Dandelions. The sun. Bumblebees. When you think of yellow, you probably picture bright, cheerful things like these. And if you live in the Western world, you might think that seeing yellow in your dream is always a symbol of happiness or optimism.
It would be nice if dream interpretation was that easy. But dreams are complex things, and a number of factors can determine what exactly your dream means. So what does it mean to dream of yellow? Let’s find out.
Yellow: Symbolism and Cultural Associations
When trying to decipher what a given color means in a dream, it can help to think of what the color stands for in your culture. Dreams don’t happen in a vacuum — they’re a product of the subconscious, and the subconscious is influenced by the culture surrounding us. Before you jump into interpreting your dream, consider some of these possible meanings of the color yellow.
In many Western cultures, yellow is associated with happiness. After all, it’s the color of the sun. Many researchers believe that yellow has the ability to boost your mood. This may be because our brains associate the color yellow with sunlight, so we experience mood-boosting effects just by looking at it.
In some contexts, yellow can also symbolize hope. One of the best examples of this is the display of yellow ribbons by the families of deployed soldiers. These ribbons symbolize hope for the soldiers’ safe return.
Strength and Transformation
Yellow is the color of the Solar Plexus Chakra, sometimes called the Manipura. This chakra is connected to personal power, transformation, strength, and courage. Chakras are a part of Indian tradition, but they’re also popular with many yoga enthusiasts around the world.
Wealth and Prosperity
In Chinese culture, yellow has historically stood for power, royalty, and wealth. Similarly, in Africa, it’s considered to be the color of wealth and status. If you have a Chinese or African cultural background, seeing yellow in a dream could be a sign of prosperity. In particular, if you’re chasing something yellow, it might be a sign that you are seeking a better life.
In contemporary Chinese culture, yellow has a very different symbolism — it stands for sexuality, eroticism, and pornography. Nobody knows exactly how this came to be, but one theory centers around orpiment, a yellow pigment used by ancient people. Eventually, it was discovered that orpiment was toxic. Yellow became associated with poisoning the body, but that association may have extended to “poisoning the mind” with pornography.
In much of the world, yellow is considered to be a happy color. But in Egypt and Latin America, it’s associated with mourning. If you’re from a culture where yellow means mourning, seeing it in your dream might mean something different to you than it does to someone from another culture.
Jealousy or Envy
You may have heard the saying “green with envy.” But in Germany, it would be more correct to say “yellow with envy.” In Germany, France, and some other regions of Europe, yellow has come to be associated with envy.
Caution or Warning
When you think of a warning label, you might picture orange or red. But yellow is a color that stands out from others on the spectrum, so it’s often used as a color of warning. It works that way in stoplights, too — yellow warns you that the light is about to turn red.
Deceit is another of the less positive meanings of yellow. That’s because it was allegedly the color of Judas’s robe. Because Judas deceived Jesus, yellow became associated with lying and duplicity. That association was more common before the year 1900, but in some circles, the connection is still there.
Understanding Yellow Dreams
Depending on the type of dream you have, you might see a few yellow flowers dotting a landscape, or you might be walking through a strange, all-yellow world. But in dreams, even seemingly small details can be rife with symbolism.
Above, you saw what yellow symbolizes across many different cultures. Those associations will influence what this shade means in your dream, but so will personal associations and other factors. Here are some things to consider when interpreting your dreams.
Do You Like Yellow?
Dreaming of your favorite color can indicate that you’re content with your life (or at least with whatever’s happening in your dream). But if your dream is filled with a color you hate, the opposite may be true. Whether you like, dislike, or are indifferent to yellow can influence what it means in your dreams.
What Personal Associations Do You Have With Yellow?
Cultural associations matter, but so do personal ones. For example, let’s say your first car was yellow, and you were especially fond of it. If you dream of a yellow car, you might be thinking wistfully of your younger years or wishing you could go back in time. If you’ve never owned a yellow car before, seeing a yellow car in your dream may not be quite so significant.
Is the Color Out of Place?
If you have especially vivid, complex dreams, it can be hard to know what to pay attention to. But if a given color looks out of place, it’s a sure sign you should pay attention to it.
Yellow can look out of place in a couple of different ways. If you see something yellow that shouldn’t be yellow (like if you dream of a yellow deer), yellow likely has a major symbolic meaning in your dream.
It’s also important to pay attention to yellow if it stands out from the background. For example, say you’re dreaming of a gray city on a gray day. If you see a bright yellow sun come out, the sun and the color yellow likely have major significance.
An Example Dream
The more you record and interpret your dreams, the easier the process gets. But in the beginning, it can be hard to know how to break down and really understand your dream. Let’s start with an example dream (as illustrated by the picture above).
You’re standing in the middle of a desert. The sky is bright, and all you can see around you is sand — it stretches on for miles. You don’t know how you got here or where you should go now.
Hopeless, you look around one more time. That’s when you see them: two massive, magnificent yellow frames like doorways. As you stare in disbelief, you see that the clouds are floating through one of the frames. You suddenly know that you’re supposed to follow the clouds. As soon as you pass through the same yellow frame, you’re instantly back home.
Abstract dreams like this one are quite interesting. Often, the symbolism is either obvious or very vague. For the sake of illustration, this example’s symbolism is fairly obvious. Let’s break it into a few parts.
The setting of the dream (the desert) has long been a symbol of desolation. It’s a harsh, unforgiving environment with no water, food, or shelter. The desert in the dream is especially disorienting, as it has no notable landmarks.
In this context, suddenly finding yourself in a strange desert might indicate that in your waking hours, you’ve found yourself in an unfamiliar situation or are facing a problem you can’t solve. For example, you might be frustrated in your career but feeling unsure as to where you’ll go next.
The Yellow Frames
There’s plenty of symbolism here — the rectangular yellow shapes look a lot like doorframes, and they almost beckon to you to walk through. The frames stand out in the desert landscape, so you know they’re a significant part of the dream.
Of course, their color plays a major role. Yellow is a color of hope and optimism, and since you feel drawn to the frames, they might symbolize an answer to your problem. Maybe it’s a new career path or a decision to work for a different company.
To many people, white clouds symbolize the heavens. In your dream, there are two yellow frames, but you only see the clouds float through one. Following the clouds through gets you out of the desert and back to a safe, familiar place.
The clouds might symbolize divine guidance (or at the very least, guidance from a person or entity you trust). Through the dream, your subconscious might be trying to tell you that when you seek out the right guidance, you’ll know what course of action to take to feel happier in your career.
Dream Interpretation: A Few Tips
Interpreting your dreams can be a lot of fun. But to make sure you get the most accurate interpretation, consider these tips:
- Keep a dream diary and write down your dreams as soon as you wake up.
- Write down any colors that stood out and where you saw them.
- Write down any meaningful objects or symbols.
- Think about personal and cultural associations connected to those colors and symbols.
- Think about how you felt in the dream when you saw each color, object, or symbol.
- Think about how you feel about each one now.
If you regularly analyze your dreams, you’ll start to get a feel for how your subconscious is speaking to you. You might even start to notice repeat symbols and themes.
What Does Yellow Mean in Your Dream?
As you can see, the many different meanings of yellow can make it tough to interpret in your dream. Dreams aren’t universal, either. Each person’s dreams are born from a unique mixture of cultural symbolism, personal experiences, and associations.
When you take a close look at these things and take the time to analyze your dream, you’ll get closer to understanding what your dream is trying to tell you.
Learn more about dreaming in color and discover what different colors mean in dreams.