The prayers, sacred mantras and symbols on Tibetan prayer flags have been carried by the wind for millennia. First Bon, then Buddhism. Always elemental.
The prayer flags are magical to watch, especially en masse. Their spiritual vibrations have been described as extending to fill all of space, just as a drop of water can permeate the ocean. They are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom and bring benefit to all.
The flags are created in five colours which represent the five elements:
- Blue: space
- White: air
- Red: fire
- Green: water
- Yellow: earth
The colours on the prayer flags appear in a specific order. When displayed horizontally, some sources say the blue flag should be on the left, others yellow. From what I’ve read, either way honours their intent.
The five elements embodied in the prayer flags are essential to Tibetan cosmology. They are seen as the fundamental building blocks of our physical bodies and of the environment, and represent particular energetic qualities. These basic energies also correspond to the Five Pure Lights, the Five Buddha Families and the Five Wisdoms.
According to Eastern medicine, including in Tibet, health and harmony are produced through the balance of the five elements. Like Wu Xing and Prakrti, the elements are interconnected and interdependent.
Prayer flags have become popular in the west. They represent another way to bring the five elements, and more, into our lives. Tibetan traditions consider prayer flags to be holy – they entreat us to treat them with respect.