Throughout history, many people have claimed to have been involved with some type of encounter involving a moving shadow, or a phenomena which is commonly called “shadow people”. While pop-culture may have given it a catchy little name, these entities have been around for thousands of years, and have been written about in many instances. This article is not to convince you one way or the other as to whether or not they exist or not. I am writing this because for years, I have been plagued by a shadow entity in which my family and I call “The Watcher”, and based on my own feelings, observations, and perceptions, this article is going to give solid “factual” encounters and some history behind the phenomena. Read on if this topic interests you.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SHADOW PEOPLE
Throughout history, especially in the Greek (translating Greek σκιά, Latin umbra) and later Roman mythologies, “shadow people” were famously known as “shades”, and guess what? It wasn’t a big deal. Just like daimones, they regarded these shadow people as an every day part of life. They can be interpreted as a spirit, or a ghost. They existed mainly as the residue left behind from people who had died, and were now existent within the underworld. They were especially popular in history as well as poetry.Religions in which the dead live in shadow is also not as uncommon as you would think, the most popular being the Hebrew religion. The classification I am referring to is tsalmaveth, which literally translates to “death-shadow”. Shadow-People, a/k/a “shades”, are also known famously by the Scottish as “Wraiths”.
The Egyptians believed that during the preservation of the body, as well as the soul, and the below excerpt is taken from the Wikipedia page pertaining to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which can be located here:
Finally, the shut, or shadow of the deceased, was preserved by spells 91, 92 and 188. If all these aspects of the person could be variously preserved, remembered, and satiated, then the dead person would live on in the form of an akh. An akh was a blessed spirit with magical powers who would dwell among the gods.
Some of the most common references throughout historical epic poems that involve shades would be Homer’s The Odyssey, and Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy.
SHADOW PEOPLE IN POPULAR CULTURE
And I can’t even begin to paraphrase how many pop-culture references there are to the shadow people, but I will quickly try. You can view them most famously in the Disney cartoon “Peter Pan”, as he wrestles to keep his shadow attached to him. Then, most recently, in both literary form as well as in the form of a motion picture trilogy, there were “Ringwraiths” or Nazrul features in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” mythology. Recently, a movie was released entitled “The Vanishing on 7th Street”, which deals entirely with the topic of shadow people. And, for certain elements, in the also recently-released movie “Insidious”, for a portion of his time there while he was accumulating power, the demonic character in the film appeared as a shadow person. There is also currently a movie in the works for release in 2011, known simply as “Shadow People“. You can read about that upcoming movie, previously known as “The Door“, here: http://www.upcominghorrormovies.com/movie/shadow-people
Other famous characters in popular culture have been infused into video games as well. The protagonist in the entire “Legacy of Kain” vampire games, Raziel, was actually a wraith, a shadow of his former self.
Below, is an album taken from two of the movies I mentioned above, “Insidious” and “Vanishing on 7th Street“. All images are © to their respective motion picture companies.
HAUNTING SITUATIONS AND SIGHTINGS OF SHADOW PEOPLE
Many people throughout history have seen or otherwise encountered these shadow people, and the shocking thing about these stories is that while there may be many similarities, no two stories are in fact identical. You can read my own story about “The Watcher” in both my “About Your Author” page as well as my previous posts. For now, I will just quickly post a few stories from the wildly famous website http://shadowpeople.org/ . Here, they have thousands of stories in which people have come to encounter the shadow people, and with the modern internet age, sharing these stories has become a lot easier now than it used to be. The following two stories were taken from the above mentioned site, and they own all rights to such content.
From: Name Withheld by Request
Subject: My Shadow Account
I had an incident with the Shadows when I was about 10 years old. I was sick with the flu, and was staying at my mother’s house. I had been watching TV in her bedroom, and I fell asleep. Sleeping fitfully, I was awoken by the sound of my mother screaming ferociously. She was lying next to me, and it was now about 2:00am, and she was sitting up and pointing at the wooden dresser. The silhouette of a man was perched on top of it, which was very high, and it was crouching there, its face fixed upon my shrieking mom.
It had no detail. It was just a featureless humanoid shade with narrow white eyes. It turned its head to me when it found out I had awoken as well and it just sort of stared at me while my mom continued to howl at it. It then leapt off the dresser, looked at me again, and then ran out the door where light from the hallway was streaming in. The way it ran, it just sort of became a blurry streak that vanished around the corner faster than any man could run.
The next morning, my mom was so very nervous, and I brought up the Shadow; she started acting very skittish and told me not to talk about it ever again. I brought it up several times more in the future, and each time she admitted that she never wanted to think about it again. The interesting thing was, she felt a great evil force emanating from the Shadow. She told me that much and that it was a spawn of the devil. However, I felt nothing more than curiosity from it, and the fact that it was on my side of the bed and the way it was looking at me gave me the impression that it was there to watch me, as it only fled when it noticed I had glimpsed it.
That was not the least of my encounters. For years, both before and after the incident, I had always noticed that there were times when it was dark, that there had seemed to be a presence lurking in the shadows; a force that made you feel like something was staring at you. At times, it was merely uncomfortable, but others, it gave you the impression that it wanted to hurt you; that the darkness hated you, and times like that I would run as though I were being chased, back into the company of others. This only happened at night, when I would be riding my bike home alone from a friend’s house, or when I was walking my dog and he would start growling at nothing, or when I would walk into my dark room and would feel a horrible malevolence until I turned the lights on. Sometimes, I would stare at the ceiling, and only moonlight would be streaming in through my blinds, and it seemed as though the room would get darker and darker slowly, and the sense of being watched would increase, and I would start seeing shapes moving at the corner of my eyes. I knew these events were strange because not all darkness or shadows gave the impression of harboring unseen “watchers.” Most nights nothing at all would be out of the ordinary.
I didn’t encounter a full Shadow again until I was 15 and had moved into a new house, this time with my dad. I was sitting in the living room at 10:00 am, broad daylight outside, and then I felt like something was wrong, that feeling of being watched, and I heard something smack hard against the window, which had the curtain drawn. My heart froze as I saw what had made the sound; a man, or rather the outline of a man, about 5’ tall, was pressed against the glass; arms stretched out and bent upwards at the elbows, palms pressed flat against the glass. The man had no features, no clothes, just that generic human outline I remembered from the bedroom. This took all of one second, as the Shadow then turned and streaked away very fast. The thing that bothered me about it the most was that whatever it was pressed right against the window and it should have been solid, but it had been almost transparent, with only the curtains catching the pale grayness of its outline. I had felt definite malice this time, and it only got worse.
I saw a Shadow at night walking my dog, he barked and bared his teeth, and I felt that sensation again, and looked quickly to the side and saw a Shadow shape duck behind a boat in a neighbor’s driveway, and when I went to look there was nothing there. I saw it again when I was in my kitchen getting some food, there were no other lights on and the living room and hall were nearly pitch black except for a tiny nightlight, and from that I felt the watching feeling and turned fast to notice a man’s head with no ears and red eyes looking around the corner from the hallway. It shrank back when it saw I noticed. The worst was when I had fallen asleep doing homework, and had a disturbing nightmare, awakening to the sight of a Shadow standing over my bed, outlined by the light coming in from the hallway through my half open bedroom door, which then quickly backed away and then turned into dark motes when it saw I had noticed it, just like usual.
The entire time I lived in that house, dark places almost always seemed to radiate anger and a sense of being watched. My dog always shied away from dark corners, and would bark and growl at nothing. The worst dreams I ever had came when I lived there, and I know it had something to do with the Shadows that didn’t want to be seen but would always let you catch them looking at you. Two more minor incidents were when I was walking down the stairs at midnight, the bottom floor being pitch black, I saw a shape with red eyes that looked wide and flowing, with a bald human head and no arms and legs, radiating no malice, just surprise, and then a month later when I stepped outside my bedroom and saw a hulking Shadow whose head brushed the ceiling, that had no eyes and a shape that was human but for the strange jagged outline around it. It stood in my way and even reached out, but then it turned and vanished down the wall into deeper shadows. It hadn’t seemed evil either.
I still see dark shapes out of the corner of my eye quite often, and occasionally the sense that a dim room is getting darker towards the ceiling, but the sense of being watched isn’t quite as frequent as it was. I’m 23 now and they must have gotten more careful because they don’t let me see them fully anymore, although I do catch them disappearing around corners or other objects. I’ve had two friends, who didn’t know about these incidents, see Shadow Men once as well, and my friends mother and grandmother said they once saw a Shadow Man with narrow white eyes walk into their house, look at them, and then turn and walk away. It is vindicating to know I wasn’t imagining it, and I often dwell upon it to remind me that not all in this world is as it seems. My mom still hates talking about it to this day.
And here is yet another story, also from the above mentioned website, www.shadowpeople.org:
From: Name Withheld by Request
Subject: Eye Witness Account of Shadow Being Phenomena
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 05:09:19 -0400
I am more than a little skeptical of ghosts and the paranormal, but about 17 years ago I had an experience with a house that my father and I moved into in 1986. A few years ago I started noticing stories about “shadow people” and realized that some other people have had similar experiences. I would like to share this experience with anyone who can relate to it. You have my full permission to use this account in your web site. Please exclude my name and email address.
This experience involved what I can only describe as “shadow beings”. When I first moved in I thought I saw one of the neighborhood children running into the house and down the hall. When I went to look for him there was no one there, all of the doors were closed, and there was no way out of the house in that direction. I didn’t think anything of this at the time. As time passed I began seeing something in my peripheral vision, just outside of my direct view. But when I would turn to look at it, there would be nothing there. I always assumed that a car had driven down the road and just was casting an odd shadow.
Then, during the winter of 1987, something odd began happening. Very late at night, the television in the empty living room would turn on with the volume turned all of the way up (to a channel with empty static). The first time it happened, I opened the door to turn the television off. When I did this I thought I heard unintelligible chattering and footsteps. This frightened me so I left the television on and bolted back in my room. This only happened a few times over a period of 3 years.
First Encounter: Winter 1987
The first unmistakable encounter with a “shadow being” was sometime in late 1987. My door would mysteriously come ajar during the middle of the night. And I would have to get up and close it. This happened dozens of times. Then one night when I went to get up to close it I saw a tall shadow with a fedora hat standing on the other side of the door. It was blacker than the darkness around it, featureless and was staring right at me. Terrified, and feeling I had no place to run, I picked up a screw driver and lunged at the figure. As I did this it slipped into the wall to the right of me within a split second! It made no sound and went through a solid wall. I was so frightened I thought I was going to die.
After this I slept with kitchen knives hidden under my bed and put a 30 pound stack of encyclopedias in front of the door at night to keep the door from opening. In the few instances where I heard the television turn itself on in the middle of the night, I let my father handle it. My father never once accused me of turning the television set on, which I thought odd. He did ask me if I heard the television set come on in the middle of the night also, to reassure himself that he wasn’t the only one who had seen it. A few times I also remember hearing my dad down the hall apparently telling what he thought was me that it was too late at night and that he had to get to work in the morning. I got the distinct impression that after this happened a few times he realized that it wasn’t me. He began sleeping in the den in 1989, rather than his own room (which happened to be right near the area where these shadows usually appeared). Other than hearing knocking on the wall between my room and the kitchen and occasionally having objects on my shelves start shaking and sometimes being knocked off for what seemed like no reason, the disturbances stopped for awhile.
Second Encounter: Spring 1988
Then, sometime in 1988, I had the second encounter. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing a shadow trying to move through the door. It sort of looked like an amorphous blob of smoke. At first I thought it was the neighbors cocketeil that had escaped from its cage, but then I realized that it was a black, violently grasping, skeletal hand. When I raised up out of bed the rest of the figure began coming through the door. I knocked on the wall and screamed for my father to come. He ran down the hall. The hand, arm and the rest of the figure yanked itself out of the door and the figure flew away. My father flung the door open. I told him I had seen something, but I couldn’t really describe it. We went looking around the house to find some kind of animal because we had both seen “something”.
Third Encounter: Winter 1988
I had my third experience in the winter of 1988. I became deathly ill with pneumonia. At this time I remember getting up in the middle of the night to go down the hall to use the bathroom and seeing, hanging upside down from the ceiling, what looked like the upper torso of a pitch black skeleton (with an unusually large head), waving its arms! I will NEVER FORGET THIS IMAGE. Again the figure was darker than the darkness around it. I turned the hall light on and it slipped up into the ceiling in a split second! I also remember at least two times in the 3 years I lived in the house, seeing a small figure, about 3 feet in height, with a hood on. It was always toward the back of the hall where my father’s room is (where I had seen the figure of the child when I first moved into the house). As soon as I made eye contact with it, it would recede into the darkness by floating backward.
In 1989 my father and I moved out of the house. Since that time I believe it has been torn down. I have never experienced anything like this since that time. I can’t explain these experiences. I don’t believe in ghosts and do not exclude the possibility that the house may have been built in an area with a naturally strong or erratic electro-magnetic field that makes people hallucinate or that I just happened to have very vivid waking dreams while living in the house. All I know is that you couldn’t pay me enough to move back into the place.
Note: There were a few facts that might help make the story more credible. Other people had seen shadow like figures in and around the house and described them to me without my telling them about my own experiences. Animals, like the neighbors dogs and cats, would not set foot on the property. I often saw the neighbor’s dog growl at the front window of the house but she would never go near it. At least a couple of times I came home from riding my bike to see a friend knocking on my door asking to be let in as though he were convinced I was inside. When I told him there was no one home he said that he had seen someone in the house and thought it was me. When he realized it wasn’t me he had seen in the house he turned sheet white.
The only advice I can offer anyone about a problem like this, is that whatever it is, it seems to be tied to a specific location. If you are seeing this sort of thing, just move. It only gets worse.
So as you can see, just from those two stories, in each of these cases, specifically the one which involved the skeptic, there was no distinct malevolency involved, although intense hatred and hostility could be felt from the first storyteller’s point of view. The one common factor in Shadow People accounts is that they generally usually have a generic, shapeless, humanoid form devoid of any details, and they come in all shapes and sizes. They usually seem very skittish and/or “jumpy”, in the sense that once they are noticed, they usually retreat back to where they came from, but not all of them do. If you have hours and hours of time to read about the topic, I would highly recommend www.shadowpeople.org as a place to get some reading done. While you can read their stories from any point of view that you choose, regard it with a grain of salt, whatever your choice is, the sheer amount of stories can’t be ignored. This is obviously a very, very widely known phenomena, and as of the current date, it cannot be definitively explained.
SHADOW PEOPLE AND THE DEMONIC
Many people, myself included for a short time, had reacted to shadow people as if they were one and the same as the demonic. This was before I had done any research on the topic, and before I had taken a step back and begun to look at it from the point of view of someone who has experienced both the demonic and shadow people. What I noticed was that the feelings I experienced between the two were distinctly different. Many religious clergy, especially the Catholics/Christians, believe that there is no difference between the demonic and the Shadow People. Unfortunately, there just simply aren’t any facts to base an opinion on. They can be a plethora of other unexplained entities.
One of the more “famous” stories involving the Shadow People actually involved world renown demonologist John Zaffis and one of the paranormal investigators that he had mentored over the years named Stacey Jones. She was an ex-police officer, who had finally and reluctantly allowed her teenaged son come along with her and her team on a graveyard investigation. Nearing the end of the investigation, her and her son were separated from the group, and her son began to see multitudes of Shadow People accumulating all around them. Stacey, being a hardcore skeptic didn’t think too much of it, until days went by, her son began to experience strange things such as cuts and bruises randomly appearing on various parts of her body, as well as dramatic and drastic personality changes, many of which involved violence. While that was not the entire gist of the story, ultimately, her son was only experiencing a very strong spirit attachment, and through this attachment (the “Law of Attraction” in play, maybe?) Stacey herself became diabolically possessed. John Zaffis had to step in, and use his contacts with the clergy in order to more or less abduct Stacey long enough for her to agree to the major exorcism, and have the demonic entities evicted from her body. I have managed to sum this story up into only as paragraph, but trust me, it could be much, much longer than that. In over 30+ years of paranormal experience, John Zaffis claimed that this was the one and only time he has ever witnessed honest-to-God levitation during possession.
The entire story was actually med into a 1-hour episode for the TV Series “A Haunting” on the Discovery Channel. It was Season 4, Episode 9, and it was entitled “Ghost Hunter”. I strongly recommend watching it if you have an interest in this article.
The folklore around the world is as a whole almost too much for any one human being to successfully study, so in that regard, try to absorb as much information as possible to form your own opinion. As far as my own opinion on the matter…
WHAT I THINK SHADOW PEOPLE ARE
My personal opinion is a rather complex one.
I believe that the Shadow People are a species. Unfortunately, the best way that I can compare this is actually to two races. The simplest being canines. Dogs are a basic species. You see a dog, and you know that it is a dog. However, within the species, there are different kinds of dogs. You see a PitBull, you kno that it is a PitBull. You see a Chihuahua, you know it is a Chihuahua. The point is, each dog is unique and different, and has a temperament to match. If a Chihuahua came up to you in a dark alley, and started to “attack” you, nibbling on your sneaker and jumping up at you, you would lean down, try to pet it, calm it down, laugh at it a little bit, and then move on. But take that exact same scenario, and substituted the Chihuahua with the PitBull. If you are trapped in an alley, and a PitBull approaches you, growling, snarling, and agitated, you would treat that dog accordingly – most likely significantly different than you would the Chihuahua. That is what I perceive the Shadow People to be. The second comparison would be to human beings. Much like the dogs, there are different kinds of human beings, but beyond that, human beings have intelligent, they are self-aware, sentient beings. There are different types of people beyond the physical differences as well. The mentally ill, the unstable, the violent, the twisted and demented, the list goes on and on. You would obviously not compare Ed Gein to your children’s pre-school teacher, or close friends you have.That is my point. I believe that Shadow People are simply a different species of the shadow as a whole. In many religions and cultures, there is belief that there are other realms (Realm X, etc.) in which other beings exist. The Egyptians believed in the realm of The Afterlife as a world, the Greeks/Romans also had the Elysian Fields and Hades. The Celts believe in the Sidhe (the faeries) and the Muslims believe in the Djinn. The Catholics/Christians/Jews believe in Heaven and Hell, and sometimes Purgatory. As a matter of fact, while listening to a radio show called Coast to Coat AM with Art Bell and famous exorcist Father Malachi Martin, I heard Father Martin speak about what he believes the “Middle Plateau” to be – a alternate realm where all sorts of “magic” is still present, where certain beings such as the Demonic, the Djinn, and the dead exist within. He also believe that this is the place people “go to” when they are astrally traveling, remote viewing, and possibly even dreaming. It was very interesting to hear him speak on the matter, especially since that is where I believe the Shadow People are from. I do believe that they have been around a while, and that they simply know how to walk through the veil that separates our world from theirs.
My belief is that yes, the demonic can imitate these Shadow People, but that doesn’t make every shadow person a demon, just like it doesn’t make every pre-school teacher Ed Gein. Each and every shadow figure is unique, just like we are. I don’t believe they just manipulate our physics to exists, and I don’t believe that they are all malevolent. In a world that I relatively unknown to us, I also believe that anything is possible. In my own personal experienced with the shadow figure that I call “The Watcher”, I do believe that this is a malevolent – maybe even possibly a demonic – entity. I base this on the fact that I know all of the things I have done in my life, I know the evils I have partaken in, and the doors that I have opened. I know that for the rest of my life, the darkness will have an interest in me, and most importantly, I know the feelings and emotions I had experienced while in the presence of this thing. It was very, very large, and the feeling I got from it was not just mere curiosity, it was intentionally spreading absolute terror. It was angry with me. There was a hatred there, much like the first story I quoted above. It was not “randomly” there, it was there for me. And the only reasons that I believe nothing had ever happened is because not only am I very knowledgable about the paranormal, but I am also very paranoid. In my bedroom, I have multiple blessed items “hidden”, mainly around the door frame. I also have an undisturbed solid line of salt embedded underneath my thresh hold, I have a 12” handmade knife under my pillow that is crafted out of solid 200 year-old iron, and I have set up religious “barriers” on every opening in that room, much like I described in my “Possession 101” article in the Ralph Sarchie excerpt. I also wear blessed medals of St. Michael and St. Benedict around my neck at al times, and have begun taking up the process of praying nightly to keep these entities at bay. And it works. Barely.
In the past few months, there have been multiple paranormal experiences around my home, and yes, the activity is increasing. Specifically, in the regards to Shadow People, I have seen some more in addition to “The Watcher”. And yes, I am worried. My mirrors have been going crazy, thin air has literally screamed at me only feet in front of me, and night terrors have been a common thing. The footsteps have continued in my abandoned top floor, and I am constantly seeing shadows dart around out of the corner of my eyes. It’s gotten to the point where now, I go to sleep with my bedroom door opened and the hall light on, just so that I can stare into the hallway al night and count how many times I see something pass in front of the light and temporarily block it out. So for a bottom line, I’d recommend that you treat these entities the same as the demonic, even though they may not be the same. Tread with caution, because being that these entities are largely unknown, we still do not know what they are capable of. And even if they are benign, the Law of Attraction isn’t, and these entities could attract other entities that are residents of the dark. Ultimately, just be careful. That’s all I can recommend.