According to modern physics, by observing objects illuminated with white light,
we are lead to attribute a colour to it according to the feeling our eyes get
from it. The colour of an object is not, therefore, the exclusive property of
the object, rather it depends on three elements: the object, the light and the eyes.
Psychologists and physicists agree about the affirmation that colour is a visual feeling that we experience when certain electromagnetic waves stimulate the retina, and the variety of colours depend on these different wave lengths.
By sending a ray of white light through a prism, the main colours can be seen: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, turquoise and violet. Complementary colours are those which produce white light when combined.
The history of treatment using colours
Ancient Egyptians regularly practised treatment using colours and priests were also doctor. Medical knowledge was also considered to be a secret science that was only passed on to a selected few, and, back then, medical knowledge about chromotherapy reached a very high level.
From the pyramids of Giza a sacred path lead to the ‘temples of sun care’ where diseases were treated with chromotherapy.
A large part of their knowledge, which was handed down from the Greek Hermes Trismegistus, has been lost over the centuries, and the scientific cognitions reported by Hermes Trismegistus, which include chromotherapy, are called ‘hermetics’.
Ancient Greeks also regularly used colours originating from minerals, stones, crystals and ointments for treatments, and the interest of the benefits of colours went hand in hand with the concept of the elements: air, fire, water and earth. These fundamentals elements of the universe were associated with heat, cold, humidity and dryness and also with 4 ‘moods’ or ‘bodily fluids’: yellow=bile, red=blood, white=a cold soul and black=melancholy or bile. It was thought that these came from four particular organs (the spleen, heart, liver and brain) and that they determined physical and spiritual temperaments. Health was considered to be the result of the balance of these elements, whilst, consequently, illness was the result of an imbalance. The colours, as they were associated with humans, were also used as treatment against illnesses in the form of coloured clothing, oils, coloured plasters, salves and ointments.
During the Middle Ages, with the arrival of Christianity, everything that was Pagan was exorcised from disciplines that used this knowledge, including the healing practices of Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The ancient arts of chromotherapy were therefore passed down orally since they were hidden by the Church.
With Enlightenment, all traces of alchemy, mysticism and magic were definitively removed from science. Reason and scientific method ousted everything from medicine that was not scientifically provable and verifiable, thus chromotherapy became part of so called ‘alternative medicine’ which was not considered to be proper medicine because, even though it was largely used by Ancient civilisations, it did not have any scientific evidence.
In 1878, the American Edwin Babitt published his book "The principle of Light and Colour" and thanks to this book
he became famous all around the world and laid the foundation for modern radiotherapy
with colours. In 1896, Niels R. Finsen, a Dutch pioneer of research into colour and light, founded an institute of
light for the treatment of tuberculosis, and in 1903 Finsen received the Nobel prize.
In America, treatment using ultraviolet light has become somewhat standard, and if fish in aquariums or other animals suffer from certain viral illnesses, they are treated with ultraviolet light.
Perception of light and colours
The retina contains two types of light sensitive cells: cones and rods. Cones only work in the presence of intense light and they let us see colours and minute
details and therefore the definition of an image. We have approximately 7 million cones and they are mainly concentrated around
the central retina close to the fovea.
Rods, on the other hand, are diametrically distributed and we have about 170 million rods which are scattered around the retina (there are no rods in the fovea) and towards the periphery of the eye. Rods let us see in the dark when there is insufficient light to stimulate the cones. Another characteristic of rods is being sensitive to objects that are moving.
It is suggested that humans have two different types of vision: photopic (in the day) and scotopic (at night and twilight).
The human eye seeing colour is a very complex phenomenon that science has not
yet been able to explain in an unequivocal way. One explanation is that the receptive
eye and brain system is made up of three types of light decodifers, one of which
is sensitive to red, one to green and one to blue (the primary colours of physics),
and these types are related to the overlapping of light beams. The hypothesis
that the eye and the nervous system, which are in charge of vision, can work according
to this principle is supported by the fact that it is possible to visibly perceive
yellow even in the absence of the wave length that corresponds to this colour.
However, it is not possible to know for sure how electromagnetic impulses can transform into chromatic feelings that allow for the perception of light stimuli.
In 1953, Beker demonstrated that seeing colour is connected to the paleo brain and the neo brain; in fact, the nucleus of the retina is connected to the midbrain and pituitary gland via nervous fibres. According to Hering, perception of contrast, on the other hand, is due to rhodopsin, a special visual purple that is found in the rods of the retina. This visual purple becomes white under the influence of bright colours (catabolic and destructive effect), and it reconstitutes in the dark (anabolic and regenerative effect).
Chakra and chromotherapy
According to chromotherapy theories, our body absorbs colours in many ways: through food, the skin, the eyes and chakra.
The principles of chromotherapy
(Since this is a form of alternative medicine and therefore it is not proven scientifically, the following principles should be considered more as cultural ideas rather than real therapeutic instruments.)
The fundamental principle of chromotherapy is that life is colour and colour is life and, on the contrary, darkness is death. Consequently, it is believed that illness occurs when a balance in the life system is missing and this absence can be compensated with colours.
Colour can be absorbed by the body, spirit and mind in various ways:
Colours have the following effects:
Every colour has positive and negative properties. To find out what the effects and qualities of each colour are and why there is a preference for or refusal of one colour over another, click on the colours in the picture below. Preferring one colour over another denotes specific psychical and behavioural characteristics.
|Click on a colour to see the description.|