History of Colour Therapy - Past & Present

Colour can be found to be symbolic for every culture - both ancient and modern.

Since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, coloured minerals, stones, crystals, salves and dyes have been used as remedies. Those great civilisations also had special sanctuaries painted in various hues, in which people could receive healing by exposure to particular colours. The knowledge of healing through colour was a highly regarded science until the Middle Ages, when it came to be stamped as 'pagan', and Egyptian, Greek and Roman healing practices were prohibited. People practising them were persecuted, and the age-old art of colour healing became secret and hidden. After the Middle Ages, religious creed was replaced by the dominance of reason, which demanded that 'all knowledge had to be certain and evident', thus expelling divine and intuitive knowledge from the world of science.

Colour therapy resurfaced again in the 1880s, when publications on colour and its healing abilities first appeared. These texts mentioned the use of blue light in treating pain, red as a stimulant of blood and nerves, yellow and orange as nerve stimulants, violet as a soothing and anti-inflammatory agent. Though still not scientifically accepted, research and work continued. Rudolph Steiner, the father of Anthroposophy, believed that the vibrational quality of certain combinations of colour have either destructive or regenerative effects on living organisms. A photobiologist, Dr John Ott, demonstrated the effects of colour on growth and development, showing that plants under red glass were shooting up four times quicker than in ordinary sunlight, while growing even slower than normal under green glass.

Today, babies with jaundice are placed under violet light to assist their liver function. In 1990, scientists reported at the annual conference of the American Association of the Advancement of Science on the success in using blue light to treat a wide variety of psychological problems, including addictions, eating disorders, impotence and depression. As we have entered the new millennium, colour healing or therapy is beginning to play a role in mainstream medicine, re-approaching a happy unity between intellect (science) and intuition (mysticism).

My experience with colour stems from my work as an aromatherapist and student of yoga. In 1985 I had the opportunity to study the 'Science of Life' (Ayur-veda) in India, working with diet, breath, postures, and purification of the mind as a path towards self-knowledge, the key to all higher knowledge. Central to these studies is the presence of the universal, all-pervading light or life-force.

This force is manifest in all forms of life, mineral, plant, animal or human, as the aura. While it can be perceived through the subtle, intuitive senses, its existence has been proven by technology, such as the Kirlian photography. In this method, named after its Russian inventor Dr S Kirlian, one's hands and feet are placed on a plate connected to a high frequency generator and briefly exposed to high frequency rays, generating a photograph of the colourful energy-field surrounding the physical body. Similarly, an aural spectrometer reads energetic information and transmits it to a computer, which then produces a photo of the aura, usually of the head and neck.

The subtle colours of the aura, as well as all colours visible to our physical senses, are in fact partial frequencies of the one great light emanating from the original Source, which gets broken up and filtered as it enters the denser dimensions of manifestation. This is beautifully visible in the physical, when a ray of white light passing through a prism breaks up into the colours of the rainbow spectrum - magenta, violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red and their various shades (See the diagram below).
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