Friday, November 25, 2011

Encounters With Rainbows


It was a treat to encounter three double rainbows during the hour and forty minute drive home from the mud house. . . 

Wikipedia has a wealth of information about rainbows, of course, much of it celebrating the physics of light, the laws of refraction, rainbows' symbolism and their metaphysical implications. . . There are essays galore elsewhere on the web about the seven colour rays and their esoteric significance

I have a soft spot for flags. . . The use of rainbow flags has a long tradition; I love that they're displayed in many cultures around the world as a sign of diversity and inclusiveness, of hope and of yearning. . . This seems especially relevant given tomorrow is Election Day in New Zealand. These are confusing times to say the least; our local and global politics are all over the place. May the unifying energy and high integrity of the rainbow flag permeate. . .

  • red: stands for courage;
  • orange: offers the vision of possibilities;
  • yellow: represents the challenge that GREEN has kindled;
  • green: indicates a challenge to co-operators to strive for growth of membership and of understanding of the aims and values of co-operation;
  • sky blue: suggests far horizons, the need to provide education and help less fortunate people and strive toward global unity.
  • dark blue: suggests pessimism: a reminder that less fortunate people have needs that may be met through the benefits of cooperation.
  • violet: is the colour of warmth, beauty, and friendship.

Being something of an interdisciplinary nut, I love this excerpt from Wikipedia. . . 

'. . . The Newtonian deconstruction of the rainbow is said to have provoked John Keats to lament in his 1820 poem "Lamia":
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine –
Unweave a rainbow
In contrast to this is Richard Dawkins; talking about his book Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder*
"My title is from Keats, who believed that Newton had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to the prismatic colours. Keats could hardly have been more wrong, and my aim is to guide all who are tempted by a similar view, towards the opposite conclusion. Science is, or ought to be, the inspiration for great poetry."'

An Appetite for Wonder - now that's a phrase to pin to the fridge; one to wear, sing, invite, invoke, uphold, sustain, weave into every moment. . .  ?

Before I head off into the day, here's the irresistible Kermit (almost as irresistible as Penelope's Ratty & Lily the Pink) singing his rainbow song. . . 

I wish you all much love, light and joy this Thanksgiving time. 2011 has been quite a year and yet here we all are, standing together - even when apart - in gratitude. Thank you for the many ways in which you enrich and illuminate life out here, for the wonders you continually wake me to. . .   


  1. Thanks for cheering up with all this colour this morning. the contrast between Keats and Newton to me says a great deal about perspective.

  2. Much love and gratitude to you, Claire. Again you bring us beauty and science, poetry and awe-inspiring images. Our world is richer for your being in it. Love, xo

  3. Kermit, my secret heart-throb, and THE RAINBOW CONNECTION, which I love so dearly it gives me goosebumps which make me think my scalp is shrinking. In the tiny fragment I even know OF with quantum physics, instead of demystifying the wonders, it expands them. Impossible things just keep happening. xoxo

  4. Hi Elisabeth - yes to colour! I found Keats' lament surprising.

    Perspective in this instance seems almost synonymous with perception? How they differ. I am thankful for Hawkin's inclusive 'both/and' attitude.

  5. Dear Melissa - thank you x

    Love and gratitude might well be everything we need. Perhaps in time we become nimble enough on our animal feet to scamper up and over the rainbow's arc, trusting that for all its ephemerality it is every bit as sturdy as the sturdiest stone bridge? I'm not sure why I say this, since on a purely pragmatic level it makes no sense, but then again. . . ? So much at the moment seems to suggest that illusion and reality are interchangeable, or at the very least, parts of the same thing.

    One thing's for sure - my world is vastly richer for your being in it. xo.

  6. Dear Marylinn - oh, you love him, too? I have had a crush on Kermit since first encounter. If ever there's a frog to kiss, it'd have to be him. Your description -'goosebumps that make me think my scalp is shrinking' - is perfect. I know the feeling well.

    I experienced (it was much, much more than 'watching') a short movie called 'Hubble' at an ArtScience symposium the other day and thought of you, Marylinn. The images of dying stars and birthing galaxies, the vastness and wonders of our largely unknown universe left me speechless and my skin and brain tingling. As you say, impossible things keep happening. Our sense of awe and infinite possibility keep expanding. So much defies explanation, is beyond articulation. xo (I'm sorry I've been away so long - turning up, but not really).