Symbol Series: The Color Red


/ Photo by kalandrakas /

We have a confused relationship with the color red: the color represents both stop and go.

Red is the beginning. In the Biblical story of Genesis, the first human is named Adam, which means “red,” of the red earth or, loosely, earthling. In this archetypal sense, all of humanity is born of earth… and the color red.

Red evokes passion, life, energy, love, sex. The color red inspires acceleration, heat, excitement. The red rose warms the heart. Valentines are red. Red says reach out and touch someone.

Then, we’re confronted with red stop signs and traffic lights.

Too much red, fire out of balance, is a wildfire. Road rage is red. Anger is red. A fever is red. Fire in excess sends the strong reminder to slow down or stop.

The many moods of the color red: Passionate, romantic, energetic, sensual, amorous, ambitious, angry, sexual, vibrant, intense, an adrenaline-rush, a state of emergency, violent, powerful, attention grabbing. Acts as a stimulant, raises blood pressure, excites.

Language Uses of Red:

  • Red tape – bureaucratic delays.
  • Red road — living traditional Native American principles, the path of the Great Spirit.
  • Red-headed – fiery personality (ahem… said the red-headed Michele Anderson).
  • Red carpet – special treatment.
  • Red flag – warning signal.
  • Code Red – emergency notification system.
  • In the red – losing money.
  • Red stop sign – signal to halt.
  • Seeing red – irritated, annoyed.
  • Red-faced – upset, embarrassed.
  • Red-light district – area designated for prostitution.
  • Red eye – overnight flight.
  • Red tent – women’s refuge during menstruation.
  • Red string — talisman for protection against the evil eye.

Variations of red: Burgundy, Cardinal, Carmine, Crimson, Fire Engine Red, Maroon, Orange-Red, Persian Red, Red, Rose, Venetian Red, Vermillion.

The color red has different meanings depending on the situation. The more you acquaint yourself with the color red, the more likely you’ll understand the subtle differences in its shades and meanings. A house in a dream that is bright red on the inside could suggest a highly sensual and sexually active person; a rose colored interior could indicate a new love interest and appreciation of oneself; and a fire engine red interior might signal an infection or a fever.


/ Photo by ladygoth [experiment mode] /

Red Stories: Blood Loss

When we lack red, our vitality drips like a leaky faucet and our energy wanes. Red gives life and takes it away. We bleed red – blood – and red pours out. With a blood transfusion, red pumps life back into us. We are revived. Red is the river of life.

In the following two stories, there are four key symbols:

  • Red juice, bottle broken – symbolic of blood spilled.
  • Blood spilled – loss of vitality, loss of life.
  • Body double – someone who reminds you of someone else.
  • In store – pun for “what’s in store,” what is coming.

I was standing in the check out line at the grocery, and a woman dropped a bottle of juice. The bottle broke and a pool of dark red juice splattered over the floor. This woman looked familiar. She was lean with short gray hair. She strongly reminded me of a friend, a woman who attends gatherings at our home. The woman in the grocery store was an older version of the woman I knew. When I next saw my friend, she mentioned that her mother was quite ill. Her mother (an older version of herself) was seriously losing vitality (the blood-red juice spilt on the floor).

My husband and I walked into our favorite health food store, and we noticed a man in the store who looked like one of our drum teachers. At the same moment, a store employee was stacking some cases of juice next to us. One of the bottles – again, a bottle of red juice – slipped out of his hand, fell to the floor, and burst open. The next day, our drum teacher revealed to us that his aunt had died, and he was ending the class sooner than expected to attend her funeral.

Red and the First Chakra

Red is a primal fire that also brings up primal fears. Most of us have a volatile relationship with the first chakra, the root chakra at the base of the spine. This is where our fiery survival instincts smolder. When balanced, those energies provide a healthy, vital heat that motivates us and gives life to all we do. When out of balance or overheated, we experience misplaced terrors, rage, misdirected sexual passion, or hyper-materialism — a recipe for personal or cultural dysfunction.

Too often we feel trapped in the root chakra, with an overemphasis on material survival. To feel joy in life, rather than fear and mere survival, we need to shift our awareness upward into higher energy centers like the fourth chakra (the heart center) or the sixth chakra (vision). Then, our material goals are married to a spiritual objective. The profit motive is subjugated by a higher aspiration than surviving. We start caring about how enterprise impacts the world environmentally, socially, spiritually.

Symbol Exercise: Green Light, Red Light

Are you trying to decide whether or not to take that new job offer? First, set the intention that green lights will indicate it’s a go, and red lights will mean a no. Life is an oracle: You can always ask for an energy report, indicators of what to expect along the way. Just define the parameters.

Before you hop in your car for this spiritual test drive, ask for help from the Divine with this specific question. Then, take your drive and put your observation glasses on.

What did you encounter on your drive? Was it smooth sailing with many green lights all in a row or did it take you twice as long to get across town? Did you meet with some construction delays and a series of red lights?

  • Series of green lights – positive indicator.
  • Detours – directed to alternate routes: a new pathway will be revealed.
  • Series of red lights – the job may deplete you, company restraints.
  • Construction delays – changes like a company reorganization.
  • Accidents – conflicts, power struggles.

Try this exercise and share your observations with us.

2 comments on “Symbol Series: The Color Red

  1. Radha says:

    I’m going to try the exercise when there is somewhere I need to go, so, sorry no observations yet. Just wanted to say – I love the colour red, in all its shades. I think most people do, do they? Why d’you think? One would think green for example would be more attractive if one thought abt its symbolism. What is it abt us humans and the colour red!

  2. Hi Radha,
    Yes, we’d love to hear your observations after you try this symbol exercise. We will stay tuned. Why is the color red so popular? It is the energy of life and evokes primal memory. It is a sensual color awakening all of our senses. The color red connects us to our aliveness.

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