The Rainbow as a Divine, Mystical Symbol

by Joshua Tilghman on August 11, 2013

Rainbow after the FloodWhat’s the real meaning behind the symbol of the rainbow in the Bible? We’ve all heard the story; after Noah’s flood, God places a rainbow in the sky as a token of his covenant to never destroy the earth again in a deluge.

We can assume that there is a deeper mystical meaning to the rainbow since a literal interpretation of its account in Genesis isn’t logical; it would be impossible that a rainbow had never appeared in the sky before Noah’s flood! But this is what the language of the Bible implies. Genesis 9:2-14 states:

“And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, the bow shall be seen in the cloud.”

I once had a Biblical literalist tell me that a rainbow had never appeared on earth before because it had never rained! They cited Genesis 2:6, which states that God watered the earth by a mist from the ground. But rainbows can even form in mist! A surfer spraying ocean water in the air can resultA_surfer_in_the_air_2 in a rainbow. Rainbows can form from the mist over mountains or at the top and bottom of waterfalls. In fact, the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls, produces some of the most gorgeous rainbows every single day!

We know rainbows can form anytime there are water droplets in the air and the sun is shining from the rear of that droplet at lower altitudes. The sunlight is reflected and refracted through the water droplet in a way that breaks up white light into many colors (a prism). Rainbows can form just about anywhere there is water and sunlight under certain circumstances.

Are we really to believe that for thousands of years before the flood no man ever saw a rainbow? Of course not. So what’s the real meaning of the rainbow, and why is it inserted into Noah’s flood story?

The rainbow is an ancient mystical symbol. It is the mystical bridge in the sky symbolizing the higher mental plane, the actual bridge between our higher and lower natures (heaven and earth). God is the divine self in heaven, our highest nature. The earth, the training ground for the ego, is considered our lower nature, and as we’ll see in a moment, the higher mental plane (a vehicle for the development of our consciousness), is the natural bridge between these two natures.

This is what it means when God states, “…it shall be a token of a covenant between me (the divine self) and the earth (the lower self).

Consider how the ancient Polynesian culture viewed the rainbow. In W. Ellis’s writings, Polynesian Researches, he states:

“The god Oro fixed the rainbow in the heavens…forming his pathway to the earth…Every evening he descended on the rainbow, and returned by the same pathway on the following morning to the heavenly regions.”

In the above imagery we see God in man. The divine spark inherent in every soul descends to earth spiritually in the dark (“every evening”) and ascends back to heaven in spiritual light (“the following morning”). And the rainbow is God’s path.

Consider how perfect this symbol really is when we break down the other symbols that actually produce the rainbow. The sun, which produces the light that becomes reflected and refracted in rain droplets in order to form the colors of the rainbow, represents the highest plane and divinity. The water droplets that come down from the clouds symbolize truth. The water droplets originate in the clouds. Clouds are also symbolic of consciousness on the higher mental plane. Another way to put it would be to say that truth (the water droplets) come from the higher mental plane (clouds).

The higher mental plane is the plane of causal matter where objective truth about any situation can be instantly perceived. It makes sense then that this aspect of the divine self is the bridge that links the godhead to humanity.

The rainbow appears in the story after Noah’s flood because it is God’s promise to humanity that union with the divine can be attained again. The deluge represented an end to the great ignorance of man’s spiritual estate in heaven. The story of Noah and the ark is also a story about higher and lower consciousness, not a literal flood that destroyed every living creature. You can read more about that in the post, Noah, the Ark, and Higher Consciousness.

What Are Some of the Ways We Can Activate Consciousness in the Higher Mental Plane?

There are two main ways we can cross the bridge of the rainbow and return, like Noah or the god Oro, to the divine realm. One is the active way and the other is the passive way. The active way involves individual pursuits, like meditation, visualization exercises, contemplative prayer, mantras, and conceptual thinking. The passive way involves forgetting about one’s self and serving others. This doesn’t just mean giving your life up for someone else or becoming a Mother Theresa. You can serve just by “being” with someone in a time of need. Every kind act changes the universe and the consciousness therein.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzy August 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

What a beautiful post! Thank you.


Joshua Tilghman August 12, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You’re welcome, Suzy.


selina August 14, 2013 at 8:46 am

Could it be that the rainbow relates to the seven chakras red,orange,yellow,green,violet,indigo,and blue?Just a thought. Love and light Selina x


Joshua Tilghman August 14, 2013 at 12:21 pm


Absolutely. They also act as bridges which channel consciousness through from the higher realms through all our subtle bodies and into the physical vessel.


anny August 17, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Hi Joshua,

Can you not also say that the seven chakras together form the rainbow bridge that the kundalini has to cross to reach enlightenment?

I like it that you mention two ways to cross this bridge: meditation, conceptual thinking a.s.o and selfless service. Strange, I would call the first one the passive one and the second the active one, as there can be quite some action involved in it whereas you can stay put and sit still for the first one.
But I understand your point as well.


Chris January 26, 2014 at 6:00 am

I read something that stuck with me one day, and it made very good sense. When the colors of the rainbow are merged together, white is formed, which represents the perfection of the undivided Holy Spirit. The seven colors are the seven spirits of God that are sent out into all the earth, as spoken in Revelation, which are the seven spirits of the Holy Spirit. As long as the rainbow is present in the soul, the clouds are still present, and perfection or enlightenment has not been attained.

Just a thought. Glad I found your site.


Joshua Tilghman January 26, 2014 at 9:12 am


I like that! Great sentiment. And I am glad you have found value here. Blessings!


Namastre January 16, 2016 at 1:26 pm

I had a dream that i saw a rainbow in the night sky. What significance do you think that has being that the rainbow occured at night?


Joshua Tilghman February 21, 2016 at 12:46 pm


I wouldn’t know. I do believe dreams can speak to our lives, but I have never studied such things.


Roger Llamas January 16, 2017 at 3:06 pm

On Feb. 21, 2000 I witnessed a rainbow column while the inverted sun set into the sun, a grand Fata Morgana of the sun floating above hills to the west. It began to rain big drops, I turned To see the column just 75′ away. This column exhibited 3-D & holographic qualities. I was drawn to it, advancing slowly to my surprise it didn’t move away. I came up so close, with an arm’s length, I could see an inverted pyramid glowing a color of the RB in 3 drops. I advanced to see red upon entering an inner space where light has gone thru the drops like an afterglow. After 20′ I was right up to the trees when the light recombined to white golden liquid sparkling drops for 3 seconds, then the rain receded into the forest, the gold disappeared, leaving me totally amazed & mystified. this indeed was a very rare happening. please call 707 887 2190 there’s more


Roger Llamas July 5, 2017 at 11:36 am

The 2 rainbows I saw might have been twin bows at the same time with a little space between them. The RB’s were so bright & closeup that It probably tricked my brain into perceiving my being able to approach so closely and seeing it narrow as I approached. The sun was involved with a superior mirage of the sun, directing extra bent light from the sun into a very unusual RB that let me walk behind the RBs & see the gold light behind the RB as in the Irish myth!!!! This was a very, very rare event that showed me that the water filled glass globe experiments in refracted & reflected laser rays don’t tell the whole story. The incoming sunlight at super low angles like at sunset, <7 degrees can happen, And there is a space behind the RB that you can see. I was very fortunate to be at the right place at the exact right time to see the RB evolve as the angle approached a point that could not support a RB no longer!!!!!


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