Colours in dreams: understand the meanings of different colours
Most people dream in colour, and take that for granted. Dreaming in black and white seems to be a peculiarity from the times when people watched black-and-white TV shows and movies, as this visual conditioning influenced their subconscious. You may, however, struggle to recall the colours in your dream upon waking. While you might not describe the dream as being exactly in black and white, it may simply feel colourless, with no colours seeming to stick in your memory. The more practiced you get at recalling your dreams, the more likely you are to remember vivid colours in them. People who work in very visual fields, such as artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, merchandisers, interior decorators and film-makers, are likely to have very colourful dreams. So too are people who pay close attention to the world around them, like writers, journalists, naturalists, surveyors and scientists, or anyone with a keen interest in the details of the world. Children, who are very inquisitive and imaginative, frequently report vivid colours in dreams. Sometimes, to noticeably dream in black and white, as if you were watching an old movie, may relate to issues arising from early childhood or even memories of older family members. In this context, the black-and-white element of the dream may be a visual history.
Colour in dreams is best contextualised with regard to whether or not one particular colour stands out and what this relates to. In general, colours in dreams can help provide an emotional framework. The colours that you take note of can reveal which feelings are important in a present situation. Combining colour with a symbol within a dream can add a layer of meaning to the symbol. For example, if clothes reveal how you wish to express yourself in the world, the colour of those clothes can help reveal what it is you wish to express. The colour of a car may symbolise the kind of energy and emotions that are driving you at present.
Sometimes, in a dream, a colour can capture your attention because it is obviously wrong. You may see a green sky, a pink elephant or blue blood. Sometimes you may be left with a strong impression of a colour that seemed to wash through the dream. This could be a lingering sense of golden light or a deep purple richness, for instance. Alternatively, you may notice nothing in the dream is coloured apart from one significant element. It could be a shiny red apple, a person’s eyes that are startlingly blue, or the bright orange shirt you are wearing. This can be your dream’s way of highlighting text with a fluorescent marker pen or flashing a giant arrow that points and says: “Notice this!”
Colours in dreams can have different meanings, depending on how they appear in your dream. We use colours a lot in language as shortcuts with colloquial meanings, therefore looking for puns, jokes or idioms can be very revealing. Seeing blue-coloured blood may refer to the phrase “blue blooded”, as a reference to nobility, your own noble qualities, a sense of birthright etc. Pink elephants may refer to being drunk or act as a symbol for intoxication. Maybe your sense of infatuation with a new love or for a love of life in general generates pink elephants in your dreams. Dreaming of a green sky could indicate that something you thought was unlikely to occur is actually happening, referencing the phrase: “That will only happen when the grass turns blue and the sky turns green.” Or “blue grass” could mean something entirely different to you if you listen to country music!
Other common colour-associated phrases include:
- “Green-eyed monster” or being “green with envy” to indicate jealousy.
- “Blue-eyed child”, symbolising a favourite child or one who has received many blessings.
- A “scarlet lady” (may have scarlet skin, hair or clothes), representing wickedness, an intimate affair or sexual freedom, depending on your point of view.
- “White as a sheet” to indicate fear or shock.
- “Grey or silver-haired” as a symbol of age, wisdom and experience.
- Going through a “purple patch”, meaning everything seems to be
- “Tickled pink” as an expression of being very pleased when something is working out.
Beyond phrases, colours can also have very individual meanings. A colour does not have any intrinsic meaning on its own, only the one we ascribe to it. In order to understand colours in our dreams, it can help to ask what feelings the colour produces in you. What does this colour remind you of? Where are you seeing this colour in your life, or where is it missing from your life? You could also ask, what are the things in life that are important to you that are also this colour?
Over time, as you work with your dreams, you may start to notice when colours reappear. Perhaps you always dream of something red when you are falling in love or something yellow when you are going through a creative period. Noticing your own patterns can help you to start to recognise the unique messages your dreams are telling you and develop a better understanding of your own dream language.
Depending on culture, colours can have very different meanings. Some cultures get married in red, for example, while some have funeral processions in white. Western associations of white for weddings and black for funerals may not always apply. National symbolism can be associated with colour, like the “red, white and blue” of the American flag, the Union Jack and the Australian flag. More personal associations can include colours connected to a preferred political party, sports team or uniform etc.
It is always useful to start with reflections on your own personal associations with a colour to gain insight into your dream’s meaning. Beyond the personal, there are qualities that can be commonly shared in association with colours — although some of these can be contradictory. Looking at the context of your dream and relating it to your own waking life will help reveal what a particular colour is symbolising to you at that moment in time.
Red Anger, passion, lifeblood, energy, power, vitality, danger, warning, sexuality, confidence, flashy, intense, stop, loss, war, desire, aggression, wrath, excitement, socialism, communism, Labour (political).
Orange Vitality, earthiness, change, health, strength, endurance, heat, invigoration, appetite, action, balance, flamboyance, attention-seeking, warmth.
Yellow Creative, positive, optimistic, sunny, happiness, coward, shame, expectations, overload, stimulation, intellect, playfulness, sickly, hazardous, childish, simple, caution, aged, vintage.
Green Growth, newness, fertility, freshness, money, wealth, inexperience, envy, jealousy, greed, sickness, toxic, stagnant, mouldy, fulfilling, healing, peace, planting, environment, ecology, go (green light), eternal life (evergreen), good luck.
Blue Clarity, openness, authority, friendliness, sadness (having the blues), depression, stability, trust, wisdom, masculine, corporate, reliable, mental, spirituality, heaven, truth, obscenity, new ideas (blue sky), tradition, serene, classic, serious, professional, tranquil, cool, cold, Liberal, Conservative (political).
Purple Royalty, authority, weird, alternative, unusual, power, luxury, wealth, extravagant, wisdom, mystery, magic, gloomy, artificial, outrage, bruised, ceremony, arrogance, sensual, braveness (purple heart), spiritual.
White Innocence, pure, clean, untouched, vacant, faith, medicine, impersonal, spiritual, light, hope, peace, bleach, drained of colour, artificial, pristine, washing, sterile.
Black Formal, elegance, prestige, mystery, unknown, fear, mourning, grief, night, unknown, power, dread, foreboding, bad mood, potential, opportunity, anonymous, rebellion, anarchy.
Pink Soft, feminine, gentle, newborn, helpless, romantic, mild, childlike, flirtation, blushing, embarrassment, pleasure, innocent, health, love.
Brown Earthiness, strong, natural, dull, home, outdoors, dirt, endurance, solid, reliable, disgusting, nature, rustic, tradition, wholesome, simple, rough, handmade.
Grey Age, conformity, boring, constricted, dull, maturity, respect, humility, neutral, inoffensive, oppressive, manmade, mechanical, city, old-age, boredom, unsettling, expectant, moody, wisdom.
Silver Intuition, magic, age, wisdom, illusion, purification, serenity, hopeful (silver lining), valuable, second best, pride.
Gold Wealth, success, prestige, status, superficial, fake, culmination, extravagance, high quality, value, glory, divine, winner.
COLOURS IN DREAMS AND CHAKRAS
Another aspect that may relate to colours in dreams is chakras — from ancient tantric and Hindu traditions. As chakras are related to specific parts of the body, to dream of a colour with reference to your body may symbolise the emotional and spiritual work you are doing around this chakra. The colour spectrum is represented in the seven chakras as rising from the base chakra (located in the base of the spine) through to the crown chakra (located above the head). If you also dream of snakes, flowing coloured light or water, mandalas or lotus flowers, this symbolism may be especially potent for you as you connect with and activate your Kundalini energy. This is the spiritual energy that rises through the chakras, when all is flowing well, and allows for full and free expression of yourself as a physical and spiritual being. It is only by looking at what is going on in your life, at what other symbols and feelings are in the dream, then applying your own intuition, that you can really start to understand colours in your dreams. And, even once you know what a colour means in one dream, you may find, just like the appearance and then disappearance of a rainbow, this meaning will change in the next dream.
COLOURS ASSOCIATED WITH CHAKRAS
Red Root chakra (base of the spine). Associated with security and safety, grounding, foundations, basic needs.
Orange Sacral chakra (genitals/lower belly). Associated with feelings, sensuality, creativity, harmony, relationships.
Yellow Solar plexus chakra (solar plexus/upper belly). Associated with expression of will, personal power, self-worth and self-esteem.
Green Heart chakra (heart and chest). Associated with love, empathy, giving, joy, inner peace.
Blue Throat chakra (throat/neck). Associated with communication, finding your voice, expression, purpose, truth.
Indigo Third eye chakra (centre of the forehead/between the eyes). Associated with vision, intuition, connection to wisdom and insight, imagination.
Violet Crown chakra (top of the head). Associated with higher consciousness, expanded awareness, ecstasy, bliss, breaking from patterns, spiritual connection.
Want to learn more about what your dreams mean? Visit our Dreams archive page.
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