The GD Colour Scales

The reasons behind the assignments of certain colours to the Tree of Life through the Four Worlds in the Golden Dawn system is not entirely obvious.  Sandra Tabatha Cicero in her article The Chameleon’s Coat: Colour Theory in the Golden Dawn (Hermetic Virtues, Vol. 1; Issue 2) takes an in-depth look at this question, and offers several plausible explanations which are well worth considering.  

The one conclusion that can be drawn from the acceptance of Magenta, Cyan and Yellow as the primary colours is that the logical formation of the sephirothic colours  in Queen Scale would necessarily need to be modified.

Placing Magenta in Geburah in the Minutum Mundum diagram results in alterations in colouring the Sephiroth of the Tree of Life from Geburah in Queen Scale (Briah) downwards, affecting the mix in Hod, Yesod, and Malkuth.  Additionally, placing Cyan in Chesed instead of the traditional deeper blue (which contains Magenta) will also affect the colour of Netzach.

Further, as the colours in Prince Scale (Yetzirah) are derived from mixing those of King and Queen Scales together, it follows that these traditional colour assignments will also need to be modified.  The changes are less noticeable here, but should be noted.

The Golden Dawn Temple Tarot Deck has been created with these updated colour assignments in mind.  It is particularly noticable in the Judgement Key, which is bordered with Magenta in accordance with its attribution of the Hebrew Mother letter Shin, which holds the position of the Primary on the Rose, and also within The Star and The Universe cards, each of which depict a colour wheel with Magenta included as a Primary, and in the dress of the Empress, as Magenta is the true complementary (flashing) colour to the green of Venus.  The borders of all the cards in the deck are coloured according to the colours assigned throughout the Four Worlds, and their titles are displayed in the correct flashing colour when using a YMC colour wheel (Yellow, Magenta, Cyan).  The Minor Arcana have both backgrounds and borders in their assigned colour, specifically to aid the GD student in considering why such colours were allocated, and to demonstrate the powerful effect that colour holds within the symbolism of the cards.   Five of Cups is bordered with Primary Magenta.

Golden Dawn Temple Tarot Deck

Tables which have taken into account the necessary colour modifications are provided below.  The colours in King Scale have not been modified but are included here to aid the understanding of how the colours in Prince scale have been derived from the combining of King and Queen Scale colours.  One notable mis-match within Regardie’s Scales is that Chokmah Prince Scale’s Bluish Mother of Pearl could not be arrived at from mixing Soft Blue with Grey.  We have opted in our updated version to colour Queen Scale Chokmah in Pearl Grey instead of simply Grey, which, when mixed with Soft Blue of King Scale, produces Bluish Mother of Pearl in Prince Scale.  The Tarot cards with these borders are the Two of Cups, and Two of Swords respectively, as shown above.

As individuals who have been inspired to ascend the Inner Realms to explore and transcend human limitations we are naturally aware of some of the changes filtering down from the dizzy heights of the celestial hierarchy.  We don’t need to broadcast that there are changes ahead since already we are witnessing the crumbling of inflexible institutions around us.  It is no surprise that this new current has already hit our physical realm.  Whether we put it down to the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius, the Aeon of Horus, Pluto entering Capricorn, or the imminent Return of Christ, we instinctively know that we have been born into this time to meet these great changing events and, perhaps more importantly, to be able to adapt to this incoming energy.

The Chameleon is able to change its colour to harmonize with its surroundings, in order to survive.  The colour system laid out by the original Golden Dawn may have been adequate for its time, especially considering that some pigments had yet to be discovered, and would have worked well in a patriarchal environment, but the new current coming down has a much more sensitive, feminine feel to it, a higher frequency of Love, which is best expressed in the colour Magenta.  The idea that we can ascend the Higher Realms through the power of Will alone is being challenged via this new current, with the knowledge that Love is the greatest of all the Human powers.  Without Love, the ability to cause magical change through Will is limited.  There seems to be a Higher Power wanting to bring in Magenta, a change that we have embraced in the making of the Golden Dawn Temple Tarot.

The King, Queen and Prince Colour Scales of the Ten Sephiroth from Regardie’s Golden Dawn and Wendrich modifications

SEPHIRA Regardie Wendrich Regardie Wendrich Regardie Wendrich
King Scale King Scale Queen Scale Queen Scale Prince Scale Prince Scale
1 Kether Brilliance Brilliance White Brilliance White Brilliance White Brilliance White Brilliance
2 Chokmah Soft blue Soft blue Grey Pearl Grey
Bluish Mother of Pearl Bluish Mother of Pearl
3 Binah Crimson Crimson Black Blackish-Red Dark Brown Dark Brown
4 Chesed Deep Violet Deep Violet Blue Cyan Deep Purple Deep Purple
5 Geburah Orange Orange Scarlet-Red Magenta Bright Scarlet Red
6 Tiphareth Clear pink rose Clear pink rose Yellow (gold) Lemon Yellow Rich Salmon Salmon
7 Netzach Amber Amber Emerald Phthalo Green Bright Yellow-Green Yellow-Green
8 Hod Violet-purple Violet-purple Orange Red-Orange Red Russett Russet
9 Yesod Indigo Indigo Violet Purple Very dark purple Indigo-Purple
10 Malkuth Yellow Yellow Citrine, Olive, Russett, Black Citrine, Olive, Russett, Black 4 colours flecked gold 4 colours (of Queen Scale Malkuth) flecked gold

In our book A Sephirothic Odyssey, the Golden Dawn colour theory is further developed. 

Practical Suggestions

For anybody interested in performing their own experiments with pigments, here are some useful tips:

  • When painting your own colour wheel, by far the best method is to use a canvas or canvas covered board, and oil paints which dilute to a translucent tint of their colour.
  • Many paints are named as ‘Primary,’ when in fact they have been mixed with white or another colour, rendering such an experiment useless.    Trusted brands are Mussini Lemon Yellow, Mussini Translucent Cyan, Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Magenta.
  • We have found that it is not possible to create a colour wheel of such purity using acrylic paints, and so once the colours on the wheel have been established using oil colours, it is a matter of experimentation with the various brands of acrylic paint available to find exact ready-made acrylic matches for the colours required in the painting of the various talismanic tools, rather than attempting to mix them yourself from acrylic ‘primaries.’
  • The Liquitex range has an excellent selection, but note that their Medium Magenta has been mixed with white.  In 2012, Quinacridone Magenta became available in the Liquitex range, and it is the best that we have come across in acrylic paint.  Until then, the purest form of Magenta in acrylic paint that we had found was made by Lascaux (Quinacridone Magenta).   Schmincke’s Akademie Acryl ‘Primary Yellow’ and ‘Primary Cyan’ are also suitable colours, when primaries are required.