A lot of paranormal and scientific research has focused on these ominous beings.
They have entered the public imagination and are frequently featured in pop culture across various media platforms - especially TV shows like The Dead Files, Haunted America, and Extreme Hauntings, to name a few.
Hollywood has made them famous, and novels have given them literary immortality.
But one thing seems to stay the same: we don't exactly know who or what they are.
Some have suggested they are manifestations of pure evil, aka demons, and are responsible for sleep paralysis (see Episode 01 Sleep Paralysis).
Others think that they are interdimensional beings that can step between our dimension and theirs.
The general idea of the Shadow People is that they are a malevolent ghost-like presence that is often felt or seen "out the corner of your eye."
They appear as a moving black figure with a humanoid shape or sometimes as terrifying shadows.
These creatures might stalk or taunt a victim and seem only to inhabit dark places or come out at night.
Described as being "darker than the dark" by those who have encountered them, their elusive physical appearance might be deliberate. Or it might be the only way they can manifest in this realm by imitating our human form.
Regardless of their shape, one thing is sure - they terrify those who meet them and bring out the worst of our fears.
Just out of sight. Disappearing and reappearing in and out of the shadows that move along a wall then detach from it and step towards us.
All these descriptions are reminiscent of the Boogeyman that terrorizes children after the lights go out.
Could it be that children are more psychically open and susceptible to seeing Shadow Beings?
There have also been suggestions that Shadow Beings might be some psychic manifestation born out of our own anger, fear, and stress during times of turmoil or depression.
Visits from Shadow Beings have a malevolent aura, causing their victims (or prey?) to become paranoid, afraid, delirious, or even paralyzed.
The concept of Shadow Beings has existed for thousands of years in cultures all over the world.
The Ancient Egyptians called the shadow "khaibut," one of seven souls that each person possesses.
In biblical times, people would curse each other's shadows.
In the Bible book Numbers, verse 14:9, "Their shadow is departed from them."
Saying something like that meant that a person is so detestable or will suffer such undeniable doom and misfortune that even their Shadow is getting the f*ck outta dodge.
The Roman or Latin word for Shadow or shade is "umbra" (and now umbrella makes a lot more sense) but was also the word used to describe the spirit or ghost of a person who went to a place called the Land of Shades when they died.
The Ancient Greeks would offer up their Shadow as a sacrifice to Zeus.
They believed that if a person went to the temple or sanctuary of Zeus Lycaeus, they would lose their Shadow. (For those who do not know, Lycaeus is believed to be the origin story of Werewolves).
It was believed that anyone who was a werewolf or a vampire lacked a shadow or reflection in medieval times.
That is to say; they lacked a soul.
In medieval times it was also believed that Shadows played a big part in proving that someone was a witch or involved in the occult.
If someone sold their soul to the devil, they had no shadow - the Shadow is again linked with the soul.
Superstitions and fear spread like the black plague, and people refused to let their shadows fall on graves, a rumbling river, or near a cliff.
So this idea of shadows and Shadow Beings has always been associated with spirits or souls.
When I started to look more closely at different cultures and the folklore, mythology, and beliefs around Shadow Beings, it became clear that these entities are a common phenomenon worldwide.
What's also striking is that there are some common themes across all the cultures.
How can so many different cultures and peoples from all over the globe be reporting something so similar?
Is that in itself evidence that Shadow Beings are real and not just a figment of our imagination or product of our belief system?
There are thousands of Reddit threads and websites devoted to stories and accounts of experiences and sightings of Shadow People.
Story posted by on REDDIT by user u/caitycha
Woken up by a shadow being in Japan
"So, one of my friends is from Japan, and I was spending New Year with her and her family in the Tohoku area (northern part of Japan). The first time I stayed the night there, I was abruptly woken up by someone shaking me. It didn't hurt, but right when I woke up, I saw a black figure above me grabbing both sides of my arms. At first, I thought it was my friend who was sleeping right next to me, but she was asleep. I continued to look at this black figure kneeling right above me, and then it suddenly put its completely black, featureless face up in mine. It then started moving slightly from side to side, like it was trying to figure out who I was. It then released me and faded away. I just lay there and pinched myself. I was awake, and I wasn't dreaming. I don't know what I saw, but I didn't feel scared.
The next day I was telling my friend what happened, and my friend's mom overheard me. My friend's mother then walked up to me, crying, saying that her son died before he was born. She said that she sees him too and said that she's watched her son (shadow being) grow bigger and bigger as the years went on. Was a weird experience, but not a bad one."
In Japanese folklore, the Yōkai are a class of supernatural monsters or apparitions.
The translation of the kanji/Japanese characters means bewitching; attractive; calamity" and "specter; an apparition; mystery; suspicious."
The characteristics of Yōkai are quite diverse and range from malevolent and mischievous, causing misfortune and harm, all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum, bringing good fortune to those who encounter them.
Along with manifesting in a humanoid shape - the Yōkai are said to shapeshift into animals, inanimate objects, or a shapeless mass with no discernable shape.
They can take the form of a person, a tree, a river, a whole host of animals like a fox or turtle, and even things like buildings or furniture.
The Yōkai have been reported in Japan and China as far back as the first century, so they are not a new Asian folklore concept.
There is a book from the First Century from what is now China titled Xúnshǐ zhuàn 循史傳 with the statement "the specter (Yōkai ) was in the imperial court for a long time. The king asked Tui for a reason. He answered that there was great anxiety, and he recommended to empty the imperial room."
Clear across on the other side of the world - the Choctaw, a Native American tribe from the Southeastern United States, also have stories and folklore surrounding Shadow Beings.
Nalusa Chito, also known as an Impa Shilup, is a tremendous black being and was said to be "the soul-eater."
If a Choctaw person allowed evil thoughts or depression to enter their mind, Impa Shilup would creep inside them and devour their soul.
Many people of the Choctaw Nation will not say the name of the Impa Shilup for fear of summoning the spirit.
He Who Must Not Be Named - sound familiar?
The Choctaw people believe every human has a Shilup (the inside Shadow or ghost) and a Shilombish (the outside Shadow).
The Shilup, or inside Shadow, is said to move to the realm of the spirit after we die and live there for eternity.
The Shilombish, or outside shadow, remains here on Earth and wanders restlessly about its former home and can be heard moaning.
Its mission is to frighten surviving friends and family to make them forsake the place and find somewhere else to live.
Like the Yōkai, the Shilombish can shapeshift into animal form - a fox or owl.
By barking like the one and screeching like the other at night, it causes confusion and fear in the living.
Hearing the cry of the Shilombish is considered a bad omen.
The Choctaw Tribe has a way to differentiate between the Shilombish and the animals it imitates.
When a fox barks or an owl screeches, another fox or owl replies. But when the Shilombish imitates the sound of either animal, no response is heard.
The Shilombish shadow beings would often stalk children and young adults. So it's not so bad being over 30 after all.
So far, a common thread we see with these 2 different cultures is that the Shadow Beings are capable of shapeshifting and in both cultures can take the form of an animal.
Foxes and birds seem to be incredibly popular in with Shadow People.
Many significant issues are facing the Native American community in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Regrettably, one of those issues is group suicide of their young adults and kids.
These suicides in South Dakota have been attributed to a malicious Shadow Being called "Walking Sam."
While his name may sound harmless, he is anything but that.
Walking Sam is believed to be an ancient Shadow Beings associated with the Native American folklore called the Stick Indians.
Children hear legends of these sinister entities. They are a demonic presence that will stalk reservations and try to lure unsuspecting victims to their doom even in childhood.
You will know if one of them is nearby because you will hear it whistling to you.
If you follow the whistling, these beings could paralyze you, hypnotize you, or drive you insane.
If you disrespect them, they would hold the grudge and seek vengeance upon you, no matter the cost.
Some tribes fear these beings so profoundly that they do not speak of them. The result is that the full legend isn't fully known or understood outside of the indigenous community.
Walking Sam is one of the "Stick Indian" beings and is considered one of the most powerful.
He is incredibly evil and malevolent compared to the other Stick Indian Shadow People because of how he gets to and torments his victims.
He will seek you out and then find ways to tell you that you are not worthy of living.
You will feel a sense of death in the air around you and start to hear voices in your head, telling you that "you don't deserve to be alive."
He will continue tormenting his victim until he convinces them to commit suicide.
His favorite victims are young adults and children, who are particularly susceptible to his suggestions.
He is said to have a tall black hat and a tall, thin body (sound like any other creepy shadow-beings, you know? The Hatman? Slenderman?).
Walking Sam has been very active in the last decade, according to the South Dakota Native American communities.
In the last five to ten years, there has been a significant increase in suicide attempts on the reservation. Only nine of the suicide attempts were successful, but all of those victims had been young.
One of them was only 12 years old, and none of those who died were over 24.
In December of 2015, 103 suicide attempts were reported on the reservation.
That number could be higher.
One local claimed that there had been over 200 suicide attempts in only three months.
Keep in mind that less than 40,000 people live on the reservation - so statistically, that is a significant percentage of a community.
Of course, these losses weigh heavily on the hearts of the tribe.
The suicide attempts have persisted in the years since then, and these were not individual acts, either. They were group attempts.
Most of the suicide attempts began with disturbing online posts.
Elders and parents on the tribe found Facebook groups where the reservation youths were sharing suicide techniques and talking about killing themselves together. It was almost as if it was some after-school activity.
Videos about tying nooses, encouraging self-harming behavior, and even simple message posts like "Go do it."
This indicated that the kids made these attempts, but they encouraged each other to do it.
It also meant that, even if youths in the community didn't actually try to commit suicide, they still might be exposed to it or have suicidal thoughts.
On top of that, there was also an incident involving the Facebook post.
An image was shared on social media (Facebook) of nooses hanging from trees in a small community on the reservation, with about 1,000 people.
The tribal police later said they believed the nooses were left as an invitation to encourage individuals from the community to hang themselves.
An urban legend like this is often quickly brushed off as childish or fantastical.
But that's not the case with the Pine Ridge community.
Elders and adults in the community were more than willing to discuss Walking Sam as a potential contributor to the high suicide rate.
They have discussed his presence at tribal and community meetings.
It was recognized and noted that more people claim to have seen this Shadow Being in recent times.
They warn the community members not to walk the streets alone at night and keep away from dark, shadowy places.
In one case, a woman contacted government officials to ask for help dealing with Walking Sam and for police patrols to come and keep a lookout for him.
Real or not, many adults within the tribe are treating Walking Sam as a genuine and severe issue that needs to be addressed.
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO XANDER & STONE PODCAST SEASON 01 EPISODE 10 SHADOW PEOPLE
In 2001, the subject of Shadow People was first introduced to mainstream media via Coast to Coast AM.
After the broadcast, hoards of people sent in drawings, renderings, and sketches of what they had seen and shared stories about their own encounters with Shadow People.
No one expected such a prolific number of people to have had encounters and sightings of the Hatman or Shadow People.
Author and Shadow People encounter-enthusiast Heidi Hollis noted in 2008 that there was a commonly seen Shadow Person. She was the first to coin the phrase and name "Hat Man."
The similarity of people's stories has given the creepy character a lot of popularity and credibility.
Stories of people who have encountered the Hatman are all over the internet. There is even a website dedicated explicitly to collecting tales of sightings of the Hatman.
Although the Hat Man cab appears at any time of day and in any location, most encounters seem to have taken place in bedrooms and basements.
Since many basements are dark and scary to begin with, it certainly makes sense.
Encounters with the Hat Man usually seem to happen when the person he is visiting is about to go to sleep, has just woken up, or is already asleep, so appearing in a bedroom makes sense too.
People report feeling very dark energy coming from him and immediately know he is evil and wants to kill them.
Some get the feeling the Hat Man is feeding off and enjoying their fear.
However, it's possible that since people who witness Hat Man are usually already in a fearful, angry, or other emotionally charged state thanks to whatever negative thing is going on in their life, they associate Hat Man with their negative feelings.
Former Reddit user Strangelyydazed's Hat Man story:
"My (now ex) boyfriend always talked about these shadow people. He saw the top hat man and the man in the fedora. He always said the tophat man came to warn him of awful things that would happen. I, of course, thought he was a psycho and dismissed it. Two months later, I started to see the man in the hat next to our bed. He would lean over me. Anyways my boyfriend ended up violently assaulting several girls. I read somewhere that he may show up if you are in the presence of an evil person or a dangerous environment. I also saw a different shadow man in the middle of the road in the car at night with him. I explained his appearance with my boyfriend. He immediately explained that this man appeared when death is involved. Ironically, I went to a doctor's visit the next day and was informed I had a miscarriage last night. Since we broke up, I haven't seen shadow people since."
People can usually feel when they're being watched, and the gaze from the Hat Man is no different. He appears in different situations and occasionally to several people in the same family.
Many witnesses claim they met the Hat Man when they were children and kept the stories to themselves for many years out of fear of being teased or thought of as crazy. A lot of them also said that they didn't want to believe it's true.
There are many theories around what Shadow People are and why we see them, and the Hat Man is no different.
Perhaps he is an interdimensional being visiting humanity from another dimension. Maybe he's only partially visible because he's on a different vibration to our ours.
According to Natalia Kuna, a psychic medium:
"Shadow people are conscious, intelligent, interdimensional beings that can shapeshift into various forms and figurations, and move back and forth between dimensions."
Could he be an astral projection, the Shadow or soul of a living person who is astral-traveling?
Other theories about the Hat Man include time travelers, ghosts, and the most logical explanation: aliens.
Some have suggested that the Hatman and Shadow People are "Watchers" or "Guardians."
Are we dealing with entities that have some voyeur fetish?
If they are Watchers, then what are they watching?
Is there a reason some see them and others do not?
The ones who see them, do they have a link or connection to these beings?
But it does seem that many people that had no prior knowledge or belief in them claim to have had encounters with Shadow Beings and The Hatman.
It was only after their encounter that they started looking for answers. But any attempt to investigate and understand the phenomenon only brings more questions.
There is, of course, currently no scientific method to test any of these ideas, so for now, the Hat Man remains a very creepy mystery.