Hello from my blue dress, blue eyes, and the beach in Positano. It’s almost a starry night.

So let’s talk about blue.

A very special shade of blue.

Blue mirrors, blue oranges, the bluish eyes of flame, blue moonlight on my skin, my prince of blue, I want to marry you in blue. If you are familiar with my poetry, you know that I’ve written a lot about the colour blue – but it’s not just a colour for me, it’s a depth, a love.

And it’s not just blue – there’s a special kind of blue that has my heart: oltremarino, or ultramarine blue translated from Latin. It’s my true blue. It is a deep blue color pigment which was originally made by grinding lapis lazuli into a powder. The name comes from the Italian “oltremarino” which means “beyond the sea” because the pigment was imported into Europe from mines in Afghanistan by Italian traders during the 14th and 15th centuries. If you’ve read my books you know how much I love oltremarino.

{you can read my oltremarino love poem at the end of this article}
Me, my book, & my beloved lapis lazuli ring 
Raw lapis lazuli stone 

Lapis lazuli, the starry sky …

If you’ve ever seen how gorgeous lapis lazuli is, you’d know how deeply in love you can fall. It’s one of the oldest spiritual stones known to man, and was used by healers, royalties, priests, for power and for wisdom, for psychic abilities and for protection. It represents serenity, love and universal truth; it carries within itself the mystical secrets and enchantments of the night and tales, as well we high spiritual protection and clear sight.

With a name meaning lapis “stone” and lazuli “sky, heaven”, it is no wonder that this stone is more commonly known as the “Starry Night Sky”, “Stone of the Gods”, and “Stone of Royalty”.

Kandinsky, a connoisseur of color, believed wholeheartedly in its spiritual properties: “The deeper the blue becomes, the more strongly it calls man towards the infinite, awakening in him a desire for the pure and, finally, for the supernatural.” He wasn’t alone in this sentiment. Eastern spiritualists have long associated deep blue gemstones, such as lapis lazuli, with the sixth chakra, or third eye, the seat of elevated consciousness in the human body.

Lapis lazuli in powder form

In ancient Rome, lapis lazuli was belived to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Everyone who’d see this precious stone would fall in love with it – and it was believed to bring love, peace and joy to those who wore it.

Ancient Egyptians were particularly mermerized by it and held it in very high regard. To them, this stone was as royal as it gets – and was considered more precious than gold. It was a personal favourite of Cleopatra, who would make it into powder and apply it as eye shadow – and it is all over Egyptian jewellery and cosmetics.

Lapis lazuli was the stone representing power, royalty, the supernatural and the heavens. It was viewed as the physical flesh of the Gods. The deep blue colour was like the night sky in the desert lands, and the gold pyrite flecks reminded them of the stars – so the stone became an image of the heavens, the starry heavenly sky.

The Egyptians would carve lapis lazuli in the shape of an eye and set in gold, as an amulet of inestimable power.

This mesmerizing shade of blue helped to create some of the most beautiful paintings in history. Its rich pigment of deep blue was the finest and most expensive used by Renaissance painters, and in fact, it was so expensive that they had to depend on wealthy patrons to underwrite their purchase, otherwise they couldn’t use it. Michelangelo couldn’t afford it. The story goes that his painting “The Entombment” was left unfinished as the result of his failure to afford the prized pigment. Vermer, on the other hand, stretched his own family into debt. He wasn’t a particularly frugal man, but he was certainly very particular about his shades.

Because of its exclusivity and high cost, ultramarine was traditionally restricted to the raiment of Christ or the Virgin Mary, and we can also see it in the beautiful painting of The Virgin in Prayer (1640-50) by Sassoferrato. Well, Michelangelo did get to use it too, when he was painting the Sistine Chapen ceiling in the Vatican.

Blue is everywhere, and yet not really. Perhaps it is a muse because often times it is also a mirage. It is in ice and water and sky. It is in flame as pure as it is in a flower. It is overheard and inside caves, it is oozing out of cobalt clay. Yet we can’t touch the blue of flame any more than we can bottle up the blue of sky or waves.

Vermeer, Girl with a Pearl Earring, 1665
Sassoferrato, The Virgin in Prayer,1640–50

Beyond the sea …

In old Icelandic, the word for intuition was “innsaei” which also meant “the sea within” and “to see within”. The sea, the see. A movement within, a deepening. A memory, a flame, a moment in which all is lit and alive on our inside of, awakening our entire body in its continous existence. There is no more hesitation to allow the entering of clarity and the returning of knowing.

The lapis lazuli blue is also the colour of the robe of the High Priestess, and Mother Mary. It hints of the “conceiling of all that is precious”. Blue was the esoteric colour used to enrobbed those of high spiritial standing, symbolizing their inner beauty, purity, wisdom, seeing and transcendence.

The blue robe of the High Priestess signifies both her heavenly knowledge and her position as a divine monarch.

As a symbol of connection to the divine feminine, the lazuli blue also indicates intitive power and the power of the subconscious mind as the conception of all that becomes form. The blue robe of the High Priestess is often painted phasing into the flowing river. The push and pull of the waters, caused by the moon, illuminates the nourishment, abundance and power that spiritual enlightenment can bring. The river flowing from her robe can be seen throughout many of the other Tarot cards, and life’s paths.

This is lapis lazuli also. Intuition based on deep vision and knowledge. A starry sky, calling us towards our destiny, guiding us along the twists and turns of our unique physical, emotional and spiritual wildlands.

Some colours are like uninvited dinner guests with dramas and big opinions. Others are for fun dancing on the canvas. And then, there’s oltremarino– the blue of all blues. My true blue. The end-all blue. The blue that all other blues quietly aspired to be. Romantic, mystical. Instantaneous, undeniable, undoubtedly, inevitable. Like love at first sight. Like a soul calling. Like hands knowing. Simple, natural, subtle, yet scenting skins forever.

It’s the love of all loves. It’s the man for whom you’ll finally say, That’s the one I was made for. That’s the one because of whom no one else exists. That’s the one for whom I waited all along. It’s your yes. It’s the everything.

i like you
like oltremarino
a special shade of blue
found only overseas
like Positano
like salt water wearing skin
bare thighs and shy freckles on my arms


like a whole slow day in bed
with silk curtains snaking winds
holding years of miles
like a voice that crosses the land of ice
and changes the course of my blood
like seconds that enter and refuse to leave
tracing promised hands along the quiet archway of my waist
like uncrowded paved streets towards a small white chapel
like eyes of heaven, so clear
like a love ritual repeating i do
each day, as if only to feel
this entire, this
i like you like i love you
sacred, intimate and always

~ from The God-like Things by Lubomira Kourteva

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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