JANUARY :: We share more of our favourite haunted locations, further frightening experiences, and some possible fascinating evidence of the paranormal.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Shadow People :: A glimpse of something Other?

"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and the other begins?" - Edgar Allan Poe
I recently participated in a paranormal investigation with a group of six other people. Normally I'd be put off by all the company, but the investigation was being undertaken at a location I had wanted to investigate for years and I didn't want to miss out. I hadn't expected to see, hear or feel anything, but as it turned out, it was an investigation during which I would have a surprising, and unforgettable encounter with a Shadow Person.
Let me set the scene: It's night and I'm standing out in the open on the bare floor of a dry creekbed. It's incredibly dark as there are no streetlights and the moon isn't out. I'm at a doorway cut into the bank of the creek, which leads into two very cramped, underground rooms, which one hundred and fifty years prior had been home to men, women and children. Disease had been rife and many people died, their spirits now to blame for the reported ghostly activity at the site.

My eyes are taking longer than normal to adjust to the darkness, and the only sources of light are an EMF detector on the dirt floor a few feet in front me, and the view finder on a camcorder. There are three fellow investigators deeper within the caverns, and another two behind me; one has gone back to the safety of the car. It's a quiet, still night and quite warm. There's not a breath of wind. Any movement is noticeable, and the source of any sounds are easily identifiable.
It seems even the ghosts are having a quiet night, until out the corner of my eye, I see something move: A dark shape I can just make out in the darkness. Then in a flash it is closer, and not only can I see it, but I can also sense its presence. I recognise it as someone moving towards me, and as such, step backwards so that it and I do not collide. As it passes by, moving through the doorway in a quick, swift motion, barely a few centimetres in front of me, a gust of cold air seems to move with it, and its silhouette blocks out the light from the EMF detector and makes the device spike.

This is what I can tell you about the figure I saw that night: It was tall, slender and densely black, with no distinguishing features, but in the general shape of a person. At first I thought it was a person, most likely one of my fellow investigators. It was very dark, afterall. It was only as it walked right up to me that I realised it wasn't a person at all. I was taken aback and seriously perplexed: Did I really see what I thought I saw?
However, it quickly became apparent that I had, in fact, seen something unexplainable. You see, I wasn't the only one to have witnessed it, as about five metres behind me a fellow investigator reports seeing the same dark figure pass by me at the exact moment I did - an exciting corroboration.

What I believe I saw was a Shadow Person.  Although Shadow People aren't new to me, this was the first time I'd seen one whilst "in public" (so to speak).  I've been subject to their sudden and unwelcomed appearance in the privacy of my bedroom since childhood. One of my earliest childhood memories is witnessing multiple shadow beings moving in motion along my bedroom floor. I can't have been more than six years old at the time, but the memory remains, as clear in my mind as if it had happened only yesterday. To this very day, some 27 years later, these shadow figures continue to pop up in the middle of the night on a regular basis.
However, what I feel is most extraordinary about this public encounter with a Shadow Person is the following:
1. The figure was prominent enough that despite the darkness I was able to determine it was there, and it had appeared solid enough that my instinct had been to move out of its way so that it could pass unimpeded;
2. The passing of the figure coincided with a spike on an EMF detector; and
3. The figure was seen by another investigator at the same time that I had seen it, proving that I hadn't imagined it.

So, who - or what- could this Shadow Person be?
There are a lot of theories and speculation about Shadow People. It may be that they are nothing more than a figment of our collective imagination, brought about by hype and hysteria - that wonderful power of suggestion. It seems that an interest in the paranormal accompanies many encounters with Shadow People.

A common belief is that Shadow People are ghosts; that is, the spiritual energy of people now deceased, and the reason for their dark, shadowy appearance is because it is an easy form of manifestation. If you're going to believe in ghosts in the first place, this seems like a reasonable conclusion, especially as the presence of Shadow People tends to be linked to "haunted" locations, where there is a history of human death and despair.
Another theory is that Shadow People are not human spirits at all, but something far more malevolent, or even demonic in origin. Most people who encounter these beings report a sense of unease or ill-intent from the creature, but from my own experiences, I have found this isn't always the case.
Like many people who report seeing Shadow People, I more often than not will encounter them after dark and in the dark, normally not long after having gone to bed. I can distinguish these events from Night Terrors due to the fact that in most instances, I haven't yet fallen asleep when I see them. In fact, quite often I will notice the spectre of a dark shadow in the room not long after having switched off the light.
In addition to this, I find the encounters I have with Shadow People are always very similar to one another, and they seem to have the following characteristics and habits:
  • A Shadow Person is always reminiscent of a shadow, and whilst they tend to appear within the darkness, the black mass of a shadow person is always distinctly darker.
  • A Shadow Person may be semi-transparent, or solid in appearance.
  • They may appear as a tall or short human-shaped figure, or simply as a black mass.
  • They can appear directly in front of you, float above you, or meander low to the ground.
  • Shadow People have no distinguishable features. That is, no face or limbs.
  • Whilst "shadowman" is a common descriptive term, a Shadow Person is neither noticeably male or female.
  • They don't touch per se; however, on a small number of occasions I have felt a distinctive weight on my upper torso, causing short, shallow breaths, but I am always able to move, and I do not suffer from sleep paralysis.
  • Shadow People do not make a sound - or, at least, no audible sound.
  • They can move as fast as a flash of lightning, making you doubt what you've just seen, or move deliberately slow, giving you the time to consider and evaluate what it is you are seeing, before promptly disappearing.
  • A Shadow Person does not seem to be bothered by the fact that they can be seen. In fact, it is almost as if they want to be seen and acknowledged, although who knows for what purpose.

For me, their sudden appearance, and subsequent disappearance, feels like a bit of a tease; as if I am being given the slightest hint, or glimpse of something other - something far beyond all that we think we know about the universe and our place within it. Sometimes they frighten me, whilst at other times I am completely unfazed by their presence. It's both exciting and frustrating at the same time, like trying to put together tiny pieces of an enormous puzzle.
Normally in these circumstances, when I am presented with something I don't understand, I go in search for the answers. When it comes to understanding the paranormal, this tends to involve researching different cultural and religious understandings, and delving deep into the theories of psychopathology.

Therefore, what I find particularly interesting about Shadow People is the fact that unlike other paranormal phenomena, there doesn't appear to be an identifiable cultural or religious origin or explanation for their existence. Yet the instance, frequency and similarities between the reported encounters is quite remarkable.
It is also interesting to note that one doesn't have to have a belief in the paranormal, nor be spiritual in any sense of the word, to have an encounter with a Shadow Person. These encounters are a one-off event for many, whilst others, such as myself, seem to have them on a regular basis. The reason for this is unknown; however, from the plethora of evidence of personal experience that is out there, it would appear that these beings are completely indiscriminate, appearing to people of different cultures and socio-economic groups, and being completely unbound by religious orientation, age, gender, or psychological state.
So, ghost, demon, hallucination, or something else entirely?

Right now, I couldn't even pretend to know, but what I am certain of is that the Shadow People will no doubt continue to be an ongoing presence in my life, just as they are for a staggering number of people the world over.
Want to read more about the Shadow People? Try these links:

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