Key words: Life, energy, enthusiasm, vitality, passionate, intense, desire, anger, danger.
Red is the color of roses … and the color of apples … and the color of … blood! Yikes! But while our initial vision of blood might be the gore we see in the movies, when you think about it, all of these things have something in common: they all represent life, in one way or another.
When interpreting red in a card, we really are seeing life in all of glory and gory. Red represents everything from enthusiasm to danger, from passion to anger, from vitality to aggression. Probably no other color swings the pendulum quite so broadly across positive and negative meanings.
And we see it everywhere. Red adds life to anything where it resides. It makes pictures pop, people look powerful & confident, it calls attention to stop signs and fire engines.
With red, we couldn’t get any farther than ‘cool, soothing, blue.’ And whereas purple is a highly complex combination of both blue and red, red is simple and straight-forward. Red is hot. It’s element is fire. It’s ruling planet is Mars. Mars energy indicates ‘action,’ ‘drive’ and “will.” Red is Mana, or Life Force. Red commands attention. It’s strong, it’s passionate. The hearts and roses we get (or give) on Valentine’s Day make a dramatic statement of our love.
Red is also the color of the root chakra. It represents our base instinct for security and survival … ie: to live. And to live means living both sides of the spectrum. Being surrounded by too much red makes us stressful and tense. And while as passionate and enthusiastic as red can be in certain circumstances, taken to the extreme, red can also represent the evil & danger associated with that “red guy:” The Devil.
As far as learning the symbolism of red, it’s a walk in the park. Think about all the things that are red. No need to struggle, it’s everywhere you turn. Remember? It’s Life.
To interpret red in a tarot reading consider these connotations:
Positive & Neutral Connotations:
— Energy, enthusiasm, vitality
— Strength, power, confidence
— Motivation, action, will/willpower
— Ambition, drive, goal oriented
— Love, passion, intensity
— Danger, aggression
— Anger, Emotional outbursts
— Controlling, Impulsive
— Evil, destruction
Sample Interpretation with Red:
Deck: Universal Waite, Pocket Edition
Here we have an angel. This angel stands tall in a beautiful wetlands with one foot in the water and the other on the earth, pouring water from one cup to another, in perfect harmony and balance.
Indeed, much in this card connotes balance, and the red in the wings, infused with purple (spirituality) and crowned by orange (compassion) is no different. The message of this card, if the color of the wings are standing out to you, may be that through compassion, non-judgement, and the channeling our energies into more spiritual realms, one might be more easily capable of expressing anger appropriately, keeping emotional outbursts, or controlling and/or destructive behaviors, in check.
Alternatively, we might look at the red in the wings as that of love, compassion and spirituality: ie. that divine love that most who are on a spiritual journey seek. There is a spiritual & emotional serenity in this card in that we have not only the purple in the wings, but a lot of blues and the water in the foreground. But the red in the wings commands our attention to understand the power, passion and energy of tapping into the life force (mana) of listening to the messages that are communicated to us via our guardian angels.
As always, meanings change with every reading for every querent. Choose one or two key words that are meaningful to you for that specific reading.
— Pictures from the Heart: A Tarot Dictionary by Sandra A. Thomson
— Color Magic for Beginners by Richard Webster
— A. Venefica’s Tarot Teachings