“Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.” --Goethe
You’re sitting in front of your television at night and a sudden movement in the room makes you look up. Nothing’s there. A few moments later, you again spot rapid movement out of the corner of your eye. And again, nothing. This might happen several more times. And every time, you brush it off … Well, your mother always warned you you’d ruin your eyes with too much TV. And you know you should be getting more sleep but you’ve been worried about your dog’s upcoming dental surgery. Or maybe it’s that new compact fluorescent bulb in the lamp, the one that produces a different-colored light than the others and no way will you buy that brand again…
The last thing you’d consider is that you’ve just seen a SHADOW BEING.
A what? This is definitely the paranormal phenomenon voted most likely to be chalked up to imagination. After all, most encounters are fleeting and seem to take place only in our peripheral vision. But reports of much more intense encounters worldwide have paranormal investigators wondering.
Are they ghosts?
Is there a difference between Shadow Beings and ghosts? Those who have witnessed the departed agree that most ghosts look like human beings. They may be pale, even transparent, but ghosts generally have facial features and expressions, they have distinct clothing, and they may even attempt to communicate.
Shadow Beings on the other hand reportedly have no discernable face or features, almost like a silhouette. Occasionally, only the upper part of the human form is visible. They’re silent. And they’re dark, often described as “blacker than black”. Sometimes they’re transparent, even wispy and smoke-like and other times they appear very dense and impossible to see through. They may be tall and extremely thin or shaped as if they’re wearing a long coat. In many cases witnesses report that the being seems to be wearing a wide-brimmed hat (which is why shadow beings are often nicknamed “hat men”). Rarely, these beings are perceived to have red glowing eyes, like the Mothman.
Just to be confusing, Shadow Beings are not necessarily people-shaped. Along with reports of moving blobs, amoeba-like or even geometric shapes, there have been sightings of shadow animals large and small. Shadow Beings are not restricted to the indoors or the night either – they’ve been observed outside and in broad daylight as well.
One quality that all of the shadow entities appear to share is movement – rapid, even unnatural speed. The movement is often jerky and disjointed, and they can appear and disappear quickly. The laws of physics don’t seem to apply to them – Shadow Beings have been observed walking through walls and solid objects. And typically, they appear in places where no shadow would naturally fall. Sometimes they’re seen in mirrors and other reflective surfaces.
Shadow Beings in Legend
Shadowy, human-like figures appear in Native American stories (eg. Nez Perce, Cherokee, Choctaw) and some of these shadow beings are said to be shapeshifters. Similar beings, called djinn or jinn (where we get the word “genie”), date back to pre-Islamic mythology. They too are able to change their shape and are said to inhabit a parallel world to humans. Many people still believe in their existence.
So what’s going on? Let’s allow that some of these reports really ARE imagination, or more likely, mistaken identity. After all, the human mind is hardwired to find patterns and form in whatever is being viewed (such as seeing faces in inanimate objects like woodgrain, moonscapes or clouds). And the phenomenon of waking sleep, called hypnogogia, is more common than previously thought. It’s a state of semi-consciousness where the person can be thinking clearly and believe that they are awake, yet they are actually dreaming. This is almost always accompanied by a sensation of dread. Since many encounters with shadow beings are reported as occurring when the witness had just awakened, hypnogogia could probably account for a lot of them.
Plus, it’s recently been discovered that electromagnetic impulses can interfere with the human brain, causing altered perception. Recent experiments at Laurentian University in Canada showed that people unknowingly exposed to a magnetic field often felt an unseen presence. Since such fields are now everywhere, this may account for a rise in the number of shadow beings and other phenomena being reported.
But what about accounts of shadow beings turning up in photographs? Or being seen by more than one witness at a time? Here’s a few of the theories:
Science now tells us that 95 percent of the universe is composed of dark matter, which we’re unable to see plus many dimensions that are invisible to us. Of this, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says “There could be shadow galaxies, shadow stars, and even shadow people.” In other words, entire populated realms could exist that we don’t know about because we can’t perceive them. The shadow being phenomena might be caused by other dimensions that overlap our own and occasionally intersect.
If you watch the Science Channel, you’ve heard there’s no law of physics that prevents time travel. Some paranormal investigators have proposed that Shadow Beings could actually be visitors from the future passing through. In the movies, when time travelers arrive at their destination, they’re perfectly visible – handy for the audience but what if it didn’t really work like that? What if travelers would actually appear as shadows in the time they’re visiting? (After all, they technically don’t exist there!)
The 1956 sci-fi movie, Forbidden Planet, featured the concept of subconscious thought being brought to life. This correlates with a number of legends from different cultures. Egregores or Watchers were powerful psychic entities created by the collective thought of a group of people. This concept is said to appear in the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament, and in the writings of the Rosicrucians.
Shadow entities can allegedly be created by powerful emotions and negative psychic energy, particularly in a place where something traumatic has occurred.
Extra-terrestrials or Twilight Travelers
Some people feel that there’s a connection between some types of aliens and shadow beings. The shadow beings are said to be the aliens themselves or a telepathic projection. Abductees claim that a type of alien known as The Grays have the ability to pass through walls and closed doors with ease, or appear and disappear without warning.
Some people claim they can leave their body at will through meditation (called astral projection). Other theories claim that we all travel out of body when we sleep. Are shadow people merely the fleeting images of dreamers or twilight travelers passing through?
Encounters with Shadow Beings
Witness accounts vary widely. Many report that the shadow being seems completely unaware of them. Sometimes the shadow being appears frightened or confused when it perceives a human watching them (almost like we don’t belong in their reality any more than they belong in ours). Others seem curious and deliberately watch humans (shadow voyeurs?), but vanish when detected. A few seem to enjoy scaring the bejeebers out of people.
Shadow beings seem to occur more frequently in certain locations, perhaps because of intensive magnetic fields in those areas, or perhaps because the dimensions intersect in specific spots. Several places in the US which are said to be haunted have been found to have shadow people rather than ghosts (Boothill Cemetery in Tombstone Arizona), or sometimes both (Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Kentucky and Civil War sites such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania).
Want more to read actual experiences of Shadow Beings? Try these sites:
Have YOU ever encountered a Shadow Being, or something like it?
That ten-dollar word refers to someone who is afraid of the number 13. And the Vikings apparently regarded 13 as a sinister number because their trickster god, Loki, once crashed a party for 12 at Valhalla and caused the death of beloved Baldur, god of joy and light. (No doubt this is also the origin of the term “party-pooper”)
The number 13 is bad enough, but add it to a Friday and the bad luck just gets worse. For one thing, you’ll have more big words to deal with – if you’re afraid of Friday the 13th, then you have friggatriskaidekaphobia, also called paraskevidekatriaphobia.
Think about it. Even if you don’t believe in luck or bad karma or cosmic forces, do you still hesitate before buying a lottery ticket on Friday the 13th? Or starting an important project? Or traveling? You might brush it off and carry on with your plans, but the day is so ingrained in our culture that few of us are immune. Fear of Friday the 13th is considered the most common phobia in America. But it’s not just us – one in four Europeans suffer from it too.
A calendar year may have 1 to 3 “thirteenths” occurring on a Friday, and those years with the maximum number are considered to be particularly calamitous. Fortunately for the fearful, the triple threat years don’t happen very often. 2009 was the first year this century to have a trio of Friday the 13ths. Before that, 1998 and 1987 were the unlucky years.
2010 is a relatively mild year for the superstitious, with only one Friday the 13th, which occurs in August. The year 2012 is another story – unsurprisingly, it will have THREE! (Is this what the Mayans were warning us about?)
Superstitions about the number 13 and/or Friday the 13th
• If you cut your hair on Friday the 13th, someone in your family will die. (Does it depend on how good the haircut is?)
• A clock striking 13 portends a death in the family. (Again with the family!) Or it may signal paranormal activity.
• If you’re born on Friday the 13th, you’ll be unlucky for life. Not to worry, apparently it’ll also be a short life!
• It’s bad luck to marry on this day. (In Middleton, New York, in 1913, a pastor offered to marry couples for free on Friday the 13th to counteract the superstition.)
• If you’re passed by a funeral procession on Friday the 13th, you’ll be the next to die. (So is everyone the procession passes doomed? You could wipe out most of a town in one fell swoop!)
• Leaving on vacation? Bad karma to do it on the 13th. Historically, mariners have declined to set sail on that day.
• It’s unlucky to have 13 coins in your pocket. (Given the current financial crisis, however, you’re fortunate to have any…)
• Wearing black on Friday the 13th will cause you to have to wear it to a funeral soon.
• Thirteen stairs? Bad news. (My knees think so too.) In British history, tradition held that a gallows had 13 steps, and Friday was known as “the hangman’s day”. Literally.
• Numbers that add up to 13 are unlucky as well, like 76 or 409. And you don’t want the number 13 in your street address. (In Florence, Italy, a house next to number 12 will be named 12 ½ , followed by 14!)
• Never have 13 place settings at the dinner table; it’s said that one guest may die within a year. Since the 1700s, Christian tradition has held that there were 13 people in attendance at The Last Supper. In France, you can still hire a professional quatorzieme, or 14th guest to balance your dinner party and avoid calamity.
Many airports still don’t have a Gate 13. Ronald Reagan National in Washington is on that list. So is Chicago’s Midway. Tall buildings and even hospitals still sometimes skip having a 13th floor (in name at least – the floor is still there of course). Hotels have known for years that customers dislike rooms with the number 13 in them.
Even Wall Street has been a little apprehensive about the day since the early 1900s. And of course, October 13, 1989 was the day of the Friday the 13th mini-crash, the second largest drop of the Dow in its history. (Mind you, it was a slide of a whopping 190.58 points. After the events of the past couple of years, it barely merits a raised eyebrow.)
Famous people with phobias
If you’re fearful of the number 13 or Friday the 13th, you’re not alone. Here’s just a few of the famous:
J. Paul Getty
Can you escape Friday the 13th?
No matter how enlightened we think we are, a lot of us exercise caution on this calendar day. In fact, it’s estimated that the US loses almost a billion dollars in business on Friday the 13th, because so many people postpone major purchases and reschedule trips. And that doesn’t count the number of workers who call in sick.
The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics published a study a couple years back, comparing accident, fire and theft rates on Fridays. Interestingly, there were fewer incidents on each Friday the 13th . It’s thought that people were naturally being more careful due to the superstition. The day will have its due however – the monetary losses for Friday the 13th were slightly higher!
Of course, you can always fight superstition with superstition. To counteract Friday the 13th, folklore says you can climb to a high place (mountain or skyscraper, whatever’s handiest) and burn all of your socks that have holes in them. Or you can walk around your house 13 times on Friday the 13th and hang your shoes out the window.
It goes without saying you should avoid anyone wearing a hockey mask.
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Your turn – How do YOU feel about the number 13 or Friday the 13th?