White is the color of peace, light, and purity (among other things), and it frequently appears in our dreams. Its rich symbolism can communicate plenty, but getting to the bottom of that symbolism can be harder than it sounds!
Here’s a look at what the color white might mean if you’ve been seeing it in your dreams.
The Symbolism of White Around the World
One of the most fascinating things about color theory is that the same color can mean wildly different things in different areas of the world. Here are some of the many symbolic meanings of the color white. Some you may be familiar with — others may be entirely new!
At least in much of the Western world, white has traditionally stood for purity and elegance — that’s why it’s traditionally been the color for wedding dresses.
Although Queen Victoria wasn’t the first bride to wear white, she was largely responsible for popularizing the white wedding dress. For her highly publicized wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, she chose to wear a white gown trimmed with lace. Countless brides followed suit, and a tradition was born.
Mourning and Death
In Eastern cultures, white has a very different meaning. This color is a shade of death and mourning, and it’s typically worn at funerals (much like black in the Western world). In the Middle East, it’s connected to both purity and mourning.
The color white often represents light, so it’s no wonder that it’s come to be associated with truth and clarity. When something is illuminated, every facet of it (good or bad) becomes visible.
White isn’t necessarily a symbol of spaciousness. However, in interior design, it’s often used to create the illusion of more space. White allows natural light to reflect, so it’s a great color for making rooms look brighter and more open.
Because white is so often connected to purity and innocence, it’s also widely associated with peace. In Christianity, the white dove is used as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
The Biblical story of Noah’s ark has also led to both the white dove and the olive branch becoming symbols of peace. After the flood, Noah sent a dove to search for dry land. The dove came back holding an olive branch, indicating that the flood had ended.
Sterility and Cleanliness
Many hospitals are full of white, from their walls to their linens to the doctors’ coats. But have you ever wondered why? The color white is connected to sterility and cleanliness, and when you’re in a hospital, you understandably want to be in an environment that’s as clean as possible.
White’s connection to the idea of cleanliness is hardly new. In the 1700s in Europe, people very rarely bathed. Instead, they wore white linen under their clothes. Because white fabric showed dirt so easily, it was widely believed that white clothing actually cleansed the skin.
If you’ve spent any amount of time looking at ultra-modern interiors, you may have noticed that a large proportion of them are mostly or entirely white. White provides a high-contrast backdrop for other colors, and it also gives a room a lot of natural brightness.
You might not think of metal when you think of white. But in the Chinese tradition of feng shui, each color is connected to one of five elements: metal, water, wood, fire, and earth. White is connected to the metal element, an element that represents clarity, simplicity, precision, joy, and righteousness.
Oneness With the Universe
For those who believe in the chakras — energy centers of the body that also represent levels of consciousness — white has a special significance. It’s the color of the crown chakra, the energy center at the top of the head. The crown chakra is associated with spiritual enlightenment and a sense of oneness with the universe.
How Do You Know What White Means in Your Dream?
Knowing about some of the meanings of white across the world can be helpful — consider it a primer for analyzing your own dreams. This knowledge can be helpful, but when it comes to finding out what white means in your dreams, being more in tune with yourself and your connections to the color will often be more helpful.
Here are some things to consider if you have a dream that prominently features white:
Look at Where White Appeared
Dreams are often rife with symbolism, so if you see white objects, doorways, etc., the color may not be a coincidence. When you’re recalling your dream, write down every place where you saw white. Don’t forget that even small details matter.
Try to Relate These Appearances to Your Waking Life
Identifying possible symbols is a good start, but the most important part of dream interpretation is arguably connecting the symbols to real life.
For example, say you have a dream where you are walking around a car lot with a key, trying to remember which car is yours. All of the cars are black. You keep unsuccessfully trying your key in every door. Suddenly, you see a white car and somehow know this is the one. Sure enough, your key works!
The white car is clearly a symbol here. But what does it mean? To narrow down possible explanations, you need to think about possibly related real-life experiences.
If you are considering two different jobs (one with a lucrative but potentially shady company and one with a company where everything seems above board), you might think that this dream is related. Because you choose the white car and white is often connected to truth, you may take this as a sign that your subconscious is pointing you toward the above-board job.
Consider How You Felt
If you’re having trouble discerning your dream’s meaning, thinking back to how you felt during the dream can be a pretty good indicator of the symbolism of white. For instance, if you felt happy and relieved when you got into the white car, you might be heavily leaning toward the above-board job.
However, if you start to feel uncertain and a little regretful, your dream might reflect your ambivalence toward the situation. Maybe you feel morally obligated to choose the more reputable job but are tempted by the earning potential you see with the shady company.
Some General Tips for Dream Interpretation
Being able to interpret colors in your dreams is a great thing. But if you want to get a thorough understanding of your dream, it’s essential to know how to interpret dreams in general. Here are a few tips and strategies.
Do Your Best to Remember
Some dream experts estimate that we remember less than 10% of our dreams. And if you aren’t careful, you might even forget that 10% after waking!
The best way to really remember your dreams is to lie down with your eyes closed for a few moments after waking up. Once you start moving around, you’re more likely to forget.
After you’ve successfully summoned the memories of your dreams, the next step is to write them down. If you’re old-fashioned, a handwritten dream journal works well. But if you’d rather be able to take your dream with you, a dream tracking app is great, too. If you wish, you can include your interpretation of the dream right below each entry.
Avoid the “Dream Dictionary” Approach
If you’ve spent any time trying to analyze your dreams on your own, you may have found that certain types of dreams have generally accepted meanings (dreaming of taking a test indicates a fear of failure, dreams about pregnancy symbolize potential, etc.). However, because dreams are so informed by your own experiences, using these meanings to interpret them is often inaccurate.
Study Your Dreams Over Time
If you carefully study your dreams, you may start to notice certain trends. Maybe many of your dreams take place in the same surreal setting, or you often dream of being chased by a black cat when you’re under stress. As you notice patterns, you’ll start to get a better feel for how your subconscious communicates with you.
Interpreting an Example Dream
Dream interpretation might take some time to get the hang of. So before you start interpreting your own dreams, try taking a look at this example:
You’re walking through a vast desert full of sand dunes, and you’re completely lost. There’s no water in sight. Each sand dune looks like the next, so you can’t tell if you’re moving toward civilization or away.
You want desperately to get out of the situation, and you start thinking that it’s pointless to keep trying. Should you just lie down and let the heat take its toll?
As you’re pondering this question, something catches your eye. But it’s so strange you think you must be hallucinating — it’s a white door and doorframe.
Ordinarily, you probably wouldn’t walk through a mysterious door attached to nothing. But in this case, you have nothing left to lose. You open the door and immediately feel a cool breeze and hear the sound of running water. That’s enough to make you breathe a massive sigh of relief — you’re no longer doomed to die in the desert. But before you can see what’s on the other side, you wake up.
Even if you’re new to interpreting dreams, you can probably tell that the white door has some symbolic significance. But what exactly does it mean?
In this case, the door by itself is pretty ambiguous. But if you look at the way you felt when you opened the door, it might give you a clue. In the dream, you felt incredibly relieved and happy because you had found what you were looking for: water and a way out of the desert.
Many dreams are allegories that illustrate some aspect of our lives, so a good next step is to try to relate the story of your dream to your actual life. Is there something in your waking life that is similar to wandering in a desert?
If you’ve felt somewhat discouraged and adrift in your life with no sense of purpose, that might be what the desert is symbolizing. But what about the white door? In the context of that allegory, the door is a symbol of what gets you out of the desert/feeling purposeless.
Maybe you’ve recently found a job or volunteer opportunity that makes you feel like you’re making a difference. But even if you haven’t, the door might be a symbol of hope. Your subconscious is looking toward the future, where you might find something to lift your spirits and give you a newfound sense of purpose.
Ready to Discover the Meaning Behind Your Dreams?
Diving into your dreams is more than just an interesting thought exercise — it’s a great way to get to know yourself. Whether you dream of everyday activities or see surreal, fantastical worlds, discovering what your dreams mean can shed some light on what your subconscious mind is trying to tell you.
Learn more about dreaming in color and discover what different colors mean in dreams.