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Shadow People - What Are Behind the Sightings?

The night is dark, and your rest had been profound. Slowly, you feel yourself drifting away from the sweet oblivion of dreams. As your mind gradually awakens, you stretch your arms over your head and extend your waking body. Slowly, your groggy eyes open and your heart suddenly kicks into overdrive. Someone's watching you.

There's a man standing over your bed, but this is no human. There’s no face, no hair, only deep, black shadow. What is it? What does it want? You can't think of how to react, but have finally drawn the sharp breath you'd been holding when he vanishes.

You’re unnerved, but you’re not harmed.

What was that? A ghost? Have you just seen a shadow person?

The topic of what exactly shadow people are has been a hot one for a number of years. There’s no question that the paranormal experience is a fascinating and spine tingling one, but what exactly causes these events?

The eye can trick the brain into seeing all sorts of things. Some shadow people sightings can be explained by this kind of phenomenon.

The eye can trick the brain into seeing all sorts of things. Some shadow people sightings can be explained by this kind of phenomenon.

Hallucinations and Tricks of the Eye

When it comes to explaining paranormal experiences, it’s usually best to start by eliminating the mundane causes. However, since the phenomena of shadow people usually happens when the individual is tired and these beings tend to manifest only in the periphery of vision, it’s very easy to dismiss them as being simple tricks of the mind. Our brains are programmed to assign vague shapes form in order for us to make sense of our world, after all.

Another option is hallucinations caused by high electromagnetic levels. Our nervous system relies on electric impulses between our nerves, and this action assigns each of us our own unique electromagnetic field. When those fields are sufficiently interrupted, hallucinations and strange sensations can result. This option is the most simple to verify through the use of EMF meters.

Disembodied Human Spirits

Some believe that shadow people are simply another manifestation of ghosts or spirits. Owing to some reports of a drop in temperature in conjunction to the sightings of shadow people, this might hold water. Most disincarnated spirits can’t hold their forms in this realm very easily, so they flit in and out of our sight any way they can. Although many shadow person sightings are associated with the sense of dread and fear, not all are.

Alternate Dimension

There is another theory that shadow people are actually beings from an alternate dimension. Perhaps they’re scientists from a parallel world, looking to learn more about ours. Physicists have determined that there is a possibility of parallel worlds through equations relating to String Theory and others like it. Could a timeline close to our own have figured out inter-dimensional travel? Are these shadow people the very first voyagers from that world? Or, perhaps, are these shadow people actual glimpses into the other world through some sort of fault in the natural separation of worlds?

Demons are represented in one shape or another in cultures around the world. Because of the unease experienced when shadow people are sighted, they are often equated to these dark beings.

Demons are represented in one shape or another in cultures around the world. Because of the unease experienced when shadow people are sighted, they are often equated to these dark beings.


Although less popular, there is a theory that the shadow person phenomena is actually the result of alien encounters. The most common perception of what aliens are involve large eyes and small bodies, but who’s to say there isn’t more than one type of alien? There is the possibility that these elusive figures could be beings from another planet, here to observe us for some reason beyond our understanding.


Owing to the fact that so many of the sightings are often accompanied by feelings of fear and danger, there are those who regard shadow people as demonic in nature. There are stories of women and men being held down against their will, while a supernatural being attempts, and sometimes succeeds, in having their way with the unfortunate human. Because demons are known to cause suffering for their own enjoyment, this possibility is adopted by many believers.

Accumulation of Negative Energy

Countless cultures around the world put great importance on maintaining positive energy in living spaces. This is why there are so many ways of cleansing an area, from smudging to a wide variety of blessing practices.

However, in places like jails, old hospitals, dungeons, battle fields and execution grounds, negative energy can’t be avoided, owing to the events which had transpired there over time. There are quite a few cases of shadow people sightings in these areas in addition to the more traditional haunting.

Many cultures believe that when enough of that dirty energy builds up, inhuman beings are either born of it or drawn to it. When the incarnated enter these areas, they will then see these new denizens in the form of shadow people.

Astral Projection

The darker side of astral projection is often ignored in favor of the healing and good deeds possible through this practice. However, people with dark intentions can foster an interest in the topic and take action just as easily as light workers. Hitler, for instance, had a deep fascination with the occult and had put quite a bit of study into it.

Although the majority of the population may never know if he’d succeeded in any of his experiments, there’s no doubt that there are those out there who can and do use astral projection to get what they want from someone they crave power over.

More than one cause?

Because the world we live in is so vastly diverse, there is the distinct possibility that there are different types of shadow people, originating from different causes. As with all paranormal and metaphysical topics, it comes down to individual belief in the end.

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If you have had experiences with shadow people, it’s up to you to decipher which cause fits best for your situation.


Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on July 17, 2019:

Thank you! I still see them sometimes myself, but I don't get scared unless I had been watching good horror movies or something silly like that. I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on June 30, 2019:

Interesting article with much to consider. As a child, I saw some of these shadows, but as soon asI called on the name of a saint or Christ they would vanish. I don't know what they are, but I believe there is something definitely beyond our simple understanding of reality which impacts them. I haven't seen them anymore as an adult. Great work. Enjoyable read.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 18, 2012:

Wow! What an amazing story, Precy Anza! Thank you for sharing and voting up. I'm very happy you enjoyed the hub. :)

precy anza from USA on September 17, 2012:

Had seen such shadows so I do believe they exist. At that time I don't even know what it was, I just thought it was a human crossing the street that night. But it was strange as I can't see a face, eyes, or the color of the clothing. It's all dark and I keep staring at it trying to figure out why it looks like that. Another odd thing was it was few inches above the ground. Then it vanished when it reaches the vacant lot across the road. That was a long time ago, I'm probably about 10 or 11. Enjoyed reading the hub! Voted up :)

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on September 17, 2012:

Thank you for the comment, markminer!

markminer from Albany, Oregon on September 17, 2012:

Informative hub. I have been a parapsychologist for many years and have come across many cases that have reported shadow people. Many times I can chalk it up to hypnpompic or hypnagogic states, or dillusional or hallucinative states. But does that answer if shadow people exist? Of course not. I have investigated stranger topics.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 27, 2012:

That's fascinating! Thank you for sharing. It is often said that the astral plane is where we go when we dream, so there may be something to that theory in your case.

The gargoyle creature could very well be what showed up in your dreams - a guardian of sorts. They could be what's considered a kind of familiar spirit. Those don't always appear as your regular animals, and they can manifest in dreams as well as different ways in the waking world, too. Have you done any sort of research into what gargoyles represent and their historical significance? I personally don't know much about them, but it may be a topic you'd benefit in learning more from.

As for bringing something from the astral world, it's my understanding that level sort of runs parallel to the physical world. It's always there, but we usually can't see it when we're firmly rooted into our bodies. Shadow people and their variations may simply be peeks into that level. Or, if you look at it from the entity's points of view, they're peeking at us through some sort of crack or something.

I agree completely with you completely about there being more to dreams dreams. There's also a theory that they connect us to the collective unconscious.

I've had dreams of events which had been happening miles away (like my mom narrowly avoiding a horrific car crash, aka remote viewing), dreams which showed the next house I'd live in as a kid before I knew we were even moving, and quite a few others that go beyond the 'typical' ones. Though, we've all had those normal ones. The one about the giant rubber ducky chasing me down is one of the more memorable 'normal' dreams.

There's just way too much unexplained phenomena we each experience for there to be only one set explanation for everything, y'know?

MoonFox the Grey on August 27, 2012:

Astral? This is the plane in which our dreams supposedly occur, isn't it?

Thinking about it now, these gargoyle shadows remind me of a thing I have witnessed repeatedly in several of my worst nightmares. I have drawn the creature many times. Often with more detail than any of my other drawn pictures. Every encounter with it was not the beginning of a nightmare, but the ending. It would appear from shadows, protect me, destroy the source of terror in the dream, and then return to shadows. Always it seemed to move impossibly fast, and could have avoided me getting a glimpse of it, but always before vanishing, it would pause, and look at me. Like it wants me to see it.

I have often believe there is more to dreams than science declares. How can it be so simple, with all the success I've had in lucid dreaming and dream-walking techniques? I have seen places in dreams, that I was not to discover in the waking world, until years later. Might it be possible for a person to bring something back from that world?

I know it's a bit far fetched, but that would explain plenty.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 25, 2012:

Interesting about the drug info. I'd actually written a blog entry recently about misdiagnosis in the field of learning disabilities and touched on the pharmaceutical role in the issue. I'll probably write up a hub on it in the near future, since the topic fascinates and repulses me at the same time.

But anyway, that's a very good point about the shadow people being constantly present on a plane we don't ordinarily tap into, Eric! That reminds me a little bit of the subtle body theory (I think that's what it's called - I could be wrong).

That theory states that our beings are actually comprised of four different bodies - the physical, the etheric, the astral and the ego, instead of simply a physical body and a soul/spirit body.

The physical and etheric bodies are the ones that are measurable in our plane (the physical is what we can touch, the etheric is the life force - which could be seen as the emf field we each emit naturally).

The astral body is what society popularly sees as the soul - the building blocks put together over our lives as our interests and instincts as humans.

The ego is what can be seen as our higher selves - what moves on as a whole after physical death. The astral body separates from the ego shortly after death in this theory.

So, shadow people could just be a part of the astral world that is connected to the physical world, but invisible to us on a day to day basis.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 25, 2012:

Just thought I would throw this into the mix. There is a drug Desyrel. From my reading the drug is mostly an antidepressant, but is regularly used as a sleep aid. But one of the side effects can be seeing objects again that were seen in the recent past. What medicine labels as visual halucinations.

My point is not about the drug, but about the brains ability to see something that commonly we would say is not there. My suggestion is that in these episodes we are seeing what is really there just with a different perspective, so that it is not acceptable in the plane most of us consider normal. My conclusion is that the shadow people are everywhere we just cannot normally see them.

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 25, 2012: gargoils, huh? That's pretty wild.

I seem to vaguely remember reading something similar while I was doing research for this article. Since it seems to be a rare and somewhat unconnected phenomena, I hadn't included it. I had the feeling I should have bookmarked the link, too, but didn't for whatever reason.

There are so many different paranormal phenomena out there that I've long since given up on accepting one single concrete reason to any overall grouping of occurrences. To each their own, though.

I can give you a few resources which cover a range of different explanations and experiences beyond what's commonly out there - - Coast to Coast AM actually airs on the radio late at night. If you're not familiar with the show, it's worth checking out. The page has a search function for specific topics, too. - This page has quite a few forums that you can browse through when you get the chance, to see if anyone else has had similar experiences. They also seem like a genuinely nice group of people, too.

Other topics you might want to look into beyond shadow people are the subjects of familiar spirits, alien phenomena, elementals and other nature-based energetic beings.

MoonFox the Grey on August 25, 2012:

As a former student of Oberon Ravenheart's school, and continuing student of mythical and occult lore, I keep an open mind to logical explanation, as well as what my perceptions tell me. Lately however, logic has failed me entirely, and so has every resource on mythical lore, and religion that even so much as believes in magic, or ghosts. Lately I have been witnessing these 'shadow ghosts' but nothing at all like what the most common sightings describe, these are not formless mists, nor are they humanoid, or animal-like. The most common ones I have seen, sometimes only out the corner of the eye, and occasionally caught a direct look at... I can't think of any better way to describe their shapes as like gargoyles. Is there anyone else who has seen this sort of manifestation of shadowy spirit?

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 16, 2012:

Thank you for your input, Lady Summerset! Very interesting.

Lady Summerset from Willingboro, New Jersey on August 16, 2012:

Greetings ESPeck,

From personal experience, seen them, have counselled people who've seen and been plagued by them. They are Astral Projected personalities. Usually, used prolifically in witchcraft. They are foreboding and cause much anxiety for the person being plagued by them. The most discomforting angle of this is that most of the time the projection is that you usually don't KNOW the person actually doing it because sometimes they've been "employed" by someone who has an issue with you.

Thanks for opening this up to us!

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 16, 2012:

Thank you very much! Happy to have provided food for thought.

cryptid from USA on August 16, 2012:

Interesting thoughts. I'm scratching my head at the astral projection theory you put out there. A very compelling idea, and I have a feeling I'll be thinking about it for the rest of the day. Great hub!

Emilie S Peck (author) from Minneapolis, MN on August 16, 2012:

Thank you very much!

The beginning is actually based on a personal experience from a few years ago, so I'm glad the tingly spine translated. To have included the whole thing would have stretched the introduction out a bit too much, though.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 16, 2012:

Very well handled. The hub was good but your conclusion made it great. Ok, I admit I got a little tingly spine in the beginning.

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