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How Dreams Communicate in Color
In waking life, color is used to symbolize everything from mourning to love, from sadness to lack of courage. Does the symbolism of a color carry over into a dream? Yes, it does!
Sometimes we don't realize we're dreaming primarily in black and white until a brilliant burst of color illuminates a dream. After that first beam of color shines through, we realize that our subconscious minds use color to express symbolic emotions the same way our waking minds use color to communicate meaning. When you notice a color (or lack of it) in a dream, it's definitely something to look into to aid your interpretation.
We'll start our exploration of color in dreams with the same eight colors Crayola used to start its first box of colored crayons back in 1903, which are:
We'll also have a look at what black and white dreams mean and how color can convey information about spirituality, health, emotional states, and the transformation of the psyche.
1. Red in Dreams
Red is a controversial color symbol in both the waking and dream worlds. Cultural differences about what color to wear to a wedding illustrate how deep and disparate the symbolism of the color red can be. For example, in India, brides prefer wearing red—not white—to their weddings, so the same color that might make a Western bride cringe might appeal to an Eastern one. In the dream world, red also has a number of different interpretations, as well. For example, red in dreams can express such diverse ideas as:
- Passion. Red is symbolically the color of the heart, so the color red in a dream might symbolize love, attraction, passion, and other intense, overwhelming emotions of the heart.
- Anger. Red in dreams is also linked to anger. Look at what is red in the dream to see what might be the source of hostility.
- Danger. Red is also used to signify danger or to alert us to stop. If we're dreaming about being stuck at a stop light, it's important to look into that dream and ascertain if the red light is simply an annoyance or if it's alerting us to halt an activity we're engaged in before we find ourselves in serious trouble.
- Transformation. One interpretation of the color red in dreams that might be overlooked is that of transformation. Red is symbolically the color of fire, and fire is transformative. If you have been involved in a particularly trying time, dreaming of the color red may indicate that you've gone through the fire, burned away all impurities, and are now left with nothing but gold to work with.
- Healing. When we're experiencing depression, dreams involving the color red can indicate that our passion for life is returning, that we can feel the life force pumping through our veins and transfusing renewed passion for life.
- Life Source or Energy. Red is, obviously, the color of blood. As our body's life source, blood symbolically linked to energy. When dreaming of the color red, it is wise to check other images in the dream. If there is an aspect in the dream where something is spilling or leaking a red fluid, see if there anything in waking life is acting as an energy drain, something—or someone—sapping away the life force.
To get an accurate idea of which of the above is the best interpretation for your dream, consider all the aspects of your dream. Look at what object is red, then pair the symbolism of that particular image with the color red.
2. Dreams of Orange
- Positive Growth. In dreams, orange is a wonderfully positive color. As the symbolic color of the sun, orange symbolizes nurture, growth, and creativity.
- Balance. Orange in dreams also symbolizes balance. It contains all the passion of red, but in the color orange, red's passion in enlightened with yellow's sagacity. Orange conveys energy without red's tendency to overwhelm.
- Health. The color orange in dreams indicates health in physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.
- Creativity. Orange is also the color of creativity—balanced, free-flowing, healthy creativity that is expressive but not obsessive. Orange in dreams indicates a lovely, warm, creative fire is kindling inside allowing us to express ourselves without being consumed by the flame.
3. Dreams in Yellow
Yellow is a complex dream color and its interpretation in dreams often depends on the feeling or the dream and/or the imagery surrounding the color. When interpreted positively, yellow is a very spiritual color, reflective of the warmth and nurturing feelings one experiences on a warm spring day or at the first light of dawn as the sun begins to chase away the darkness with its vibrant radiance. Other positive associations for the color yellow in dreams are:
- A sunny disposition
- Vitality and energy
Unfortunately, yellow also carries negative connotations as well. Yellow has traditionally been associated with deception and illness (think jaundice) and even cowardice. The best way to interpret the meaning of the color in your dream is to take into account what images in the dream were yellow and the overall feeling the dream left you with upon waking.
Nature always wears the color of the spirit.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Dreams in Green
- Positive Growth. Green is typically an overwhelmingly positive color symbol. It brings with it connotations of growth (especially spiritual growth), renewal, happiness, joy, and serenity.
- Youth and Hope. Green is also a color of youthfulness and of hope. It symbolizes the promise lying in the frozen soil, waiting to burst forth as spring chases away the cold, dark winter nights and brings with it the lengthening of days.
- Christian Interpretation. In Eastern Orthodox Christian iconography, green is used to symbolize that place where life finds its beginning and is often found in icons depicting the Annunciation or Christ's Nativity. It is also the color associated with Pentecost, which is when the apostles first encountered the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
5. Blue Dreams
In the waking world, blue is a perennial favorite color and it is easy to see why. Outside its association with sadness (as in when we say we are experiencing "the blues"), the color blue is almost always a positive color. The same holds true in dreams with blue symbolizing idea and emotions such as:
- Aspirations. The skies are blue as are the oceans, and both are symbols of that which is endless. As the color of two primary symbols of the infinite, blue can symbolize high aspirations. If blue is showing up in dreams, it can indicate a time when the dreamer is feeling a great deal of self-actualization or at least striving for such.
- Spirituality. As blue is the color of the sky and the skies are associated with heaven, the color blue is also a symbol of high spirituality. In the Christian tradition, the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) is associated with the colors blue and white, symbolizing purity and spirituality. Therefore, blue can indicate a time when the dreamer's thoughts are focused on spiritual concerns.
- Loyalty. Blue is associated with loyalty which is why it is one of the top colors job candidates wear to interviews. In dreams, blue can signify either the loyalty of the dream to some person or idea or the loyalty of another person or institution to the dreamer.
- Tranquility and Contentment. Because blue is associated with both the sky and sea, places that we find comforting and tranquil, dreams with the color blue might indicate that the dream is enjoying such a time in the waking world.
- Wisdom. Wisdom also associated with the color blue. Blue in dreams may indicate that the dreamer has gained wisdom in a certain area of life or is, perhaps, in need of wisdom in that area. Look at what image is blue for further information as to where that wisdom has been gain or is needed.
- Sadness. Blue may also be a play on words as "the blues" indicate feelings of sadness. If one has recently experienced a break up or other loss in waking life, then blue might show up as an expression of that loss and the emotional upset accompanying it.
6. Violet or Purple Dream Symbolism
Vivid violet or purple is associated with rich symbolism as vibrant as the color itself. In dreams, violet symbolizes:
- Wealth. Violet in dreams is an indication of wealth but that wealth need not be limited to the material. Violet can symbolize a wealth of knowledge, emotional growth, spiritual gain, or aspirations.
- Spirituality. Violet is also a color associated with spirituality. Violet is often interchangeable with the color purple and in the Christian tradition, purple is the liturgical color associated with Lent, a time of contemplation and penitent thoughts. Therefore, for those who are Christian, purple or violet dreams could indicate a time in which the dreamer is contemplating spiritual life and life choices.
- Originality. Violet is a wonderfully original color and as such it is privileged among creative types such as painters, poets, writers, and those who dare to step outside the mainstream and dance to their own music with steps they've choreographed on their own.
The soul becomes dyed by the color of its thoughts.
— Marcus Aurelius
7. Brown Dream Symbolism
Brown is a comforting color, bringing to mind a warm mug of steaming, hot chocolate, or leaves crunching underfoot on a crisp autumn morning. In dreams, brown can symbolize this comfort, or it can reflect an intense desire for such comfort.
- The Fundamental. Brown is the color of the earth which supports the life of all that grows and sustains us. Brown symbolizes that which is foundational and that which supports us. In that capacity, the color brown can also symbolize the home, or the home life. It can symbolize a desire to return to a simpler time or a longing to simplify our lives.
- Humility. On a spiritual level, brown can symbolize humility. In fact, the etymology of "humble" comes from Latin humus, which means "earth." Iconographers sometimes clothe the Mother of God in brown to symbolize the Virgin's humility.
8. Dreaming in Black
As in waking life, black in dreams may be used to express depression, grief, or mourning. However, black can also be used to communicate spiritual states like that seemingly infinite despair known as the "long, dark night of the soul."
- Death and Suffering. Black in dreams can represent the nigredo, the time when the false ego self undergoes a painful crucifixion and the time when the aspirant may feel much like the crucified Christ whose plaintive cry on the Cross epitomizes the feeling of abandonment one may feel while carrying one's own cross.
- Transformation. Death in dreams is actually the beginning of transformation, not the end of physical life. However, while the hope of resurrection is assured, the color black is the perfect expression of the abject loneliness one may feel not only during a spiritual process, but during times of crisis in waking life.
What Does It Mean If I Dream in Black and White?
As previously stated, many people do not realize that they dream in black and white until they are surprised by a splash of color in a dream.
- Extremes. In waking life, thinking in rigid terms is described as a "black and white mindset," meaning that one sees life only in extremes—things are either good or bad, right or wrong.
- Rigidity. Dreams that feature the colors black and white may be a bit different that dreams that simply don't have brilliantly colored features. When black and white figure prominently in a dream, it can mean that the dreamer is thinking in rigid terms and refusing to allow any other colors or perspectives.
Thinking in black and white is not necessarily a bad thing. For example, a dream that features predominantly black and white may simply be communicating that a situation that appears complex is actually being over-analyzed by the dreamer.
How to Interpret the Color of Your Dream
With all the possible variants in color dream meanings, it might be difficult to select which meaning is most suited for your particular dream. Here are some ways to help you interpret your color dreams:
- Our feelings give clues to which meaning is best. If one has negative emotions in the dream or is left with bad feelings upon waking, unfortunately, the color is likely going to lend itself to a negative interpretation. On the other hand, the more positive the emotional tone of the dream, the more chance there is that the picture our dream is painting is a pleasant one.
- Another great way to find the meaning of your dream's colors is to take note of what image carries the color in the dream. For example, a dream of a blue church is likely conveying the spiritual aspect of the color blue, whereas a dream of a blue bike might simply be highlighting the importance of the bicycle and what it represents, drawing the dreamer's attention to childhood memories, perhaps the freedom of a long bike ride on a sunny, summer day or the loyalty of a childhood friend.
Just as many dreamers fail to recognize that they are dreaming in black and white, those who dream in color often fail to recognize the importance of the colors that light up their nights. Color is often relegated to little more than a backdrop for an interesting storyline.
If one keeps a dream journal, it might be beneficial to record the colors that are making recurrent appearances in one's dreams because color can oftentimes be the key to deciphering a dream's message.
- 10 Interesting Facts About Dreams
Dreams can be fascinating, exciting, terrifying, or just plain weird. Learn more about the fascinating dream facts researchers have discovered.
- Symbolism of Color: Using Color for Meaning
Comprehensive information on color. Includes color's use in culture, religion, art, and more.
Have Your Say
© 2011 Aisling Ireland
Angelina Molibeli on September 05, 2020:
Hello so it was my wedding and I was wearing a yellow dress that can mean what
CalWalker on June 03, 2020:
I normally have this dream where I’m in my house, but there’s an invisible door upstairs that I use for hiding when I’m being chased, and in the room, there’s a bunch of other rooms and the whole place is golden. It’s super cool, and I go in there in my dreams when I’m bored or in danger.
sally on May 05, 2020:
My dreams are like real life multi color ...sometimes waking my dreamlife is as real as my wake time detail to extremes and lasting I recall dreams I have had 20 plus years ago
Johndriel on March 22, 2020:
I dream of a yellow light which a light came from the body and it is likely a sun. When I see it, i bow down my knee and crying.. Thats what I see in my dream and when woke up its already 9am in the morning
DREAM ON on February 07, 2020:
I can't wait to dream again. I will hurry back to see what it really means. In the past, I have not noticed color even though color may have existed. Thank you for sharing. Happy dreaming.
Mabel Nobantu Cewana on February 06, 2020:
I don't get dreams with floral colors
Dreamer on December 29, 2019:
It is cool when I go to school tomorrow I will show all my friends and ask them what colors they see at night. Then tell them what it means
Karen A Szklany from New England on December 28, 2019:
Great comprehensivd article about colors in dreans. I'm sure I'llread it many more times!
dreamwalker on December 28, 2019:
i dream a many all lite color clouds... dont know what kind of interpretation of that please help.
LAVICTOIRE jean d' Eric on December 07, 2019:
thanks for your explanation about meaning of different colors that are available in our real world.
Rose Smith from Australia on March 28, 2018:
I had a dream of looking in the mirror and I was wearing a white shirt. My breasts leaked milk and wet my shirt so I took my shirt off. I wasn't pregnant in the dream so I was frightened when that happened. My recent dreams have been evolving around that dream. I seem to have required sudden romantic feelings towards a man I know in real life but I don't have romantic feelings for him in real life.
I can not look at milk the same anymore 'cause of my dream so I was wondering if you knew what it meant so I can actually drink milk. The dream was also weird 'cause I NEVER wear white shirts, I always wear black.
khwaab on January 04, 2014:
i am dreaming everything white in my dreams, white peoples in white clothes, highted n tall,
can any1 clarifies me abiut this dream.
escobizzy on November 06, 2012:
what does it mean to see someone wearing a red black and white shirt in your dream
Danette Watt from Illinois on August 25, 2011:
very interesting hub. Dreams are fascinating to try to interpret. I agree that we each have to build our own definitions of some symbols.
Linda Rogers from Minnesota on August 25, 2011:
I love the topic of dreaming and what colors and black and white mean. You did a great job explaining what it all means and I am going to bookmark this hub.
Victor Mavedzenge from Oakland, California on August 25, 2011:
At one point I had a couple of dreams if plants in vivid green colour with a storm behind them, it always predicted death or an unpleasantness which happened shortly there after. I have not had these for years now. Great hub and congratulations on your nomination
Karen A Szklany from New England on August 25, 2011:
Yes, color dreams usually do stand out for me...and bright ones. So many of my dreams are misty and dark that a bright dreams will make me waken more happy afterwards.
The other night I woke up from a dreams about having to walk in a road that was half blocked by machines cutting down sunflowers. It was so sad. I didn't pick one up, but just kept walking with my daughter...sad...never getting to where it was I was/we were walking to.
Another dream was about picking up sticks in the woods, but woke before anything really "happened" in my dream. But still...it seemed that I felt closer to nature. We have a wooded labyrinth where I live, so I must walk it more often than I do. It may help me figure out what some of my dreams are telling me. :0)
Have a great day, and blessed be!
Aisling Ireland (author) from Savannah, Georgia on August 23, 2011:
I am sorry--I was ill and got way behind on my HubPages work. Thanks for all the great comments.
SueB--I get all my photos from Wikimedia Commons. It's a repository of photos and media that are all in the public domain. You can find absolutely fabulous stuff there. I don't know what I'd do without it.
I am of the opinion that dreams can mean all manner of things. I don't think they are one of life's great mysteries. I write what I write as a starting point for dream investigation, not as a bottom line meaning. I can't imagine anything worse than a one size fits all dream interpretation!
Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on August 22, 2011:
I enjoyed reading your hub and looking at the photos, awesome! I don't know if I will keep a dream journal but there are certain color dreams that I do remember in the morning. Now I will be more aware heheheh
Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination from ripplemaker and the Hubnuggets team. To read and vote, this way please: https://enellelamb.hubpages.com/hubnuggets6/hub/A-... Best of luck!
.josh. on August 22, 2011:
Absolutely fascinating hub, Esme. For my writing, I often like to record my dreams, and will have to start consulting with your hub to determine the meanings of the colors that appear. I find the dreaming in black-and-white bit particularly intriguing - I'd never heard that before.
Congrats on your well-deserved nomination! Very interesting, well-written hub.
FloraBreenRobison on August 19, 2011:
Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. I studied the psychology of colour in a psych course-waking life. Colors are fascinating.
Mark from Alabama,USA on August 19, 2011:
WOW - I learned so much from this awesome hub
voted up and useful,and I am following you now.
QudsiaP1 on August 13, 2011:
I enjoyed reading this because it meant so much. To learn new things even if you do not necessarily believe in them is what life is all about and I well, I am a dreamer, I believe in everything. :)
TheDailyMessenger from Las Vegas, NV on August 09, 2011:
To Sue B.,
So I assume you suggest a dream journal for me. I will from now on. and thanks for your brief history. very helpful.
Sue B. on August 09, 2011:
I remembered my dreams here and there throughout my life. It wasn't until I started a dream journal that I improved my dream recall. Every morning I would type out what I could recall from a dream. Sometimes it was just one image, a color, a feeling, a sound other times it was a full dream. I noticed over time I recalled long dreams almost every night and what I could recall was becoming more detailed and the dreams were getting longer and longer. What I found fascinating is that there seems to be a physical reason why we forget dreams- recalling so much dream content was exhausting for me! Once I stopped typing them out routinely every morning I began to recall less and less. I journaled for two years and it taught me that our dreams are a lot richer than we realize and the dreams we actually recall are just the tip of the iceberg.
TheDailyMessenger from Las Vegas, NV on August 08, 2011:
To Sue B.,
That's very fascinating, I never really notice a dream unless it becomes a reoccurring dream. otherwise I don't really pay attention but, I like your idea. I must ask though, how do you remember your dreams?
Sue B. on August 08, 2011:
Hello and welcome to hubpages!
I have written a similar article recently but hands down- yours has the best pictures! Where did you find such beautiful pics that do not require you to give the owner credit?
As for dreams- everyone is correct since there are many different types of dreams and many different layers to our dreams. I personally am fascinated by dreams. They can be meaningless and just a processing of the days events although I do find meaning in my day! I tend to remember the dreams that are important to me. I work out problems in my dreams and it is a quite place where I find my creativity. Just like thoughts can be of many different natures so could dreams. We can have meaningless thoughts and we could have meaningless dreams. We tend not to talk about them though. When we discuss them, we are discussing the dreams that truly mean something to us. If it feels important it is. I find it interesting that throughout my life and day I choose to dream of specific events at specific times. Sometimes the most mundane dreams make me realize how I am approaching something and what I need to do next.
TheDailyMessenger from Las Vegas, NV on August 05, 2011:
You know you both are right in many ways, I also, believe That the dreams we have, Could also symbolize things that have happened in our past lives, untraceable memories that will always remain in the past but, always interacts with us in the present and future. Does that make sense?
Aisling Ireland (author) from Savannah, Georgia on August 04, 2011:
I believe that the most important meaning to attach to any symbol is one's own. I believe that symbols have a broad generalized meaning that individuals can use as a starting point toward finding their own dream meanings. I believe that that on which we place a great deal of importance is how the Universe communicates to us. If we don't place importance on a subject, then that's not going to be the manner in which the Universe will communicate to us. For example, I adore the music of U2 and I endow that music with a great deal of importance. When I pray or meditate, I will many times hear a U2 song on the radio that seems to provide me with an answer that I was looking for. That is my perception. Does that mean that my perception is the only one or that if one doesn't listen to U2 then God can't speak to that person? Absolutely not! It means that that person has a different path to the divine. It is to me the ultimate paradox--how universal and personal the divine is for each of us.
I write articles on dream interpretation that give broad strokes to a symbol. There are many people who have no starting point whatsoever or who rarely recall their dreams and I write what I do because I try to show how many many a single symbol can have just in the small space I have in which to write. I do this because I dislike symbol books that either use dreams to predict the future of that insist that a dream can only have one meaning. I like trying to, as much as I can in a limited space, show that symbols are far more complex than anything a single sentence can say about them.
kallini2010 from Toronto, Canada on August 04, 2011:
Isn't the symbolism borne out of our perceptions? What we see during the day, we see during the night - only scrambled, transformed?
I cannot see in my dreams something I am not even aware of...
I had a dream of myself dancing tango... (Badly) in a red dress and red shoes...
I have a red dress and our teacher has red shoes which I like...
Before I never dreamed of myself dancing tango in particular but since I started the lessons, it is another story.
I met a friend and I had a dream about him - it was a continuation of the day... more or less...
Don't we ascribe too much meaning to things?