What does a Rainbow signify?
It has been lovely seeing childrens’ art work all over the area of Rainbows and indeed our country when they appear on the new; in the windows of the schools to their homes and big signs in estates welcoming the frontline workers home. I was wondering why a Rainbow chosen, it’s pretty, we see them after it has rained sometimes when the light reflects off the water droplets in the sky. I’ve learnt in fact they are a perfect circle but we can’t see the other half as it falls below the horizon. You may get to see a full on if you are in an aeroplane !
I remember the childhood rhyme of Richard of York Gave Battle In Vain to remember the colours, this was used in reference to King Richard III who died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and the mnemonic appears during or after WWII.
I’ve been hunting and the first ones sprung up in Italy in their lockdown but that doesn’t answer the why?
Across the world Rainbows are a symbol of hope in many cultures. In Christian culture, a rainbow promises better times to come – the Abrahamic god sent one to Noah after the great flood to tell people they could go forth and multiply without fear of another flood. In Western art and culture Rainbows are frequently represented as a sign of hope and promise of a better future.
Though sometimes this is not the case, in Irish stories the end of a rainbow tells us where leprechauns have buried a pot of the gold they stole from the Vikings. But since you can only see a rainbow if you are far away from it, and they appear to move as you move we never get to that pot of gold do we!
That lovely song we have been singing or playing on a Thursday evening, Somewhere over the rainbow, “dreams come true” and “troubles melt like lemon drops”, as Judy Garland sang in the Wizard of Oz musical. But this is all about a magical place we can’t get to or can we if we change how we live and treat each other? Community spirit is rising in many places because we are being thrown together supporting those that need it or just chatting with neighbours because gosh it’s so exciting these days to see and talk to someone you don’t live with!
Over in Australia the Aboriginal people believe that the rainbow is a very brightly coloured snake that appears to stop rain that has been made by their enemies. It does say that they are thought to be the oldest continuous religious belief in the world, and many rainbows can be seen in their painted rock art.
In Ancient Greek and Roman times the Rainbow was a visible form of the fleet-footed messenger goddess Iris. Then round to the Buddhists they believe it is possible to become a spiritual rainbow body – the rainbow symbolises the highest state that can be reached before Nirvana or enlightenment.
In some cultures, rainbows are bridges between their world and ours. Over to Scandinavia in Norse mythologies, a rainbow is called a Bifröst. This was a burning bridge connecting the kingdoms of gods and men respectively. Round the other side of the world the Japanese believe that the rainbow is a Floating Bridge of Heaven on which the male and female creators of the world descended to create land from the ocean of chaos.
Over in India in Hindu legends they have the rainbow as an archer’s bow used by Indra, the god of thunder and war, who shoots arrows of lightning. Our Arabic friends believe the rainbow to be a divine bow for firing arrows. In South America the Mayan cultures believed the arch was a crown worn by Ix Chel, a mother goddess associated with the jaguar and with rain.
In our modern day culture, the colours of the rainbow are adopted by LGBTQ to reflect diversity in sexuality, becoming the international symbol of the gay movement.
It seems in the main the Rainbow gives hope for the future around the world. Future for us all out of lockdown, for the pandemic to be reduced to an illness that’s about rarely and a future when we can move about freely again to go where we want, when we want to and with whom we choose to be with.
So, let’s carry on displaying those Rainbows and bring that future hope to us as fast as possible.
So please stay safe and alert, watch what you do, have fun safely, keep smiling, be kind to your neighbours and yourself and let’s get out of this a best we can and as fast as we can. Until that day I’ll carry on playing my harp or flute on a Thursday evening at 8pm as it has become a highlight in my neighbours week; seeing each other and listening to nice music, when I hit the strings in the right order that is