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What Does the Color Red Symbolize in Dreams?

Updated on April 4, 2019
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Aisling is the author of "Dog Funeral Evangelism." Her articles on dream interpretation and Jungian psychology have over 2.1 million views.

Did you know that in India red, not white, is the preferred color for blushing brides? The color a Western bride would cringe at wearing for her walk down the aisle is the go to color for Indian weddings.

The use of red as a bridal color illustrates the color's complexity. Not only does red have disparate cross cultural connotations, but it also has a plethora of meanings within a single one.

Red may express exuberance. Red may also express anger. A red letter day is great; red numbers, not so much.

Red in a dream can symbolize ideas, concepts, and emotions such as:

  • Passion
  • Blood as the life source
  • Anger
  • Exuberance
  • Fire
  • Transformation

Red can indicate transformation or radical, soul-altering creativity. Or red may appear to say simply, "Take careful note of this." By taking careful note of not only the symbol highlighted by the color red, but also to pay close attention to the emotional feelings in the dreams and look to one's own personal mythology to find what meaning seems most applicable to one's own life.

Emotional Tone of Dreams

One of the best places to start interpreting the color red or any other dream symbol is on the emotional level.

How the dream makes the dreamer feel is of paramount importance because those feelings tap into the dreamer's own personal mythology and associations.

The dreamer's associations are always the most important because while symbols all have general associations, the personal ones are the ones the hit home, the ones that are most directly relevant to the dreamer.

Since it is the dreamer trying to find meaning to his dream, that's the place to start. The determination of how one feels on waking lets one whether to search for a negative or positive dream interpretation of the symbol.

When seeing red in a dream ask the following:

  • What image was red? How did seeing that red image make you feel? Happy, sad, angry, frightened?
  • Was the image something one would typically expect to see colored red? If not, was it disconcerting seeing it that color?
  • Do you have a personal association with the symbol that was red? If so, what is your association? Are your memories of it pleasant or ones you'd rather not recall?

Also consider how the dream left you feeling. Did the imagery stay with you or did the dream fade quickly? Is the imagery or the emotion what stayed with you throughout the day?

Emotions are absolutely key in getting to the heart of a dream's meaning. Taking time to analyze them will lead to invaluable insights.


Red As An Expression of Anger

Anger is one of the primary emotions red is used to symbolize.  Check the dream for other anger symbols and actions such as striking people or objects, lashing out verbally, or instruments that may be tinged with red or even canvasses being painted in red colors.


Red as the Life Force

Blood is one of the most obvious fluids colored red and as such red often symbolizes the very life force itself.

Blood need not literally be present, just symbolically. For example, seeing one's self behind the wheel of a red sports car might feel invigorating and may symbolize feelings of empowerment with the life force flowing freely and powerfully through one's veins.

By the same token, seeing red paint spilled on the floor, or even red Kool-Aid leaking from a cup might indicate feelings that the life force is being drained away from one's body and soul.

Alternatively, should one find red leaking or spilling from some source, the dreamer might check waking life to see if something or someone is acting as an energy drainer.


Red and the Fire of Creativity

The alchemists had a much more narrow interpretation of the color red. For them, red was fire. But in alchemy, fire was more than simply heat. Fire was the force of creativity, the force what allowed radical transformation in the fulminato stage -- the stage tha directly preceded the accomplishment of the "Great Work."

In dreams, red may be similarly interpreted meaning that the dreamer is engaged not only in a time of deep creative passion, but creativity that radically transforms one from the soul up and down and in and out.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Aisling Ireland


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