Color in magic and marketing

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Okay, if you’ve read my comics, read the ‘about me’ or have simply followed the blog posts here, you’ve discovered my background is in largely the graphic design end of marketing and that I’m an artist and am intimate with color in all kinds of ways.

Colors hit our consciousness deeply, they affect mood and even snap judgement. Very clearly, color alone has a profound impact on anything where the subconscious comes into play, marketing, fashion, magic.

Now in the world of marketing color is extremely important. But the rules of which color works best is variable and can change depending on that which is being marketed. Blue, for example, in business conveys care and conservatism and is a consistent good choice for marketing a bank or financial service – The same color used to label a tin of corned beef would be almost certainly be a mistake – blue is not a color associated with palatable beef.

As for your online business or marketing venture, you would want to make the color of your promotion material, your logo – appropriate. If you don’t over think it, your first association is likely the best one. The first association is most likely the association your subconscious deals in.

Some associations:
Blue: conservative and safe, good associations for investment and security.
Baby Blue: conservative and safe, but also peace and newborn babies.
Pastel shades of color: (pale soft hued color) are feminine, innocent, pleasant.
Red: in business it represents innovation, risk and the potential of great reward, it also represents passion and is thus a good marketing tool for sex and things related to sex (especially when combined with pinks).
Yellow: is energizing and powerful, often used to label vitamins and can have associations with health.
Orange: is similar to yellow in possesing energizing qualities, gold hues suggest riches, yellow orange like a schoolbus may suggest education.
Green: suggests money, nature, growth. Organic produce is inevitably marketed with the color green.
Purple: Color of royalty, a hint of sex, femininity and mastery.
Black and/or white and/or grey: Seriousness, ‘purity'(white) – the best selling computers are always black, grey or white despite other colors being made available.

Now of course, most designs have more than one color. You may be new to design and intimidated when it comes to juxtaposing different colors. So here’s a crash course in color theory for design.


Every color has three properties.

The Hue represents the color without regarding saturation or darkness, it distinguishes blue from red from yellow.

The Saturation refers to how saturated or pure the color is, the less saturated a color is the closer it approaches being a shade of grey.

The Lightness of a color does mean light vs. dark, but can be misleading. The colors of the rainbow are all at their maximum possible lightest shade, even though red or indigo seems darker than the yellow of a rainbow. The ‘light’ purple in the figure above, were you to make it closer to white and thereby ‘lighter’ you would do so by lowering the saturation of that purple, it is already at maximum lightness for the same saturation of color on the left center color dot.

The rest of this piece on color theory is about juxtaposing two or more colors, I use bright colors to illustrate the color principles. Understand that a desaturated color will combine with other colors similarly to a saturated color, but the effect would be subdued. The same can be true for colors so dark the hue is obscured. A dark color is a natural contrast to a light color, but this is a function of light vs. dark , not color theory.

If you are an artist, you may be more familiar with a ‘color wheel’. This is the same idea presented as a linear progression. You can see each secondary color is a blend of the two primary colors on either side. I hope it’s easy for people new to color theory to understand


Here’s the ‘loudest’ possible color combination, a color combined with it’s ‘opposite’.

What is an opposite color? Try this: stare at something with an intense color, fix your eyes on it for a good 3 minutes. Now look away to a white wall. What you see on the white wall is the ‘opposite’ color to the one you were staring at, it’s something your eyes do to recover from the overload of the first color.

On a color wheel, the opposite color is literally opposite the color you select. Since I’m not presenting a color wheel, just understand that the color opposite any primary color, is the secondary color resulting from the combination of the other two primary colors.

Opposite color combinations have maximum ‘shimmery’ contrast (especially if both colors are brightly saturated), usually this is a BAD thing that may be labelled a ‘LOUD’ color combination. Exceptions are made for Christmas (red and green) and things like school colors and team colors where the color is less important than the idea of honoring the school or team.

Opposite or complementary colors do grab attention, and sometimes this may be more relevant than good taste.

So what do you do when you want a touch of color contrast, but want to keep the color tasteful? The SPLIT COMPLEMENT! This is a combination of a color with a color that is similar to it’s complement, but is removed enough to give contrast without clashing.

Split complements can be highly attractive color combinations, especially popular for comic book heroes (green/purple is a split complement combination used by the HULK, Blue and School bus (orange)yellow are X-man colors).

Harmonious Colors are colors of related hues, they always look excellent, ‘harmonious’, in combination. If you especially prize the emotional impact and associations of one given hue of color, you can combine it with a harmonious color and maintain the overall color feeling you want while maintaining a hint of variation.

An excellent three color combination is two ‘harmonious’ colors juxtaposed with a split complement, for contrast. This is also a classic formula for web page and logo design.

I hope you have a better appreciation for how color works in combination. When you create original designs, a single color used well (for example, if the color matches a trim or is harmonious or a split complement to the color of the shirt you’re printing on) can be more effective than a ‘full color’ image, or even one with 3 to 5 colors. In the interest of better design, often ‘less is more’.

Magical Color Association

Chaos magic is a metaparadigm, which is to suggest it’s a way of looking at magic that allows you to exercise any existing tradition or ideas relating to magic. That hasn’t stopped ‘Pope Pete’, Peter Carrol, from elaborating upon the metaparadigm to manifest a distinct style of magic he labels ‘Chaos Magic’.  You’re still able to label yourself ‘Chaos magician’ if you strictly follow a Garnerian School of Wicca while accepting the principles of Chaos magic – so don’t think you’re in any way limited.

I’ll present Pope Pete’s magic color model, once color for each of the 8 points of the chaos star (lifted from Michael Moorcock’s sometimes excellent fantasy books, especially those involving ‘Elric’).

Pete Carrol includes the color ‘octarine’, which is sourced from the fantasy novels of Terry Pratchett and relates to a humorous theory of an 8th color of the spectrum. For practical purposes it’s a magic of color which may be all colors, or the magicians favorite color, that which they most closely relate to ‘magic’.

Black: Death
Blue: Wealth
Green: Love
Yellow: Ego
Purple or Silver: Sex
Orange: Thinking
Red: War
Octarine: “Pure” Magic

These associations are very effective for many Chaos magicians. It represents a unique magical model and has gotten me to rethink magical color associations.

But generally I find the Hoodoo (African American folk magic)color associations to be classic.

Hoodoo Color Associations
in candle magic

Following Henri Gamache’s instructions, it became popular among conjure-workers of the 1940s to burn small free-standing candles or “lights” of particular colors for practical magical results.  The colour symbolism ascribed to altar candle colours is based mostly on traditional European magic, blended with remnants of African religious symbolism:

  • white — spiritual blessings, purity, healing, rest
  • blue — peace, harmony, joy, kindly intentions, healing
  • green — money spells, gambling luck, business, a good job, good crops
  • yellow — devotion, prayer, money (gold), cheerfulness, attraction
  • red — love spells, affection, passion, bodily health and strength
  • pink — attraction, romance, clean living
  • purple — mastery, power, ambition, control, command
  • orange — change of plans, opening the way, prophetic dreams
  • brown — court case spells, neutrality
  • black — repulsion, dark thoughts, sorrow, freedom from evil
  • red and black (Double Action) — remove a love-cursing spell
  • white and black (Double Action) — to return malevolent spell to the sender
  • green and black (Double Action) — remove money-cursing

Sigil Magic and color/candles

Elsewhere in this blog, and probably in the article section is instruction on creating basic sigils and how to launch the same. You can if you choose, use colored paper with the correct association, burn the sigil in a colored candle – or scratch the sigil on a color candle and burn it as you reach gnosis….

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