Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Someday We'll Find The Rainbow Connection

This morning a friend of mine texted me to tell me he found the Muppets Original Theatrical Soundtrack CD in his car. So lucky me, I immediately got The Rainbow Connection stuck on repeat in my head for the next eight hours. In an attempt to assuage my need to get rid of this earworm, I have written a post dedicated entirely to the strange and stranger myths that have attempted to explain or justify the existence of rainbows throughout history.

That being said, I wasn't too invested in the topic and so a large majority of this information is pulled directly from Wikipedia. Please consider this my citation of everything below. Enjoy!

What Is a Rainbow?

Rainbow said go to war?
The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from the Sumerian civilization in Mesopotamia and is amongst the earliest surviving works of literature. In a Victorian translation of the poem, King Izdubar sees "a mass of colors like the rainbow's hues" that are "linked to divine sanction for war." (Violent rainbows?!) And later on the king sees the "glistening colors of the rainbow rise" in the fountain of life next to the Tree of Immortality.

Rainbows were a bridge to the Norse gods
In Norse mythology there is a burning rainbow bridge (Bifröst) that reaches between the world (midgard) and the realm of the Gods (Asgard). In the Norse compilation called the Prose Edda, the King asks the enthroned figure of High to tell him what exists between heaven and earth and High explains that the gods built a bridge between heaven and earth of three colors that is very strong.

Rainbows = Greek Goddess Iris
Iris is the personification of rainbows and messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology. She links the gods to humanity. She is one of the goddesses of the sea and sky; she travels with the speed of wind from one end of the world to the other and into the depths of the seas and the underworld.

Rainbow Snakes? (Read: Aussies Are Weird)
In Australian Aboriginal mythology, the rainbow snake is the Creator in the Dreaming, which is the infinite period of time that "began with the world's creation and that has no end. People, animals, and Eternal Beings like the Rainbow Serpent are all part of the Dreaming, and everyday life is affected by the Dreaming's immortals," in almost every Australian Aborigine tribe. In these tribes, of which there are over 50, actual rainbows are gigantic, often malevolent, serpents who inhabit the sky or ground. This snake has different names in different tribes, and has both different and similar traits from tribe to tribe. (Wikipedia)

Rainbow = Reminder of No More Noah Length Floods
In the book of Genesis in the Bible, after Noah saved the animals and his family from the great flood, God placed a rainbow in the sky as a covenant with the people that he would never again destroy the earth with a flood.

Rainbows Shoot Lightning
The rainbow as the heavenlyarcher's bow dominates ancient Hindu mythology. Indra, the Hindu god of thunder and war, uses the rainbow to shoot arrows of lightning to kill Asura Crta, a premordial demon-serpent.

Ahh! Rainbows Eat People!
For the Sino-Tibertan language speaking ethnic groups in Burma called Karens, the rainbow is considered as a painted and dangerous demon that eats children.

Rainbow Experience Initiates New Religious Members
The Fang people of Gabon in Africa are initiated into the religion by a "transcendent experience when they arrive at the rainbow's center, for there they can see both the entire circle of the rainbow and of the earth, signaling the success of their vision." The Fang also prohibit their children from looking at the rainbow.

Caution: Rainbows Can Change...Your Gender?
In Bulgarian legends, it is said that if you walk beneath a rainbow, you will change genders: if a man, you'll begin to think like a woman, and if a woman, you'll begin to think like a man. While most Bulgarians don't believe in the superstition, some of them tease each other and joke around.

Pot O' Gold at the End of the Rainbow
In Ireland, a common legend asserts that a "pot of gold" is to be found at the end of a rainbow, for the person lucky enough to find it. This treasure is, however, guarded by a Leprechaun.

Close Your Mouth: You'll Catch a Disease from the Rainbow!
In Amazonian cultures, rainbows have long been associated with malign spirits that cause harm, such as miscarriages and (especially) skin problems. In the Amuesha language of central Peru, certain diseases are called ayona’achartan, meaning "the rainbow hurt my skin". A tradition of closing one's mouth at the sight of a rainbow in order to avoid disease appears to pre-date the Incan empire.

Rainbows Unite Star-Crossed Lovers
In a Chinese folktale, Hsienpo and Yingt'ai are star-crossed lovers who must wait until the rainbow appears to be alone together. Hsienspo is the red in the rainbow and Yingt'ai is the blue.

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