The Mysterious Shadow People Phenomenon
“One day, I rode my bike to the woods and stopped. A few yards into the trees there stood an impossibly tall, solid black silhouette, at least 7 or 8 feet tall, standing just a bit behind a tree in the deep shade. This was on family property, and I knew instantly that he was not one of the friendly spirits of my ancestors. He had a very definite male presence, and the air was incredibly heavy around him, like his presence was smothering me. I had never felt anything so powerful in all my life, and I was startled by it. I demanded to know who he was and what he was doing here, but he gave me no reply. It’s hard to explain, but I could sort of feel what he wanted to say, as if his words were quiet suggestions in my mind. He wanted me to come into the woods with him, out of the sunlight and into the shade, but there was no way in hell I was going to do that. I got on my bike and raced back home. Then, I began to see more shadow people everywhere I went. They had no presences, they were the average human size, and there would always be at least four or five out of the corner of my eye at all times. They would always disappear when I looked at them. Every day for a week, I returned to the woods and continued to ask him: "What are you?" Why are you here? What do you want?? But he would only beckon me into the trees. On the seventh day, I walked into the woods towards him, but then he vanished. I turned around to see him standing in front of my bike in the full sunlight, and he was downright giddy at how terrified I was. I ran to the bike and pedaled just as fast as I could and when I turned around to see if he was still in the road, I was horrified to see that he was chasing me. His presence was so heavy, powerful and malicious that it was hard for me to breathe and I knew that he could catch up to me at any time; he just loved scaring me.” Daspang* They lurk in doorways or hide behind the couch. They’re seen for an instant out of the corner of the eye or stroll across a room in full view. They’re dark, mysterious and may behave menacingly, often evoking feelings of abject terror in their victims. They appear to be shadowy amorphous creatures with a broadly human like shape. They look like shadows that move on their own. They have no discernible facial features, but are sometimes described as having red, blazing eyes or wearing a fedora type hat or cape. Some have described them as looking like a medieval monk. The phenomena have been recorded so often that paranormal investigators often classify them under their own category, labeling them only as the mysterious shadow people.
As stated previously, shadow beings look like dark, shadowy masses with no distinguishable facial features, although some are described as having red blazing eyes. They appear most often to be male or are described as bald and sexless with a large, broad silhouette (Russell, 2007). The shadows appear to move of their own volition. They often move quickly through a room and are witnessed disappearing through a wall or door (Richford, 2007). If they move across you you’re most likely to feel extreme cold. And yes, they have been known to touch, grab and pull on victims Unlike other “spirits” these creatures appear to be acutely aware of the presence of witnesses. It seems they either act secretly as if trying to avoid detection or act brazenly with behaviors demanding attention or fear. For example, many witnesses report that they see shadow people out of the corner of the eye, noting that they appear to lurk in the darkest corners of the room, or peer around doorways as if spying on inhabitants. Other accounts are more sinister, speaking of shadow people that stroll out in full view, sometimes sitting on the edge of a bed or standing in a doorway menacingly. From the accounts I’ve read, they seem to appear most often to children or adolescents, and many witnesses have suggested that they felt the creatures gained strength by feeding off their victim’s fear. They seem to prefer nighttime for their activities, although there are accounts of shadow people showing up in the broad daylight. They may make an appearance once never to be seen again, or they may make appearances at odd times over a series of years. One witness noted that one fedora clad shadow figure harassed him over a number of years, usually appearing when the witness was the most distressed or anxious, seemingly relishing in the misery it created. Paranormal writer and blogger Jason Offutt of MysteriousUniverse.org notes he has been studying shadow people for ten years and says he has come up with a system for categorizing these creatures by basic appearance and behavior, suggesting that the term shadow people may be an umbrella term for a number of different phenomena. Offutt lists four categories: Benign: These creatures may be seen only once or a few times. Their behavior appears more like a residual haunt in that they may always display the same behavior every time they appear, for example always appearing at the same time, walking the same path across the room. They may or may not acknowledge witnesses. Aside from being spooky, these beings don’t appear to have a desire to terrorize or unduly frighten witnesses. “Mark began seeing something black going around the floorboards out of the corner of his eye. I saw some things with my peripheral vision, too, but it wasn't long before I was seeing what I thought was a single entity clearly on the ceiling of my room. It was a shadow, but a blob not a person…. Shadow, as I came to call him, did not seem at all evil. He was more like a curious, playful child. He didn't have red eyes but little white lights that seemed to resemble a line of tiny, twinkling light bulbs….Somehow he, or something, lights up the ceiling when he comes out to play, which is usually after I go to bed.” Anonymous* Negative Shadows Charles relating a story about his experience in an old church dormitory in Victoria, Mexico: “About 3 am I awoke to a rustling sound next to me I looked over and saw two shadowy figures over my friend I heard whispers, and he was talking back to them. One slithered over his bed onto the floor almost like they were surrounding his whole body. The whispers became louder…I could hear the words but it wasn't anything I had ever heard, and my friend was speaking back to them in the same speech. It sounded terrible almost like they were speaking in tongues. He then started shaking violently on the bed. I watched this play out….I was almost too scared to move but decided to make a dash for one of the youth pastors. I made it to the side of his bed, shook him awake and told him that my friend was in trouble. He came with me quickly and when we got back beside James’ bed, his eyes got wide, but he didn't seem afraid. He went directly by James’s bed and laid his hand on James chest and started praying. He said something along the lines of: "Lord remove this evil from this place." The shadows made a sharp moaning noise and flew off across the walls. James quit shaking and he awoke looking very frightened and confused. Our pastor took him to talk to him aside, and then me. He told me he had seen this before and that he knew they were demons.” Charles* These creatures appear to lurk in dark shadows and can cause feelings of terror from their witnesses. For these creatures intimidation appears to be the goal. Red Eyed Shadows “Brian, my cousin, and I were sleeping in one room and the girls stayed in the other. It was late one night and we decided to go get a snack….We walked across the living room toward the kitchen and stopped in fear as we noticed that there was a dark shape standing in the entrance to the kitchen. It appeared to be hooded or else it had a pointed head. There were two red dots where the eyes should have been. We didn't turn on the light in the living room so we were in total darkness. The Shadow Person appeared to be even darker than the shadow. Terrified, we ran back down to the bedrooms and into my sister's room. She and my cousin were still awake also. We asked if they wanted to see something really scary. They gave mixed answers but were still willing to come see what we were talking about. We went back into the living room and, sure enough, the dark shape was still there waiting for us. My sister began to cry and my little cousin just held her hand to her mouth. It was obvious that they both saw the shadow person but were too frightened to talk. We took off running back down to the bedrooms crying and screaming. My parents woke up and asked what was going on. My sister and little cousin wouldn't talk about it, but I told them that there was something standing in the kitchen.” Txguy These creatures are always negative. They are described at staring openly at observers with blazing, red eyes and are described as feeding off people’s fear. Hooded Shadows “I used to take a night time walk to my nearest Petrol Station and back to help me wind down for the night... After about 2 - 3 weeks of making this trip, I started seeing Shadow People/Person again. Between a quarter and half way down this road, I would get a feeling of fear, panic, and like I was being watched and I would turn around to find a Shadow Person about 15 - 20 feet behind me. It was pure black, just like before, and wearing what appeared to be a hooded cloak and appeared male with broad shoulders and was about 6ft tall and he (or it) was always looking down at the ground and never moved. It just stood there looking at the ground. At this point, I would get a stronger feeling of pure fear. I would walker faster and faster and every so often, I would look behind me to see if it was still there and it always was; still no more than 15 - 20 feet away from me, still not appearing to move. But it must… otherwise it wouldn't have constantly been about 15 -20 feet away from me. But I never heard it moving. This happened every day for about a week.” Martin* These creatures are sometimes described as looking like a medieval monk in hood and robes. They emanate feelings of deep rage. Hat Men “It started when I was 5 years old and has followed me ever since. My "Shadow Guy" is a very tall man, averaging about 7' tall. He is very distinct whereas he is not a mist or a cloud. He is a black figure that you cannot see through. He is of a substance or material that if you wanted to (which I never have) could possibly touch it and it would be as if touching a person. He is very much a "real being" and I use that loosely. He walks tall and has a very distinct stature. He wears a fedora, a trench coat, and the "feeling" I get when I see him; at some point he was involved with or has ties to the mafia or private detective feel. As strange as that seems, He is very formal in his visits as if he has a job to do and that's why he is here and the only reason. He walks with a purpose; he is very business-like.” Shan* Offutt notes these creatures are “the most curious.” They appear to be wearing a fedora style hat and are sometimes described as wearing a suit. If this suggests a “men in black” style appearance it may be on purpose. Offutt notes that these fedora-clad, shadow men have been reported in numerous cultures across the globe, and it has been suggested that these may actually be inter-dimensional beings traveling not across the galaxy, but from a different dimension to make contact and/or study our world. Although this may sound like the grossest of science fiction fantasies, quantum physicists have theorized that different dimensions may actually exist, and that it may be possible at certain locations where the dimensions are nearer to one another, to cross over briefly from one dimension to another. Was this the case, it may be that an advanced civilization from another dimension has figured out how to cross these boundaries at will. Theories In the article Hauntings – Shadow People, Nannette Richford suggests several theories as to what shadow people might be. The first is that shadow people are the ghosts of departed souls seen as amorphous shadowy creatures in an incomplete attempt to materialize (Richford, 2007). Another theory is that they are beings from another dimension witnessed when our own dimension partially overlaps their own, which may explain why they are only partially visible. Some paranormal investigators suggest that shadow people are evil or non-human creatures or perhaps even demonic spirits which evoke terror purposely. Offutt suggests they may be categorized as djinn (jinn). In the Islamic tradition djinn play an important role as entities that are non-human. These spirits may be gay, human companions or dark predators depending on their dispositions. They are said to lurk in cemeteries or the ruins of human habitations. They can be great deceivers, sometimes disguising themselves as a departed loved one. Scientific Explanations Sleep theory may help to explain many sightings. In the in-between state of wakefulness and sleep is known as the hypnogogic state. It is a period when the brain is extremely receptive to “ideas, images, sounds, feelings, impressions and intuition,” a period when a vaguely imagined dream may take on the feeling of reality (Cheung, 2006). Patients experiencing a hypnogogic hallucination report flickering lights, visual hallucinations, a feeling of being paralyzed and report feeling like they are being held down on the bed or a feeling of pressure on the chest. Sleep paralysis is a natural occurrence, the body’s defense mechanism against flailing about and hurting oneself while under a dream state. Northwest Missouri State University professor April Haberyan notes that the hormone that regulates sleep paralysis can be present in the body up to eight minutes after waking, keeping a person paralyzed until the effect of the drug wears off slowly (Offutt, 2012). Sleep paralysis and the in-between, hypnogogic state can go a long way toward explaining the fearful sightings of shadowy intruders spying on us in our sleep and holding us paralyzed in fear, as wakefulness returns slowly. However, while this explanation is a good one, it doesn’t explain the phenomenon in all cases. For example shadow figures have been caught on tape and in photographs. It also doesn’t take into account stories of people who have witnessed shadow people while fully awake or during broad daylight. Richford also lists overactive imaginations and neurological disorders such as schizotypal disorders which can cause hallucinations and visual disturbances. High levels of electromagnetic fields have also been known to cause visual disturbances and hallucinations, and should not be discounted as a possible explanation. As chemist Rick Toomey notes, electrical stimulation to certain parts of the brain or certain drugs, or anything that causes an chemical imbalance in the brain can cause strange perceptions by the nervous system. Toomey notes that, “’every neurotransmitter is chemistry (Offutt, 2012).’” Whether red-eyed demon, disembodied spirit or visual hallucination shadow people are reported in numerous accounts by people that adamantly swear they’ve experienced these unspeakable nightmares personally, often for years. If you have a shadow person story to share feel free to add your story in the comment section after this article or email your account to firstname.lastname@example.org Until then, here’s hoping the shadows in your life remain empty and benign. References Cheung, Theresa (2008). The Element Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Hauntings. Harper Collins Publishers in cooperation with Barnes and Noble. China. Offutt, Jason (2012). “The Lurking Shadow People.” Mysterious Universe.org. Retrieved January 14, 2013 from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2012/03/the-lurking-shadow-people/ Richford, Nannette (2007). Hauntings and Shadow People Retrieved January 14, 2013 from Russell, Shaan (2007). “Shadow People Phenomenon.” Unexplained Mysteries. Retrieved January 14, 2013 from http://www.unexplained-mysteries.com/column.php?id=97317 *All anectodal accounts are reproduced from the Shadow People.org website. They are used for illustrative purposes only and have not been authenticated in any way.