Among the many strange experiences reported in the world of the paranormal we have a range of different types, from the slightly odd to the truly outlandish. Among these must surely rank high those reports of shadowy, usually quite nebulous entities that seem to skirt about on the periphery of our perception, not usually witnessed clearly but always making their presence known. These beings, entities, whatever you want to call them, seem to come out from the ether past our understanding to leave questions and few answers for those who have seen them, and here we delve into the world of the shadow people, those amorphous, fleeting things that torment and shock, yet remain elusive and mysterious.
There are numerous spooky reports of what can only be described as amorphous black entities that appear as a vaguely humanoid shapes, somewhere between an apparition and a bizarre cloud-like specter. One of these reports comes to us from the archives of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), concerning a woman in the U.S. state of Tennessee who had her own brush with the weird on February 29, 2012. According to the report, the woman had just returned from dropping her daughter off at the bus stop, after which she had decided to step outside and enjoy a cup of coffee on her deck. As she sat out there enjoying a moment of peace and quiet as her husband was inside, she says that she noticed a very odd apparition lurking about the property, and she would say of her outlandish encounter:
I was standing at the back of my deck. The deck is 12-plus feet off the ground at the back of the house. It is a wrap around the house deck, ending on each side at the carport. The time was at 6:40 a.m. EST. When I turned my head to look, this human-shaped solid black, very dark black, being was standing on the other side of my deck. It was turned towards the field, leaning on the railings, and seemed to be looking into the field. I was speechless, but not scared. This being was so dark black that there was a huge contrast between it and the morning light on the deck. There were no facial features at all. It was not another human standing there. I saw another being.
When it turned its head to look at me, it began slowly moving backwards. The legs moved as if it were walking backwards, yet it was floating very slowly. Cat-like movements, like when a cat is stalking its prey? Then it peeked half its body back around and stared at me for a moment. When it left this time, also slow, it dragged its hand across the wood. The black hand is the last I saw of the being. While it was first moving backward I got a very calm warming feeling. Then I felt guilty because I had interrupted this beings peaceful morning? I never felt in harms way until it came back and peeked at me. Nothing was said, but I got the feeling that it relayed the message, 'I'm not going to hurt you today, but I could if I wanted to.’
The encounter was so upsetting for the witness that she claims she refuses to sit out on her deck alone anymore to this day. What was this thing? Another report comes from Your Ghost Stories, from a witness from the state of New York, who in 2011 had an anomalous experience he cannot explain. He was supposedly sitting in bed at night one evening reading a book when he realized that he was not alone in that darkened room. The witness explains:
I was reading the book, and for some reason, unknown to me, I felt the urge to look at my door, and in the nick of time, too. As I looked up, I saw a black mass, it looked male to me, but on the other hand, I couldn't say whether it was a male or female, because I didn't see any features, just a black mass. I'm not sure at all what I had experienced, will someone please help me.
I don't know what the heck the thing was, maybe it was one of my deceased relatives, but I couldn't be sure of that. Someone, please help me, I beg you! With everything else in my life that is stressing me out right now, I don't really need anything else, especially anything paranormal. I know who is in this house, I have experienced all of them, and I don't want them gone, I just don't think that it is one if them that was at my doorway. If you are wondering who the "them" is that I keep talking about, it's the deceased relatives of mine that are in my house. I know that the person wasn't one of them; I just wonder who it was.
Odd indeed, and it illustrates that the witnesses in these cases often don’t know whether they are witnessing a ghost or something else. Another report comes to us from The Shadow People Archives, with a witness who had an encounter with one of these entities in the woods behind his house in broad daylight. As he was out there playing with a friend something caught his attention, which would prove to be very weird, to say the least. He explains:
Something moved outside the corner of my eye, and I turned to see a dark figure crouching in the shadow of a tree. Right before my eyes, the figure seemed to almost... how can I describe it?... liquefy into a shapeless mass, a dark shapeless shadow within the shadow of the tree, then it almost seemed to vanish it became so small until out of the trees shadow floated a black butterfly fluttering away in and out of the trees shadows, but it was moving so fast it was hard for my eyes to follow its darting, fluttering motion. I yelled over to my friend while pointing at the butterfly, "Did you see it? Did you see the ghost? And it turned into a butterfly!" Now, mind you I still thought they were ghosts at the time and I was only in middle school. My friend had been beside me the whole time, and she just sort of looked at me strange, "What ghost? What butterfly? And what were you staring at?" By the time I looked back, the butterfly was already gone. This has always confused me... shapeshifters perhaps?
There are several such reports on the site Live About, with one being from a witness from New Jersey who says it all started when her children started complaining of some dark shapes that would flit about in the periphery of their vision down in the basement, where the children playroom was located. The witness herself would start to see these strange masses, and she says of this:
In later years, I had my floral workshop in the basement and saw them constantly. It got to the point where I would talk to them with my mind, not that they ever answered back. They were black. We saw them all over the basement, but mostly along one wall, and occasionally saw them along the same wall on the first floor and in the kitchen near the back door. We did not see them anywhere else in the house or elsewhere on the property. But even when we did not get a glimpse of them, we were aware when they were present. Some of them seemed to have an evil presence.
The family apparently learned to just sort of deal with these things, whatever they were, and at times they would actually talk to the entities and tell them to go away. Most of the time these entities were fleetingly seen, at best, but everyone agreed that they were really there, lurking in the shadows and watching them with inscrutable intent. However, at one point the witness did see one up close and was able to discern some of its features, or lack thereof. She says:
Only once did it see one clearly. But it happened in a split second and I did not see it from top to bottom. I was walking through the breakfast room into the kitchen. The kitchen light was on in the corner. It was by the back door in front of the stove. I was startled. I thought someone had come into the house. It all happened very fast. But the light from behind it did not pass through as it would a shadow. It was short and stocky and appeared as a silhouette of a person. It had a head (there were no discernible features, including no eyes) shoulders, arms, and a torso. It disappeared too fast to take note if it had legs or feet. I sensed it was as surprised as I was and did not intend to be seen.
The next day, I went back and it seemed the house was full of shadows, although I only caught a glimpse of them, as usual, fleeing in the basement. And I am not sure I really saw them as there were no lights on down there and the only light was from the window-well windows. It was the only time I ever sensed that they tried to communicate. It seemed they were upset that we were not there because the house was all black, there was no light for them in the kitchen, and there were strangers in the house (the workers) every day.
From the same site is another account from a witness who says that she has seen them prowling about her property and that they are “smoky and shapeless,” dissipating if they are looked at head on. She also says that they seem to project a malevolent aura about them, and that she believes them to be some sort of demons. The witness says:
I have been seeing something similar to shadow people for a long time now, although the shadows I see don't look like people exactly, and they are in the bottom corners of the house. I see them from the corner of my eye and they are smoky, but they are shapeless and dissipate as soon as I look head-on at them, usually around a corner. I definitely get a malevolent feeling from them, though. I always believed them to be demons, and still do, as I don't believe in life after death or aliens and ghosts.
I have had a few encounters with such entities related directly to me, and they are no less bizarre or otherworldly. One witness tells me he came face to face with a shapeless black mass that came crawling out f his closet one evening as he sat there watching TV in bed. He says that he was very awake at the time and that it could not have been any sort of sleep paralysis or dream hallucination. He explains what happened as follows:
I was sitting there watching TV, and suddenly I noticed something sort of spill out from the closet. It looked to me almost like some sort of inky cloud billowing forth, and I blinked my eyes a few times thinking I was seeing things. The room was relatively dark, with just the flickering of the TV set to provide light, but I saw it, some black mass pooling around the floor leading into the closet, and then it began to rise. It got to the point where it was almost humanoid in shape, but not quite, sort of quivering as if it was taking effort for it to take on a form. I had the strangest prickling of fear creeping up my spine, and wasn’t sure if I should just stare or run. Then I sort of shouted out “hey!” and it melted away, just like that. One second it was there, and the next it was gone. As soon as it disappeared that sick feeling of dread was gone.
In another report told to me, the witness says that whatever it was seemed to be almost stalking her one day as she was outside of her home in rural Pennsylvania. She says that she had been taking a hike in the woods surrounding her house, typically a safe, comforting place that she felt of as home, but on this day something was very different. It had been nearing sunset, and she says that she kept seeing something move out of the corner of her eye, seemingly keeping pace with her just out of the periphery of her vision, always melting away if she looked directly at it. She wrote it off as her imagination playing tricks on her, but the shadowy black mass kept congealing in the corner of her vision to pulsate and move along the trail, to the point that she felt it was undeniable that something was there with her. She says:
It would appear as a sort of blurry, humanoid mass at the edge of the trail, but every time I looked at it it was gone. I thought it surely must be my own mind, but sometimes I would hear the crackling of sticks and leaves that seemed to suggest it was having some sort of physical impact on the world. At one point I was getting pretty panicked and started to head back home and that was when I saw it the most clearly. It was “standing” right off the trail, a sort of tall, shadowy figure without any features or limbs, just sort of a black mass stretching up to a height of what i would say was about 6 feet. Although there were no eyes that I could tell, I could sense it was watching me, studying me. I was completely unnerved by this, and sped up my pace, and when I looked back it was just gone. I didn’t see it after that.
What could be behind such reports as we have looked at here? The most common theory is that these are indicative of a paranormal phenomenon known simply as “Shadow People.” These entities are usually described as vaguely humanoid in form, only often without any discernible features and as being rather hazy. Often a feeling of sudden dread and fear accompany such reports, and they are usually described as being an inky black, as if they are particularly pronounced shadows. They are sometimes reported as able to change forms on a dime, and they are usually portrayed as rather shy, often vanishing or dissipating when looked at directly, and they tend to only appear in the periphery of the vision. Rarely do they directly physically menace the witness, but they almost always leave the impression that they are somehow not friendly or that they are something with the potential to cause harm. They never attempt to communicate, and often are described as being almost surprised that they are seen at all.
There have been many theories on what these shadow people might be. They are sometimes said to be some sort of interdimensional travelers, just passing through or bleeding through into our world somehow, perhaps just as surprised to be here as we are to have them visiting. Or they may also be here for some reason, although what that may be is anyone's guess. Other ideas include that they are demons, some other type of spiritual manifestation, or ghosts, but oddly those mediums who have tried to look into Shadow People have come away with the distinct impression that these are not human in origin, and not the ghosts of the dead. What could they be and what do they want? It does not seem that the answer to this will be revealed to us anytime soon, and for now these strange apparitions and entities prowl about in the shadows, up to mysterious errands we will perhaps never, or even are unable to, understand.