Are you wondering if you can do shadow work in your dreams?
Yes, you can do shadow work in your dreams. However, your dreams contain more than just your shadow. They also include your anima, animus, archetypes, and so on. Your dreams carry secret messages that your higher Self wants to raise into your awareness. The secrets you shadow carry are only just the beginning.
What is shadow in your dreams?
In waking life, your shadow comprises all the qualities you reject and don't identify with.
However, that doesn't mean shadow isn't a part of you. Instead, it hides outside of your awareness since it knows you disapprove of it.
In essence, shadow is the other half of your whole. It wants you to recognize, accept, and integrate it into your being.
One of the most direct ways it can reach you, to attempt integration, is within your dreams.
The problem is that even in your dreams, you will try to avoid it.
That's why when your shadow is given form inside of your dream, you will have a strong instinctual drive to antagonize, demonize, or outright avoid it.
What does your shadow look like in a dream?
When given a sentient form—human, beast, etc.—shadow will appear both as an opposition and the same sex as yourself.
If your shadow shows up in the form of someone currently in your life, pay close attention. Your psyche is pointing at your relationship with this person and the qualities you should really consider.
On some occasions, shadow material will manifest as inappropriate objects in your dreams, such as feces or sex toys.
What does shadow symbolize in a dream?
Your shadow will always be a reflection of what you need to integrate into your waking life.
This is why you must take note of its appearance, behavior, and how it interacts with you, others, and the environment.
Every aspect of your dream reveals a message for you to help you on your life's journey.
These messages are based on information that you picked up unconsciously (since you can only be conscious of so much at any given time).
Take note of the following:
- Given tone and environment
- Dynamic with "dream" you
- Dynamic with others
- The dream's storyline
Your psyche is pretty intentional with all the dream material it produces.
So pay close attention to the interrelations going on between anything your shadow interacts with.
From there, you have to analyze and interpret the possible meanings.
There are two samples of dream interpretation from my client's work at the bottom of this article.
Can you do shadow work in your dream?
Yes, with enough intention, you can drop into a dream where you can engage with your shadow and walk through your dream again, except your shadow's perspective.
This is active imagination with the intention to dream drop.
By walking in your shadow self's shoes, you can experience its intentions and motivations. Which can reveal the qualities and secret knowledge you need in your waking life.
DREAM ANALYSIS 1
Dream I had
Someone broke into my car and tried to molest me
Apparently people I talked to about him knew he was like that
And I was late for work because this person had broke into my dream
He was pretty big. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Looked kind of like max who used to host at Boulder, but older and bigger
Then a guy tried to mug me, he was pointing a gun at me and I was walking backwards away. Somehow I escaped. I parkoured into this abandoned building where homeless people were squatting. And I made friends with them. I felt safer around them. Wouldn’t wanna stay with them tho.
Dreamer is in his car. Someone breaks in to try and exploit dreamer sexually. This person is known for being reckless and inappropriately invasive. Dreamer identifies a person as similar to Max, albeit older, bigger, who was a host but is an intrusive character. A third person tries taking something from dreamer at gunpoint. Dreamer resists and runs from gunman (shadow). Dreamer is proven to be capable by how they escape; parkour. Dreamer escapes to abandoned building and finds refuge with those less fortunate/driven; homeless people who are squatting, not established. Dreamer feels safer with these unestablished people but knows he doesn’t want to stay with them indefinitely.
The dreamer goes from a hostile environment to a safe environment, despite not wanting to necessarily be/stay in either. The intuitive backstory is that there is someone who is willing to cause harm and the dreamer has fallen victim to them. The dreamer is struggling with control; unable to man their own vehicle and instead their vessel is damaged and intruded by someone else. Dreamer should consider the particular qualities they don’t like about the Max-like character; might have associated negative qualities with a certain image, which can create triggers when someone with a similar role expresses these qualities. Dreamer is in frequent danger, and although capable, opts for passivity; withdrawal. Dreamer is experiencing existential unconscious beliefs that people want to derail and take from him, but recognizes that those who aren’t trying to exploit him aren’t ambitious either. Notice how everything is happening to the dreamer.
Dreamer should contemplate what are the motives for these characters crossing boundaries. An exercise to try is imagine re-experiencing the dream (via daydream; “Active Imagination”) through the eyes of each character, one at a time. Take note of their motives and understand this—everything within a dream is you. Your other characters may be you (your unconscious side) trying to shake some sense into you. Trying to get you to acknowledge untapped parts of your personality.
DREAM ANALYSIS 2
One, it’s me, a father, and Marlon Brando. Marlon Brando’s character sacrifices himself, but gets killed by the natives. Brandi was like the prodigal son character. He was the cocky rootin tootin whatever guy.
And he had a future that’s for sure. And he gets shot the fuck up, and dies in the cold. And he talked about death to me. He saw one guy who was dying from wounds, but he didn’t die until all the blood loss made him trip and hit his head on the ice. It was the fall that killed him and not the wounds.
The father was a very competent man. Very caring too. Did not die tho. He didn’t fight enough. He didn’t go on his own. This was during the winter. I watched it all happen. I didn’t really contribute that much to the expedition.
Second cowboy movie it’s also three men. Me my father and a friend of his, who’s his age. Marlon Brando was my age in the other one. I was just chilling way too much on the trip, cause it was absolutely beautiful where we were. Look at the clouds, look at the mountains. And my dads friend is like “this is your son?” My dads friend was like if Brando had grown up.
What does the son do?
The dreamer is talking about an ideal character of masculinity (Brando) and a softer, safer character of masculinity (a father). Brando is described with the following ideal qualities: self-sacrificial in “bigger-than-life” manner, prodigy, very confident, full of potential. Brando is ruthlessly shot to death (by unknown source) and passes during the cold expedition. Before his death, Brando talks about a man who received fatal wounds but kept pushing forward, but failure to tend his own wounds caused an accident resulting in death. The father character is more balanced and described as: competent, considerate, cautious. The dreamer takes notice that the father didn’t die. And the dreamer seems to pass subtle judgment on the father for not going on his own. The dreamer acknowledges he took a passive, observing role in all of this.
The second part of the dream also has three men. The dreamer passes judgment on himself for enjoying the scenery. Followed by his father’s friend passing judgment in a subtly comparative way; the dreamer and the masculine ideal.
The dreamer goes from being the judge to receiving judgment by the end of the dream. The theme seems to be that there is an ideal image the dreamer is constantly comparing himself to. Note that the ideal is very reckless, including the character who dies by hitting their head on ice. The dreamer is taking a bystander approach to the expedition, not really engaging with the adventure. And the dreamer doesn’t seem to be engaging enough with life and instead of acting as an observer. And the dreamer is frequently put in the “child” position, not yet an actual equal. The dreamer seems unsure of their place in the world.
It seems like your dreams are pushing you to take more ownership of your life. To step up and “be a man”. However, there is tension between masculine figures. The masculine ideal is admired but is impossible to live up to. And evidently, the ideal masculine image in the psyche is immature (reckless and denies self-care). But the more balanced, seemingly more mature masculine image seems to be judged as almost inferior. There is also no feminine energy to bring balance to masculine energy. That being said—
Understand that you can only admire someone if you have that same quality within yourself. The reason why we admire is that our unconscious likes to project our own potentials onto others. The unconscious has delegated these people to hold these admirable qualities until we are ready to hold them for ourselves. What you admire is already within you.
Projection is also a source for triggers. I’ve attached a document that’s originally from my Shadow Work Course, for you to look over. Based on Dream 1 and the way you viewed the father in Dream 2, I believe you can benefit from it.
Note that frequent comparing of oneself shows a lack of self-acceptance (and even self-love). This is damaging considering one is being compared to a believed ideal.
Next, be careful where you pass judgment. When you judge someone, you are blocking yourself from ever being in that same position. And if you do find yourself in that same position, you will experience living shame. Keep in mind that life is long, you’ll likely change or fall into the same circumstances.
Based on the dreams, it seems like they need to claim more control of your life is in order. Or at least break away from people who make you feel “less than”. With some contemplation and capturing disowned qualities, you’ll know yourself better and will naturally be pushed forward.
Maturing and knowing oneself is a life-long process.
Know that it’s normal to leave something behind during this process.
"We don't solve our problems, we outgrow them." – Carl Jung
Here are some resources I recommend:
Shadow Work Course is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost. Learn more here.
A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.
Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.
Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.
Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.