Literally or Figuratively?
Since this is a blog in which I create educational drawings about both language and life, let’s define the phrase “seeing red” as it is used figuratively and idiomatically FIRST, before we dive into the experience of literally seeing red light during energy work like reiki or acupuncture: a red aura from the red chakra. Understanding the former definition will be key in distinguishing the meaning of the latter, so don’t be scared off by the opening English lesson — it will come into play as we go deeper.
What is an Idiom?
An “idiom” is defined as a type of figurative language in which a common phrase in a specific language and culture is understood to have a different meaning than the literal one. For example, “It’s a piece of cake!” is an idiom in English that means “It’s easy!” — not that the thing in question is literally a delicious pastry to eat. Idioms usually don’t translate from one language to another; each culture has its own… and some are quite funny and random!
Meaning of the Idiom “Seeing Red”
The idiom “seeing red” means “extremely mad.” For example, “When the octopus tore my book apart, I was so furious, I was seeing red!” Now, “seeing red” is an interesting and unique idiom, because unlike “piece of cake,” which only makes sense figuratively, “seeing red” actually has a true literal component to it: sometimes when people get into a truly angry mood, they really do get so much blood rushing to their face that their vision takes on a red haze!
Literally Seeing Red Light
Now the most obvious LITERAL interpretation of “seeing red” would be plainly seeing an object in real life that is colored red, such as a red heart drawn on a page, a bright red dress worn by a woman walking by, or a stoplight on the street-corner. This isn’t what I want to talk about, however; instead, I want to talk about red emerging during the phenomenon of seeing colors during meditation, reiki, acupuncture, or energy work.
Yes indeed — as you can see from the comments section in the article linked above, there are a whole lot of us who visualize colored light moving in very specific energy flow patterns during those specific liminal space states of bodywork! In that popular article, I talk specifically about how I see purple, yellow, and white, and hypothesize about their possible meanings… but what about seeing RED light behind closed eyes during bodywork? When does that occur, and what does it indicate? My recent experiences compel me to share some theories.
Red Chakra Color and Meaning
In the world of energy work, each chakra (energy center in the body) correlates with chakra colors. The color red is associated with the First Chakra: the muladhara, or root chakra. This energy center is located at the base of your spine.
About the First Chakra (Root)
The red, First Chakra is linked with feeling grounded and rooted in the earth, community, and yourself. It’s about having your basic needs met, and feeling safe and centered. Having the muladhara aligned helps with freedom from fear.
Seeing a Red Aura in Energy Work
Now, red is not a usual color that I see during energy work (I see purple above all, with greenish yellow and white mixed in), but since I started my Boston Reiki practice, I’ve started to see a read aura during quite a few instances with clients that I’d like to discuss, and to investigate whether any of you have insights, or have had similar experiences.
Visualizing the Red Chakra
The most common way I see pure red is when doing Reiki on a client with very strong fearless energy. When I put my hands on people with this trait, the flood of red light is clear and pure. It’s usually in a bright, dense cloud with a black hole in the middle (as I illustrated in my drawing right above this paragraph) — a form that’s very different from the intricate and more delicate designs I usually see with purple, yellow, and white.
My hand position on the client’s body doesn’t always correlate with the location of the red chakra if the person’s red energy is strong enough. Yes, I’ve seen that red cloud when my hands are doing reiki around the hips (First Chakra region), but I’ve also seen it when placing my hands on the shoulders of a man who clearly had vibrantly rooted earth energy, and on the head of a female client who was powerfully opening her own business.
The Meaning of Seeing Red Chakra Energy During Meditation or Reiki
I hope you see now why I started this article with an English lesson about the common idiom “seeing red.” The reason was to distinguish that the meaning of the idiomatic figurative expression “seeing red” (“being angry”) does NOT correlate with what it means to literally see red light during bodywork.
Rather, if you’re seeing clouds of red color while doing Reiki, meditation, acupuncture, massage, or other energy healing, I’m 99% sure that it does NOT indicate anger. Instead, it makes much more sense that it’s correlated with the first (root) chakra, indicating a strong and powerful rooted energy, and a freedom from fear — OR (particularly when the color is present in the “wrong” chakra) — seeing red might indicate misalignment or blockage in that first chakra, which could indicate the presence of fear in some area.
A Red Aura with Other Colors
Next, I want to talk about two variations of seeing a red aura that I recently saw while doing Reiki energy work on clients. Each appears to have a different meaning and function.
Seeing Red and BLACK in Reiki
First, let’s unpack the meaning of seeing black alongside red during energy healing. I have a whole other article focusing on seeing black energy during Reiki (and the associated Earth Star Chakra), but it’s important to bring up here in the context of seeing red, because I’ve now seen the two colors together with certain clients.
Now, it may seem like nothing special to “see black” when your eyes are closed, but the black color I’m talking about is very different. The other day when working with a client for Reiki, the moment I touched the man’s head, a much darker black cloud swirl poured into my vision (almost like ink being poured into dark water) and I felt like I was falling and sinking into it. I relaxed myself and began to look carefully into the black pool to see what there was in it. Upon my gaze, I began to see swirls of dark red moving through the black, as I drew above.
Meaning of Red and Black Energy
What might be the meaning of this? It really got me thinking. In our society, we are quick to associate black and other dark colors with negativity, but I’m not sure that’s the case here. It seemed more positive. Yes, the client was talking about dealing with anxiety, but the feeling I got from these meditation colors and the depth of the “falling” feeling was one of truly expansive power — that the person had a formidable soul and spirit which was so deeply grounded (as the red chakra is about being grounded in earth) that it was almost subterranean. I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the meaning of the black and red color combination during Reiki or bodywork!
Seeing Red and ORANGE Colors
The next variation of seeing red that I experienced this month is orange light mixing with the red. I saw this recently with a client when my hands were between their hips and waist. This makes sense because the Second Chakra — Sacral Chakra or Svadhistana — is connected with the color orange, and is located right above the first (red) chakra, directly below the bellybutton. (See my full article on the orange chakra here.)
In seeing a cloud of orange light and red aura together, I was likely tapping into a mix of the vibrations of those two energy centers. I’ll write more about orange specifically later, but the orange chakra is connected with pleasure, sensuality, and creativity, and when it’s blocked, it’s associated with guilt.
One of the most satisfying Reiki moments I’ve had recently occurred while working with a client who at first had no visible color energy in their hips — indicating a blockage of that creative and sensual joy. (At first, the red and orange were actually present in the “wrong” chakra — in their head and chest.) After an hour session with this client, however, I returned my hands to their hips… and very clearly saw red and orange flowing! I actually teared up with delight; the session had done the trick to fix the flow and put the colors back in the right chakras!
Seeing Red Chakra Aura Energy, in Sum
Clearly, there is a lot to dig into here about the phenomenon of seeing red chakra energy during healing work like Reiki. There have been so many people writing in about seeing purple, a yellow aura, green aura, and white chakra energy during mediation that I’m truly curious what characteristics of people see red auras instead. Do share your thoughts and experiences, and thank you for connecting!
Related Posts on Colors:
Seeing Colors During Meditation: Purple and Yellow
This is the wildly popular post I wrote about seeing colors during energy work. It's been amazing to read all the comments from people who read and connected with it! I'm curious if this article about seeing red will have a similar resonance, or if red is more rare.
Healing Chakra Colors and Meanings
Here is my overview of which color is associated with each of the seven chakras. The cartoon diagram I drew is helpful in understanding where red (and orange) light fall on the body's energy centers. I still am trying to understand where other hues like black would be in this framework.
Seeing White Aura and Chakra Energy
What does it mean to see white light or auras during Reiki, meditation, or other healing energy work? See the exploration here.
Blue Aura Meaning
Knowing the association of the blue chakra -- speaking one's truth effectively -- helps explain what it means when someone has a blue aura. Learn about the 5th (throat) chakra with a click of this button.
Seeing Black Aura Energy
Though people sometimes worry when they see black auras or energy, there's a fascinating analysis of what it means that's actually helpful and beautiful. Learn more here.
Earth Star Chakra
In the 12 Chakra System (beyond the traditional seven), there is an energy center below the body called the Earth Star Chakra. Learn more about it here.
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other two sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009) and TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010). Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!
Saturday 26th of November 2022
I see yellow with red around it on my left side during meditation. Beginning I had a gold ball i through now I have a whit ball. I bring it up and pull it down over my body to my toes . I've seen different colors but that was most recent!
Saturday 26th of November 2022
Fascinating! Thank you for sharing. Really neat that you can control the movement.
Saturday 29th of January 2022
Ever since I started having acupuncture for various health conditions, I have been having what some call "closed eye hallucinations" of colors. Searching further, I found this website that matches my own experiences. I'm curious to see if anybody else has these colorful visions. They don't happen to me only with acupuncture, they have happened whilst praying with eyes closed, and during any number of other situations. Because they were most pronounced when a certain intern worked on me at the Bastyr Clinic in Seattle, I would describe the colors and morphing blobs to her. "I see purple with red in the center. Now it's changing to a blue center, and so on. Later she told me that Chinese medicine had interpreted the meanings of the colors. For example, purple, which I see more often than any other color, is related to forgiveness. Red is related to passion, etc. When I see purple with my eyes closed, I do think about wanting to be more forgiving of others. Now if I could just see purple with my eyes open and when speaking or writing to others . . . !
Monday 31st of January 2022
@Lillie Marshall, Thank you for responding. The intern did not seem to be certain about the colors' meanings, but she related it to Chinese medicine, which is an important part of the education at Bastyr University. I always feel wonderful and positive when I see the purple. The red first came as a surprise, but became welcome. I also see blue. I'm just in awe to see those blobs of changing color. It's been a few years since having acupuncture, etc. and probably not possible to use the teaching clinic since the arrival of the pandemic, unfortunately. Your web page is the first I've seen about these amazing experiences. Now there's a reason to start using all the watercolor tools I bought a barely used!!! The other phenomena that affects me so positively is dreaming of being able to levitate and "fly" or hover above people and land objects. Whenever this happens, it "lifts me up" emotionally! The first one I can remember was of floating down a long outdoor set of stairs in my town without touching a step.
Saturday 29th of January 2022
Thanks for this comment, Heidi! I hadn't heard about purple being related to forgiveness, but I can see that connection. To me, seeing purple is more general healing and deep interpersonal connection -- which I suppose is rooted in forgiveness. If we're going by the chakras, red is more about grounded safety than passion (passion would be more orange, the second chakra), but again, I can see what the intern was saying in that having passion requires a foundation of rooted strength. Much to ponder and explore!
Saturday 4th of September 2021
Wow, so interesting to read about seeing red and energy. And I like the connection to "seeing red" idiom.
Sunday 5th of September 2021
Yes! The idiom is very different than seeing the energy color!
Wednesday 1st of September 2021
Exqueeezeee me, Ms. I now have a Boston Reiki practice!!! Congratulations! Next time I'm in the area you know I'm coming to you for my first Reiki experience! I'm working on my feminine energies so hopefully my colours will reflect that! haha
Wednesday 1st of September 2021
Haha, I love it! Very interesting question about what colors correlate with feminine energies. I will look into it!
Tuesday 31st of August 2021
I never knew what red signified in terms of our chakra energies. It's fascinating to discover more about it.
Tuesday 31st of August 2021
Isn't it?! Our different energy vibration frequencies are fascinating!