Shadow People: Theories and Personal Experiences

Updated on August 18, 2017

Have You Experienced a Shadow Being?

Have you ever thought for sure that you saw someone in the corner of your eye, but when you turn to look, no one is there? Have you ever seen the shadow of a person but could not place where it was coming from? Or how about a shadow standing in the middle of a room, or in a darkened corner? So many people have experienced these things on a daily basis, myself included. I have seen many of these shadow people in my lifetime, but who or what are they exactly? I do not claim to know the answer; but I would like to discuss my experiences and the many different theories about the identities of these mysterious beings in hopes of informing or helping others.

Theories: What Are They?

Shadow people are seen just as their name describes: a shadow most often in the form of a person. This shadow may be simply standing or even move through a room on its own. Many people see them as a blur out of the corner of their eye, gone so fast that they are unsure of what was there. There are quite a few theories about whom or what shadow people are.

  • The first theory is that these beings are simply a form of spirit or ghost. Perhaps they are spirits that are bound to earth as a shadow as the result of meeting a violent end. Perhaps they appear as a shadow because they are still living in a moment long past- a shadow of the past. It could be that spirits just manifest themselves in a variety of ways one of which just happens to be a shadow. I personally tend to lean towards this theory.
  • Theory number two is that these beings are astral projections. Astral projection occurs when a persons’ consciousness leaves their body, either knowingly or unknowingly, to travel. This often occurs during sleep, a person may think that they are having a very realistic dream and wake with a jolt caused when they return to their body. Many people however, practice astral projection and can do it whenever they like. Some believe that when someone sees a shadow person they are really seeing someone in their astral from or on the astral plane; or any number of other planes for that matter.Some theories are that these are interdimensional beings, from parallel or other dimensions. When we see them we could be catching just a glimpse of someone from another dimension or someone traveling between planes or dimensions.
  • According to some, shadow people could also be demons or other dark/evil beings manifesting in shadow form. This comes from the feeling of fear or dread that some feel when encountering these beings. This is a possibility, especially for more universally dreaded figures like the Hat Man. It is possible that in these cases it is a demon or dark entity that could be there to feed off of the fear it causes. However not all experiences with shadow people inspire fear in witnesses (I know this from experience). It is also possible that in a lot of cases, a person feels fear because of the confusion/ surprise that can accompany a paranormal experience and not from the shadow person itself.
  • The last possibility that I will address is one in which shadow people are beings are guardians sent to protect us or to warn us about tragedy or something bad to come. Again, this has not been the case in my experience but others have had diffferent experiences. In a case where they are there to warn, it could also be just a spirit or ghost trying to warn or send a message since spirits often know things that we don’t.

The Hat Man

While most shadow people seem to have one very general description, there is one more notorious figure that stands out: The Hat Man. While I am not sure if he would be considered a shadow person or his own entity, the Hat Man has been seen countless times and most witnesses give the same description: A tall, dark/black shadow of a man wearing a top hat (or wide brimmed hat), and a trench coat. This specific being is more ominous than any shadow person I have experienced, and is one that is said to have a very dark and threatening presence. Many accounts are of a witness waking up in the middle of the night to see this shadow man standing over them or at the foot of their bed- filling them with a sense of overwhelming fear until disappearing. Accounts of encounters with the Hat Man have been circulating around on paranormal forums for years. When I was younger I remember my own mother telling me that she had seen a shadowy man in a top hat in the doorway of her bedroom at one of her first apartments. Years later I found an article about the Hat Man phenomena and she confirmed that that was what she saw, but she had no idea that this was something that others had seen as well.

My Experiences

Growing up in my Michigan home, I began seeing shadow people at a young age. I didn’t know the term “shadow people” back then, but I knew that I was seeing something spooky. I would often be sitting in our living room and see someone standing at the top of our staircase, but when I would look there was no one there. I always had a feeling of being watched, especially upstairs. On one occasion, I remember being in my room listening to music. I was sitting on the floor of my room next to my small cd player. I was facing my wall, with my back to my closed door. Suddenly I saw a shadow on the wall in front of me, as if someone was walking up behind me. I was startled; this shadow was in the form of a tall man. I quickly turned around to discover that no one was there and that my bedroom door was still closed.

On a separate occasion in the same house I was in our middle room upstairs, it used to be my brothers room but had been converted into our computer room. I was sitting at our desk just browsing the web, because of the position of our desk my back was to the door. I was alone in our house aside from our bull-mastiff. The house was very quiet when I began to hear the creaking of footsteps coming up our staircase. In that moment, I remembered that my grandparents said that they may stop by, but I didn’t remember hearing the door. My grandma liked to surprise/scare me and I was sure it must be her. I sat facing the computer until out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow come across the wall to my right, as if someone were entering the room. I spun around in the computer chair and said “Hi!” excitedly, thinking I was turning to face my grandma. No one was there. I looked around to find that our dog was still downstairs and I was still the only one home.

My experiences did not end there. I have seen these shadows occasionally in every place that I have lived, with the exception of the new house in which my husband and I currently reside. It has become somewhat normal to me at this point, and I often say “I saw you, and I am here if you would like to communicate.” Unfortunately I have not had a response yet, but I like to keep the communication open. The most recent memorable occurrence happened probably 6 months ago at our last apartment. I had been sitting in the living room on my laptop with the tv on, when suddenly I saw a blurry shadow go through the center of the room, I looked up to see nothing there but my dog, on the floor in front of me had awoken from his nap and was fully alert and staring at the center of the room.

When I was young these experience spooked me of course, but the more I saw of the shadows, the more “normal” they became. I have never felt threatened or really afraid of them. I have had other paranormal experiences in which I felt afraid, but I don’t get that kind of feeling from these shadowy beings. I have read accounts of people encountering shadow people and feeling a dark or even evil presence. Luckily I have not encountered any like this, though I don’t doubt that they are out there.

In Conclusion: I Want To Hear Your Stories

As I said, I do not claim to know the answers, and there are even more theories out there but these have been the most interesting to me. As someone who has had multiple experience I love to share and hear the stories of others’. There could be just one answer, and there could be many; multiple types of shadow beings. The distinct description of the Hat Man among many general descriptions of “shadows” suggests that there could be many types or levels of these beings. We may never know, but I believe it is important to share and compare stories to get a better understanding of what is really out there.

*Not an actual photo of a shadow person* but my best attempt at representing one using a personal photo.
*Not an actual photo of a shadow person* but my best attempt at representing one using a personal photo. | Source

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What Do You Think Shadow People Are?

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© 2017 Sarah Sweet-Lensing

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    • profile image

      Drastick 

      4 days ago

      This is a copy of my email to miss owl.

      Hey,

      Great article. Id like to share my experiences in hopes it sheds some light on the subject.

      I first felt the effects of the hat man before i knew it was him.

      Me and a few friends visited an old war site. That night i had an intense dream or astral projection where i was sleeping in one of the abandoned rooms. An old acquaintance from school was in the other room watching tv. I found it strange as we didnt hang out. As i was trying to sleep in my "dream" i was knocked or fell out of the bed but didnt hit the floor. Instead i was hovering and begun spinning violently with what can only be described as extreme g force. It felt real and i felt paralyzed as i attempted to ask my school friend for help. I finally woke in my room with an exhaustive feeling.

      Months later i fell asleep on the automon in my moms house and as i did i almost instantly begun levitating above the automon and started spinning violently like before. I tried to stop it and succeeded only to wake on the automon. I closed my eyes n fell asleep and it happened again. This repeated a few times until i was able to slow the spinning down and to my left saw him. A tall, black figure with a hat. Just standing in the arch way of the living room. It was vanta black with no descriptive qualities except the outline of his body.

      A year or so later i had a another experience where i was renting a house with a shed. As i fell asleep i drempt i was in the backyard with an unknown person investigating the shed which had a garage door. But in this "dream" there was a coffin and an old wizard like man in a tomb like casket with a cane. His eyes were closed n he seemed to be dead or asleep. As we neared closer he woke n we tried to escape but he levitated us and somehow attempted to suck us back towards him. We held onto the frame of the door while in mid air then i woke.

      Id pass this off as a dream if i had'nt seen the hat man in real time at my moms earlier.

      Other things have occured since then. Some hat man related. Others visitations from 2 reptilians and 2 greys on separate occasions. May this've been helpful or insightful. Id enjoy ur opinion on my experiences.

      Cheers.

    • profile image

      scarlett marez 

      6 days ago

      I remember my dad telling me he used to wake up as if someone had just choked him. i was about 11 or twelve at that time. then usually around 3 or 4 i would wake up to the feeling someone was watching me, but there was no one there. then i had occurances of nightmares everynight. i would pray but it wouldn't help really. then i one night woke up to see the blck aht man. i told my dad and he drew a desci[ption from his expirence. i told him that was what i saw. from then on there we saw more and more deomons or showdown people coming an appearing. we would always feel as if someone was watching us. but not the good kind.

    • profile image

      kp 

      4 weeks ago

      When I was a kid .I also experienced such things. I used to see shadow of a kid moving around my house. Sometimes in corner of the room sometimes on stairs,and a few times under dining table. The last time I saw it when was 14 (now I am 18) .it was really scary experience. When I saw him last, was a spooky night, me and my mother were all alone at home I was moving ahead to kitchen from dining hall suddenly I saw right in front of me it was very hazy but I can still see it and also feel something. At that moment only lights turned off I scremed and ran back to mom's room and just hold her tight I didn't leave her for about half an hour . I was scared upto my wits . I cried . For many days I never stayed alone. It didn't harm me.

      But I really. Felt something. . I never saw it after than after that 4 years I shared this incident with my uncle who used to stay with us much before the last encounter. And he was shocked as he too saw it. That's why after 4 years I decided to research about it .

    • profile image

      Jacob Smith 

      2 months ago

      I ran across your article looking for answers or some kind of validation for whats been going on for the past 4 years. It started when I was at A-school in the marine corps in 2014. I was in restriction for breaking the liberty policy and stayed at a hotel against the rules. I shared a room with 5 other Marines, a small room filled with bunk beds. My friend ellman who slept at the foot of me woke up yelling because he saw a "shadow" standing over my bed. Fast forward a year later when I got out, I was staying with my mother and sister who were staying in a small decrepid slum house. After 3 weeks of being there, my sister claimed she woke up in the middle of the night and and saw a tall shadow, appearing to be wearing a hood, standing over me yet again. 2 years after that, my roommate which I had been staying with for quite awhile said that when he passed my bedroom doorway he saw some kind of figured standing over my bed with some kind of cord or string attached to my ankle. All times this presence has been around, I have been asleep, so I've never actually seen it myself. I haven't felt any kind of malevolence or negativity from this thing, no bad dreams etc. All I'm looking for is for someone else who has experienced something similar to this. I just want to know what to do, if anything, and know it's intentions. Please help.

    • profile image

      Brian 

      3 months ago

      I live one the West Coast. The In-Laws live in Cape Code Mass. So I have enjoyed many a visit with them. One time we went to Salem Mass. for a change. It was full of stores selling trinkets and the like.

      At one point we stopped at a grave yard and looked at the old headstones. It was a that point I felt odd, like there was some kind of shift.

      That evening we were all back at their house. It was dark outside but we were in the brightly lit up living room and I saw a completely black shape (of a man) run across one of living room walls (brightly lit up). He was going fast, maybe a second to cross the room. No one else saw it. Also I felt the strange "shift" fade and things felt normal again.

    • profile image

      Russ 

      4 months ago

      One time was at a hotel and i heard people outside plotting against me and thought they were breaking into my room.

      Fast forward to last night almost a year later these shadow people the same two showed up again.. its a couple that want something from me i think. The first time it happend on a meth high but i wasent even over 24 hours of being up. And last night i was sober i mean i have been. But i think these guys want me to do meth more.. they want to take over my life i feel like.

    • profile image

      Junyl 

      4 months ago

      If you really wanna know about them then i might share you something from me..since i cant put all the words to tell you what i have experience ill just tell you how many times i've seen a shadow..when it takes a bath, when it walks going to the bathroom walking behind my mothers & fathers back a few times..they alse see it but im the one who really seen them walking..just a human shadow...when me and my sister only in the house sleeping at night this shadow was watching us when we are playing, i also saw a baby which the body was burned, the eyes were so red, the teeth was so scary like a monster & i think that baby came from hell, he was staring at me at 3pm when i suddenly woke up so i pretend to sleep again it was like 5minutes before he went off entering the stuff toy that we get from our neighbor later in the morning i throw the stuff toy because they said it was very old already. When my grandmother got wake up in 3am and she takes a poop after that she turn off the light and sleep, a few seconds the light gets on and i got wake up but i thought she didnt turn off the light but when im about to get up the light suddenly turn in off so i was so shock then its on and off until it was so fast on turning it on/off..when i look at my grandmother there was a right hand crawling to her body and face & when i really look at it, it went off after that in the morning my grandmother told us to be aware because she said she have seen a whitelady after pooping. Third one is when me and my friends are so loud at the back of our house where the grass and trees are there, we keep running back and fort there and shouting until the grass became so tall like twice of our height we was so shock and scared, one of my friend go back and run so fast while we keep jumping to see the road that we running for until one my friend saw a whitelady watching on us, so we went home and talk about it in the morning and when we saw the grass its just so small. We almost dont know which way we will go that time since it was very high. The fourth one is when im alone in the house at 6pm when i take a bath and suddenly my mind thinking if when there is a blackout what will i do? I dont have a flashlight in my hand.. In any seconds it blackout and i was really shock thats why i didnt continue taking a poop and when im go out in the bathroom suddenly the temperature change and i feel a presence beside me that time like it was waiting only so i got scared since i dont know who it was or what is it & i walk so fast and look for the flashlight of my mother and it takes time before i found it and that time that was my first time got scared and rattle since i cant find the flashlight and he/she was beside me already like he stared in front of me while i stared back even though i cant see him until i got the flashlight but my mind got crazy and i was like " if these guy gonna do something about in me, im gonna fight back even it will kill me" until i on the flashlight and seen nothing and i run so fast at leave the house until my parents came back. Fifth is when i was like 13 yrs old that time i always woke up early in the morning and walking a round in every house of my neighbors to see who's already awake when i keep roaming back and fort no one is really awake that time i think it was 5:30am until i saw strange things like there was a 2 kid the same age like me who is eating a food in our neighbor's house so i was shock since i dont see those 2 kids in our place only that time so i just keep roaming and wonder who they are so i went back there and look again that time i really confirm that it was stranger so the third time i came back is they really eat a lot of there foods, when i walk through them they stared at me and i stared to them and when i see out neighbor (the mother) i was relieved or good since they are just her grandkids or nephew..at 9am so many people at our neighbors house so i came there and when (the mother) said that when they wake up all their foods is gone i was so shock and they said they just sleep only and when they wake up its gone.. And first of all is we alreay know that someone is died there and there place a 2 kids.. And thats when the real deal is, i was so shock and i didnt say a thing since im scared if they will go for me..Six is when me and my friend is done playing at night at 7pm i take a pee near the big tree when suddenly i saw a shadow of a boy getting out from the tree running at the back at me going to the back of my friend and when he pee i told him to be careful since there was a shadow of a boy that was running back from us when suddenly the shadow push my friend and run so fast going back to the tree.. My friend ask that what was that? I told him that it was the shadow who push you.. The seven is when at 1am when im going home it was like 2016 when suddenly in the firewall ive seen a construction worker working or repairing the roof it was like 3 or 4 of them and i was confuse and watch them since it was 1am already when suddenly they stop working at one of them is pointing at me and they suddenly stared at me while i stared them back and then it took 1 minute so i enter the house cuz i dont know what to do, by the way if it there was a body it would be on our roof.. Last one is so shit too! I think its 2011 my parents and brother is at the lower of our house or ground floor, we are eating until i go to my room in upper.. And for them they got busy after that they talk and enjoy and they really having fun.. When im in my room the lights in our house in upper or first floor is off all the lights it was so dark and i didnt care since ill go inside my room to watch movies... Only the tv was on that time when suddenly there was a big rain so much noise of a rain that even if i shout so loudly it wont hear them since it was really a big hard rain.. So i just keep watching movie when i feel someone on our roof like i felt someone is walking near my room so i just keep feeling it until it jumps in balcony and i heard the footstep of a jump like it was heavy or a big person and it slowy walks towards our room and i really feel it and still im the only one in the first floor and the light is off and still heavy rain..the big person suddenly stop moving in my room when suddenly it scratches the wall going to the door of my room slowy..and when it was in the door it suddenly scratch so fast rapidly or berserkly and i was scared thats why i open it so it will stop ...when i open the door it suddenly vanish and no one is there and the light is off i was scared but a few minutes my mother and brother when to my house to check me and i told them about that..

      So those kind of thing is really exist and they are still in earth living just like us.. They just dont want them to see us..they can touch us, they have powers, if they will do a some bad thing they can really do, they can make an image of a person..making a grass tall, shadow can make a physical to us :D

    • profile image

      Absy 

      7 months ago

      When i was a kid i lived with my grandma and in the summertime she used to "force " me sleep in the living room .Iwas so afraid to do that because every night I swear I was feeling like being watched and feeling like someone I walking beside the bed ... but no-one believed me ... Now the house is empty ...myy Grandma died 10 years ago and now I m living in the house next to Grandma's (it s like a dublex) . 6 years ago I started to have astral projections accidentally and then I ve tried. To experience that again..and I did it...but always In the middle of the projection i was sent in my grandma s house and. Tried. To get out of there. But..the first time I saw. A shadow girl with long hands and claws and she always pulled me back when I was trying to go from point A to B she was like "No!you stay here!"..the second time. The hatman was in the living room...and walking around the bed(that was the moment what remind me of my childhood) and then he tried to pull me back like the shadow girl...I get scared easily but I can say that. I wasn't afraid. Of them ... I get a little afraid at the end because. They won't let me go but nothing special.I think they are 'lost'energies or spirits. In the astral world. (Very bored ones)And. They like to play with us. ... "Oh. !we have a new toy! let's play !"

    • profile image

      Daveboy2017 

      10 months ago

      Peter you’re right, eventually my fear turned into curiosity, and even though I still encounter those beings, they tend to leave pretty quickly now. When I was little, when i cried out in my head to God to help, they’d quickly back off. Although sometimes I

      Get stuck in that reality, Depending on how Deep my sleep paralysis was at that point. Those 3 shadow beings have shown up in every place I’ve lived in the past 30 yrs.

    • profile image

      Daveboy2017 

      10 months ago

      The fear usually starts before going to sleep. Followed by a Lucid dream, and floating sensation. Next, three growling dark shadow figures slowly get closer. GROWLING INTENSIFIES, pure fear and dread follows, Sound is manipulated, making the sound of my fan, or A/C slow down, to a “whoosh!”(I usually try to pull out at thIs point of Paralysis). Once they show up, the whole bedroom seems to shutter at low vibrations,. One appearing in the bedroom doorway, window, and closet doorway. The growling gets louder as they approach, while on the left side of my face, out of my peripheral vision, one of the hooded figures screams violently in my ear. Tried to look, but it manages to always just stay out of view, while the other 2 observe. As I pull out of it, the growls and screaming tend to fade, sometimes takes a longer than expected. Fear like you can't imagine floods every fiber of your being. Happens every once in a while..some weird shit,..seems too calculated and real, either Interdimensional beings or ultra clear hallucination.

    • Thalia Jasmin profile image

      Thalia Jasmin 

      11 months ago from Italy

      Peter, what if the shadow people instead of using you as a source of food, is trying to tell you something?

      Maybe spirits that remain in the earth need a source of food, but I don't think that is our fear and anger. Those are demons, or evil spirits and I think they don't need it as food, but just for fun or another purpose. There are also good spirits, possibly manifesting as shadow people, and I'm pretty sure they don't feed themselves with our anger or fear.

    • profile image

      Peter 

      11 months ago

      I've encountered shadow peeps a few times. The first time, one came to visit me just as I was dozing off to sleep and tried pushing my face into my pillow and holding it there. When I started laughing at it's feeble attempts to scare me, it decided to knock my spirit out of my body which wasn't real nice of it. I was hit with a pulse of energy in my upper back between my shoulder blades and the next thing I know I'm floating above my physical self looking down on the shadow man hovering over my body. I was there for a couple of minutes before the thing went away and I woke up again in my body.

      The other time worth mentioning happened last night. I managed to achieve partial astral projection. Upon getting my head out, there was a train waiting for me. The side door to the carriage opened and a shadow man was there waiting for me. I thought it might be a good idea to go back into my body rather then jump on the train to see where that went, although the idea was tempting. I don't fancy getting taken onto the next life just yet, especially when I still have kids to bring up.

      From my experience with shadow people, we are a food source to them. They seem to want to scare us so we produce negative energy to feed off. I don't think they really want to harm us. I suspect they are spirits of the deceased who have died and remained on the earth plane. Everything alive or dead needs energy to function. We put food and water into our bodies to function, spirits are the same. Those that move into the light have an unlimited source of energy. Those that remain of the earth plane have been cut off from the light and have to seek alternative sources of energy. Fear and anger are the easiest forms for spirits to generate and feed off. If you don't like ghosts / dead things annoying you stop being scared of them and giving them what they want. If you don't generate their food they will leave you along in the majority.

    • profile image

      Jackie 

      12 months ago

      I've seen 2 within the past year, but I am never scared. The first time I seen one, I was laying in bed with my dog and I saw the dark shadow wearing a hat and a few months later my dog died from a brain tumor. The next time I saw one was a week ago and my mom had a mild stroke a few days later. I think they come to warn me of something tragic is coming my way, the reason why I believe this is because I'm never afraid when I see it.

    • Moonlight Owl profile imageAUTHOR

      Sarah Sweet-Lensing 

      12 months ago from Haslett

      Wow it sounds like you have had a lot of experiences! I tend to agree with them being a form of ghost, I have seen other things that I believe were ghosts that looked different but I believe that ghosts can take many forms. That is interesting about your guardian, I have read about them taking the form of animals. Thanks so much for sharing, that is really cool!

    • Thalia Jasmin profile image

      Thalia Jasmin 

      12 months ago from Italy

      Oh, and when I see them sometimes is with the corner of my eye and when I turn around there aren't there anymore, and sometimes I see them directly and watch them for a while. The last experience I remember very well is at my aunt's home, I was in the dining/living room sitting at the table with the rest of the family, I looked at one corner of the room and there was this shadow in the form of a man and looking directly at us. I had the feeling it was evil, so I ignored him and looked in an other direction. Then I looked again, and he was still there, then after a while he disappeared. Anyway, it is almost normal because my aunt's house is really full of presences since I can remeber.

    • Thalia Jasmin profile image

      Thalia Jasmin 

      12 months ago from Italy

      I see shadow people (and ghost in general) all the time since childhood. This is the first time I read an article about them. I've seen ghost in other forms too, but I've always had the feeling that these shadow people were ghost in a shadow form because maybe they are not strong enough to appear in other forms or because they are evil spirits. Sometimes I have the feeling that this shadow is evil, sometimes not.

      I think I had met the Hat Man some years ago, I remember it was afternoon and I was in my room singing and dancing (lol) when I saw this man with a big hat and a trench coat standing in front of the window and then he moved across the room in my direction, passed near me and got out of the room. I remember I wasn't afraid because I thought he was the ghost who was in my house at the time (there was the ghost of a man haunting my house, he wasn't an evil spirit, I just saw him sometimes and felt his presence, now he's gone I don't know why).

      I don't think they are our guardian spirits because when I see the one I think is my guardian spirit (I'm not 100% sure because I'm new to this story) I see him in the form of a white humanoid form, and sometimes in the form of a black and white cat (about this cat I'm not really sure if it is my guardian spirit who shows up in this form but I think so).

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      13 months ago from New Delhi, India

      I don't think this stuff is even real. Much of it is our mind playing trick especially when we are scared, lonely or when its dark. Honestly speaking it can take up any shape sometimes familiar and sometimes unfamiliar.

      I grew up amidst all kind crazy story telling and it freaked me out for years to come. I got over with the hallucinations but the phobia of the dark carried on.

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