- But there’s another hue with a secret, sensual history longing for embrace: green.
- In these times of conflict, 2024 is the year we should remember what connects rather than divides us, and embrace green as the colour of love.
Green is at the heart
In the ancient Indian chakra tradition, green is the colour of the heart. The heart organ has long been associated with love. A chakra, conceptualised as a wheel of whirling energy, balances particular emotions and the health of the body. The heart chakra at the centre of the chest represents loving-kindness, compassion and care.
- Green has a range of cross-cultural meanings to do with balance, peace and hope.
- It is important in the Catholic faith for hope and life, as in Judaism, where it means renewal.
- It symbolised a young woman’s sexuality, and being “greensick” was a term for a youth in unrequited love.
During the Renaissance, pastoral and woodland settings symbolised nature, pleasure, freedom and lack of convention, as Arden does in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and the forest in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: an alternative Green World, an erotic Eden. Bawdy Renaissance madrigals such as Now is the Month of Maying included references to a “barley break” (a roll in the hay) and lads and lasses making merry upon the “greeny grass”.
- Old songs give us some clues to the secret, erotic symbolism of the colour green and its fateful relationship to women’s sexuality.
- The Tudor version of Greensleeves contains suggestive lyrics regarding crimson stockings with gold above the knee and pumps as white as milk, and a grassy-green gown.
- Green in mediaeval times was also a sign of female promiscuity rather than free love.
- Wearing green reputedly signalled a woman’s willingness to make love, since it denoted fertility and the loss of virginity.
In the Middle Ages, healers and wise-women who held vital medicinal plant and herb use, as well as some who may have practised folk magic for alluring charms and love potions, were persecuted for their knowledge as witches. The female witch is so associated with green that in The Wizard of Oz she was given green skin.
A contradictory colour
Green carries negative connotations such as poison, jealousy and envy: the green-eyed monster. Greenwashing or green-sheening are terms for the promotion of dubious environmental products. In Green Sense a treatise that explores botanical aesthetics, cultural studies academic John Ryan argues the contradiction of green comes from it being the shade of growth and decomposition: both birth and death.
- Part noun, part adjective, part adverb and part verb, we see green, and we can also shop, build, vote and think green.
- We can feel green: during the Renaissance, he writes, being possessed by the passions was likened to wearing green spectacles.
- Smith also contends that we can hear colours: to hear green would be to listen longingly, as we do to love songs.
- Across the globe, there are calls for the growth of love.
- ': how crime books embraced lurid green
Elizabeth Reid Boyd does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.