Contact with a Shadowman

Neuroscience and Paranormal Believers Have Different Theories

Person touching window
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A shadow person is a humanoid figure that you perceive in a patch of shadow. Some believe that they are supernatural spirits or extradimensional beings.

Three Types of Encounters with Shadow People

Most encounters with shadow people—those smoky, person-shaped entities that move around in the dark—are fleeting glimpses. They are seen out of the corner of your eye, swiftly passing across a wall or ducking around a corner. You may wonder if the rational explanation for these quick glimpses are that they are imagined or just ordinary shadows of some kind. Maybe they're real, maybe they're not.

Another kind of shadow person encounter—a close encounter of the second kind, to borrow J. Allen Hynek's UFO classification system—is rarer and more compelling. The witness sees the shadow entity for an extended period, not merely a passing glance. It could be for a half minute, a few minutes or even more. The witness can often also detect human-like movement: the raising of an arm, the turn of a head, or walking. The witness gets a pretty good look at the thing and is able to describe it in some detail. Very often, these detailed descriptions compel the witness to ascribe an intelligence to the specter. It's not just a shadow, it seems to be an entity that moves and even reacts with purpose.

A shadow person encounter of the third kind is rarer still: contact. In this case, the witness actually is touched or is otherwise affected physically by the entity.

The Nature of Shadow Beings

These perceptions of shadowmen often occur when you awaken partially and are in the stage of REM sleep paralysis. You are semi-conscious but your vivid dreams from REM sleep continue and you can experience hallucinations, including that there is an intruder in your bedroom. During this phase, you are unable to move or speak but your senses seem to be clear. Neuroscientists say at least 20 percent of the population experiences these sleep paralysis episodes. Researchers have reproduced these feelings by stimulating a site in the brain's left hemisphere.

When you are fully awake but hyper-vigilant, such as when walking alone at night, you might become fearful of any shadowy movement and imagine a threat.

Heidi Hollis wrote a book on shadow people, "The Secret War: The Heavens Speak of the Battle," and appeared often on Art Bell's "Coast to Coast AM" radio show to discuss the topic. She believes they are aliens and gives advice on warding them off. Shadow people have been the topic of horror movies and a 1985 "Twilight Zone" episode.

A Shadowman Encounter

Michael W. tells of his close encounter in the fall of 1998. It has many typical characteristics, including that his perceptions happened when he awoke during the night. He had just purchased a home and spent the day painting it before moving in. His friends left for the night but he decided to sleep in a bean bag chair. He awoke in the middle of the night feeling thirsty and went into the dark kitchen for a glass of water.

"That's when I got a distinct feeling that someone was watching me. There at the top of the basement stairs and in front of the light switch, I could distinctly make out the figure of what I automatically assumed was my good friend Larry." He called out to the figure, which didn't respond. "I was still absolutely convinced that I was looking at a living person. My guard went up with the dangerous possibilities of who it could be." He took out his pocket knife in case he needed to defend himself.

"Then in an instant, the shadow moved forward in my direction. I lunged forward with the knife extended outward. I saw the shadow move into my arm as if deliberately trying to impale itself on my weapon, and it kept on coming!" He screamed and the entity continued straight through his body.

"I spun around in a circular motion 180 degrees. I saw the shadow moving at an almost leisurely pace away from me. It proceeded through the large kitchen, into the adjoining dining room, and finally through the wall that would have led outside if it were a door." He finally turned on the light switch. Wide awake now, he searched the house, found nothing, and evacuated to his old apartment for the rest of the night.

He never had a repeat of that encounter while living in the house. Of note, he said he wondered whether he was thirsty due to the paint fumes. A rational explanation would be that those could have been an influence, as well as an episode of a hallucination associated with sleep paralysis. He wondered if it might be associated with the address ending in 666 and that the house was aligned with magnetic north.