Rainbow Mythology and Spiritual Significance

I love the line:   “It came to him in rainbow dreams

 From “The Poets Thought” by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Photo By Lily Mugford

Photo By Lily Mugford

The Weekly Photo Challenge is patterns this week and I thought of the rainbow, a pattern repeated exactly the same throughout the ages.

The rainbow’s colours are described as red, orange, yellow, green,blue, indigo and violet.


rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection of light in water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.

We know all that but rainbows are so much more….

There is beauty in a rainbow; I am always touched deep in my soul whenever a rainbow appears in the sky. Others throughout history have felt the same connection with something spiritual.  Its beauty has been explained throughout history by most cultures.

In Chinese mythology, it was the goddess Nuwa that used stones of different colours to seal a slit in the sky.

In the Hindu religion there are a number of interpretations. For some, the rainbow is named for the god of lighting, thunder and rain. Another says the rainbow is the bow of Rama.

The Irish look for the pot of gold hidden at the end of the rainbow, they chase after the gold hidden by the mischievous Leprechaun and we all know it is impossible to reach the end of the rainbow; although haven’t we all tried on numerous occasions?

In Norse mythology the rainbow is the bridge between the homes of god and man. The rainbow is the belt of a sun god, Tir, in Armenian mythology.

The Buddhists believe that the rainbow is the highest state attainable before reaching Nirvana.

In some cultures the people feared a rainbow; they thought the rainbow was a supernatural serpent. The Suma of Honduras and the Fang of Gabon fear the rainbow and will not allow their children to look at it. There are superstitions about rainbows, some considering they are either good or bad luck. Some say it is good luck if a rainbow ends on the land and bad luck if on water. Others consider it good luck for a child born on a day when a rainbow appears. In some Amazonian cultures, rainbows have been associated with spirits that cause harm. There is even a tradition of closing one’s mouth at the sight of a rainbow in order to avoid disease.

In the church of Latter Day saints, the founder Joseph Smith stated that the second coming of Christ would not happen in any year a rainbow appeared.

In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the rainbow is the Jewelled necklace of the Great Mother Ishtar who promised that she will never forget these days of the great flood. In fact, it is interesting to note that, around the globe, there are numerous stories speaking of a global flood with only one surviving family.rainbow

In the Jewish and Christian Faith, God put a rainbow in the sky as a sign for Noah. After the flood, God promised He would never again destroy the earth with a flood

Genesis 9 12-16.

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Whenever I see a rainbow, I thank God that there is always something beautiful after a storm, whether it is a rain storm or a personal struggle, a tragedy or a difficult storm in my life. God is good and He is with me in the time of trial and always brings me through to something beautiful and new.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for much of this information.)


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