I started out simply for the first essay, opting to only covering Sleep Paralysis since it is typically the precursor to other occurrences. In a nuthsell, Sleep Paralysis is the state between being awake being asleep, when your mind is awake and aware but your body is still in a state of rest. Many who have experienced Sleep Paralysis claim to have also experienced otherworldly presences nearby, and among the most common beings are Shadow People or a 'Shadow Man.'
Shadow People have been divided into five categories (possibly more, but these are the most commonly experienced). The website, Mysterious Universe, covers these in their article, The Lurking Shadow People . The Shadow People most experienced include the following:
-Benign Shadows: Typically the shadow seen passing through in someone's peripheral vision (or sometimes directly in front) before disappearing into thin air. In these experiences, the person/human doesn't feel any real threat. Perhaps only the surprise of seeing a shadowy figure passing through the living room!
- Negative Shadows: These shadows tend to lurk, thus leaving the experiencing individual feeling unease and sometimes terror.
- Red Eyed Shadows: Negative entities who will stare at the experiencing individual with blazing red eyes and are sometimes said to be feeding on their victim's energy or fear.
- Hooded Shadows: Shadows or entities typically dressed in ancient monk's attire and filled with an almost unholy rage (this one was actually experienced by a friend of mine...if he's willing, I may have him do a guest post on his experience).
- The Hat Man: Considered to be the most curious out of all the phenomenons (and one Heidi Hollis covers in great detail on her website), often being dressed in an old fashioned business suit and fedora. People all over the world claim to have experienced this type of Shadow Person.
Skeptics have argued that these experiences are nothing more than hallucinations. When I experienced Shadow People (mainly the Benign and Negative Shadows), it was during a very negative time in my life. After I came out of it, I never saw them again, and I'm still trying to explain and figure out why I experienced them when I did (though I have a few ideas as to why). Some of my own experiences are used in The Birthrite Series while other characters' experiences are based on research and friends' experiences.
The bottom line is that the occurrences of the Shadow People are varied and there really is no simple explanation. It's a phenomenon that remains a mystery, and a fascinating one at that.
If you have any experiences with Shadow People, I'd love to hear/read them in the comments below. Or, you can visit The Official Shadow People Archives website and read about others' experiences (and submit your own).
Some cool links on the subject: Heidi Hollis Official Website
Official Shadow People Archives
A Paranormal Phenomenon Article on About.com
"The Lurking Shadow People" on Mysterious Universe
"Shadow People's Attacks on Humans Increasing" on Libertarian Alliance
Psychology Today's "Shadow People" Article
NOTE: I'm not saying I endorse or agree with everything said in these sources; however, if you wish to seek out more on this subject, these articles may be a good place to start. :)