Rainbows which are an optical and meteorological, natural phenomenon that is caused by reflection of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky, taking the form of multicoloured arcs and have been forever noted for their beauty and inexplicability, are traditionally symbols of peace and imagination but there are several cultures in which rainbows are seen as malignant (sometimes even malevolent) forces that cause sickness or act as dark omens - one of the more prominent cultures to adopt this belief is the Australian Aborigine tribes, who believed that Rainbows were actually gigantic serpents that often had a malicious role in the world.
In some cultures there is even a saying that roughly translates into "the rainbow made me sick" and some tribes blame Rainbows for many ills.
Mythologies in which Rainbows are Malicious
- The Sumu of Honduras and Nicaragua "may simply refer to the rainbow as walasa aniwe, ‘the devil is vexed’". These people hide their children in their huts to keep them from looking or pointing at the rainbow.
- For Karens of Burma, the rainbow is considered as a painted and dangerous demon that eats children.
- In ancestral times in Japan, rainbows were often viewed as omens of bad luck because they represented snakes.
- In Amazonian cultures, rainbows have long been associated with malign spirits that cause harm, such as miscarriages and (especially) skin problems. In the Amuesha language of central Peru, certain diseases are called ayona’achartan, meaning "the rainbow hurt my skin". A tradition of closing one's mouth at the sight of a rainbow in order to avoid disease appears to pre-date the Incan empire.