainbow.
Of course, one can use a physical item that is designed in the shape (and/or colours) of a rainbow as a stand-in for the real deal, too.
And many a witch, Pagan, and other spiritually driven soul has one or more items, works of art, photographs, or candles depicting a rainbow or the colours of one in their home.
Rainbow magick is magick that involves either actual rainbows, items charged or gathered in the presence of real rainbows, colours that appear in a classic red/orange/yellow/green/blue/indigo/violet order (aka, Roy G Biv, an acronym many of us learned during our schooldays to help us memorize the colours in a prismatic rainbow), working with deities or other entities with ties to rainbows, items or foods (I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to Rainbow Foods, if you’re looking for rainbow food recipes and ideas), or any other type of rainbow related capacity as it pertains to your witchy workings.
Naturally, those who are familiar with the chakra energy system of the body are likely aware that it utilizes a rainbow-like system of colours.
You can engage with chakra colours either individually or as a collective whole in ways akin to working with other forms of rainbows, especially when performing healing, cleansing, energy balancing, or negativity banishing spells, reiki, and so forth.
What is a rainbow witch?
You may have heard or read the term “rainbow witch” before, but weren’t quite sure what it meant.
Broadly speaking, a rainbow witch is someone whose practice is quite eclectic and who embraces the joys, magick, properties, importance, inspiration and beauty of all manner of colours, including their connection to healing and nature.
Anyone can be a rainbow witch, if they desire, and can in turn define what being a rainbow witch means on their own terms.
For more on what a rainbow witch is, I highly recommend this lovely post by Nixie Vale – Are You a Rainbow Witch?
Are there different types of rainbows?
Absolutely! While most of us have seen – or at least familiar – with the usual multi-coloured arching rainbows (which are officially known as primary rainbows) that can occur either during or after a rain shower or rainstorm, there are various other kinds of rainbows as well.
The following describes some of the other types of rainbows that have been identified over the course of human history.
-Double or multiple rainbows: As their name implies, double or multiple rainbows are instances when two or more rainbows appear in the sky at the same time. They are formed by a double reflection of sunlight inside of raindrops and are between 130 and 127 degrees in width. Generally, there will be a primary rainbow and secondary rainbow (and, if applicable, a third or even an extremely rare fourth rainbow).
Fascinatingly, there is a word for the area of blank sky, so to speak, between the rainbows. This is known as Alexander’s band in honour of a 2nd century AD Peripatetic philosopher called Alexander of Aphrodisias who was the first known person to describe this band.
-Twinned rainbows: Not to be confused with double rainbows (described above), this rare form of rainbow occurs when two rainbows form from a single base point, splitting partway along the arc. On even rarer occurrences, rainbows have been known to split into three branches, each sharing the same spectrum and order of colours (just as with twinned rainbows).
-Monochrome rainbows: While we generally think of rainbows as housing several different colours, it is possible for a rainbow to occur in just one colour.
This happens when sunlight is travelling the farthest away through the atmosphere at either sunrise or sunset and generally results in a solidly red rainbow which makes for a rare and very striking sight to behold (especially since the red tends to temporarily colour the sky immediately surrounding it quite red, purply-red, or peachy red coloured as well).
-Pastel rainbows, aka, supernumerary rainbows: Another relatively uncommon form of rainbow, supernumerary rainbows take place as an extra band within a primary rainbow (known as the stacker rainbow) or as an additional rainbow right outside of the first.
This form of rainbow is most commonly associated with fog and fogbows. The further away a supernumerary rainbow is from the stacker rainbow, the fainter and paler it appears, which generally results in bands of colours that are less vivid and pronounced than those of the primary rainbow.
-Reflected rainbows: These lovely rainbows appear on the surface of bodies of water that are present below the horizon (sunlight is deflected by rainbows before reflecting off of a body of water). If the conditions are right, a reflected rainbow can appear in something as small as a puddle or birdbath right on up to part of the surface area of a lake, sea or ocean.
-Full circle rainbows: When one calls to mind a rainbow, the classic semi-circle arc shape is one of this weather phenomenon’s most iconic elements. But did you know that under the right conditions, a rainbow can appear as a full circle?
In fact, almost any rainbow can, in theory, be a circular rainbow. However, when viewed from lower vantage points, such as the ground or most forms of housing, the majority of rainbows will appear as arcs, not circles.
If you happen to spot a rainbow when you’re atop a lofty mountain or building or high up in the air, such as in an airplane, then you might just be lucky enough to spot a full circle rainbow (which, occasionally, can appear in twin rainbow form as well).
-Rainbow wheels: While this name might make you think of those fun, noisy and very colourful clip-on beads we put in the spokes of our bike tires as kids, rainbow wheels are in fact a form of rainbow that occurs when dense rain showers or dark clouds create shadows over part(s) of a rainbow, causing lines of light to reach out to the arc of a primary rainbow, which in turn can give the appearance of a wagon wheel-like shape in the sky.
Incredibly, if the clouds are moving fast enough in the sky at the moment, rainbow wheels can even appear to rotate – giving even more credence to their name.
-Fog rainbows, aka, fogbows: As you might guess from their name, fogbows are rainbows that are caused when sunlight passes through fog and the moisture droplets in said fog diffract the sunlight.
Fogbow tend to form over bodies of water or those with thin fog, and the colours they house are typically red, blue and (especially) white, as opposed to the broader spectrum of various other types of rainbows.
-Cloud rainbows: Whereas most other types of atmospheric rainbows occur when light comes in contact with water drops in the air, cloud rainbows occur when light strikes water droplets that are presently forming clouds.
Cloud rainbows tend to be quite broad and may have less of a stereotypical arcing rainbow shape. There’s something very gentle, mysterious and beautiful about cloudbows, which while more common over bodies of water, can be seen occasionally over land as well.
-Moonbows: By far one of the most enchantingly beautiful forms of rainbow, moonbows are rainbows that take place in much the same way as daytime (solar) rainbows, however in this instance, it is moon, not sun, light that is responsible for their appearance.
Moonbows are also known as moon rainbows, lunar rainbows, and white rainbows. They may be fainter than their daytime counterparts and are certainly a considerably rarer sight. Much as with solar rainbows, lunar rainbows have piqued human interest for countless generations, with recorded descriptions of nighttime rainbows stretching back to Aristotle’s c. 350 BCE work, Meteorology.
If you’re keen to try and spot a moonbow of your own (and you really should – they’re an extremely beautiful and spiritually charged experience), you may have better luck if you do so when the moon is not blocked by clouds, the moon is low in the sky (42 degrees or lower), the moon is at – or very nearly at – its fullest stage, and there are water droplets (rain, mist, fog, or spray – such as that from powerful waterfalls) in the air opposite the glowing moon. As well, it helps matters if the sky is very dark during the later hours of night, such as two to three hours prior to the sun rising.
-Snow rainbows (aka, snowbows, snow bows, icebow, parhelions, halos, or sun dogs): While only rain or other forms of spherical water droplets can cause true rainbows, similar forms of arcing or circular light (generally white or pale yellow in colour) can occur as a result of light striking the intricately shaped surfaces of snowflakes or ice crystals (see this newspaper article for photos of super rare ice rainbows).
In addition to the above mentioned form of rainbows, it is possible to observe rainbow-like occurrences on surfaces such as dew slicked spiderwebs (known as spiderweb rainbows), in various sprays and streams of water (think fountains, geysers, water garden hoses and sprinklers, waves at the beach, and the spray from a waterfall), as well as other similar types of optical phenomena such as cloud iridescence in which some of the clouds overhead take on a colour pattern similar to that of the hues seen in soap bubbles, mother-of-pearl, or oil slicks.
All rainbows have an intensely ethereal quality to them and rainbow magick can be carried out in the presence of, or when thinking about (or meditating on, etc) any type of rainbow that resonates with you or that fits the magickal working that you’re engaging in.
I encourage you to keep this list of different types of rainbows in mind, bookmark, or pin this post on Pinterest so that you can refer back to it later, if you’re keen to utilize the properties of a particular type of rainbow in your spellwork, rituals, sabbat celebrations, self-generated guided meditations, or other witchy workings.
Religious, spiritual, and cultural connections to rainbows
Rainbows have been admired, awed over, and believed to have magickal or spiritual abilities or connections to the Divine since time immemorial.
Some faiths and cultures see rainbows as a bridge between the worlds of heaven and earth or life and death, and most people, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, find beauty and personal meaning in the sighting of a rainbow overhead. Be it as a sign of positivity or good luck, a blessing, or a comforting message of brighter days ahead.
It would take a very lengthy blog post (if not a whole book) to delve into the huge range of such connections that have existed across various cultures for thousands upon thousands of years, and doing so is beyond the scope of this post.
That said, as rainbows are such inherently magickal happenings with great significance to many cultures and faiths, I would like to share a few examples of the importance rainbows have played in various religions, spiritualities, and cultures over the years (including some of the gods and goddesses that are associated with rainbows).
-In ancient Greek mythology, the rainbow is viewed to be a pathway created by the goddess Iris between heaven and earth.
-Chinese mythology has a beautiful tale that says that a rainbow is a split in the sky which has been patched or sealed by the goddess Nuwa using five different coloured rocks or stones.
-The flood narrative of the Christian bible which sees a rainbow used to represent God’s promise to never again destroy the earth with a cataclysmic flood.
-Babylonian mythology also tells of a megaflood and how the goddess Ishtar was rather cross with the god who had caused such an epic catastrophe. To get back at him, Ishtar placed a rainbow in the sky to prevent the god from partaking of offerings left for him down on earth.
-To the Norse, a burning rainbow bridged known as the Bifrost connects earth (Midgard) with Asgard, the home of the gods. Only the gods and those are who were slain in battled were permitted to use Bifrost.
-Armenian mythology speaks of the god Tir’s belt being a rainbow (Tir is especially associated with the sun and knowledge).
-Many Native American cultures have rainbow related myths and spiritual connections. The Navajo, for example, saw rainbows as a multi-coloured serpent that young braves chased after as part of a highly meaningful and important coming-of-age initiation right.
-Pre-Islamic Arabian mythology included a weather god named Quzah, for whom rainbows were seen to be his (hunting) bow. This reference remains in legacy to the present day by way of the Arabic word for rainbow, qaws Quzah.
-In Australian Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow snake is the Creator in the Dreaming, an ever-lasting time period that began with the creation of the world and which has no end.
-The shamans of Siberia’s Buryat people believe that they can ascend to the sky-spirit world via rainbows.
What are rainbows associated with?
Rainbows have long been associated with a wide number of things at a broader cultural level, as well as on a deeply personal level for many individuals.
These include, but are not limited to gay pride, racial equality and race-related rights, inclusivity, acceptance, spirituality, health, healing, optimism, good luck, promises, Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day, luck, hope, peace, springtime, Ostara, Beltane, rain, the sun, unicorns, faeries, the magickal arts in general, creativity and artistry, endurance, serenity, happiness, personal message from Spirit/the divine/the universe, childhood and youth, auras, ascension, liminal spaces, transcending the earthly realm, and immortality.
To say nothing of the myriad brands (including Apple) who have used rainbows or rainbow colours as part of their logos and company branding over the years.
As well, arcs themselves are commonly associated with such things as openings, bridges, paths, portals, gateways, other realms (including of consciousness), femininity, fertility, crescent moons, and unions of various sorts.
The shape of the boline – a knife that often has a white handle and a curved blade and which is used by some Wiccans, witches and those of similar spiritual paths – also lends itself well to rainbow related symbolism and workings (such as harvesting herbs, drawing or writing in the dirt or sand, or cutting cords).
What does seeing a rainbow mean?
The honest answer to this question is that seeing a rainbow is going to mean different things to different people.
Many of us have positive personal memories with rainbows which help to imbue those we see nowadays with a pleasant or happy sense of nostalgia.
While seeing a rainbow is generally an auspicious, positive event that some feel is a personal blessing, not all rainbows necessarily carry intensely deep meanings or messages for those who view them.
That said, they certain can and some of the more common messages or signs that a rainbow may be presenting you with include the following:
-Brighter, better and/or luckier days lay ahead for you.
–You are not alone. Spiritual allies, angels, or other types of guardian spirits or beings are with you and are watching over, protecting, guiding or otherwise helping you.
-Validation or confirmation that you are on the right path for your present life.
–A departed loved ones (human or animal) is letting you know that they’ve crossed over and are doing well/are at peace on the other side or that they have another (generally positive) message that they want you to know.
-It’s time for you to take a leap of faith and begin a new project, goal, or other area of your life that you may have been putting off.
-You are loved and are an important part of the earth who is here right now in this point in time because there is one or more meaningful reasons for you to be.
-It’s time to finally make a concrete choice about two or more things that you’ve been contemplating.
-Honour what your heart is telling you to do.
–Opening ourselves up to light, love, positivity, compassion, healing, and/or new beginnings.
-Make sure to stop and take note of the incredible beauty and blessings that surround us on this planet.
-Do not become so busy or stressed that life loses its sense of wonder, magic, and possibility.
-Something positive is likely coming your way.
-Passing through a rainbow (such as driving or swimming, if a rainbow is reflected on the water’s surface) may increase spiritual awareness, personal energy, and one’s sense of connection to the divine.
-Savour the present moment. Rainbows are fleeting, incredibly beautiful and highly meaningful events. They capture our attention and justifiably ask of us to slow down or briefly stop what we’re doing entirely and live in the moment. Take this important reminder with you after a rainbow has passed and remember to do the same throughout your daily life, even when a rainbow is nowhere to be seen overhead.
Rainbows encourage us to see and understand things as being diverse, multi-faceted and often far more complex than “just” being black and white.
They can represent the whole or the sum of all parts, are a universal phenomenon, and are generally viewed in a positive light and are believed to present us with optimistic or otherwise helpful messages and meanings.
Ideas for how to work rainbow magick
The sky – fittingly – is the limit when it comes to ways in which you can work with rainbows in magickal and spiritual capacities.
The following is a selection of ways that you can connect with rainbows, use rainbows in your magickal practice, and make them a year-round part of your witchy life.
-Gather rainwater during a rainbow to use for a wide range of magickal purposes. Store as you would most other magically related or magickally charged waters, labelling your rainbow water accordingly.
-Few things lend themselves better to colour magick than rainbows. Colour magick is a broad, highly fascinating topics that can easily fill many a post or book (Raymond Buckland’s Color Magick: Unleash Your Inner Powers is a great place to start if you’re looking for a detailed book on this topic).
What colours or colours jump out at you or are most visible in the next rainbow that you see? Could these colours be a sign?
Consider working with that colour, or those particular colours, in the near future and applying them to situations that are relevant to your current life.
For example, if you saw green most dominantly, it may mean that you should focus on new beginnings, earth magick, money magick, herbology, gardening, or healthy eating. Whereas red or pink could pertain to matters of the heart, power, strength, survival, sexuality, fertility, or passion, to name but a few possible connections.
-Use makeup, face paint or another similar skin safe product to draw a rainbow or other design in rainbow colours on your body as an added measure of personal strength, protection, positivity, hope, or any other reason that you desire. You can do so in conjunction with other rainbow workings or as a standalone activity (which is especially well suited to Ostara, Beltane, and Litha).
-Wear or make jewelry or another accessory or item of clothing in a rainbow colourway or which depicts a rainbow. If possible, charge this item either with rainwater or dew gathered during a rainbow or when an actual rainbow is in sight.
By doing so, you are embedding some of the essential energy of that rainbow into your lovely piece of jewelry, which you can then wear anytime you wish to connect with, or strength a magickal working pertaining to, rainbows, their meanings or correspondences.
-For instant, on the spot magick, consider working a quick spell or other magickal act that can be done with little forewarning when a rainbow is present. If you’re able to safely to do outdoors, all the better, but doing so inside is highly effective as well – especially if you’re able to see the rainbow (such as through a window or skylight) while working your spell.
The presence of rainbows can be a terrific time to set intentions, say or sing chants or prayers, give thanks, connect with faeries, receive messages or signs from spiritual guides and angels, do releasing or banishing work, make promises to yourself or others, and to focus on matters pertaining to your aura, personal energy, or chakras.
-Work candle magick with a single candle in rainbow or chakra colours (such as these lovely rainbow taper candles), or an array of different induvial candles in the classic rainbow palette. Here’s a fantastic rainbow candle magick spell from Madame Pamita that you may enjoy.
If possible (though such is by no means essential), bless or concrete your candle with rainbow water, herbs or flower petals picked during a rainbow (either fresh or dried, depending on what you have to hand), or magickal essential oils that you’ve either charged during a rainbow or which you’ve focused rainbow inspired energy into.
And if you’re looking for an especially cool candle to use when working with rainbow candle magick, consider giving Rainbow Color Drip Candles a try.
-Much like candles, crystals come in a huge array of different colours and are a beautiful, tangible way to weave colour magick into your spellwork, altars, rituals, offerings, and other magickal activities.
A handful of crystals are somewhat rainbow-looking in terms of their colours (be they naturally occurring, artificially enhanced, or straight up manmade), such as rainbow quartz, angel aura quartz, opals, bismuth, labradorite, and fluorite.
These crystals are gorgeous and can be a fabulous way to channel the energy and correspondences of rainbows, but you can certainly use other crystals in conjunction with rainbows as well.
For example, why not try making crystal grids, crystal spell bags, crystal spell jars, crystal jewelry or charms, crystal displays on an altar, or crystal placement around your home with various crystals that collectively team up to form the colours of a rainbow?
-Make set of runes in rainbow colours or on stones, pieces of wood, shells, etc that you’ve painted in the colours of a rainbow. If possible, charge your handmade runes in the line of sight of a rainbow or bless/concrete them with rainbow water.
-Incorporate rainbow imagery into your sabbat celebrations and related spells or rituals, in particular those of the spring and summer months (Ostara, Beltane, Litha and Lammas) during which rainbows are most frequently seen.
You can also use rainbows anytime and in connection with any sabbat or other sacred day (handfastings very much included) that your heart desires.
-Create an altar set up in a rainbow colour palette or designate a portion of an existing altar to honour rainbows. Work with this sacred spot in your home anytime you need to tap into the deep meaning and spiritual guidance that rainbows can offer.
-Draw, paint, sew, stitch, bead, or otherwise create a craft project in rainbow colours or which depicts a rainbow. Think a rainbow poppet, rainbow dream sachet, rainbow wand, rainbow painted chalice or offering bowl, rainbow wreath, rainbow floral arrangement or a centrepiece in rainbow colours, rainbow dream catcher, set of garden or herb pot markers in rainbow colours, rainbow robe or cloak, rainbow soap, rainbow bath salts, or handmade rainbow candles.
-Do a rainbow tarot spread. This can take on many forms, from an arc-shaped spread to one pertaining to LGBTQ+ related readings (such as this wonderful rainbow tarot spread from Interrobang Tarot) to using a deck that includes rainbow imagery.
In some tarot decks, the Temperance and Ten of Cups cards depict rainbows, though other tarot and oracle card decks may include rainbow images in their own specific imagery on any number of different cards.
-Create a positive affirmation pertaining to rainbows. For example, you could make a point of looking at yourself in the mirror each morning and saying something along the lines of, “I am bright, I am special, I am strong, I am beautiful, and I am capable of incredible things”.
-Rainbows aren’t just in the sky! Sure, that may be one of their favourite places to reside, but don’t forget to pay attention to if the universe, Spirit, your spiritual allies, or other positive forces are trying to deliver a message or sign to you via rainbows in other forms.
Have you been seeing rainbows on things everywhere you go all of a sudden? Hearing one or more songs that star the word rainbow, such as that beloved classic, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, She’s a Rainbow by The Rolling Stones, Pocket Full of Rainbows by Elvis Presley, or Rainbow by Kacey Musgraves?
Are you dreaming or thinking about rainbows frequently as of latte?
If so, consider the possibility that a rainbow message or sign is trying to make its way through to you. Ask yourself what that could be, how you can proactively avail of the blessing of that insight from the universe, and how you can support its benefits for your life through your witchy workings.
-Photograph a rainbow, print and display that image on your altar or elsewhere in your home (or office) as a reminder of the beauty, wonder, blessings, abundance, hope, and positivity that both exist in the world at large and which you can help to bring into being in your daily life. Or for any other reason that rainbows hold personal significance for you.
-Tap into the energy that comes from a rainbow. Rainbows generally appear as the calm following a storm and may indicate that you’re entering (or are now able to create or manifest) such a state in your own life.
If you’re been going through an especially difficult or challenging time, this might feel like the gift from above that it truly is and may just be an important turning point towards brighter days ahead in your life.
Rainbow are magickal!
No two ways about it, rainbows are seriously magickal. There’s a reason they’re commonly used in conjunction with fantasy stories, to convey positivity, and as a link between this world and others beyond our mortal realm.
Like many people, I’ve had times when rainbows appeared in my life precisely when I needed the comfort, reassurance, support, or sense of joy they brought my way.
No other stands out more for me than the rainbow that appeared exactly six months to the date after the destructive arson house fire we experienced in October 2016.
It was so vivid that my husband and I pulled over onto the shoulder of the road to observe and bask in its meaningful beauty. I was moved to tears and knew that, as incredibly difficult as the past few months had been, brighter days and a return to feeling happier were coming our way again.
Seeing a rainbow never fails to spark a deep sense of wonder in me. They are mesmerizing and meaningful, relatively rare and highly poignant.
This spring and for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, I encourage you to consider working with rainbow magick.
You might also find that placing images the depict rainbows or items that feature rainbows on them on your altar or elsewhere in your home helps you to feel more at peace, connected to the divine, and optimistic during these highly challenging times – just as various forms of rainbow magick themselves can as well.
And the next time you see a rainbow, why not enact that long-practiced ritual all its own and make a wish from deep within your heart that you hope will soon come true for yourself or a loved.
Doing so is a lovely act – and who knows, with enough intention and, for added oomph, some corresponding rainbow magick, your wish might just come true! 🌈❤️🌈