I am a Taiwanese Canadian woman. The colour Red in traditional Taiwanese culture symbolizes good luck, celebration, distinction, joy, and prosperity. It is the bridal, birthday, and new year's colour. When a woman dresses in red, it is a sign of respect to her elders and spirits, her ties to honouring her ancestors and tradition, and a symbol that she embodies luck herself. Contrasting this, Red in the West is associated with sex, desire, seduction, menstrual blood, romance, courage, leadership, and danger (but mostly sex). The West deems sex as dirty, and thus, White is very much a preferred colour for a woman to wear, since it signifies purity and on a much more subtler level, obedience, though culture has disguised obedience as elegance. Think of those cotton white sundresses or the bridal dress of the West.
In more recent years and decades, in "sophisticated", Asian urban environments, if a woman of Chinese descent wears Red, there is the potential connotation that she is crass, tacky, uneducated, or even "a villager" (a reference to peasantry or low social status) as Asia took the "assimilation" strides to be a major player in the global market. (Don't believe me? The film Crazy Rich Asians references this).
My own family is made up of individuals who consider themselves to be Buddhists, atheists, and evangelical Christians. So for me, the colour Red carries weight that exceeds any other colour. The classic Crayola Fire Engine Red is what I'm referring to. Not so much other hues of Red - not dusty rose, not brick, not ruby, not terracotta, not raspberry, not vermillion, not salmon; I'm talking about the classic Red you'd equate with hot lust.
So what does a good, responsible daughter do? I wore black. Lots. Black signified academia, professionalism, having one's feelings and impulses under tight reign, plus it matches with everything. Black is sensible, practical, and invisible. How I believed I always needed to be.
But the Goddess is not one dimensional and is paradoxical. She does not only appear in pretty, gauzy, white dresses (eyelets optional), for the Triple Goddess is Maiden - Mother - Crone. And if you were to explore this further, between Mother and Crone sits another archetype. The names differ, but is often understood as the Huntress, the Seductress or the Dark Goddess. She wears Red.
When we hear the word 'seductress', we tend to think of a 'sexy woman', who uses her sex appeal to get what she wants. If we were to peel back the patriarchal labeling, at the energetic core, the Seductress is simply a woman who knows who she is, what she wants, and she does not apologize when she steps into this visibility. It’s no wonder patriarchy demonizes this! So rather than seeing Red and this archetype as 'evil' in an age where neo-new agism / 'manifestation' (an aspect of the Huntress) is part of pop culture, could Red also be reconciled with?
In my own personal relationship with Red, I am so grateful for the Goddess for showing up in my wardrobe and make-up bag in ways that surprise, heal, and stretch me. Applying Red to lips as a way to invoke Her. In me, through me, as me. And in you, through you, as you.
If any of this resonates with you, I warmly invite you to attend THE MANY SACRED FACES OF THE GODDESS, an intimate gathering at @flowstatehairdesign on November 26 in Vancouver. Hairapist Ana Luisa and I will be sharing and giving honour to the role of beauty, adornment, and Divine Feminine archetypes.
Wearing red today,
founder, shamanic medicine teacher + ritualist
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