Purple seems to be a uniquely polarizing color: you either hate it or love it. It’s also a color that comes with plenty of meanings and associations.
If you’ve been seeing purple in your dreams, you might suspect that your subconscious mind is trying to tell you something, and chances are good that you’re right. But how do you sift through purple’s many meanings to discover what it means in your dream? Let’s find out.
What Does Purple Stand For?
You may have already noticed that purple isn’t too terribly common in the natural world. That often means that if you see it, it stands out! But as with any color, the context in which you see purple shapes its meaning. Here are some historical and contemporary associations that may help you figure out what the color purple means in your dream.
Royalty and Wealth
Even today, many cultures around the world associate purple with royalty. But have you ever wondered why? It all goes back to clothing. In ancient times, all types of clothing dyes came from nature, and purple things in nature were (and still are) notably rare. As a result, clothing dyed purple was prohibitively expensive, so only the very wealthy could wear it.
The most famous ancient purple dye was probably Tyrian purple. It originated around 1200 B.C. in Tyre, an ancient city in what is now Lebanon. Tyrian purple was made by crushing shells of sea snails. Kings and emperors wore it, and Tyrian purple was even mentioned by name in both the Iliad and the Aeneid poems.
In some areas, commoners were prohibited from wearing purple even if they could afford it. Under some Roman emperors, the wearing of purple by anyone other than the emperor was a crime punishable by death!
Loyalty and Freedom
This association comes largely from the women’s suffrage movement. In Britain, suffragists adopted green, white, and violet as their colors. These colors were chosen to echo the movement’s key sentiment: give women the vote.
The American movement used the colors purple, white, and gold. In 1913, an article in The Suffragist explained the rationale behind the colors: White stood for purity and “the quality of our purpose,” purple was “the color of loyalty, constancy to purpose, unswerving steadfastness to a cause,” and gold symbolized a torch leading the way.
Even if you don’t know much about the U.S. Military, you’ve probably heard of the Purple Heart. This is a medal given to soldiers who are injured or killed in action. This award was created by George Washington in 1782, although it was called the Badge of Military Merit then. It was given the name Purple Heart because the color purple is sometimes associated with courage and bravery.
In many parts of the world, including Italy and the U.K., purple is a color of mourning. That’s likely because in the Christian tradition, the color has historically symbolized the death of Jesus.
In Catholicism, it can also symbolize penance and suffering. Priests wear purple robes during Advent (the time before Christmas) and Lent (the time before Easter). During Advent, purple represents the sorrowful world as it waits for the coming of Jesus. During Lent, it stands for the suffering Jesus endured as he spent 40 days in the desert.
Spirituality and Enlightenment
The color purple is often connected to spirituality. This may be because purple is the color of the crown chakra. According to Hindu tradition, the crown chakra is the center of energy located at the top of your head. It’s thought to be the gateway to spiritual enlightenment.
This one might sound surprising. After all, purple is rare in nature, but that doesn’t make it supernatural! However, purple is the most powerful visible wavelength of light, so it approaches the power of ultraviolet light. That power (combined with its rarity in nature) might explain why purple is often connected to things that are out of this world.
Conceit or Pomposity
Purple is associated with royalty, and like some royals, it sometimes appears too pompous. This association is behind the idiom “purple prose.” “Purple prose” is writing that is so elaborate or ornate that it draws attention to itself and away from the substance of the writing itself. If you’ve ever read a piece of writing that used far too many metaphors, adjectives, and adverbs, you know what purple prose is like!
The Meaning of Purple in Dreams
Now you’ve gotten a crash course in the many meanings of purple. But this color’s possible meanings are so diverse that you still may not be able to tell exactly what purple means in your dream. Here are a few things to keep in mind (and maybe even write down) as you start the interesting journey of dream interpretation.
Your Opinion of (and Associations With) Purple
If you absolutely love purple, seeing it in your dream will have a much different effect than if it’s your least favorite color. It’s also wise to consider the associations you have with purple. For example, if you have a purple house, it’s possible that you associate the color with the concept of home. If you were recently hit by a purple car, you might associate the color with pain or danger.
The Role of Purple in the Dream
Once you’ve thought about what purple means to you, you’ll be better equipped to discover what it means in your dream. Start by identifying each place you saw purple. Bizarre or unusual purple things are more likely to have some symbolic significance. For example, if you have a dream about walking through your city and seeing a purple skyscraper, the purple skyscraper probably symbolizes something!
Analyzing the actual storyline of your dream is an essential part of interpretation. Some dreams are literal: if you’re anxious about taking a test and have a dream about taking that test, it doesn’t take an expert to decipher your dream’s meaning.
Other dreams are allegories. For instance, say you have a dream about a friendly pet snake who suddenly begins to attack you. If you’ve recently been betrayed or backstabbed by a friend, the dream about the snake is an analogous story, and your dream might be your subconscious mind’s way of trying to help you process the event.
If your dream’s storyline doesn’t make any sense at first, try to connect elements of it to your waking life. After waking up from the snake dream, you might try to think of a time when you felt attacked. That leads you to remember your friend’s recent betrayal, and suddenly, your dream makes more sense.
The Way You Felt
The way you feel in a dream is a major clue. Let’s go back to the purple skyscraper dream. We know that purple can symbolize wealth and status. If you look up at the skyscraper and feel a rush of joy or hope, it might be an indication that you’re optimistic about your earning potential. If you feel despair, it might be a sign that you feel hopeless about your financial situation and see wealth as something you’ll never achieve.
An Example Dream
If you’re excited to start dissecting your dreams but don’t know where to start, you’re not alone! Especially if your dreams are incredibly complex, breaking them down and understanding what they’re trying to tell you can be difficult.
Let’s take a look at an example dream inspired by the picture above:
It’s a beautiful night, and you’re sitting outside stargazing. All of a sudden, something seems to shift. You notice clouds beginning to roll across the sky. These aren’t ordinary clouds, though — they appear to be a soft, glowing purple.
You sit in stunned silence as you watch the clouds pour in, blanketing the sky entirely. And even though you’re already baffled and a little afraid, you get the sense that something else is about to happen.
Sure enough, the stretch of clouds starts to perforate in the middle. The perforation then starts to widen, and you realize it seems to be opening, revealing what looks like a massive eye.
You feel like you really should be scared, but for some reason, you aren’t. Instead, you look closely at the eye. Its massive, violet-colored iris appears to be made up of infinite stars and galaxies.
You get the sense that the eye is looking right at you — that it knows you’re there. And strangely, you start to feel a sense of peace.
This dream sounds eerie and even a little creepy, but notably, you stopped feeling uneasy when you saw the eye. The way you feel when seeing a color is a valuable clue when it comes to decoding your dreams, so this is definitely something to pay attention to.
Because the eye you see in the sky is something you wouldn’t see in your waking hours, it’s possible that purple is representing the otherworldly or supernatural.
The galaxies and stars within the eye are other clues — these are two things many people picture when they imagine “the universe” as a whole. So could this mean you have a feeling that the universe is watching you? Maybe.
That’s a start, but it’s somewhat vague as dream interpretations go. When the eye looks at you, you feel a sense of peace, so it could be that you feel “seen” in the sense of being validated — that God or the spirit of the universe or some other entity knows you exist and has taken the time to look at you.
However, dreams often have many possible interpretations. For instance, the eye of stars and galaxies might be a symbol of extraterrestrial life watching life on Earth. Your sense of peace might indicate that you’re comfortable knowing the human race isn’t completely alone in the universe. You know yourself best, so you’re the best one to judge what your dream means.
What Does Purple Mean in Your Dream?
It can take a considerable amount of time to be able to confidently interpret your dreams, but having a decent knowledge of color theory can help. You may not find that every single color you dream of ends up being significant, but purple is uncommon enough that when it shows up, it really makes a splash. Making the effort to get to the bottom of your purple dreams can be difficult, but it’s well worth it!
Learn more about dreaming in color and discover what different colors mean in dreams.