The language of love: The colour red as a dream symbol

As I write we have just passed Valentine’s day, and the colour red is all around us. The shops are full of red hearts and red roses. Red is a vibrant colour – a passionate one even – and it’s hard to miss! But have you ever wondered what it means in dreams?

In this article we will take inspiration from the bible to investigate the spiritual meaning of red in dreams, and what that means for us in practical termswith some real dream examples too!

The symbolic nature of dreams

Firstly, if you have just come across this post and are new to dream interpretation, it is worth mentioning that dreams are symbolic in nature. You might find it helpful to read Dreams as parables and Symbolic language in dreams to give you a foundation.

Secondly, remember that dreams are personal, so the meanings that I suggest may not apply to your specific dream. But please feel free to use my ideas as a springboard to thinking and praying about dreams yourself. Don’t take my ideas as gospel, but rather let them help you start to think metaphorically.

Foiur pictures: a man in a red top in fighting pose, a red heart, red traffic lights, a red word that says 'love'

Consider the context

I have found that red always seems to stand out and be noticeable when it appears in dreams. As a colour it often seems so positive. It can be used as a motivational colour to inject energy and encourage activity, and is associated with love and passion. It can symbolise heat (red hot), and is used in the food industry to stimulate the appetite.

But, as with any dream symbol, red can have both positive and negative meanings. The context, feeling and atmosphere of a dream will give us clues to help us determine whether to interpret it in a positive or negative way. 

See ‘Colours in dreams: Inspired by nature during lockdown‘ for more examples of positive and negative meanings of other colours.

Red in the bible

The bible is full of imagery and can help us understand dream symbols. (See The bible as a dream dictionary). Regarding the colour red, I also included the words scarlet and crimson in my bible search. This is what I found:

Ruddy colour

The word ‘red’ is sometimes used in bible translations to refer to a ruddy colour, such as that which describes Esau in Genesis 25:25 and David in 1 Samuel 16:12. This is the Hebrew word admônîy, which is the reddish-brown colour of man’s skin (and the earth). The word adam refers to a similar colour. This use of the word red would relate more to the colour brown in dream symbolism terms.

Red dye

Red is often listed alongside purple to describe rare, expensive dyes which were used in material and clothes. Only the wealthy could afford such fine linen! As such, red cloth was (like purple cloth) a sign of royalty, wealth, power and status. These extravagant colours were also used in the construction of the biblical tabernacle.

  • Exodus 26:1 “Moreover, you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twisted linen and violet, purple, and scarlet material….

Red was also used to colour army standards and uniforms. In Nahum, the Babylonian army is described in red. This could be due to them being covered in the blood of those they had slain. But it could also have been a power statement to intimidate their enemies.

  • Nahum 2:3 The shields of his warriors are dyed red, the warriors are dressed in scarlet

Forgiveness and redemption

  • Isaiah 1:18 “Though your sins are as scarlet, they shall become as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.”

As I reflect on this well-known verse, I can’t help thinking that red stains would have been very difficult to remove from white cloth (without the wonders of modern washing powders). In this verse the red colour is being compared to sin: a stain which is difficult to remove from our lives. Yet we know that through Jesus this was made possible! This brings me to the final and most significant meaning of red:

Red: The colour of blood

Picture of communion elements with Matthew 26:28. Matthew 26:28 “for this is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”

The spiritual/biblical meaning of the colour red in dreams mostly relates to its association with the colour of blood. This is true in both positive and negative contexts. We actually consider this every time we celebrate communion: we drink red wine and remember the blood that Jesus shed.

Positive context: Red as grace and anointing

Most commonly, when red appears in dreams in a positive context, it represents God’s grace, which is available to us through the blood of Jesus Christ. Therefore in dreams, the colour red can represent anything that we associate with grace.

Grace does include being forgiven and set free from the power of sin, but it is so much more than that. The best way to understand how this applies to your life is to say ‘power of Christ’ whenever you read the word ‘grace’.

For example, grace includes:

  • The power to do something (as the old song goes: there’s power in the blood)
  • The ability to do something (Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me)
  • The anointing of the Holy Spirit to do something
  • Forgiveness and redemption through the blood of Jesus
  • Life (Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood)
  • Peace (Colossians 1:19-20 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him…having made peace through the blood of His cross)

In practical terms, if I see something positive that’s red in dreams (such as a red car or red clothes), I generally know that this is something that I am meant to be doing: it is part of my destiny for the current time, and I have the power and ability to do it.

Man in red shirt with text: grace and anointing - the power of Christ to do what you need to do

The greatest love

One could argue that love is the most powerful force in the universe. Of course the greatest expression of the love of God was demonstrated by Christ, when He willingly laid down His life and shed His blood for us on the cross. Selfless, sacrificial love is at the heart of the colour red.

  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
  • John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends.

Examples of red as grace and anointing in dreams

DREAMINTERPRETATIONEXPLANATION
I dreamt I was visiting my parents, but I knew I shouldn’t be there due to Covid-19. It was night time, but I could see my red car vividly. My husband was helping me prepare to set off home in the car.I dreamt this in 2020. It was time for me to leave the safe place where I was at that time – to start my own journey and destiny. I subsequently started writing this blog.My parents symbolised Streams UK where I learnt to interpret dreams. The red car represented this blog, and indicated that I was ready to make a start. My husband represented God helping me.
I dreamt I was set an essay to write. I was told I could change my pen. So I chose a new pen, which turned out to be red. All my writing was then red, and it was fine – although a bit messy!I also dreamt this in 2020. The dream was encouraging me that I was ready to start writing, and that I now had God’s anointing to do so. Also, I shouldn’t worry if it wasn’t perfect to start with.As you can probably tell from these dreams, I needed a lot of encouragement to start writing! As an aside, the words of God are often written in red in bibles; so this suggested that the Holy Spirit would be inspiring my words as I wrote!
I dreamt I was getting ready to meet my husband: to go and look into his eyes. I had a burgundy red dress with white trim – it looked lovely. I was looking for some matching earrings and a necklace. I decided to wear the red heart-shaped ones he had already given me.This dream is relevant to our theme of love! It was encouraging me to pursue intimacy with God (my husband) and to receive His unconditional love for me. His grace had already provided everything I needed to be acceptable to Him.The red items in this dream represented God’s grace and love; weddings are often about intimacy with God. The year I dreamt this I had left my job and set aside that time to seek God. This dream was a great encouragement to continue – and that I would find Him!

Negative context: Red as anger or war

Sometimes red appears in a negative context. We can tell this from the context of the dream. The red object could feel unpleasant, or we might think it is a horrible shade of red. Or maybe it has the potential to hurt us. It could just be the general atmosphere of the dream, or what’s happening, that gives us the clue.

The negative meanings of colours are often the exact oppposite of the positive meanings. They represent a counterfeit of the true meaning. So the opposite of having God’s anointing is trying to get power or do something through our own willpower/strength. This could mean trying to do something we are not yet ready to do, or (even worse) trampling over other people to get control or leadership.

The negative meaning of red is usually anger or war – the opposite of peace which comes through the blood of Jesus. Anger and war also come from the concept of blood, but in the sense of violently spilled blood. We have expressions such as seeing red, a red rag to a bull, and being out for blood which pick up this theme. In the bible, the red horse in Revelation represented bloodshed and lack of peace. Satan was depicted as a red dragon, trying to destroy the infant church through violence and death:

  • Revelation 6:4 And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that people would kill one another; and a large sword was given to him.

Red can also represent false authority (in the same way as purple). Jesus was mocked by being dressed in a red cloak at the time of his arrest. His captors intended this to represent his ‘so-called claim’ to be King of the Jews. Revelation 17 speaks symbolically of an immoral, blasphemous woman dressed in scarlet; but her status was all a sham!

  • Matthew 27:28 And they stripped Him and put a red cloak on Him.
  • Revelation 17:4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold, precious stones, and pearls, holding in her hand a gold cup full of abominations…
Angry lady dressed in red with text: power, anger, war - power in your own strength, often at the expense of others

Examples of red as anger, war or false power in dreams

DREAMINTERPRETATIONEXPLANATION
I dreamt I was in a dark place with no windows. There was a little girl wearing high heeled shoes that were much too big for her age. There was a tiger growling at her. We left that place rather quickly.I had this dream a number of years ago. I was trying to do something which was too difficult for me: I needed to grow and develop some more before I would be able to do it! This dream was helpful, as it explained why I was finding everything so frustrating at the time. The girl was reflecting me. The atmosphere indicated that it was a negative context of red (i.e. I didn’t have the ability to do it).
I was on a tour in a place with a horrible off-white/yellowish atmosphere. I was given some red coloured fruit cake made with fake blood. I ate some, but when I heard what was in it I quietly dropped it on the floor.I had accepted some things that came from religious thinking rather than from God Himself. As soon as I realised my error I would quickly change my mindset. (This actually happened later that year; it related to rest and grace.)The atmosphere and context told me that this was a negative (false) use of the colour red. Things that we eat are things that we ‘take in’ (i.e. believe/accept). The fake blood told me that this thinking was not from Jesus.
My friend dreamt she saw a friend (who owns a horse) riding a red horse, wearing red clothes and helmet. She knew there was a gun battle going on, and the friend was acting as a mediator or peacemaker.This was actually a positive context, and the rider was reflecting my friend. She was called and empowered to act as a mediator and peacemaker in a difficult situation where there was lots of unpleasant talk going on.The red colour was positive here, representing peace and reconciliation in the midst of conflict! A horse usually represents power. A gun battle is often about unpleasant/critial talk (words hurt from afar).

More possible meanings of red

  • Red traffic light: A red light in this context means stop! It could mean that we have to wait for a situation to change, or that we can’t continue.
  • Red can sometimes represent wisdom.
  • The redemptive gift of prophecy.
  • Objects that are normally red: If you dream of tomatos, strawberries, or other naturally red objects, it’s worth asking yourself the following question: Is it in the dream because it is red (i.e. is red the main point), or is it is there for another reason – and it just happens to be red?
Picture of lady in red smiling with text: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me

Conclusion

In a positive context red usually represents God’s grace and anointing, which means that we have the ability to do the thing that the dream is about. In a negative sense red generally symbolises anger and war, or false authority and power.

Here are a few closing thoughts:

  • The colour red in a dream could represent any number of things. The above ideas should give you a good starting point. 
  • I believe that only God can tell us what the colour means in a specific dream, so you could try asking Him!
  • Consider the atmosphere and context of the dream to see whether the colour is being used in a positive or negative sense.
  • In additional to the meanings that I have shared, remember that it could mean something personal or culturally significant to you, that isn’t mentioned here.

And finally…the greatest power of all is love – which was ultimately displayed by God when came to give His life for us in the person of Jesus Christ. I am convinced that this same God is longing to be your friend, and is regularly speaking to you in your night dreams!

Why not let this be the day that you start to listen?

If you want to know more, do get in touch, or check out my Facebook Group where you can meet others on a similar journey.

Picture of red heart on bible with text - the colour red as a dream symbol - the language of love - read the blog

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