The color panorama of Nature is a radiant symbol of the eternal cycle of the soul. It paraphrases not only the larger cycles of racial and universal evolution, but the lesser ones also that mark the karmic pulsations of the personal life. Nature's color symbol gives us another reason for the hope that is within us. It is another index that the destiny of man is not mean and empty, but full, rich, and divine. If we will look upon Nature with our soul eyes we shall come to believe that, as the Golden Age was in the beginning, so shall it be again, when the harvests of sorrow have all been gathered and the lesson of the soul has been learned. "As above, so below."
Early in the spring, before a single leaf has burst from the bud, even before the snow has disappeared, there spring up crocus blossoms, yellow, delicate purple, and white; no other colors, no red, no green save a mere hint in the tiny crocus leaf. Thus Nature's year begins with the colors of the Golden Age, verily its keynote, aspiration.
Only a few days pass and Mother Nature no longer clothes herself in purple and yellow. Saving the tiny wood violet, these colors have disappeared, and a walk through the woods in spring reveals to us chiefly the delicate tints of lavender, pink, blue, and white. There are white blossoms in all seasons, suggestive, perhaps, of that centre about which the colors pulsate.
It is a rare experience to walk over the forest carpet of moist leaves through which the brave little flowers timidly peer — hepatica, wood anemone, spring beauty, trailing arbutus in our northern states, trillium, squirrel corn, shooting star and a few others. One is fairly thrilled with the "feel" of growing things, and the air quivers and is full with the silent hum of a forest that is waiting for the birds to return.
But soon comes Summer, lavish, profuse, fairly drunk with color. Plenty of red she offers us in the peonies, poppies, roses, and brilliant wild cardinal flower; plenty of green in prodigal masses of foliage; yellow, with its saving grace only here and there. "The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice" yellow cowslips brighten occasional marshes; the gardens afford glimpses of yellow in California, poppies and of yellow and purple in the pansies, while a few late dandelions brighten the roadway. But, during summer, red is the color most in evidence, foiled as it is by masses of vivid green.
The days pass on. The red of Nature becomes less brilliant, less profuse, gradually, for Nature is guilty of no abrupt leaps. The cornfields become less green and take on a coppery hue; rich bronze tints appear here and there in the landscape. The green of the maples, in changing, flashes at us vivid tints of red and yellow. The beeches turn to masses of quivering golden leaves, which fall reluctantly from the twig as if, forsooth, they would delay the period of obscuration and rest which ever follows the period of effort. For all things are of the law.
And when Autumn has fairly come, one may drive through the country in some of our central states for miles and look almost in vain for brilliant red or green. The green has a mellow, coppery shade; of scarlet there is but a saucy sparkle in the leaves and blossom-clusters of the sumac. The only flowers are the golden rod and purple aster, great masses, whole fields, perhaps of them. The purple and yellow have returned as dominant colors, not, however, in rare, tiny clusters as in the Spring, hugging close to Mother Earth and remaining but a few days — but profuse, waving high in the sunlight, and brightening the fields, not a few days merely, but many weeks. The cycle of color is complete.
Then comes the sleep of Winter, its whiteness covering all things as though Nature herself wished to be no longer an objective thing, but subjective, undisclosed, unmanifest. Over all she spreads the same calm whiteness whilst above the blue sky bends, a synthesis, as it were, of the sevenfold race cycle of the year's color.
Color brings its own message to the soul, even though the chattering mental self may be quite unconscious of it. Those who come close to Nature must often feel that the flowers of the Summer lack that high quality in their intangible message that the flowers of Spring and Autumn possess. This is not a theory, it is a fact though we cannot explain it. Some day, perhaps, we will know, when the mystery that lies hid in color is revealed.
Is not the color cycle of Nature one panoramic symbol of the evolution of the human soul? Differentiating from the Eternal, just as the earliest flowers spring from their (to them) eternal Mother, comes the soul of man. Pure, without experience, yet with possibilities that are infinite, it yearns to achieve and to know. Purple and yellow are its color symbols, verily, as it passes through the Golden Age. But the soul yearns for knowledge and experience. It continues its pilgrimage, a Prodigal Son, leaving the Father's house for a time to gain the wisdom that a period of alienation, of sin and pain perchance, will bring to it. It clothes itself with veil after veil of Matter. As with the flowers of the year so with the soul: The purple of the dawn of life giving place to the red and green of selfish love and passion has well-nigh disappeared. The gold remains, unnoticed in life as in nature where during the Summer it appears mainly in humble flowers, just as man's intuition, the voice of the silence and of the soul, never quite dies away though it he for icons disregarded.
But at last passion and desire have taught the soul their lesson. "I will arise and go to my Father," and the Prodigal Son struggles slowly back on the Path that leads to the Father's house, the lower influences being gradually eliminated from its life just as the red disappears from the landscape, not abruptly, but gradually. The soul gradually unfetters, frees itself, conquers and transmutes the lower nature and becomes itself the dominant force in life, consciously and by virtue of the spiritual will. The Prodigal has at last returned to the Father, not the same unconscious soul that started on the long pilgrimage, but wise, strong, conscious, the aspirations purified, clothed by the Father verily, in "fine garments" and a "ring" upon the "hand," the symbols, always, of spiritual riches and power. And the purple and gold come back to the life of the soul, just as they are now coming back into the life of the race. The cycle will be complete.
To the true Theosophist, all nature is Divine, the garment of the living God. It is the eternal symbol.