8 Common Colors and What They Symbolize in Dreams
How Dreams Communicate in Color
In waking life, color is used to symbolize everything from mourning to love. Do our dream lives share the waking one's fascination with using color to communicate?
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, then we realize that dreams use color to express themselves just as much as we use it to communicate in the waking world.
We'll start our exploration of color in dreams with the same eight colors Crayola used to start its first color box back in 1903 which are:
We'll also have a look at what black and white dreams mean and cover how color can provide a wealth of information on things such as spirituality, health, emotional states, and the transformation of the psyche.
1. Red in Dreams
Red is a complex color symbol in both the waking and dream worlds.
For example, in India brides prefer wearing red, not white to their weddings. The same color that a Western bride would cringe walking down the aisle in is the color of choice for an Eastern one.
The use of red as the color of a wedding dress illustrates how deep and disparate the symbolism of the color red goes in waking life.
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:
- Life source or energy
When we've been in the midst of 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 our passion for life has returned.
Red is, obviously, the color of blood. Blood as our body's life source is also 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.
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.
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.
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.
To get an accurate idea of which of the above is the best interpretation for your dream, consider all the aspects of the dream. Look at what symbol is red, then pair the symbolism of that particular image with the color red.
2. Dreams of Orange
In dreams, orange is a wonderfully positive color. As the symbolic color of the sun, orange symbolizes nurture, growth, and creativity.
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 lends energy without red's tendency to overwhelm.
The color orange in dreams indicates health in physical, emotional, and spiritual levels.
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.
Yellow, when interpreted positively, is a very spiritual color, reflective of the warmth and nurturing feelings one experiences on a warm spring day, on 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.
Sky of Blue and Sea of Green
Nature always wears the color of the spirit.— Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. Dreams in Green
Green is typically an overwhelmingly positive color symbol. It brings with it connotations of growth, especially spiritual growth, renewal, happiness, joy, and serenity.
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.
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.
5. Blue Dreams
In the waking world, blue is a perennial favorite color of many people 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:
- Heaven and spirituality
- Tranquility and contentment
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.
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 that which is spiritual.
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.
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 also associated with the color blue. Blue in dreams may indicate that the dreams 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.
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 Dream Symbolism
Vivid violet is associated with rich symbolism as vibrant as the color itself. In dreams violet symbolizes:
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, spirituality, or aspirations.
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 and Lent is 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 life and life choices.
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.
Prince Reigned in Purple
The soul becomes dyed by the color of its thoughts.— Marcus Aurelius
7. Brown Dreams 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.
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.
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 such as that state of seemingly infinite despair known as the "long dark night of the soul."
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.
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 About Dreaming in Black & 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.
In waking life, thinking in rigid terms is described as black and white thinking meaning that one sees life only in extremes—things are either good or bad, right or wrong.
Dreams that feature the colors of black and white may be a bit different that dreams that are absent brilliantly colored features. Black and white figuring prominently in dreams can mean that the dreamer is think in rigid terms and refusing to allow anything to color the dreamer's opinion on a waking life matter.
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.
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Which Meaning Fits My Dream?
With all the possible variants in color dream meanings it might seem difficult to select which meaning is most suited for our 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 from a dream, 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 in the colors is to take note of what image carries the color in the dream. For example, dreams of a blue church are likely going to lend a spiritual aspect to the color blue whereas a dream of a blue bike is more likely to color the dream with tinges of the contentment of a long bike ride on a sunny, summer day or bring back memories of 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 story line.
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
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- Symbolism of Color: Using Color for Meaning
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2011 Aisling Ireland