Myth meets Mystery: For the Love of Rainbows
“Somewhere over the rainbow Skies are blue. And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” (Lyrics from ~ Over the Rainbow)
Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow” in The Wizard of OZ movie…
“Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.”(Lyrics from ~ Over the Rainbow)
I have always loved seeing the colors of a rainbow suddenly form in the sky or near a body of water. As a child, I remember sitting by the window, after a downpour, inventing stories about visiting mystical places on a rainbow ride through the heavens. I also heard others tell stories about why we see rainbows and what, from a mythological perspective, forms them.
In Hindu mythology, the rainbow “Indradhanush” symbolized the gigantic, protective bow of Lord Indra; God of lightning, thunder and rain. (In Sanskrit and Hindi, dhanush is bow). In Christian biblical record, the rainbow became the eternal symbol of God’s promise to Noah, after the flood, that life would never again be destroyed by water (Genesis 9.13-15). My favorite was always that a rainbow was a reminder of God’s bountiful mercies and the promise of good fortune coming our way.
Another fond rainbow memory is of the song “Over the Rainbow” in the Wizard of Oz. Who could ignore the message in the song “Over the Rainbow” written by Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg and sung by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy, a key character, imagines a world over the rainbow where life is perfect and everyone lives in peace and harmony. I loved the movie and the quirky characters. Years later, I had fun watching the colorful, though panned version of “The Wiz” with Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.
“The true harvest of my life is intangible – a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.” Henry David Thoreau
Barbara Streisand singing “Over the Rainbow at a concert in 1986 at her Malibu, CA home.
“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
A way above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.” (Lyrics from ~ Over the Rainbow)
What is a rainbow? From a scientific perspective, it is an optical and meteorological event that causes a band of light to appear on the surface of water or in the sky, when the Sun reflects off moisture in the Earth’s atmosphere. The moisture could be from a fountain, rain, mist, spray, and even early morning dew. A rainbow is a colorful arc formed by seven colors, some of which are, at least, apparent to the human eyes; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
Even in the world of rainbows, there are complexities and unique variations on the standard arched rainbow we find familiar. A supernumerary rainbow consists of several pastel colored rainbows on the inner side of the primary rainbow. They rarely appear outside the secondary rainbow. A reflection rainbow occurs when sunlight reflects off a body of water before reaching the raindrops especially if the water body is large and quiet over its entire surface. The reflection rainbow intersects a normal one, reaches further in the sky and appears above the horizon; it is rarely visible. A reflected rainbow appears on the surface of water as a mirror image. The sunlight is reflected off the water after it is first deflected by the raindrops falling into the calm body of water.
“If happy little blue birds fly beyond the rainbow … Why oh why can’t I?” (Lyrics from ~ Over the Rainbow)
“Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then oh why can’t I?” (Lyrics from ~ Over the Rainbow)
Interestingly enough, looking back to the world of music, I believe that rainbows strike a chord with many people because they remind us to hold unto our dreams; rainbows support the importance of dreams and creating a better world. “Over the Rainbow” is considered the #1 Song of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. It is also rated the greatest song in a movie by The American Film Institute. In 1986, Barbara Streisand sang a new version at a concert at her Malibu home and included it on her new album.
Rainbows make me smile and lift my spirits. The glorious spectrum of colors that stream through the sky or reflect off the surface of a lake, ocean or other water source calms me and brings back seemingly ancient stories from my childhood. The mystical nature of rainbows always manages to evoke romantic, mythical stories in my mind. They evoke stories filled with ancient battles fought by valiant knights over beautiful, powerful damsels. In my stories, the women are not in distress; they are valued and smart. What emotions are stirred when you see a rainbow? Do you have memories or stories of your experience with rainbows? Do Share.
Photo Credits: Victoria Falls Rainbow by Zest PK
Reflection Rainbow at Skagit Bay, WA by Terry L Anderson
A magnificent Double Rainbow in Alaska by Eric Rolph