The following statement comes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
“May Ours be true or false, we as human beings have the duty to defend the living, to prepare for the coming. The youth who play at our feet will be our judge one day.”
Goethe himself was fully aware of the great importance of his colour research, he even placed it higher than his poetry. His own words are:
“I am not proud at all about everything I have achieved as a poet; there have been famous and great poets before and there will be poets after me. But the fact that I am the only one in my century who has realised the true nature of colours is something which makes me content.”
Goethe was right. He was the only one who knew the true nature of colours. On that basis, a further development leading to a natural science of colours and, deriving from it, a Theory of Colours became possible. Goethe instinctively felt that laws of harmony also existed in colours.
Goethe is also the founder of physiological optics. Goethe’s Theory of Colours gave colours a high significance. For Goethe, colour is the testimony of a higher world, which he confesses with the following words:
“I prism am placed into the light
As a testimony to a better world,
which from the mist of the cloudy web
Realises God and his law.”
Goethe rejected the purely physical view of colours. For him, something that has opened up through experience can only be harmonious. One who is not able to experience colour will never get a concept of the great significance of Goethe’s Theory of Colours, nor will he ever realise God’s law in colours as a testimony to a better world. The experience of colours, as Goethe experienced them, is therefore only possible through the contemplation of colours in nature.
He who knows how to read the Book of Nature will be given wonderful insights, he will observe that all laws of nature bear witness to a great spiritual order, he will recognize an ordering principle in everything that nature creates. Today we only know technical orders. But nature arranges the spiritual; it arranges according to forces, energies and characters, it arranges the visible from the invisible, the physical from the spiritual. Only in its colours, it visibly shows us the spirit that connects the temporal, the spatial and the physical, i.e. “to make them one”.
Colour makes spirit and body visible to us not only in a separate or united way; through colour, the concept of being temporal and spatial is united. One could say that colours build a bridge from the objective world to the subjective world through the simultaneous visualization of spirit, time, space and body. The giver of colours is the Sun, it is the original source of life and the condition of all existence – but the spiritual ordering function of colours is nature. Just as it shows us the arrangement and sequence in which positive and negative forces are applied, we are also obliged to apply them if we do not want to violate nature, which always takes bitter revenge, as experience teaches us.
Goethe not only explored the nature of colours, but also their effects on the human psyche. In his Theory of Colours (sixth section) he writes literally: “Experience teaches us that the individual colours give special moods.”
“Yellow, in its highest purity, always carries the nature of light with it and possesses a cheerful, lively, gently charming quality. To this degree, it is pleasant as an environment, as a dress, curtain or wallpaper. Gold in its completely unmixed state gives us, especially with its high shine, a new and high concept of this colour.
If, on the one hand, this colour, in its purity and bright state, is agreeable and pleasing and in all its power has something cheerful and noble, it is on the other hand extremely sensitive and has a very unpleasant effect when it becomes dirty. Thus the colour of sulphur, which falls into the green, has something unpleasant about it. Yellow is called the “colour of intelligence”, so a low level of yellow would be comparable to a dirty intelligence.”
Goethe reports the following about the antithesis blue:
“As yellow always carries a light with it, it can be said that blue always carries something dark. This colour has a strange and almost unspeakable effect on the eye. As a colour it is an energy; however, it is on the negative side and in its highest purity it is, so to speak, an irritating nothing.
As we see the high sky and the distant mountains in colour blue, so a blue surface also seems to move back from us. As we like to follow a pleasant object that flees from us, so we like to look at the blue, not because it penetrates us, but because it attracts us. The blue gives us a feeling of coldness, just as it reminds us of shadows.” (Goethe naturally means the dark spectrum blue as shadow colour.)
Spectral analysis reveals colour secrets
The light beam scattered by prisms produces colour images. The arrangement of colours is determined by the law of nature, as in the rainbow. This arrangement of colour sequence is called “spectrum”. If, for example, they come from glowing bodies, one can draw conclusions about their chemical nature, since each chemical substance has its own spectrum, which is different from others.
Through chemistry, one can learn that the weakly shining flame of a Bunsen burner turns yellow if one brings into it a sample of a sodium salt, such as soda or common salt, melted into the eye of a platinum wire. The flame turns yellow. The spectroscope shows a narrow yellow line on the first third of the spectral scale. This line is characteristic of sodium and reveals smallest traces of this element. Even the three millionth part of a milligram of sodium salt can be detected in this way.
Of similar sensitivity is the reaction (that is mutual influence) of lithium, whose spectra are characterized by a weak orange-yellow and an intense red line. Potassium salts give a weak uninterrupted spectrum with one line in extreme red and another in violet.
Bunsen and Kirchhoff, who deserve the credit for having developed the spectral analysis into a chemical investigation method in 1859, found the previously unknown metals “rubidium” and “cesium” by spectral analysis. Other researchers discovered “indium” and “talkium” in the same manner.
It is stated that Moon and the planets which glow with borrowed sunlight, have the same spectrum as the Sun. This fact has been taken as further proof that the Moon does not have its own atmosphere. On the other hand, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn clearly show in their spectra the influence of their atmosphere, which undoubtedly contains water vapour. The spectra of the fixed stars show dark lines, similar to the spectrum of our Sun, but with deviations among themselves and from the solar spectrum. For example, Huygens was able to detect sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, bismuth, tellurium, antimony, mercury, and hydrogen in the fixed star spectrum of Aldebaran. The fixed star Beteigeuze contains the same elements as Aldebaran with the exception of mercury and hydrogen.
Colours give life, soul and spirit to nature. Nature also shows us the only correct way to use its powers.
A few decades ago, colours were almost completely banned from homes, and men’s fashion remained completely colourless. As no ray of light should hit the skin, there were plenty of protective products, large sun hats, dresses buttoned up, heavy light-proof curtains in the apartments, blinds lowered as soon as a ray of sunlight came into the apartment, and also dark brown and grey wallpapers. And in such an environment man should not become ill?
Today one can no longer imagine such a life without light and colour. Light and colour have conquered their place everywhere. It is therefore all the more necessary to observe, control and correctly apply the effects of these different energies. Our body, mind and soul have qualities and vibrational abilities, and we have no idea how we are constantly influenced by the surrounding fine forces and vibrations.
There are lots of harmonic and disharmonic connections of these fine forces that affect a person according to his disposition. These two forces run through the whole universe and cause life through harmony or decay and death through disharmony.
Good connections are harmonious, bad ones disharmonious. This also applies to colour combinations. If we know that harmony is the constructive, beneficial and useful force, and disharmony is often seen as a small cause of great, bad effects, it should be clear to us that it serves the general well-being of all mankind to promote harmony and to fight disharmony – first and foremost in the composition of colours.
…will be continued