Over many years of working with others’ and my own dreams I’ve observed that occasionally an object appears in a dream that normally is another color, but in the dream, it is white.
I had been working for a long time with an anorexic young woman. Shortly before she had a breakthrough that preceded her beginning to eat more normally, she dreamed that she was visited by a white wolf.
The wolf is often imagined as an animal with a voracious appetite–hungry as a wolf. In this dream it showed up, not in its more familiar color, gray or black, but entirely white. The dream announced the soon-to-be arrival of the young woman’s healthy appetite.
Another client who had had a terribly abused childhood, including sexual abuse, dreamed one day that her child self was walking down the street in her familiar Mary Jane shoes, but instead of being black patent leather, the shoes she wore were white–the color brides wear indicative of purity.
Two white irises appeared in my own dream after I made an important decision. I struggled with a conflict about ending an important relationship. Finally I came to a decision to end the relationship and the night after I delivered my decision, the two white irises graced my dream. Iris was the messenger goddess in the Greek pantheon who navigated between the divine and human realms. She was associated with the rainbow, and represented a similar meaning as the rainbow–a sign of God’s promise to Noah. The two white irises confirmed that the decision I had made was aligned with a deep soulful part of myself. The white irises represented a promise of hope.
In addition to the irises appearing white (the more familiar color is purple) this dream depicted them as doubles–a sign of an energy brewing in the unconscious, not yet fully realized by the awake, conscious self. At that time for me, it was optimism–at the time I was nervous, fearful, and worried whether I was making the right decision, but once made, the dream reassured me, just like the rainbow, that sunny days were ahead. For more on doubling in dreams see my post on twins, pairs, twosomes and duos in dreams.
White adds a spiritual, soul dimension to a dream image. Not only does it highlight the importance of the image, it tells the dreamer that the message of the dream has a spiritual dimension. For the anorexic woman, beginning to eat was a holy act–her hunger was not only related to her body, it was related to her soul. When she began to eat again, she was choosing life. For the woman who had the abused childhood, revisiting her childhood and finding a “white” standpoint, pure, naive, virginal, was deeply transformational and healing. She could claim the holiness of childhood that had been denied her by the abuser. And for me, finding hope out of confusion and conflict was not only a matter of the single decision I had made. Through the image, the dream restored a sense of faith and trust in myself.