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. 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 Red During Reiki 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 the color red 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 a Cloud of Red Light
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 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.
Red AND Other Colors Together
Next, I want to talk about two variations of red light 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 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, around the bellybutton.
In seeing a cloud of orange and red light 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, in Sum
Clearly, there is a lot to dig into here about the phenomenon of seeing red during energy work like Reiki. There have been so many people writing in about seeing purple, yellow, and white chakra energy during mediation that I’m truly curious what characteristics of people see red instead. Do share your thoughts and experiences, and thank you for connecting!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. 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!