How colourful are your dreams? The more practiced you get at recalling your dreams, the more likely you are to remember vivid colours in them. When we dream in colour it is often a sign that we are actively engaged with our imaginations, and that we are feeling more “fully alive,” noticing the richness of life around us even when awake, which carries over to our sleep and dreams. 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, but so too are people who pay close attention to the world around them, such as writers, journalists, naturalists, surveyors, scientists or anyone with an interest in the world. Children, who are very inquisitive and imaginative, are frequent dreamers in colour.
Sometimes though, more than simply dreaming in colour, we will have a dream where a particular colour seems to stand out. It may be that something is the wrong colour, such as the sky being green, an elephant being pink or blood being blue instead of red. Or it may simply be that you are left with a very strong impression of a colour that seemed to “wash” through the dream. A lingering sense of golden light, or a deep purple richness. Or it could be that you didn’t notice anything else in the dream even was coloured, apart from the shiny red apple, the dream person’s startlingly blue eyes, the bright orange shirt you were wearing.
Depending on how these colours appear in our dreams, they can have different meanings. You can start by looking for puns, jokes or common phrases. Seeing blue coloured blood might mean literally “blue blooded” and be a reference to nobility, your own noble qualities, a sense of birthright etc. Pink elephants may refer to being drunk, or as a symbol to be “intoxicated,” maybe with your sense of infatuation with a new love, or a love of life. Something appearing the wrong colour may be an indication that something you are considering is unlikely or improbable; or even the exact opposite, that something you thought was impossible may be actually happening or about to happen. For example “that will only happen when the grass turns blue and the sky turns green.” Other common colour associated phrases include:
- The “green eyed monster” for jealousy, or being “green with envy”
- The “blue eyed child” as a symbol of a favourite, or one who has received blessings
- The “scarlet lady” (may have scarlet, skin, hair or clothes) who represents wickedness, an affair or sexual freedom depending on your point of view
- “White as a sheet” to indicate fear or shock
- “Grey/Silver haired” to symbolise age, wisdom and experience
- Going through a “purple patch” when everything seems to be going well
- “Tickled pink” to be very pleased when something is working out
Beyond phrases, colours can have very individual meanings. These may be positive or negative, or somewhere in between. A colour does not have any intrinsic meaning of its own, it has only the meaning we give to it. So in order to understand colours in our dreams, it can help to ask:
- What feelings does this colour produce in me?
- What does this colour remind me of?
- Where am I seeing a lot of this colour in my life? Or where in my life is this colour missing?
- What other things in my life that are important to me are also this colour?
As you work with your dreams over time, you may start to notice when colours re-appear. Do you always dream of something red when you are falling in love? Something yellow when you are going through a creative period? When we notice our own patterns, we can start to recognise the unique messages our dreams are giving us, and develop our understanding of our own secret dream language.
Depending own our culture, colours can have very different meanings (some cultures get married in red, for example, and some have funeral processions in white); we can have national symbolism associated with colours (such as the “red white and blue” of the American flag, the Union Jack as well as the Australian flag) and more personal associations (including wearing a certain coloured uniform, our association with a particular political party and so on), so it is best to make sure what our own interpretation of a colour is first. But here are few ideas to get you started:
Red:anger, passion, life-blood energy, power, vitality, danger, warning, stop-sign, sexuality, confidence, flashy, intense, blood energy loss, war, desire, aggression, wrath, excitement; Socialism, Communism, Labour (political)
Yellow: creative, positive, optimistic, sunny, happiness, coward, shame, expectations, overload, stimulation, intellect, play-fullness, sickly, hazardous, childish, simple, caution, aged, vintage
Orange: vitality, earthiness, change, health, strength, endurance, heat, invigoration, appetite, action, balance, flamboyance, attention seeking, warmth
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, child-like, 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, hand made
Grey: age, conformity, boring, constricted, dull, maturity, respect, humility, neutral, inoffensive, oppressive, man-made, 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
Sometimes an object will appear in colour just to make sure we notice it. It can be a bit like our dreams highlighting the text with a fluorescent marker pen, or getting a giant arrow and pointing saying “notice this!” If colour is used like this in our dreams, we would do well to pay attention to both the object itself, and the colour of it.
It is only by looking at what is going on in our lives, and what other symbols and feelings are to be found in the dream, and then by applying our own intuition, that we can really start to understand colours in our own dreams. And even once we know what a colour means in one dream, we may find, just like the appearance and then disappearance of a rainbow, that this meaning will change in the next dream. It all depends on how we feel, and what other associations we make in our waking lives.
I recently came across this site that may prove useful when trying to understand the roles of colour in your dreams: