Shadow Person, AKA Shadow People, Shadow Man, Shadow Figure, Shadow Being, Black Mass, Shadow, Shade, etc.
Origin: American Folklore
A Shadow Person (also known as a shadow figure, shadow being or black mass) is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, and interpreted as the presence of a spirit or other entity by believers in the paranormal or supernatural. Shadow People are usually described as looking like dark shadows, differing from ordinary shadows in that they have depth, and tend to move in ways that seem out of sync with ordinary space-time, such as moving unnaturally slowly, or having quick, jerky movements, with the ability to move through solid objects (such as walls or doors), move from the physical space of rooms into the reflected space of mirrors (and vice-versa), etc. Many observers report being able to see Shadow People only from their peripheral vision as a dark shape darting into hiding "from the corner of the eye", and sometimes observers report seeing Shadow People hiding in shadows or dark closets, or peeking around corners or objects behind which they seem to be hiding.
The figures are generally humanoid in shape, usually very tall (over six and a half feet) and usually slender (often unnaturally so compared to actual human figures); observers have reported a variety of forms that Shadow People might take, with some common themes being hooded and/or cloaked shadow figures, shadow figures wearing hats, shadow figures of vague form (such as if they might be covered in sheets of cloth) or wearing long coats, shadow figures with glowing eyes (usually red, but sometimes green or other colours), demonic variations from the human outline (including grotesque deformities or abnormalities of proportions such as long arms or fingers, or even horns, claws, wings, etc.), etc. Some Shadow "People" - sometimes called "Black Masses" - may not have a humanoid shape at all, being amorphous or cloud-like in form, as if they are losing their humanoid shape, or perhaps as if they are not actually humanoid in shape at all - indeed, Shadow People are reported to be accomplished shape-shifters and may only be temporarily assuming a humanoid shape for the purpose of interacting with human beings. Sometimes, Shadow "People" may take the form of shadowy animals, such as legendary Black Dogs of ill omen, or the Wampus (race).
Shadow People may generally seem to have a malignant aura or negative energy to them, but their exact motivation and nature are mysterious. Shadow People have a limited ability to interact with our world - such as psychically attacking human beings - but often seem instead to be limited to watching our world, if the Shadow Person even expresses any interest in our world at all. Sometimes, Shadow People may not even seem to have any known reason to be in our world - they may simply be passing through on their way to some other universe, or perhaps they are temporary visitors or explorers in this world. More often, they seem to be observers in our world, lurking in rooms or following people and watching them. Shadow People are sometimes believed to be harbingers or omens of significant events or of deaths which the beings may be here to warn us of, or perhaps merely to observe, or by some accounts cause. Shadow People may be messengers sent from other worlds or other dimensions to communicate imperfectly with human beings. Shadow People may follow victims, subjects for study, targets for their messages or warnings, or other people from location to location, but often they are instead tied to a particular location - such as a specific building or even room - usually for unknown reasons, perhaps because they cannot stray very far from the portal they use to enter our world.
The Stockrooms are a strange borderland on the edge of reality, which has been known to be inhabited by Shadow People, and may be their place of origin. The Stockrooms are a seemingly endless construct of randomly-connected open rooms, corridors, staircases, and closets, mostly empty and featureless aside from their damp yellow carpeting and mouldering yellow wallpaper. See The Stockrooms further details.
As Tulpa, Elemental, or Astral Beings
According to some beliefs, Shadow People are negative alien entities inhabiting a parallel universe (see the Astral Plane and Other Side) who can sometimes be perceived in our world; other beliefs hold Shadow People to be Ghosts - "Shades" - which haunt the living. Shadow People are alternatively sometimes assumed to be the Astral Bodies of Dreamers - from our world, or others such as the Dreamlands - who may not even be aware that they are remotely viewing physical locations in our world as they Dream.
Shadow People closely resemble, and may be identical with, certain shadowy Elemental entities known as Tulpa, Aeiirii, or Saiitii: animated figments or shells created through an act of will or imagination on the Astral Plane, from which they might evolve a form of intelligence and descend to the Material Plane to explore and experience life as if they were material beings, sometimes taking the form of specific living beings whom they might try to imitate and replace as Doppelgangers, with mixed results.
Contact spells have been used to try to communicate with the Shadow People in the Stockrooms, with mixed results: the Shadow People sometimes silently respond to this contact with gestures indicating simple "yes" or "no" type answers, but responses can be erratic and contradictory, and the Shadow People are frequently unable or unwilling to respond at all, or may react to contact in unpredictable and sometimes threatening ways, so that it is difficult to say for sure whether they truly understand the questions, or if they do whether they are really trying to give honest, direct, or coherent answers. Experienced mystics who may be considered to be the closest thing to "experts" on the Shadow People have speculated that the Shadow People may be too thoroughly alien, or too thoroughly insane, to reliably communicate with.
Summon and Bind spells have also been met with mixed success and sometimes violent reactions, leading to speculation that Shadow People may simply be toying with human wizards who try to interact with them, though the famous Mystic, The Great Garibaldi, with his apprentices, have long claimed that there may be multiple "species" of beings from different worlds with different properties which have been collectively called "Shadow People", with spells working better on some species than others.
As Other Entities
Sometimes, Shadow People have also been linked with Vampires or Hags or Nightmares, which may attack helpless victims of Sleep Paralysis by sitting or laying on top of the sleeper and choking, suffocating, or draining life-force, spirit, or other essence away from the victim, or feeding on the fear, anxiety, and distress that they cause to us. Shadow People are reportedly able to otherwise psychically attack people or interact with this world, for example with psychokinesis - and may thus be identified as Djinni, Elementals, Poltergeists, Demons, etc.
Compare and contrast to Lovecraft's Nightgaunts, which have a physical presence, and can grab and carry or "tickle" human victims.
Very similar as well to Spectral Hunters, which were formerly human cultists whose spirits have been bound to the material plane as demonic, shadowy guardians, assassins, etc., and distinguished by a more malevolent and violent presence, and by being bound to a specific location or tome.
- Some alternative identities of Shadow People might include:
- Men in Black
- Witches and Wizards astrally projecting from the Dreamlands, the Earth, or from alien worlds; alternatively, spells cast by witches and wizards
- Ghosts, Poltergeists
- Spectral Hunters
- Aeiirii and/or Saiitii
- Demons, Imps, and Familiar Spirits
- Faerie-Cats, Cath-Shee, Wampus-Cats, Hell-Hounds, Black Dogs, or other shadowy animal forms
Associated Mythos Elements
- setting: Folk Mythos
- location: The Stockrooms (see above)