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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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© 2017 Sarah Sweet-Lensing

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      Jackie 4 days 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.

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      Sarah Sweet-Lensing 11 days 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!

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      Thalia Jasmin 11 days ago

      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.

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      Thalia Jasmin 11 days ago

      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 6 weeks 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.