Are shadow people dangerous?

Shadow people aren’t new, but in recent years, they’re being reported more often. Are you afraid of them? So far, they seem harmless. Here’s a brief history of shadow people, and what we think we know. (We’re still learning.)

You can listen to this article as an 11-minute podcast, here:

Ghosts 101 – Are Shadow People Dangerous?

This is a podcast by Fiona Broome, created to accompany the article, Are Shadow People Dangerous? In this 11-minute podcast, Fiona discusses shadow people, “Hat Man,” and protection for ghost hunters and other paranormal researchers.

I’ve received a lot of emails asking about shadow people.

Frankly, we see a lot of weird things at haunted places.

A brief, moving shadow or two…? Not so unusual.

A full, shadowy apparition…? That used to be something rare. Now, they seem to appear more often.

Grant popularized the phrase

The first time I heard the phrase “shadow people,” was in a conversation with Ghost Hunters’ Grant Wilson. Oh, I knew what he was talking about, but — at the time — I had no idea that lots of people were seeing them.

Since then, it seems as if many more people are seeing shadowy figures. Is it because they’re looking for them? Or, maybe some entities aren’t as reticent as they used to be.

Shadow people - Laconia photoOver the past couple of years, I’ve seen many shadow people in TV show footage.

I’ve also taken photos of one, in a weirdly haunted private residence in Laconia, NH.

I saw what I thought was the shadow of a living person, and I decided to get some photos for future reference.

The best picture is shown at right. In real life, his shadow looked like a normal person’s shadow… except that the hat shape looked like something from the Colonial era, or very early 19th century.

The figure moved like an everyday person. It didn’t float. It didn’t fade in and out. It looked like someone was walking on the other side of the basement, in front of a light source.  (That’s why the photo is a little blurry. He didn’t pause and pose for the photo.)

And then it walked away, moving towards the wall at the far end of the basement, and the figure vanished.

Since many people in New England take part in Colonial and Revolutionary War re-enactments, I expected to see someone – in costume – when I rushed ahead to see who’d caused the shadow.

No one was there, and we’d have heard footsteps, running, if someone had dashed upstairs. Had it been a prank, the basement was too large for anything but the hastiest getaway.

We checked everything to see if a normal shadow could explain it. We found nothing. The basement wasn’t very cluttered, so no one could have been hiding from us, either.

Only one other person was in the house during the investigation, and we’d have heard his footsteps. Plus that, his build differed completely from the shadow. We found nothing to explain this figure. At least two of us saw it.

“Hat Man” connection?

I’ve heard speculation that shadow people are connected with the phantom “Hat Man.”

The reports have major differences. Read the Gaia description of “Hat Man.” He appears at night, and wears a long trench coat, a black three-piece suit, plus a hat with a brim. He’s between six and ten feet tall. His eyes may glow red. He whispers warnings or baffling messages to his victims, and he consistently instills fear.

In my opinion, that’s very different from a shadow person.

But, I may have photographed a “hat man.” That’s what people said when I posted my photo of a figure inside a former bank (robbed by Bonnie & Clyde) in Old Town Spring, Texas.

I didn’t like him, but he didn’t scare me.  His eyes didn’t glow. He didn’t whisper anything, either.

So, he doesn’t fit the “hat man” profile, but I did see him as a shadow. Does that make him a shadow person? Maybe. The problem is: in the photo, he’s not just a shadow.

Are shadow people dangerous?

A while ago, I turned on a ghost-related TV show.  Then, I heard one of the show’s stars declare that shadow people are killers.

She insisted they’re dangerous.

I think it’s irresponsible to tell homeowners that shadows in their homes might kill them. (In Dr. Who episodes? Sure, it’s fiction. In really life? No.)

I don’t mean to trivialize the terror someone can feel when they see a shadowy figure they can’t explain.

If your instant reaction is fear, and your instincts tell you to get away from it… run. In  paranormal research, trust your gut feelings. It’s better to have a “Dude, run!” moment and feel silly later, than put yourself in harm’s way.

If you feel as if any entity – living, dead, or something in-between – is dangerous, get away from it immediately.

But, I’ll be honest. If a shadow person has ever killed or seriously injured someone, I haven’t heard about it.

Also, from most reports I’ve heard, shadow people don’t have features. Yes, it might feel as if they’re looking at you.

But you can’t see its face. Maybe it is looking at you. Or, maybe it’s looking for a place to hide.

Anything is possible.

I’ve seen the Ghost Hunters’ episode where a shadow person seemed to peek out from behind something. The shadow was probably looking toward the investigators, but we can’t be certain of that.

Shadow people look like shadows. Other than that… it’s all guesswork for now.

Here’s another researcher’s opinions about shadow people. It’s an eight-minute video.

Are Shadow People Evil?

Are shadow people evil? Author and Ghostorian Mike Ricksecker has had a number of #ShadowPeople encounters — including a crawler, a full humanoid figure sha…

That YouTube video about shadow people is at:

Ghosts or something else?

Shadow people might be ghosts that manifest as shadows. Maybe they’re not able to create EMF spikes or generate EVP, and they can’t rap on tables, but they can create shadows.

That’s one guess.

1839 photograph of R. CorneliusShadow people may be something entirely different from ghosts.

They might be fearful apparitions, trying to hide from us.

Shadow people might be minions of malicious or even demonic entities.

Then again, shadow people might be aliens in a form we didn’t expect.

Or… all of the above.

I’m not trying to be flippant. My point is, we need to keep an open mind.

Paranormal Parasites by Nick RedfernSo far, they’re seen most often in haunted locations. That suggests a connection to ghosts.

But what if they’re something else?

Well, aliens are outside my field of study. However, if this concept intrigues you, Nick Redfern may be the best resource.

If you have the stomach (or curiosity) for that kind of topic, you may like his book, Paranormal Parasites. I haven’t read it yet, because Redfern’s research focus is very different to mine.

His insights may be relevant if you’ve encountered a shadow person and sensed that it was deeply, powerfully evil.

Meanwhile, the following story isn’t about ghosts, but it might indicate an alien element. (Or, it may have no connection to shadow people. It’s just something strange, not ghostly.)

Dark portal to the night sky?

One of the most mysterious shadows I’ve seen… well, it wasn’t a person at all. But, it was odd, and it was a shadow, and I’ve never found a reasonable explanation for it.

One evening in 2009, my husband and I were driving from New Hampshire to Dragon Con (Atlanta, GA), where I was a guest speaker.

The sky was dark and a little cloudy.

Driving south on I-95, we saw an odd column of darkness on the left side of the road.

It seemed to be in back of a stand of trees, and about 100 yards from the shoulder of the highway. It was like columns created by searchlights, but this column was darker than the sky, not lighter.

Shadow column from sky
This is what the shadow column looked like. It was a very rural area with no spotlights.

I thought it was fascinating, and I wondered how they’d created that effect. It was a great alternative to a spotlight.

(At the time, we didn’t realize it was an anomaly. At Dragon Con, I asked a few scientists what might have caused it, and they said nothing like that was possible.)

Since then, we’ve seen nothing like it.

With the increasing reports of shadow people, was that column a conduit for them?

That anomaly may have nothing to do with shadow people. It’s just an idle thought to consider.

But are they evil?

Meanwhile, in terms of all shadow people being evil, malicious, or demonic, I’ll need more consistent evidence.

The shadow person I photographed (my NH basement photo, above) was about 30 or 40 feet from me, and I sensed nothing at all from him. He was just there.

His form didn’t seem to suck up light, like some energy vampire. He wasn’t menacing or cowering or sending evil death-ray energy at me.

He was just a shadow. For all I know, he was an energy echo from the past, or something in a parallel reality. He may have been an extraordinary form of residual energy, or… yes, he may have been a ghost.

Just in case…

Fiona's adviceUntil we know more about shadow people, keep your distance.

That’s just a precaution.

So far, I haven’t seen or heard credible reports that suggest they’re dangerous.

Ghost Hunter's Survival GuideAre they ghosts? I’m not sure. I’m still looking for more consistent reports, to make sense of why people began seeing them – in large numbers – several years ago. 

For now, if you’re worried about a shadow person – or any paranormal entity – harming you, Michelle Belanger’s book is the most thorough protection guide I’ve read: The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters with the Paranormal. She’s compiled all kinds of protections, from folk magic to religious approaches.

I won’t pretend I understand (or agree with) everything she describes in the book. But, for now, it’s one of the best-researched – and most complete – books on the topic.

Meanwhile, as I said, err on the side of caution. If you see a shadowy figure and you feel uneasy, get away from it and perhaps leave the site altogether. I don’t think shadow people are dangerous, but I’d hate anyone to put themselves at risk, if I’m wrong.

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For answers to more questions like this, read my book, 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered. 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered

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This podcast is also available at (hosted by Libsyn).

Can a ghost follow you from place to place?

If you feel like a ghost is following you, here’s what you need to know. Most ghosts can’t (or won’t) leave the place they haunt, but there have been exceptions.

Busy? You can listen to this article in Fiona’s seven-minute podcast.

Can Ghosts Follow You?

In this Seven-minute recording, ghost hunter Fiona Broome talks about ghosts and other entities that might follow you. For the text of this recording, see her article, Can Ghosts Follow You From Place to Place?

Can ghosts follow you?

The simple answer is: no, not usually. At least 99% of the time, no ghost follows you – or anyone else – from place to place.

Ghostly phenomena seem tied to specific locations.

In most cases, I believe that if ghosts could go somewhere else, they probably would. (If you had a choice, would you spend relentless years at a site where people ignore you, or are afraid of you? Probably not.)

Yes, some ghosts remain at a location by choice. Green ladies are among the most famous. They protect the homes they once lived in.

More often, the ghosts simply haven’t moved on, literally or figuratively. Something from their past – often a grudge or unfinished business – holds them there. They’re not going anywhere until that’s resolved.

So, if something seems to follow you from a haunted site… it may not be a ghost. Ghosts rarely change locations.

Of course, there are other kinds of entities. Many could be described, generally, as “spirits.”  They include angels, spirit guides, benevolent entities, faeries, and – yes – demons.

And, for all we know, visitors from other worlds and times could be visiting us, and have the power to remain invisible. (I’m reminded of the “prime directive” in Star Trek.)

My point is: we use the word “ghosts” to describe a category of phenomena, and perhaps a kind of entity. And, when they really are people who lived in this world, then died, but haven’t left this plane of existence yet… they don’t move from location to location.

Exceptions to this rule are rare.

Judith Thompson Tyng’s revenge

In my entire ghost hunting career – spanning decades – I’ve heard of just a few ghosts that moved from one location to another. They’re that rare.

One of them is Judith Thompson Tyng. Her ghost moved around Tyngsboro, Massachusetts (USA) for many years.

Witnesses say her ghost still lingers there, over 200 years later.

According to folklore, Judith tormented (and perhaps killed) two 18th century men she held responsible for her death.

One of them was John Alford Tyng, the father of her child. He killed her and buried her under the hearth of their home.

Then, when Judith haunted him, he moved to another house. Judith’s ghost followed him.

He moved again, but the results were the same. Judith’s ghost would not leave him alone.

Finally, when John Alford Tyng was dying, Judith’s ghost stood at his door and prevented anyone from helping him. (That’s not just folklore. It’s from the handwritten diary of a Revolutionary War hero – a friend of John Alford Tyng – who tried to help the dying Tyng, but was blocked by Judith’s ghost.)

Judith’s other victim was an itinerant doctor – actually, a quack – nicknamed “Dr. Blood” because he bled people and adminstered “snake oil” type remedies.

In this case, Dr. Blood pretended to be a minister or a Justice of the Peace, and conducted the marriage ceremony between Judith Thompson and John Alford Tyng.

The whole thing was a sham set up by Tyng and Blood, and Dr. Blood may have been involved in Judith’s murder, as well.

That’s why Judith’s second victim was the infamous Dr. Blood.

When he was found dead on a country road, Judith’s distinctive boot print was on his back. Folklore claims her ghost had forced his head into a puddle, and held him there – with her ghostly foot on his back – until he drowned.

(You can read further details of the story at my Hollow Hill article, The Haunting of John Alford Tyng.)

And, as I said, Judith may still haunt Tyngsboro, Massachusetts and nearby Nashua, NH.

At the very least, Judith Thompson Tyng’s curse has caused continuing problems at the grave of John Alford Tyng.

Other Entities Can Change Location

Of course, stories like those must be studied closely. As I said, about 99% of ghosts seem to stay in one place.  Anything that moves from one location to another might be something else.

101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered

For example, poltergeists can follow and torment the people they select as targets. That’s why many researchers don’t believe poltergeists are just ghosts.

Demons can follow people or even become attached to them. Demons can mimic ghosts.

Few credible stories describe a ghost changing locations.

Even the Bell Witch was probably the product of several entities. Those included at least one opportunistic (and, at the time, very alive) person in that community.

So, if you’re worried about going on a ghost tour – or visiting a haunted place – and are afraid that a ghost might follow you, you probably have nothing to worry about.

(However, if you’re that anxious about ghosts, perhaps you shouldn’t go on ghost tours or visit haunted places. Perhaps you are more vulnerable to spiritual influences, and you should pay attention to your “gut feeling.”)

If You Think a Ghost Is Following You

sympathetic and comforting handsIf you think a ghost has followed you from a haunted location, visit a priest or spiritual minister immediately.

Chances are, the problem isn’t a ghost.

It might be a guardian spirit… an angel, for example.

It could be some other benign spirit.

Or, it could be something worse, and you might be at risk.

Please, don’t seek help from strangers, online.

Not even me.

Offline (in real life), find a priest or full-time minister to help you, even if you are not a religious person or a member of that congregation, and even if you don’t believe in God.

(A good minister won’t care.  His or her job is to help with spiritual matters, period and full stop. Ghosts, angels, and demons are spirits, and that’s what the clergy study – and deal with – every day.)

Most important: if you think a ghost is following you, get help right away. As I said, you could be at risk.

That’s a danger you should rule out as quickly as possible.

You’ll get the best results by talking with someone who’s spent years studying all kinds of spiritual matters.  Also, genuine priests and ministers provide this kind of help free of charge. It’s part of their religious calling.

But anyway…

If you’re simply worried about ghosts following you, the answer is: no, you’re more likely to win the lottery than be followed by a ghost.

However, if you think you’re already being followed by an entity – possibly a ghost – get help immediately.

Recommended reading: The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide: Protection Techniques for Encounters with the Paranormal, by Michelle Belanger.

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What are ghosts?

When people use the word “ghost,” they usually mean something that seems ghostly, like an apparition, or an object moving by itself.

They may mean something as simple as a “creepy feeling,” or something as frightening as a ghostly voice, or a chilling touch by an invisible hand.

Dictionaries say a ghost is the spirit of a dead person. That may be true.

Or… that might be groundless, popular opinion. No two ghost hunters are likely to agree.

Ghosts: A general definition

When paranormal investigators use the word “ghosts,” we’re usually talking about ghostly phenomena.  

You know… things like apparitions, strange noises, orbs in photos, and weird EMF spikes.

Some ghost hunters insist that all ghostly phenomena are disembodied spirits.

Skeptics explain “hauntings” in very normal terms that doesn’t involve dead people. Some religions insist that everything ghostly is demonic and dangerous.

Most ghost hunters are between those extremes.

We say that ghostly phenomena are real but unexplained.

So, when we use the word “ghost,” we’re talking about phenomena usually associated with that word. We can’t be 100% sure it’s the spirit of someone who died.

Think you’ve an encountered a ghost? Start with what’s normal

First, we look for normal things that explain what’s going on.

About 80% of the time, we can find a reasonable, normal explanation. The other 20% — and perhaps some of the 80%, as well — may be ghostly.

This is important: Even though some “ghostly” phenomena can be blamed on something normal, the site may still be haunted.

(To draw a sports parallel: During a football game, most people on the field are football players. That doesn’t mean the occasional streaker is also a football player. Maybe most ghostly phenomena at a location can be explained. That doesn’t mean it’s not caused by a ghost.)

Also, few investigators agree on all paranormal issues. For every person who insists that all orbs are ghosts, you’ll find one who says all orbs are dust or insects. The truth may be somewhere in-between.

In fact, the “ghosts” label is too simplistic. We don’t know what most ghostly phenomena are.

101 Ghost Hunting Questions, AnsweredLet’s pool our information and compare notes.  Then, we might find better answers.

For more answers about what ghosts are – and aren’t – read my book. 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered.



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