Emilie Peck is a freelance writer. She is also a student of alternative medicine, including massage therapy, herbalism and aromatherapy.
What Does Red Mean in a Dream?
When you think of the color red, several things may come to mind. From hot lava to Valentine’s Day, the color red can have so many meanings. In dreams, red is associated with many things and can serve as a valuable tool for interpreting a dream’s meaning.
Because colors are so versatile, I’ve broken the potential meanings into four different categories:
- Emotional Meanings
- Symbolic Meanings
- Metaphysical Meanings
- Personal or Individual Meanings (A Technique for Interpreting Your Dreams)
The color red is one of the most primal colors in our world, thanks to its association with blood. It holds special emotional meaning for cultures around the world. Red is usually associated with feelings like lust, courage, passion, anger and fear.
So, how can you tell which emotion red represents in your dream? Context is everything in this case. A good example of a red fruit which may come up in dreams is the strawberry.
For some people, strawberries are associated with the innocence of family outings to the local farm for berry picking, or growing strawberries in their gardens. These images bring feelings of familial love, safety and achievement, which could all be things that you’ve surrounded yourself with, or need more of in your life.
On the other hand, others see strawberries as a very sensual fruit. If you dream of feeding strawberries dipped in cream or chocolate to a lover, the dream may be reinforcing the romantic love and lust you feel for a particular person or the longing you feel for that sort of relationship.
The quality of the color is also indicative of the emotions your dream is trying to tell you about as well. To stick with the strawberry example, if the berries are the rich, deep shade of ripened fruit, which could mean that the feelings they represent is healthy and fulfilling. However, if the red is mixed with the black or grey of rot, that means that the emotions have turned toxic, and it’s time to let them go.
Think about the types of red, too. Deep, rich crimson could represent darker sides of lust than the bright, playful scarlet of a cupid's heart, or the innocent pink of a child's room.
All things are symbolic in dreams, but the color red has a wider range of symbolism than many realize. Think about your every day life, for a moment.
When a street light turns red, it’s a warning to stop, so other cars can go by. If you donate blood, you may give to the Red Cross, which is in place to help people in need. The red light district in your town is where people seek an outlet for their lust. When blood makes an appearance, usually it’s because of some sort of illness or injury. Because the color has so many different meanings in the waking world, those same meanings hold true in sleep.
In addition to things like warning signs, it could also represent the need to pay attention to the feminine aspects in your life. Thanks to its association with menstrual blood and childbirth, red is also a powerful symbol of fertility, motherhood and all things involving women.
Again, context is everything. If you dream about blood, is it because you or someone else is wounded? Or is it connected to menstruation? Injury can be a warning that something is wrong, while menstruation could represent fertility in association with a project or ongoing process. Also, a bandaged injury indicates that the problem is being treated, while if the wound is free to bleed, it could indicate an urgent need for healthy intervention.
Meanings of Symbolic Red Images in Dreams
|Red Symbol||General Meaning|
Life, injury, fertility, motherhood
Passion, cleansing, destruction, nurturing, heat
Robin Red Breast
New beginnings, spring, nature
Archaeologists have found traces of red paint in connection to religious ceremonies since before the written word was invented. Although cultures around the world have evolved long past those humble beginnings, the significance of red has lingered within the fabric of our varied customs and religions.
The Cardinals of the Catholic Church wear red as a representation of their deep devotion to their religion, while brides in many cultures wear red as an expression of marital joy. There are several African cultures which associate the color red with sorrow, evil and violence, while many European and American cultures associate it with romance.
In dreams, red could represent any of those things, depending on your individual beliefs.
However, it’s also associated with the planet Saturn, which represents new beginnings, sudden changes, cleansing and determination. It’s also associated with fire, which can be seen as a cleansing force just as much as a destructive force.
On the other hand, fire can also be a nurturing force, like the fire in a hearth or one over which food is cooked. The color red, like the fire it may represent, is a lesson in contradictions and the deeply spiritual experience human life can be.
Closely connected with fire is the Phoenix, the mythical bird which is reborn from its own ashes. In this case, red could represent great pain and struggle, but the promise of a brand new start and hope for a better time.
To draw another connection to the role of the Phoenix, red also indicates a cycle of life, death and rebirth. When this type of reincarnation is brought into the picture, your dream may simply be telling you that you're in a state of growth.
If you're graduating from school, for instance, your life of a student at that particular institution is ending, but your life in another school or in the workplace is just beginning.
What Your Dreams Mean to You
When it comes right down to it, the meaning of the color red in your dreams is heavily dependent on what’s going on in your life and what associations you have with it. The below technique has helped me decipher the stranger dreams I’ve had. It’ll work for most symbols, like water, the color green and characters in the dream.
When you have a dream in which red factors strongly, take a minute to write down the first things that pop into your mind when you think of the color. Does red bring fun to mind for you? Is it an expression of romance?
Once you have the first five things that you think of down, jot down what was red in the dream or what caught your attention. From there, write what significance those things have to you down, and see if there are any connections to what you wrote down for the color red.
Once you have the individual symbols written down, take a look at the context of the dream. How were you using whatever tools showed up? What was the emotional tone? Was there anything strange in the goings on?
It may take a little practice to get the hang of successfully interpreting your dreams, especially the stranger once, but using the rich symbolism that colors like red brings will help you figure out what your subconscious is trying to tell you more easily. Once you learn how to read your dreams, you may start noticing positive changes in your life because of those messages.
Facts About Red
In addition to being an important part of dream interpretation, there are some very interesting facts about it.
- Red was the third color to get its name after black and white.
- Red is the first color babies can see.
- Gold is combined with chlorine to make the color red in stained glass.
- As one of the primary colors, red is combined with blue to make shades of purple and yellow to make shades of orange.
- Animals can't see the color red.
Questions & Answers
Question: What is the meaning of a red cap in a dream?
Answer: The color meaning would be similar to the information in the article, but since a hat protects the head, it would probably symbolize a psychic type of protection. Perhaps you're trying to protect yourself from stress, or your subconscious is telling you to "think ahead" for your goals. The style of the hat would have meaning, too. If it's a winter hat, it's there to keep you warm, while if it's a ball-cap, it protects your eyes from bright sunlight.
© 2013 Emilie S Peck
Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on July 25, 2019:
That's fantastic, Codyrstout. Excellent interpretation of an interesting dream. Good luck with quitting smoking, and I'm glad I could help!
Codyrstout on July 25, 2019:
Thank you for that i did a little more thinkibg on it what mobsters mean to me are like biker clubs to well bikers to ne mobster yeah organized crime but it goes deeper thinking of like the godfather they treated eachother as family so i interpereted symbolized family i need to wuit smoking due to that my wife says i smoke way to much which i know i do and maybe i dreamed so vividly about it cause i know i need to or should it was so vivid it scared me is all thinking it was my body telling me that something is wrong but putting the way you said i should look deeper into the symbolism thats what i came up with thank you for the advice on it.
Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on July 24, 2019:
WOW. That is quite the dream. I keep thinking there should be more to it, but there's a lot of symbolism there.
My instinct is to ask you what mobsters mean to you? I know the general association is with organized crime, glamour, and breaking the rules.
I'm pretty sure the red represents danger in this particular dream. It could be your subconscious either warning you about something or trying to work out something threatening in your life.
The person you talked to is also a reflection of yourself, maybe the part of yourself that knows you need to change unhealthy habits, but isn't motivated enough to do so until you start showing some sort of symptom of the harm being done.
It might be worth breaking down the symbols further and giving some thought about what they mean to you personally. It's also worth looking at what's going on in your life to trigger that sort of dream.
Thank you for sharing that dream, though! That's an interesting one with some vivid imagery.
Codyrstout on July 23, 2019:
I had a dream where a man didnt see the face dress like a mobster all black suit the undershirt was red handed me a all red envelope like from colonial days that heavy material the letter red as well and that heavy paper the writting was normal black print cant remember what it said but it was how i died said i died of an M word it flashed i was either working or just walking idk i was outside looked at someone said idk i have to quit smoking then i woke up what does this mean ?
Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on June 16, 2019:
Some sources say wedding veils mean purity and honesty, but that can change according to individual circumstances. What does the veil mean to you? The color red could indicate joy or a sign to stop doing something, depending on what it means to you personally, too. It's also a powerful symbol of life, thanks to its association with blood.
It's also important to look at what's going on in your life. Are you getting married soon? Divorced? Are you going to be in someone else's wedding? Attending weddings? Do you want to get married but it's not happening yet? Do you not want to be married, but are under pressure to do so? All of that factors into what the red veil in your dream means to you.
Lulubelle3131 on June 15, 2019:
I had a dream of wearing a white wedding dress with a red veil..what does it mean
Shirley Urso-Farmer from Michigan on July 14, 2016:
Yes I agree :)
Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on June 26, 2013:
So true! For such a common occurrence, dreams really are one of the most fascinating elements of the human experience.
JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 26, 2013:
I remember reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams. It's fascinating how the mind works - most of which we are still trying to unlock.