Shadow People

6th November 2020. Reading Time: 14 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 2880 page views. 0 comments.

Sightings of Shadow People have been occurring for centuries. People have different ideas as to what these shadow people could be with some even saying it is more than one thing! So let's look at the different theories surrounding shadow people.

Sightings of shadow people have been around for about as long as ghost stories.  There are regularly reported by paranormal investigators and everyday people.  While paranormal investigators often report sightings during a paranormal investigation, everyday people tend to report the experiences at night while lying in bed.  While some argue they could be a form of lucid dreaming, sightings happen at all times of day all over the World.  

So let's look at a few of the different theories as to what shadow people could actually be:

A spirit or ghost

Traditionally, people tend to think of a shadow figure as something negative, however just because a figure lacks definition doesn't mean it is something bad.  Many people from their own experiences tend to believe it is a spirit that is for whatever reason is showing itself in this form.  It could be they don't have the energy to fully manifest or that the way lighting works are how we actually see them.  Some say that is how the spirit wishes to show itself to us.  Others believe it is a person who never lived and that is why they lack features.  

I would say that the majority of reported shadow figures' sightings are in darkened areas and seem to be common in places like doorways.  It is very rare for a sighting of a shadow person to be in full daylight.  When it is in the daylight hours, it tends to be in a darkened room which could also give the illusion of a black silhouette.  Just because it is a dark figure doesn't mean it has to be negative.


I have spoken before about the connection between spirits and extraterrestrials in my article the alien, the ghost and our consciousness.  Maybe it is all one and the same?  Shadow people sightings are certainly no exception.  When you look at the general shape of a shadow person, for example, they are often reported tall with long arms.  The description often matches that of a grey alien description.  What if a shadow person is not a ghost at all but an extraterrestrial?  People often have sightings while in their bedroom at night which could be likened to that of alien abduction.  Other people believe that it is some sort of alien life from the future.  Some believe that this alien life form from the future has access to our thoughts and memories or could even be a very advanced version of ourselves coming for a visit.  They also believe they could be interdimensional beings shifting through dimensions.

Image Source:

Sleep Paralysis

One of the common scenarios in which people experience a sighting of a shadow person is lying in bed in what could be an episode of sleep paralysis.  Sleep paralysis occurs when a person is in REM sleep - Rapid Eye Movement. It is in this state that the brain has vivid dreams. It also sends a message to your muscles to relax which puts you in a state of temporary paralysis so that you don’t go and start physically acting out what you are dreaming.  Sometimes a person wakes up and becomes conscious before the brain sends the signal to the muscles to wake up. It means a person is lying there and is conscious but is unable to move and unable to speak. It is common to hallucinate in this state as well as you are still technically in REM and some people report seeing figures in their room or at the foot of the bed. They can feel a heaviness on their chest or a choking sensation which makes you feel like it is the figure at the foot of the bed doing this to you.  This is when they will typically report seeing what is a tall shadow figure, sometimes with red eyes.  

When you are in a state of sleep paralysis, it doesn’t take long for the body to catch up, but it can feel like an eternity when you are in this state. It is absolutely terrifying. It can occur if someone is sleep-deprived, stressed, on certain medications or if they suffer from other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy or sleep apnea. One of the common things people see when in this state is that of a shadow person at the door of their room or approaching the bed.  As this is a rather terrifying experience in itself, people tend to associate this shadow figure they see as a form of negative entity attacking them.

Image Source: Henry Fuseli The Nightmare

Hat Man

Another form of shadow figure people report seeing; particularly in their bedrooms is a figure known as Hat Man.   He is often reported to visit people in their bedrooms and is distinguishable by his hat and cloak but appears a tall dark shadow figure.  Some people believe that the lore of Hat Man was derived from a television program.  In 1985, there was an episode of the Twilight zone where a boy had an encounter with this mysterious Hat Man which has added to the mythology surrounding Hat Man who some believe hides under your bed as in the episode.  Others who have had an experience believe he is a form of time traveling being while others make connections with the demonic.

What of course is interesting however is that there have been reports and sightings long before this episode of the twilight zone aired.  So while it may have muddled up some of the information out there pertaining to Hat Man, it is a figure that people have reported seeing long before it was filmed.


In Muslim mythology, there are spirits known as djinns or jinns.  They are described in the Qur'an as being able to communicate with people despite being made of a 'smokeless fire'. They are considered to have free will and can be either good or evil; just like humans.  The word djinn comes from the Arabic jinn, a plural noun that means both "demons or spirits" and also, literally, "hidden from sight."  They are said to influence mankind by taking the form of humans or animals.  They are a form of shapeshifter which adds to some of the theories that a shadow person is a shapeshifter.

Image Source: Book of Wonders

Paranormal research Rosemary Ellen Guiley spent decades writing about the paranormal.  One of her passion projects involved looking at what she believed was a connection between Shadow People and Djinn.

In old Djinn lore, they could not duplicate 100 percent of a human body, and usually their animal-like, hairy legs and feet gave them away. I have speculated that Shadow People wear hats and cowls to cover up imperfect heads. Some experiencers say the eyes of the human-shaped Djinn will shift to odd colors or a reptilian appearance. I believe the Djinn and other shape-shifters are among us every day, and we never know unless we have certain experiences with them.

According to lore, the Djinn were here first and were pushed out by or for us, and some of them are still angry about it and want the place back. Their motives include curiosity, infatuation, obsession, playfulness, trickiness, hostility, and malevolence. Some people feel Djinn are benevolent and helpful, but if they are, it is always for a price. People have a tendency to think that other entities are like cutout cookies, all the same. The Djinn (as well as other beings) are varied, like humans, neither all good nor all bad, and with unique personalities.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Psychology Today


Not all sightings of shadow people are paranormal.  Many can be attributed to a trick of the eye or the brain.  There are a few different ways that a person can believe they have seen or even photographed a shadow person when in that particular instance they have not.

Pareidolia is a common mistake many people make, particularly when looking at photographs where they think they have photographed a shadow person.  This occurs when our brain doesn't properly understand what it is looking at.  Maybe the lighting is not right or there is a pattern it doesn't understand.  It starts to fill in the blanks and makes you see things that are not really there.  This is why you see faces in the tiles on the wall or in the clouds.  It is one of the most common things that is mistaken in paranormal photography.  I know I have taken many photos where it appears there is a man standing in the shadows.  Upon review, I was able to debunk these as either a person's shadow or just plain old pareidolia.  Here is an example.

What appeared to be a shadow-like figure standing in the doorway was actually a fire extinguisher on the wall directly behind the doorway.  When I noticed the same shadow figure was appearing in every single photo in the same position, I realized it was not the catch I thought it was.

Peripheral Drift Vision

What about the shadow people we see with our eyes?  One explanation could be what is called peripheral drift vision.  Look at the following image.  While it looks like the wheels are moving they really aren't.  It is an optical illusion caused by the smart placement of black white and grey lines which are designed to create this illusion.

Image Source: Akiyoshi Kitaoka (Kitaoka and Ashida 2003

One of the general themes with shadow people particularly in my sightings has been that they have always been in very low light conditions, sometimes in complete darkness. It makes sense because we as investigators, generally investigate in the dark. My own sightings tend to be in doorways and I often hear people saying they can see figures moving in doorways during an investigation. A doorway always tends to be a bit darker as well. Because we are in the dark, you are obviously looking at blackness. A bit of light coming through say a window may cause some white and grey areas. When you are focusing on the doorway for a certain amount of time, small changes in light could cause our eyes to start playing tricks on us. It certainly would be possible that the figure we are seeing moving in the doorway could in fact just be a trick of the eye. We now know about peripheral drift vision and we know about pareidolia. Mix these two components together and we have the perfect combination to create a shadow person. In fact, this concept is actually used widely in virtual reality experiences to help track movement and give a more authentic experience to the player.

Blind Spots

Another explanation could be when you are seeing something out of the corner of your eye.  Many sightings do occur when a person feels like they are seeing something just out of their line of sight or 'out of the corner of their eye'.  This happens because of what is called a 'Blind Spot'.  A blind spot is a gap in your vision. The easiest comparison to make is to think of your blind spot when you are driving. It is that spot that you can’t see in any of your mirrors and you will only see it if you physically turn your head. How frustrating is it when a car sits in your blind spot? You know there is a car there, but you can't see it without turning around! Our eyes can obviously see a lot of things all at the same time. While we focus on one main thing other items may become a little blurry.  Even though they may not be in focus, we can still see them. It is for this same reason you can also see things out of the corner of your eye. It is how you know that someone is walking in your direction or a ball is coming your way.  It is really easy to look out of the corner of your eye and mistake a coat stand for a shadow person or any sort of object.  Things that you see out of the corner of your eye may not be paranormal, they could be a result of a blind spot.

My own experience

Regardless of your thoughts on Shadow People, there have been reports of these kinds of sightings for centuries.  They are very real experiences for those who have seen them.  I myself have had many instances where I have seen what I would call shadow figures.  One of the most prominent memories I have is when I was at Aradale Lunatic Asylum investigating the staff quarters.  It was one of those nights where there was just an uneasy feeling.  I am not normally the type to get affected in that way so when it happens, I do find it out of character for me.  In this instance, I struggled to even get inside the building.  Everything inside me was telling me not to go in there.  Sensing that someone was wrong, Bill from Australian Paranormal Society who I was with at the time, and also knowing that I am not normally like this just turned and said to me he had my back and not to worry.  We went inside as I was looking up into the long hallway, at the very end I saw what looked like a shadow figure.  It looked like it was changing in size and changing in shape.  I didn't say anything and it was at that time Bill told me that people often reported sighting a form of shapeshifter at the end of the hall.  Now as the person I am, I must of course acknowledge that it was dark and it could have been my eyes just playing tricks on me.  I did go to the end of the hallway on a different investigation afterward when it was light to see if there was anything at the hall that maybe I could have mistaken to be this figure (much like in the fire extinguisher photo above).  It was just an empty doorway.  I had investigated that area several times and have many times since and not had the same experience or sighting again.  My sighting seems to align with the shape-shifting element reported, however, shape-shifting can also indicate that my eyes are struggling to adjust.  As you can see here, I really don't know what to think about my experience.  It is not something I can automatically discount.  I feel like my experience sums up the mystery of shadow people.  We know people have sightings, we just don't know what they really are.  Are they our brain playing tricks on us or something trying to get our attention?

When I look at all of the above explanations, however, I cannot help be drawn back to Rosemary Ellen Guiley's thoughts about Shadow People as her research saw dots connecting between experiences and offers a real thought process to consider.

I discovered that many Shadow People experiencers are also ET experiencers, especially abductees. Through a long process, I concluded that Shadow People are a shape-shifted form taken by Djinn. Therefore, there is a profound connection between Djinn and bad hauntings and ET abductions. Furthermore, the footprints of the Djinn are evident throughout our mythologies about ancient aliens and gods. The picture that emerged is of a major Djinn involvement in all of our entity contact experiences throughout history.

Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Psychology Today

It is quite an interesting thought and I will be picking up a copy of her book The Djinn Connection: The Hidden Links Between Djinn, Shadow People, ETs, Nephilim Archons, Reptilians and Other Entities. 

* Polls conducted on both Twitter and Facebook asked followers what they thought a Shadow Person was.  The majority of people felt it was in some form a spirit.  Tell me in the comments below your thoughts!


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