Nearly One in Three People Have Experiences with Shadow People: Are You One of Them?
An new fiction novel delves into something that happens to an estimate one out of three people, but no one ever really talks about it. If they do, it’s in hushed whispers and only in the company of close friends. Fear of being ridiculed or not-believed is what holds many back. That, and the apprehension that comes with not wanting people to think you’re batshit-crazy.
But Is it Crazy to Experience “Shadow People”?
The book Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta M. Black explores the phenomenon of these late night visitors. Sometimes known as “shadow people” or “night terrors”, the visits frequently seem demonic in nature, threatening, and are accompanied by phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis” which renders the victim immobile, but oddly lucid, as they sleep.
While the book is inspired by the real oubliette of Leap Castle in Ireland, it also draws from apparent true-life experiences of the author. Terrorized by frequent late-night visitations in her youth, she pulls the two concepts together masterfully. But I don’t want to give away too much of the story. No spoilers here.
How Shadow People Are Used in Oubliette — A Forgotten Little Place
What I can say is the book begins with an account of a young girl, Veronica, who is traumatized by something sinister while she sleeps. In one of the most gripping prologues in modern history, the book opens with Veronica being strapped to a hospital bed while “someone” observes the shadow people overtake her as she reluctantly falls asleep.
These creepy visitors later come back to haunt her in the most vial way when she’s an adult. Then, as in all good thrillers, all Hell breaks loose.
Why Doesn’t Anyone Want to Talk about Shadow People?
But let’s get back to the question we need to ask ourselves, which is: why don’t more people talk about their experiences with shadow people? Such encounters have been recorded through the ages. In the past, legends of the “old hag” or “succubus” mimic our modern-day accounts.
The commonality is that the victim suddenly becomes awake late at night because of a sinister presence in the room. They can’t move or even call out for help, and often feel trapped, restricted, and threatened by a shadowy predator that’s about to do something exceptionally vile to them. To truly understand what shadow people are, and why they might be assaulting our sleep, let’s look at the various historical accounts of the phenomenon.
Historical Accounts of Shadow People
Depicted in myth from ancient times, shadow people come from many different sources. The aforementioned “Hag” or “Night Hag” as she is sometimes known, has many references in history, legend, and cultures. Let’s look at just a sampling of them from different times and geographical areas to note the striking similarities.
Scandinavian Versions of The Hag
In the Hag’s Scandinavian roots she is known as a “mare”. She ventures out at night and rests on victim’s chests, causing nightmares and sleep paralysis.
Island of Fiji Accounts of Sleep Paralysis
On the island of Fiji, the sensation of sleep paralysis is called kana tevoro, which translates into “being eaten by a demon”. The belief is that the demon is a recently departed loved-one who has a message to deliver. People nearby who witness such an occurrence yell, “Eat, eat, eat!” to encourage the demon to reveal its agenda. The goal is to find out why the spirit has returned and to find out their mysterious message to the living.
Turkey and the Djinn
In Turkey the sensation of sleep paralysis is called Karabasan. An entity known as a djinn visits the victim at night and holds them down. To get rid of the demonic creature, one needs to pray to Allah by reading select verses from the Qur’an. In some versions of this story the djinn has a wide-brimmed hat. If the victim can rip it off and steal it, the demon becomes that person’s slave.
Southern US States Call it “Witch Riding”
Southern states in the US have myths where the Hag is referred to as a witch. The experience of having her press on one’s chest is called witch riding. It involves feeling intense pressure on the upper torso while sleeping. The victim of witch riding is pinned down and unable to shake the creature off.
Brazil’s Disturbing Version of the Hag
In Brazil they call the Hag pisadeira. This translates into “she who steps”. Pisadeira is an old, skinny woman with long, sharp fingernails. Her mane of hair is white and tangled. Red, peering eyes and green, mangled teeth make her a frightening sight. She lives on top of people’s roofs, and at night creeps down to step on the chest of those who have eaten too much and have a full stomach.
Greece with Several Names for the Shadow People Who Attack at Night
In Greece sleep paralysis is believed to happen when a ghostly creature named Mora, Vrahnas or Varypnas (depending on the reference) tries to steal the poor victim’s speech. To do this, Mora sits on the victim’s chest causing asphyxiation and panic.
Iceland and a Goblin-Like Beast Similar to the Hag
Icelandic myth refers to sleep paralysis as having a creature known as Mara, which is a succubus, visit at night. Similar to the Greek Mora, this goblin-like beast visits at night with intentions of doing something sinister to the host.
Numerous European Names to Describe Sleep Paralysis and Shadow People
Indeed, many European cultures share similar versions of the same folklore, they just know her by different names.
Proto-Germanic is marōn; Old English is mære; Germanscall her Mahr; Dutch translations sound like nachtmerrie; Old Irish call the Hag morrigain; Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Slovene say môra; Bulgarian, Polish use mara; in French it is cauchemar; and in Romanian culture they call her moroi.
Where Does the Original Reference to the Hag or Shadow People Originate?
The origin of the belief of the phenomenon is quite old. It stems back to the reconstructed Proto Indo-European root word mora, which translates into incubus. Additionally the root word mer, which means to cause harm, or more literally, to “rub away”.
The striking thing to note, is this phenomenon is ubiquitous. With this many references throughout time, and documented experiences, why is the concept of shadow people regulated to the occult and speculative paranormal phenomenon? Why aren’t more people talking about it?
Types of Modern Day Shadow People
Today as in the past, there seem to be several variations of shadow people. They range from tall, male figures with piercing red eyes, to short beasts with large heads that one might say describes the common notion of aliens.
In some cases, as with the Turkish version of the djinn, the shadow person is known to wear a hat. Contemporary accounts describe the hat as fedora-like. He is frequently described as wearing a suit, or business attire, and has been referenced in many areas around the world.
A phenomenon called negative shadows refer to things that portent misfortune or disaster. They seem less intent on harming those who see them, and act more as an omen.
Little, hairy beasts are another commonly described type. Vanta M. Black, the author of Oubliette, describes one of them in her book as being cat-like, and intent on burrowing into her. These animal-like shadow creatures occur in a variety of forms and shapes throughout accounts from all over the world.
So What Are Shadow People?
Is this condition a remnant of our primal fears that we all share of being attacked by a predator while we sleep? Are these simply bad dreams from a primitive part of our brain? Maybe our psyche simply creates a hallucination which is a common evolutionary experience. Or is there validity to the phenomenon?
Ghosts, demons, time travelers, beings from other dimensions, jinn, aliens: all these theories and more have been used to describe shadow people. The common thread that unites shadow people experiences is the time and environment. They appear at night, usually in a dark or nearly-dark room, and they stir up intense feelings of terror and danger. Those who experience shadow people say they have the sense that it wants to attack or devour one’s soul. In physical encounters, some report the thing actually attacking. The sensation is sometimes described as a smothering effect, or choking.
Could shadow people be real “entities” or “beings” from someplace else? Indeed, with so many similar accounts from all over the world and throughout time, it seems there must be some truth to the matter. If that is the case, then what is it that they want?
Have you ever had an encounter with shadow people? Or a night terror that caused sleep paralysis? Have you ever felt stalked while you slept?