Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
Theres’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby…
Rainbows are an occurrence of optical beauty and a meteorological masterpiece, caused when the sun shines on droplets of moisture in the atmosphere. It is no wonder then, that this natural colourful phenomenon creates pleasant and positive mental associations in all who view them.
Aside from the natural world, it was the English physicist, Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the theory of colour, when he found out that if white light was shone through a prism, its refraction produced the colours of a rainbow, particularly those of the colour spectrum visible to the human eye. Clever chap for sure and that discovery was but one string in his masterful bow.
As a symbol, a rainbow has always had positive connotations, from the pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, the rainbow that was supposedly seen after the great flood (symbolizing God’s promise not to throw a wobbly again – Christianity and Judaism) and a jolly childrens’ TV show from the early 1980’s (GB). by the same name.
As far as mythology is concerned, the world over, the rainbow is seen as connecting heaven and earth and in the Dreamtime of Australian Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow snake is the deity who governs water.
In the film of The Wizard of Oz (based on the tale written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum), the rainbow becomes a central theme when Judy Garland sings the unforgettable song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, during which we are led along a road of fantasy and colour as the characters each search for their heart’s desire and ultimately their destiny, ending at the Wizard’s castle.
Finally, if you look around you, these days rainbows can be found on a multitude of things. Rainbow flags for example, have been around for quite a while. Many cultures around the world use a rainbow flag as: ‘a sign of diversity, inclusiveness and of hope and of yearning.’ Rainbow flags of past and present include South American (Inca origins), Buddhist, Co-Operative and Peace movements as well as Gay Pride. In the case of the Gay community (LGBT), it is also known as the ‘Freedom Flag.’ Established as a symbol by artist Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978, the different colours symbolize the diversity present in the LGBT community.
First published in the Connections magazine, #29 Autumn 2010