Monday Myth, Mythology, Rainbow Hill Meanders, Rainbows

Monday Myth: Rainbows

The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.” – Henry David Thoreau

Rainbows are the sun’s rays refracted or reflected by rain or mist into an arc of color. These rainbow arcs always have their colors in the same sequence: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

A well-known English Mnemonic is “Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain” and the less interesting American English of “ROY G BIV”.

Languages all around the world have their own mnemonics for remembering the order of colors in the rainbow.

I recommend this site not only for its great information on all aspects of rainbows, but also for the best exploration of the global range of mnemonics for remembering rainbow color order.

Rainbows come many different guises under many different names:
Twinned Rainbow, Double Rainbow, Primary Rainbow, Secondary Rainbow, Tertiary Rainbow, Quaternary rainbows, Alexander’s Band, Higher-order Rainbows, A Supernumerary Rainbow—also known as a Stacker Rainbow, Reflected Rainbow, Reflection Rainbow, Monochrome Rainbow, Moonbows, Fogbow, Spraybow, and Glory, etc.

Rainbow mythology is rich and replete with more stories than I can incorporate into in one post. I will eventually get to all of them in future posts.

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There are very few cultures that do not have a rainbow in their mythology. I’m still looking to see if I can find one that has a mythology lacking in some sort of rainbow. Please tell me, which mythologies do not have rainbows?

Due to the popularity of the Marvel Thor movies, the Norse Bifrost (Rainbow Bridge) is probably the third most-known rainbow mythology after that of Noah and the Ark and the Irish tales of a leprechauns and pots of gold.

Some translations of the “The Epic of Gilgamesh” describe the rainbow’s mass of colors as a divine sanction for war and a rainbow crown was worn by the Sumerian god Ninurta.

Persian mythology uses rainbows for divination.

In Greek Mythology, Iris who is a messenger of the gods dresses in rainbow hues.

Australian Aboriginal mythology focuses on the Rainbow Serpent. In Japan the rainbow also represents snakes.

In Arabian mythology the rainbow is a bow for Quzah, an Arabian god of weather. The Hindu god Indra also uses the rainbow as a bow.

rainbowIn Bhuddism the rainbow is just one step below Nirvana.

For the Karens in Burma, the rainbow is a demon that eats children.

For the romantics in the crowd, Chinese folklore has star-crossed lovers waiting for the rainbow to shine so they can be together.

My favorite so far is Bulgarian legend in which you will change genders if you walk under a rainbow. I think that may be worthy of a story or two.

Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” – Maya Angelou