The idea that someone, or something, has invaded the sanctity of your house or bedroom is probably the epitome of nightmare fuel. Thankfully I’ve never had this kind of experience. Coincidentally (or maybe not) many denizens of the paranormal have a penchant for visiting people within their bedrooms. Today however I wish to focus your attention today to The Shadow People. Tracking down the origins of these entities is almost as elusive as sightings of them are. The first time I heard them mentioned was on one of a number of Ghost Hunting websites I used to frequent back in the mid to late 90’s, the URLs to which I’ve long since misplaced. At the time they were often described as a kind of haunting that people would experience. And many seemed to be described as emanating evil, if not outright evil in action or deed.
Accounts from Legend
It should come as no surprise that some cultures around the world have reported the same, or similar, creatures within their myths or worldviews. Just one example is of the Choctaw People, a Native American tribe which was originally located in the states of Mississippi, ALabama, and Louisiana, had a few different shadow-like creatures. Nalusa Falaya, which translates roughly to long black being, is a man shaped being which would frighten hunters and prefered to slither on it’s stomach like a snake in some accounts. Additionally, Choctaw believed that every person had both a shilombish (outside shadow) and a shilup (the inside shadow). Upon death, the shilup is said to go to the land of the ghosts. The shilombish, is believed to hang around the earth after the passing of the deceased person. This particular figure seems to be more closely related to our modern concept of The Shadow People.
Examples of Encounters
Here are just a few of the more standard accounts of persons who have claimed to have had encounters with The Shadow People. The following stories come from Shadowpeople.org:
Melissa - I was asleep only to immediately wake up and look to the corner of my bedroom, there I saw the figure of a tall man standing and looking at me, I was scared beyond belief, to make things worse I knew he wasn’t human as not only could I make out his shadowy figure in the dark, but I could also see through him, I threw the covers over my head and screamed out in horror until my father ran in, I cried for him to turn on the lights.
Jonas - one night I woke up late and was just staring at the ceiling of the apartment when I began to feel that something just didn't feel right, or like I was being watched. I scanned the room and to my utter shock there stood a Shadow Hat Man at the end of my bed on the left hand side. I have never been so terrified in my entire life. I seriously thought I was going to die of fear. This black mass was a man and he was wearing a wide brim hat and what looked like a cloak of some sort. I couldn't move or speak because I was totally numb with fear.
unnamed person - Not being able to fall asleep, I opened my eyes and looked towards my open bedroom door. There stood a dark figure, about six feet tall with the build of an average sized man. The shadow seemed to be wearing a pea coat or a trench coat. The silhouette was completely featureless in all other respects. It did not move. It just stood there in the doorway, completely silent. I assumed my eyes were playing tricks on me so I felt rather silly when I called out, "Who's there?" and "Hello?" When I got no response, my confusion turned into the most intense and unexplainable fear that I have ever experienced.
The above encounters are only a few of the dozens you can easily find all over the internet. A great place to read similar encounters is Jason Offutt’s blog, From The Shadows.
Variety of Types
One of the interesting aspects of The Shadow People is the variety of types, shapes, and forms with which they are reported. In his 2009 book Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us, author and journalist Jason Offutt details roughly eight different kinds of Shadow People that had been reported to him by various experiencers. Here are just a few of them:
The Hat Man
Maybe one of the creepier shadow people, at least in my opinion. Why in the world is it wearing a hat?
Somehow a figure in a hood just doesn’t instil the same fear or creepy-factor in me as one with a hat does. Maybe I’m just desensitized by years of horror movies?
Shadow People which are seen in this variety appear to be comprised of their namesake; black smoke or mist. To be fair, I doubt the veracity of the above photo but Google Image search was not kind to my query for "Black Mist Shadow People"
Science has the “answer”!
Modern science has weighed in on the Shadow People and seems to offer a compelling explanation for many, though not all, of the encounters which people have had. It is believed that Sleep Paralysis, accompanied by hypnopompic and hypnagogic hallucinations may account for some of these bedroom visitors. The idea is that during REM sleep, or the state of sleep in which dreams can occur, the body undergoes muscle atonia or a weakening of the muscles. This is so that the body doesn’t act out what is happening in your dreams. In the sleep paralysis state, the REM cycle has been disturbed or interrupted, so that a person is awake but their body is still paralyzed. During this state has been suggested that individuals might experience hypnagogic hallucinations in which they would then see “Shadow People” and really any other kind of nighttime visitor (such as Greys).
The Paranormal Community has an “answer” too! (well, a bunch of them)
Not to be outdone by scientists, the paranormal community has an opinion on what The Shadow People are. However like everything else in this field, if you ask 10 people for their opinion on The Shadow People, you’re going to get 10 different explanations. The usual suspects show up as you might imagine. For more religious-minded folk the Shadow People are clearly demons; they are literally black, usually described as devoid of light, give off “evil vibes”, and show up late at night. For those who spend their time looking up for all the answers, The Shadow People represent a race of ETs who are scoping out the situation and trying to figure us humans out. Ghost hunters see them as kinds of ghosts. Some think they may be time travelers. The list goes on. As with most paranormal things, your phenomenology or “reality tunnel” clearly colors your perceptions of this phenomenon.
Given that many of the experiences involving The Shadow People do seem to occur in the bedroom, usually after a person has been woken up from sleep, it’s not hard to see why this explanation is so attractive to scientists or anyone else who wishes to ignore “Damned” data. I could certainly see how some of the encounters with The Shadow People might fall under this explanation, I can’t see it accounting for all of the varied experiences. On the other hand, the paranormal explanations for The Shadow People are as varied as the field is. Aliens, Ghosts, Demons, Time Travelers, you name it, likely someone thinks that what The Shadow People are. Personally I don’t know what to make of these experiences. Regardless of their origin, they are certainly “real” to the people who undergo them. Maybe that’s the only important takeaway from all of this. Until I learn anything differently, I’m going to keep an open mind on The Shadow People. And hope I never encounter one myself, especially The Hat Man! Yeesh.