From time immemorial, the number 3 has played an important part in everyday human life. Three is considered the fundamental number, a synthesis of 1 and 2 representing the unity of heaven and earth. Number 3 points to the intellectual and spiritual order, the divine qualities in the cosmos and in people. It is often viewed as a number of good fortune. In numerology, people with a number 3 personality are optimistic, creative curious, good-natured and helpful. But they may also be naive and proud, with a tendency to exaggerate and give promises easily.
The weather has been unusually warm here in the Desert Southwest (sorry about that to my northern friends!). Winter was only a glancing blow a few times. Since the days have been warm with plenty of sunshine, the grass in the back yard is beginning to green up and some fruit trees are already blooming, masses of pale pink and white flowers. One of my geraniums is blooming, the hot fuchsia color is so welcome, and the hardy roses are putting on lovely reddish new growth. Am sure they will be in full bloom in several weeks. And, happily, the much beloved Spanish lavender is setting buds. Soon the cacti and other native desert plants will be in full bloom - maybe not the showiest of flowers, but gorgeously sublime nonetheless.
I have always been fascinated with words, especially when it comes to colors. Just how many different words are there to describe a color? But one person “blue” is not always another person’s “blue.” My husband is a good example. This past weekend we were at Lowe’s looking at paint chips: yellows, blues and greens. DH’s definition of any shade or tint of blue, whether it is a pale baby blue or a dark navy blue, is “blue.” I, myself, am much more exacting most of the time. So, if I see “cornflower blue,” I will call it that.
The theme for this week's Wonderful Handmade Wednesday on Indiemade is "The Magical Number 7." Throughout the history of mankind, the number 7 has been seen as a number with special magical and / or spiritual significance. Here are some examples:
- The number 7 is the number of perfection, security, safety and rest.
- Used 735 times in the Bible (54 times in the book of Revelation alone), the number 7 is the foundation of God's word.
- Seven circles form the symbol called “The Seed of Life”: six circles symbolize the six days of creation and the central circle symbolizes the day of rest.
- The number 7 is the sacred spiritual number, “the energy of the mystics."
Since purple is a fairly rare color in nature, an almost magical aura has been associated to it throughout human history. The first historical record of a purple dye, called Tyrian purple, indicates that it began to be manufactured in the Phoenician city of Tyre in the eastern Mediterranean in the 14th century BCE. The dye was extracted from the glands of several types of shellfish, but especially the Murex brandaris. The process to extract the dye took about three days. Thousands of putrefied, crushed shellfish were left to bake in the sun. Salt was then added and the mash of glands were boiled down. (Can you imagine the overwhelming stench of the process!!!). It took about 12,000 shellfish to extract 1.5 grams of the pure dye, barely enough to dye a single garment the size of a Roman toga. In 301 A.D. during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian, one pound of purple dye cost 150,000 denarii or around three pounds of gold. This is the main reason the purple color was reserved for emperors or individuals with titles of royal authority.
Valentine’s Day will be here before we know it. It is a day that started with pagan roots, associated with the Roman festival, Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February (February 13-15), Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders, Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity but was outlawed around 496 A.D. when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as St. Valentine’s Day. It is not known, however, which of three St. Valentines (all of whom were martyred) Pope Gelasius was honoring. In 1381, Geoffrey Chaucer, a famous English poet, first associated St. Valentine's Day with romance in a poem he wrote in honor of the engagement between Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. The engagement, the mating season of birds, St. Valentine’s Day and true love were all linked . . . and it’s been a day for lovers ever since.
Red and green are colors that are closely associated with Christmas. Last week I shared how red became a Christmas color. You can read that post here: Think Red for Artisan Christmas Gifts. This week, green, the other Christmas color, is explored mainly through the symbolism of holly, mistletoe and evergreen trees.
The color green and its association with the time around Christmas has a pre-Christian origin, more specifically tied to the Winter Solstice. Evergreen plants, like holly, mistletoe and pine, spruce or fir trees have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long, dark, cold winter when life could be very tenuous. Ancient peoples were scared of the short days and freezing nights and mistakenly believed that the Sun might disappear altogether. Evergreens reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever. Historical records show that the Romans wove wreaths of holly to hang on their walls and doors to celebrate the winter solstice / Saturnalia. They also exchanged evergreen branches as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians would bring green date palm branches into their homes during their mid- winter festivals as a symbol of "life triumphant over death." To the ancient people, the color green represented life, nature, peace, eternity and the hope of the future.
The color combination of red and green is closely associated with Christmas - for example, Santa’s red clothing and green holly with red berries. But how did this come about? From ancient history to modern time, color has been an integral part of cultural awareness and even an understanding of life; it touched all members of society and conveyed deeper messages (such as, only royalty could wear the color purple). Red and green as Christian symbolism can be traced back to Medieval Miracle Plays and rood screen painters. The color combination can be traced to the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh stories from the 13th century. And these stories were probably based on an oral tradition that dates back to the pre-Christian Celts many centuries before where a half-red, half-green tree figures prominently in one of the tales. In pre-Christian times, red and green represented male (red) and female (green), strength and harmony, desire and fertility.
Symbols have always had a great significance in the lives of humans, from pre-historic times to modern man. Since ancient symbols are ingrained into our lives, most people don't realize these symbols are everywhere. From the logos of modern companies (Starbucks with their mermaid), to television shows (spirals in True Detective) and movies (Legendary Pictures with their Celtic knot logo) from religious books and texts (The Bible, The Koran) to decorations on buildings (sunbursts and dolphins), ancient symbols are everywhere.
Since I live in the Desert Southwest, autumn comes creeping slowly in with cooler temperatures. Most of the trees here are evergreen so there isn’t much color change. This time of the year, I always think about the forest we lived in for 10 years in Northern Virginia. Oh, the glorious colors as the leaves on the trees changed.!!! Sometimes almost blinding color combinations. Then sometimes, the wind would hit and the leaves became a carpet of color on the forest floor. I ran across this great quote about autumn wind from Steve Sabol: “The autumn wind is a pirate. Blustering in from sea with a rollicking song he sweeps along swaggering boisterously. His face is weather beaten, he wears a hooded sash with a silver hat about his head . . . The autumn wind is a raider, pillaging just for fun.” A pillaging wind playing with and swirling the colorful leaves!