The shadow may appear in dreams and visions in various forms. It typically has the same apparent gender as one’s persona. It is possible that it might appear with dark features to a person of any race, since it represents a distant and indiscriminate aspect of the mind. The shadow’s appearance and role depend greatly on the living experience of the individual, because much of the shadow develops in the individual’s mind rather than simply being inherited in the collective unconscious (but see description of layers below).
Interactions with the shadow in dreams may shed light on one’s state of mind. A conversation with the shadow may indicate that one is concerned with conflicting desires or intentions. Identification with a despised figure may mean that one has an unacknowledged difference from the character; a difference which could point to a rejection of the illuminating qualities of ego-consciousness. These examples refer to just two of many possible roles that the shadow may adopt, and are not general guides to interpretation. Also, it can be difficult to identify characters in dreams, so that a character who seems at first to be a shadow might represent some other complex instead.