Rainbows are one of the most beautiful things we can see in the natural world. They inspire a sense of wonder and happiness and are always a welcome sight. Rainbow symbolism holds a high pedestal in a number of cultures and mythologies that continues to this very day. Seeing a rainbow in person can almost feel like a religious experience and it’s no wonder why:
That’s because the spiritual meaning of rainbows is the bridge between our physical, present selves and our spiritual selves. It’s a calling to embrace the spiritual and reflect on how small our everyday problems really are. Choosing to accept the rainbow and it’s bridge can bring us peace and prosperity.
Spiritual Meaning of Rainbows
It’s no surprise that the rainbow has so often been seen as a sign of a heavenly bridge. Spiritually, the rainbow represents this real, but often unseen connection between our physical world and the celestial one.
It towers over us, planting its roots in the sky among the clouds. This is important because it entices us to look up, almost as if in prayer. Through it’s awesome majesty, the rainbow invites us to reject our worldly fears and troubles and accept spiritual guidance.
What Does a Rainbow Symbolize?
Rainbows have a rich cultural history and have meant many things to many people. Here are some common interpretations of rainbow symbolism:
1. Good Luck
In many cultures and beliefs, rainbows symbolize prosperity and fertility. However, one particular belief links rainbows with gold. That’s right. We’re talking about a Celtic folklore, where a leprechaun hides a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The pot of gold represents a gift of good luck. It is also assumed as the gift of a new life, naturally, in the form of offspring or second chances.
2. Hope and New Beginnings
If you are experiencing an unfortunate or less pleasurable episode in your life, seeing a rainbow can signify that good things are about to come, and the situation will turn around.
One of the reasons why a rainbow catches anyone’s attention is that it appears along with a dark storm. The vibrant colors are reminders that there is always something good that can come out of a bad situation.
There’s a rainbow after the rain – that’s a common saying that suggests peace after a war. The appearance of a rainbow symbolizes that conflict is over and order is about to unfold.
If you are troubled and have been fighting with someone for a long time, seeing a rainbow is a perfect reminder that it is never too late for peace to ensue.
In some cultures, a rainbow symbolizes death, specifically the transition to the spiritual realm. Thus, rainbows are perceived as bridges to the afterlife.
Hence, when war broke out in the earlier history, and a rainbow appeared, it meant that fallen soldiers were moving out of the physical world.
5. Connection to Heaven
Rainbows as a connection to heaven or the gods is an interesting piece of symbolism because of how often it appears in different faiths and cultures. Whether it’s God using the rainbow to tell Noah that he and the earth are safe from floods or the Bifrost acting as a literal bridge between world’s in norse mythology.
Rainbows have often taken the role as a connector between the real and the spiritual.
It is impossible to see a rainbow when it’s dark. As such, rainbows have often been seen as a sign of the light along side other cosmic elements like the sun. In Buddhism, enlightenment the rainbow body is seen as the transitional state before the body can achieve Nirvana and become pure light.
7. The Number Seven
Fittingly, the seventh thing the rainbow represents is the number 7 itself. This is because of the 7 colors that make up the rainbow which represent things like the 7 Chakras or the union between the heavens (3) and the earth (4).
What Does The Rainbow Mean in Christianity
For christians there is plenty of biblical reference and so there is a strong rainbow meaning spiritually in the religion.
The flood narrative in the book Genesis wherein a rainbow appeared at the end, covers the story of Noah. In the story, the great flood lasted for weeks, and Noah, together with his family and selected animals, was kept safe in the ark.
After the nonstop rain was over, one of the first things they saw outside the ark was a rainbow. Based on the narrative, God created the rainbow in the sky to reassure humanity that no flood will ever destroy the earth again.
In Abrahamic religions, rainbows symbolize promise and mercy. It is a physical reminder of God’s covenant and faithfulness to His word.
Rainbows in Buddhism
Buddhists have an interesting take on the meaning and symbolism of rainbows. Their belief focuses more on the colors rather than the form.
In Tibetan tantric Buddhism, before Nirvana (the state of enlightenment and freedom from rebirth) is achieved, a person must attain the attributes associated with each color of the rainbow body.
Once all the colors are realized, the highest form of meditation wherein matter transitions into pure light can be experienced. In this case, the body transforms into pure light soon after the person’s death.
What Does Rainbow Mean in Different Cultures
We may not see rainbows every day, but their existence has been witnessed and widely recognized worldwide. As a result, cultures associate several beliefs with rainbows. But it is interesting to know that most cultures share similar spiritual connections with rainbows.
For one, the rainbow’s bridge-arch is widely considered a link and even gateway or portal to the spiritual world. Various culture has different takes on what waits at the end of the rainbow.
Others see it as a call from the light, similar to how moths are drawn to the light.
Rainbows in Norse Mythology
In Norse mythology, a rainbow is believed to be the bridge from Earth to Asgard, the home of the gods. It is referred to as Bifrost and is guarded by Heimdall, the watchman.
Although the belief lies in mythology, rainbows are still highly associated as a gateway to another world.
Rainbows in Celtic Mythology
We often hear about the “pot of gold” at the end of the rainbow. This idea was widely popularized by Celtic lore.
Back in ancient times, Celtic druids perceived the rainbow as a symbol of feminine powers. It is referred to as the curve of the sky or kambonemos.
A curve in Celtic wisdom is associated with femininity as it closely links to the shape of the belly during pregnancy.
As a result, rainbows are considered a symbol of prosperity and fertility. In fact, it is believed that conception and successful pregnancy will be more successful once done under a rainbow.
Rainbows in Greek Mythology
In ancient Greek culture, the rainbow was personified by the goddess Iris. She was a messenger with gold wings.
As the goddess of the rainbow, she connected the sea and the sky and the rainbow itself was seen as the path she would take between worlds.
This connection is often considered a marriage between heaven and the earth primarily because of its seven colors. To point out, the number seven is the sum of numbers three and four. Three symbolizes heaven, and four represents earth.
Rainbows in Native American Culture
The Navajo rainbow symbolizes the joining and unity of the various Navajo tribes into the one rainbow nation. It also features jagged shapes to represent the mountains and a copper outline to represent the dividing borders.
Rainbows in Chinese Culture
Just like the Native Americans, the Chinese consider rainbows as the manifestation of a spirit animal. In this case, the rainbow is drawn by a double-headed dragon acting as the mediator between heaven and earth.
One head hears out the prayers from the earth and intercedes by relaying them to the other head that points to heaven.
This mythology is often associated with the general symbolism of rainbows for hope and faith.
Rainbows in Japanese Culture
In Jeremy Roberts book, Japanese Mythology A-Z, he notes a Japanese myth has mentioned the rainbow as a floating celestial bridge that allowed the divine ancestors to descend from heaven to earth and form land from troubled waters.
Hence, a rainbow is treated not just as an essential element in Japanese literature. It also became associated with creation or fertility.
Australian Aboriginal Culture
There is an Australian Aboriginal myth of a rainbow serpent that represents the shifts in seasons as well as the human reliance on water. It is said to dwell within bodies of water and therefore guard this precious resource.
LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Symbolism
Rainbows have become a symbol of LGBTQIA+ pride and solidarity because of the rainbow flag, which was designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978. Baker, who was an artist and gay rights activist, created the rainbow flag as a symbol of hope and inclusivity for the LGBTQIA+ community. The flag was first flown in the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978, and has since become a widely recognized symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community.
The rainbow flag has been embraced as a symbol of pride and diversity by the LGBTQIA+ community because the rainbow is a natural phenomenon that has long been associated with hope, peace, and prosperity. The use of the rainbow as a symbol of the LGBTQIA+ community also highlights the diversity within the community and the inclusivity of the movement.
Rainbow Dream Meaning
In Migene Gonzalez-Wippler’s book, Dreams and What They Mean, she argues that the rainbow is a type of “uncommon dream”. This refers to the grandiose dreams that feel larger than life and often stick with us long after we wake up.
These types of dreams tend to happen to us at key times in our lives like after a graduation or wedding. In the case of the rainbow, this dream can be seen as a kind of blessing. It tells us that we will enjoy good fortune in our endeavours while also reminding us to watch out for unlikely events as these can present interesting and fruitful opportunities.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does it mean when you see a rainbow in the sky?
When you see a rainbow in the sky, it’s a symbol of fortune and new beginnings after a period of hardship or pain. Just as the rainbow appears after the rain, you will see great things happen in your life too.
What does a double rainbow symbolize?
To see a double rainbow is a call for you to have and hope after dealing with a crisis of faith. Whether spiritually or otherwise, this is a sign to take stock and reestablish your values.
Seeing a rainbow triggers positive feelings. Also, it reminds you of the goodness that is on its way. Rainbows may be unpredictable, but they do show up in times when you need to see them. Your spiritual guide will let you pay more attention to the message behind the rainbow, whether it physically manifests or shows in your dreams. The best thing to do when a rainbow appears is to assess the wellness of your inner self. Then, dwell on the hope of new beginnings and unexpected blessings.