The way people react to colors is due to a mix of physiological, sociological and spiritual factors. What works in one society does not always work in another. Likewise, the knowledge that has come out of the mystery schools often needs to be adjusted to apply to modern tastes. What we present here is our own color theory drawn from personal studies and experience. What is helpful to remember about the differences between the Western and Asian systems of color theory is that in the West, the favorite planets generally are Jupiter and Venus, which are expanders, and relate to luck and luxury. From the earth both have a blue tone. For the Chinese, the favorite planets are Saturn, a pale yellow planet that is the stabilizer, and Mercury, the silver planet that deals with commerce and children. We might say that, culturally, the difference is a focus upon possibilities versus responsibilities. Surveys have shown that the favorite color of Americans is blue, while their least favorite is yellow. This highlights yet another difference, which necessitates the adjustment of systems when practicing Feng Shui in the west.
Gold and Silver
Gold and Silver, for our needs, are not properly colors but rather metals related to the Sun, and to the Moon and Mercury. Gold is quite distinctly the glow of the Sun (Yang), and the warmth of the heart. The mutability of Silver can relate to the off-white of Moonlight (Yin) and the watery quality of emotions. When silver goes towards the highly reflective, we touch upon the energy of Mercury and the ability of the mind to reflect the exterior world. When we go to the soft, luminous silver we’re projecting the feeling of the Moon, and the need to reflect emotions through empathy and sympathy. The real significance of these two metals (when used in design) is in their reflectivity, or in other words, their ability to translate and transmit light. Use them to balance Yang and Yin, both in interior decor and when you wear these metals. You can balance these polarities in your physical body.
Red is a primordial color. It activates our energy, our senses, our adrenals and our appetite. Our attraction to it is as basic as the newborn baby’s attraction to the nipple that means food and survival. Red is the color of Mars, as well as blood. The eye will always go to red first, and it stimulates the aggressive side of our natures. It draws Yang energy towards itself. The activator! It attracts only positive energy. A problematic corner can be deactivated by placing a red dot under the point of the angle. It pulls the energy towards itself. Use red in “activity rooms” but avoid it in resting areas. However, red does inspire passion, so variations of red in small touches can add “activity” to the boudoir. Be careful about using red in the kitchen if anyone in the family has a problem with their weight.
Yellow is the central reference point for the eye due to the yellow quality of sunlight. The large pixels at the edge of the eye react best to the gray shadows of evening. So the contrast of yellow and black are the extremes of the eyes’ range. After red, this contrast is the single biggest attraction for the eyes. Yellow relates to the planet Saturn, the bastion of conservatism, compression, duty and responsibility. Yellow is America’s least favorite color. It promotes maturity, restraint, and serious action. The very structure we rely upon! It is the appearance of reality. Yellow is the color of acquired knowledge, so it makes a good choice in an office or study space.
Green relates to Mother Earth herself. The Chinese value green jade over all other stones because it promotes harmony and serenity, in the same way that the garden of nature bestows these gifts upon us. The greens are soothing, sustaining, and speak of the abundance of the Earth. It is a sexy color, sensual, and tuned to satisfaction. In the West, green is the color of money. The sustainer! Green is easy to add to any environment through the use of plants. As living things, plants add energy and harmony to any space. Green touches in the bedroom add a sensual and balancing effect.
Off-White relates to the Moon, the nurturer, the touch of emotions, and is associated with Ivory, which the Chinese prize for its constancy and ability to be carved and colored and shaped by the human spirit. In Chinese society, where the most-respected planet is Saturn, the responsible, the Moon’s polarity, the emotional flexibility and resilience of Luna is highly valued.
The Chinese have a saying, “In life, you need soft lips and sharp teeth.” The lighter tones of pink, green, and blue are the other primal colors mixed with the Moon energy. These various tones relate strongly to adapting these energies to nurturing, home, and human needs. That’s why they’re so popular in homes with young children. We have overused white in our environments. Where there’s no color there’s no emotion. Use this for accents and woodwork. Avoid doing whole rooms or worse, entire houses in this off-white.
Pure White in Western society is seen as a color for wearing in hot weather and as a symbol of purity, and cleanliness. It also relates, however, to sterility and the absence of emotions. It also relates to modern hospitals, places that carry a difficult association for most people. The absence of colors in pure white as a decorating scheme, besides reminding us of bleached bones, has the liability of adding no color to our auras.
Thus they create a space that is low in nurturing and rejuvenation, especially if used in western-facing rooms where the light tends to already be more stripped of ions that the rich morning light of the east. The Asian cultures use pure white for mourning, and thus it carries a difficult societal connotation. The reason for that comes from their fear of the white fungus and molds that can attack their principal food crop, rice. White is a “cool” color, so it’s not a good choice for any room in which you would like to feel cozy or nurtured. Use it sparingly or your spaces will take on a “clinical” feeling.
Black in Western society is seen as a color of mourning, of the night, as seriousness, and deadliness. Generally, it doesn’t have a good connotation, although its sinister side does explain a bit about its popularity for fancy evening attire. In Asia, it’s very popular and is related to water, which in turn relates to money. In a society that is based upon rice as its central grain, the blackness of the soluble minerals at the roots of the rice plants are understood to be the wealth of the Earth in reserve. In Western society, with its heavy dependence upon grains such as wheat grown in relatively dry soil, black is seen as the absence of light, the growth of fungus and cankers that attack the roots in overly wet conditions, the dangers of the unknown, and the fear of the dark. It draws everything to it. While red attracts only dynamic energy, black absorbs all energy. Extreme use of black can rob you of your energy and let “black” thoughts and emotions dominate. Black touches here and there allow for the development of your intuition. Think about this both in environments and relative to the colors you wear.
Blue is one of the three colors of love. Where pink is the color of romance and red is the color of passion, blue is the color of service to your loved ones. Blue is related to healing and beauty. It’s the blue sky, the tranquil sea, and the clear eyes of a baby. It is another cool color. We often find blue in the bedroom, but it should be avoided if you’re planning on any kind of warmth or passion there. Blue resonates with the bladder and kidneys, the organs most related to the emotions of fear and anxiety, at least when they’re low energy. When they’re high energy the kidneys relate to energy and the bladder to forgiveness. Many people are drawn to blue when their kidneys are feeling over-stressed, a common experience in this society of coffee, cola, and too much time spent bouncing along in cars. Use touches of blue in spaces that require cool heads, or in rooms that get unusually hot. Blue can be used in a kitchen to balance the heat and to cool the appetite if you want to lose a few pounds.
Lavender, like the herb of the same name and the crystal amethyst, promotes clarity of thought, sobriety, and chastity. It’s a high vibration, and like purple, has a spiritual tone to it. It relates to the asteroids and to the willing server without a personal agenda. The color we define as lavender can be any value, but it’s essentially the equal blend of blue and red which takes you to purple, then add some white for purity, and we call this lavender. This is the color of chastity because it’s the midpoint between passion and devotion with a little purity thrown in for good measure. Avoid this color in adult bedrooms. It can be used in bath or powder rooms and in the bedrooms of very young children, but be cautious. Sometimes early programming is hard to overcome. You’ll want to plan ahead if you want grandchildren someday!
Turquoise and other forms of electric blue relate to Uranus and the energy of sudden, liberating change. As such, it’s a color that needs to be used with discretion, since it tends to destabilize situations. It’s the color of the revolutionary, the change agent and is useful when things need to be “shaken up”. The turquoise crystal often has a high metallic content as well, and this energy is useful for boosting business or pulling an area of your life out of the doldrums.
Purple is regarded by many cultures as the color of spirit or the divine. It contains the red of passion as well as the blue of devotion, so it carries the message of both. The deeper the shade, the greater and more profound it becomes. As such, it carries power through belief. It relates to Neptune. It’s the color of the believer. It can be used in adult bedrooms if the shade is strong and deep because it contains the passion and devotion without the white of purity. We like the shade to lean more to the red end of the spectrum. It’s also a regal color so it can be used wherever you want to feel like royalty. Combined with gold accents, it is the perfect color scheme to counteract the drain caused by too many bathrooms in the financial sections of the Bagua.
Burgundy is the combination of red and black and is extremely Plutonic. It relates to the deep passions of the human body, and the primal drives to reproduce, burn away, and then reemerges anew from those ashes. Whenever a color is combined with black to create a deeper tone, it strengthens its intent, its mystery, and it further addresses the human issues of polarities. Use this powerful color as an accent to reinforce your power and strength and as a reminder that transformation ultimately leads to greater rewards.
Browns and Tans
Browns and Tans hearken to our long association with horses, leather harness, and animals as helpers and food. As such, it’s an intimate color that has the potential to work in a supportive role to other colors. But brown also speaks of the wisdom of the natural world and the inner knowledge of the body in its ancient and complex design. The dark browns are Saturnine, and create structure and restriction. As trees stabilize the ground of the Earth, brown grounds and stabilizes our environments. In recent years, since the development of laminates and plastics, we started to see spaces with little or no brown in them. Without brown’s subtle reminders, bills don’t get paid, homework doesn’t get finished, work assignments are overdue. While darker woods can be oppressive, lighter brown woods encourage us to be responsible.
The most important aspect of color is how it affects people in their living spaces. A strong color will set off activity within a specific organ. Too much stimulation can over-stress that body system. That’s why balance is so important. Personal associations with certain colors should not be underestimated. For example, people who work in hospitals often don’t like the color light green, similar to their work clothes. They especially may not like it in combination with red. On the other hand, while blue can be cooling, the startling blue that reminds you of a lover’s eyes may be just what you need to raise your spirits when you walk into the room. Life in its rainbows of diversity is that complex.