All across the world tales of mysterious shadowy visitors echo. Some call their visitor "The Hat Man" but it seems there is more than one type of shadow person as descriptions vary from person to person, although some people seem to have been “visited” by the same being. Reports include a dark dense human-like form – sometimes wearing a hat, hooded figures, and even shapes of animals. The main factor is that they are a mass of dark matter that stands out as a solid object in the darkness itself (yes they always seem to come at night). Some people have tried to photograph them but to no avail even though it’s said that when a light is shone onto the mass, it remains solid.
There are countless stories out there and it seems that the running theme of each is that this being never wishes to be seen, or revealed in full, although they don’t seem to mind their presence being felt.
Often when witnesses are re-telling their stories, they describe a shadow figure lurking by a door, tree or piece of furniture. Many people believe that they like to watch as we sleep and have been caught standing over people’s beds or even watching from the ceiling.
For this reason, they are known as "The Watchers".
Obviously we don't know how much of these experiences can be put down to our own imaginations, but there have been many cases where the witnesses have no idea that this is a known paranormal phenomena, and have only found out while discussing their experience with a friend.
I myself have personally had an odd experience, which I have only recently came to realize could have potentially been a sighting of a “watcher” – IF such a thing exists. When I was 19 I was on holiday in Ibiza. I was on the back of a rented moped, with my then boyfriend, on the way back from a club in San Antonio. It was around 3am and we were riding through the hills. I remember it clearly. I felt quite afraid of the dense woodland that bordered each side of the winding road, and had my head down not wanting to look. As we approached a bend, we slowed down and I glanced up. Right in front of us I saw something I described at the time as like cigarette smoke, in the shape of a person standing to the side of a tree. What was distinctive was that the outline seemed to include a wide hat. I squeezed my boyfriend tightly and when we arrived back at our hotel told him what I’d seen. He hadn’t seen it, but I was pretty sure that a figure of some kind had been standing by that tree. Of course it may have been the light and shadows playing tricks, who knows. At that point I hadn't heard of "Hat-man" but some years later as I casually leafed through a book on paranormal phenomena I froze. The image below bought about a horrid sensation which began in the pit of my stomach and crept through my bones. The image below is exactly what I had been sure I'd seen in the hills years early. I could have drawn it myself. If someone had asked me to sketch what I'd seen standing next to that tree, this is what I'd have done:
Like all paranormal phenomena it is not certain what exactly the shadow people are. Sometimes, they are explained as earth bound spirits who refuse to cross over into the light. Others believe they are inter-dimensional explorers who have found a way into our realm to study us. It's interesting that dispite the dark and menacing appearance, most people who believe they've seen a Watcher feel they are benevolent creatures who are probably more afraid of us than we are of them (I wouldn't bank on it!).
There have been reports of shadowy figures being present in hospitals too, with some patients claiming they have woken in the middle of the night to see a dark figure at the foot of their bed. One story which stays with me is that of a staff nurse who reported to her superiors that whilst on night duty in the ward, she had walked past one of the private rooms. She said that the door was ajar and as she peered in, she saw 2 dark figures stood net to the patients bed leaning over. One said to the other "this is not him". That night the patient in the very next room passed away. She believed that the shadow people were there to take him over to the other side. Very creepy!
As I mentioned preivously though, not all people believe these figures to be human, some believe they have animal 'Watchers'. I recently spoke with Leanne Holder, a 21 year old from Wellsville, Missouri about her experiences. These are her exact words.
Interview with Leanne Holder:
Can you tell me when you first noticed your ‘Watcher’?
The first time I noticed it was around the first grade. Since I'd been held back a couple of times over the years, I can't pinpoint my exact age (Preschool and Kindergarten staff weren't the best in my hometown, so I was a bit later than my peers to enter). I'd been very sick, and had slept for 2 days straight. When I woke up, my Watcher was at the foot of my bed curled up like a pet might when they go to sleep. I couldn't see it's face, but I hadn't been alarmed so I went back to sleep. I guess I knew it was supposed to be there, even as a kid.
Were you scared? Did you tell anyone?
I didn't tell anyone. I didn't feel a need to, honestly. If it doesn't alarm me, I tend not to bring it up with anyone. I know my parents have seen it too, as we’ve spoken about it over the years, but they don’t know that I’ve been aware of it as long as I have.
How many times would you say you’ve seen it?
Well, even if I can't see it I can usually feel it. It tends to stick to my yard or certain rooms of the house unless I leave to go somewhere. It seems to only take a visible form when something serious has happened in my life or in the family.
Have you ever seen it when you've been staying anywhere else? someone else home or while on a trip or holiday?
Not that I can recall, although I can usually feel it nearby.
When you feel it nearby, how does that feel? safe?
I feel like I can relax when it's nearby. Like I've got absolutely nothing to worry about.
Have you ever tried to call upon it yourself, if you've felt in need?
No, it always seems to be near me so I don't really need to.
Have you ever spoken to anyone else who has had a similar experience?
Yeah, we recently had a death in the family and that same night we got the news, some of my cousins approached me about seeing a shadow creature outside their own windows. Now keep in mind, I've never mentioned this to anyone but I am a "paranormal enthusiast" as my family calls it, so they always come to me with things like this.
Can you describe it?
Well, it's only ever shown up as a dark gray or blackish color like a literal shadow, but mine took the form of what seemed to be a cat between the size of a housecat and a wildcat, not quite either. My cousins mentioned theirs looked sort of like a large dog. I figured I'd mention my cousins' experience as well because it seems their Watcher takes another form.
Have you ever tried to take a photo of it?
Many times! But my camera never captures it.
How might you feel if you suddenly stopped seeing it?
I don't know how I'd feel honestly, though I guess I'd be a little uneasy. Having something suddenly disappear that has been with you for so long would be unusual.
Leanne describes her 'Watcher'as similar to a big cat.
It's clear that for Leanna, and I'm sure many like her, the belief in a presence that has a sole purpose of protecting her and watching over her is of comfort, and it's interesting that she mentions other family members also witnessing these dark animal like shapes over the years.
Whatever our own personal belief I guess for the most part we have to take these experiences at face value. We have no way of either proving or disproving the majority of experiences. If I could rewind the clock and go back to Ibiza, to the exact moment I thought I'd seen a figure I would demand that my boyfriend stop the moped and I would take as many photographs as I could.
If only I could go back in time...how often have we all said that!