What does a shadow figure mean in a dream?

Shadow Energy
Shadow Energy

The Shadow is a major dream archetype. It is usually a dark figure in profile or can be a criminal or aggressive stalking figure that either tries to break in to your residence or is pursuing you in some way. We all have a shadow. These contain aggressive impulses and parts of ourselves that we have rejected for now.

The shadow also contains our “get up and go.” it is vital to the personality. Other parts of the personality need to be in contact with the shadow to place appropriate limits on it. By working with the shadow, the other parts of the personality benefit by getting the energy that is in the shadow that can be put to good use.

The following is a dream I had at a critical time that assured me that I would make it through a conflict:

Dream 305: The Caped Crusader

I saw a dark caped figure moving energetically down a hall towards me who seemed mysterious but not threatening. It had the aire almost of an evangelical figure arriving to save us all. I looked at him with awe as I was leaning down to tie my shoe.


This was a numinous or luminous image of the shadow. A numinous or luminous image fills the observer with awe because of its power and is almost sacred in nature. The Savior-moving energy of this dark almost evangelical hero image was to reassure me that I had lots of energy which I would have to use in the adversarial conflict I was in the middle of.

Even the detail of tying my shoes was important. Shoes protect the feet and allow us to get somewhere faster in safety. The feet are supportive of our body.

Tying my shoe meant that I was getting myself together to protect and support myself to get to where I needed to be in this conflict. While it was a high level conflict, I believe this detail was emphasizing the importance of details. Not tying your shoe could impede your progress. Not overlooking a detail in the huge administrative conflict I was involved in was extremely important.

Notice the details in your dreams at http://www.drstevenfox.com


15 thoughts on “What does a shadow figure mean in a dream?

  1. I recently had a dream where I was in my house and only half of my house had its lights on. The other half was dark, so I got up from my couch and walked down the hallway towards the dark end.

    Normally I never ever get scared or anything, but this time I was terrified. I looked through the dark and nothing was wrong, so I started walking back towards the lighted rooms. Then I heard footsteps behind me, so i turned around.

    When I turned around, I could see this black shadowy figure. Then he ran towards me–I could hear him running. He ran straight thru me. It scared me awake. I was freezing and sweating at the same time. I’ve tried to figure out what this dream means, but I have no idea. I’m so afraid to go back to sleep now or even be in the dark. Please can you tell me what this means?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A house can represent the dreamer because it is a structure out of which one’s life is framed. Lights usually indicate consciousness. Darkness is associated with the subconscious.

      You go back to investigate your subconscious and feel frightened. I believe you felt frightened because one risks encountering The Shadow in the subconscious. We usually reject everything about the shadow and want to have nothing to do with it.

      We think of the Shadow as containing negative and aggressive parts, but that is not always the case. The shadow also contains parts of us that we have never used. Sometimes the shadow is trying to point out that there’s a part of it that you may wish to use, that you’ve never used before. This answer is hypothetical, because I do not know you. There is a way of getting an answer from your subconscious described below.

      I believe this dream is probably saying that there is an issue that will eventually catch up to you, if you don’t deal with the issue now. The dream isn’t giving you enough information to determine what that issue is now. Sometimes a series of Dreams will show what the issue is if you follow your dreams and they are correctly interpreted.

      If it were my dream, I would ask my dreams the question of how or what issue to deal with in my subconscious. Dreams often give the best answers to such difficult questions in my experience. I describe how to do this in my book at http://www.drstevenfox.com

      If the feelings of anxiety, feeling frightened, and not being able to sleep do not go away, I would recommend that you seek professional help.


  2. im not sure how to go about this but I would like an opinion… ive seen this black cloaked figure twice. once in a dream he stood in my bedroom hallway and said he could take everything from me . and another a few weeks later he stood closer at the foot of my bed and I cried out for help from my dad who passed away a year and half ago and jerking my whole body as if he wasn’t going to let me wake back up


    1. You cried out for help from your father from this shadow figure who threatened to take everything from you. The classic role of a positive father is encouragement and practical advice about what you need to do to be successful in life, what actions you should take.
      I would relate this shadow to fear that the action part of yourself will have difficulty accomplishing the things that you want to accomplish. The dream points to a close and helpful relationship with your father. It sounds like losing your father may have felt like losing a part of yourself.
      This interpretation represents my best guess without knowing you. To be more specific, I would need more content information.


    1. The shadow is the part of our personality that everyone needs to protect us. It will do anything to protect the dreamer, which is why other parts of the dreamer’s personality need to moderate the Shadow’s response to threats.

      One wants to remember that the shadow contains parts of us that we have not used as well as aggressive parts. If I decided not to become a priest, there is a priest in my shadow that I may want to use at some point later in my life.
      Dreams very much use stereotypes which is why Shadows are black in dreams. Plus the fact, shadows are indeed black. Plus the fact, the darkness indicates the subconscious. But one does not want to confuse the color of the Shadow as having any racial inferences.

      In fact, when you have a black person in a dream, I believe that indicates that it is a very Soulful part of the person. That is because images from the collective subconscious come from any thought any man in history has ever had. The older and deeper the thought, the more likely it is archetypal and ingrained in the collective unconscious. Black people in dreams are very Soulful parts of the subconscious because man began in Africa in tribes where the first archetypal images, where the deepest archetypal images, where the most soulful images, were created because they were the very first archetypal images. For instance, we even call it “soul music.”

      Black people in dreams indicate spirituality in dreams. A higher sense of soul is being summoned usually.


  3. I noticed this is an oldish post but I wanted to share my experience as well. About 5 years ago I had a similar dream and this dream has stuck with me since. I can remember the entire thing like it just happened.

    In this dream I was laying in bed and I felt a presence. I was afraid and eventually got up when a shadowy figure appeared. The shadow figure had no real detail to it, If I had to describe it, it looked like the shadowy figure from the TV show Fringe. Anyways when it appeared in front of me all I could feel was fear but after a couple seconds that fear turned into anger and rage. I then started to attack this shadow with my bare hands relentlessly. It was like attacking the air, i wasnt actually hitting anything solid as you would expect but I kept at it until eventually it just disappeared. I got back into bed and that is when I woke up.


    1. We all deal with the shadow, and we totally reject it because we want nothing to do with it. When I have had dreams like the one you described, it was during a time of maximum stress. It makes sense that the shadow would appear in dreams during times of stress when we are probably grappling with our reactions and actions. Strange as it may sound, the shadow is very necessary and protects us under a survival basis. We struggle with it to make sure it doesn’t get out of control. It usually only goes out of control if the other parts of the personality are not in contact with it.
      In the Bible, it is talked about how different people wrestled with an angel at night. I would suggest that your experience is very similar to what the Bible is describing, people grappling with their shadow in dreams at night.


  4. One night I was asleep I had a dream of a dark shadow entered my house while I was walking through, the figure tried to hide it self from me seeing it, and when I confronted it, and saw that it could have been evil I tried to verbally call on the name of Jesus I couldn’t physically call his name but with in my heart my heart was yet calling Jesus and the figure went away what was that figure?


    1. When you are dreaming you lose muscle tone and are functionally paralyzed. If you somehow get your eyes open during this stage, you will have an awake dream known as a hypnagogic state. What you saw was what we call the shadow figure in dreams. What you experienced was the loss of muscle tone and is called sleep paralysis.


    1. Thank you. And I have to say I love your beautiful blog here on WordPress at http://cindyknoke.com/ I especially like your motto “I blog therefore I am.” You travel to the most interesting places.

      Dreams are such a gift. When I have made mistakes, it was usually because I did not act on the dream’s advice. The shadow is almost always critical to listen to, but it is the hardest part of dreams to listen to because we generally do not trust the shadow (for good reasons usually).


      1. I just had a dream that I was being grabbed and in my dream I picked my child up and went to the front room and I was grabbed again I yelled out at what was grabbing me and said I was leaving then a I could see a black figure in the door way I looked at it and it ran at me I woke up so scared and couldn’t go back to sleep what could this mean can anyone help

        Liked by 1 person

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