Doubles and Shadows

In the infancy of man there were two phenomena that perplexed him: his reflection in standing water, and his shadow on the ground. These conceptions were far beyond his reach at the time as he tried to understand who or what they were. Some anthropologists suppose he saw them as attendant spirits - one luminous and the other dark - one good and the other evil.

For centuries mankind has been seeing these reflections and shadows out in the world. They were strange visitors who mimic loved ones or even mirror images of themselves. Then, made purely of shadow, human figures have moved about with intelligent movement having no known cause or origin. Were these natural shadows or figments of heightened imagination? Or are we witnessing visitors from another realm?

Originating first in Irish folklore and later appearing in British legends, a Fetch is largely akin to the doppelgänger spirit; and their sightings are regarded as omens, usually for impending death. The spirit is a supernatural double or an apparition of a living person which takes on the appearance of someone who has just died or is just about to die.

The etymology of the name is rather obscure. Several sources cite the name may derive from the verb "fetch", palpably referring to a psychopomp who "fetches" the souls of the dying in order to escort them from Earth to the afterlife. It is also argued that the term originated as a Hiberno-English form of Irish ‘fáith’, which means ‘seer’. The Fetch is described as an exact, spectral double of a living human. A Fetch is not actually the ghost of the person it appears to be; indeed, often the person imitated is still alive. Instead it seems to be a phantom that simply takes the same form, though for what reason is unknown. It may be related to the German doppelganger, but a Fetch rarely is malevolent. They seem to only be portents, almost like projected versions of precognition.

These visions may even bear the signs of how the person will die. A Fetch seen in the early morning as the sun is rising is said to be a sign of a long and happy life for the person it imitates. When seen at night, however, the fetch is believed to foretell a person’s death. Those familiar with the Fetch's spiritual significance can heed the creature's warning accordingly, such as getting their life affairs in order.

A Fetch may only be visible to the person it is imitating or may be visible to everyone except the person who it’s imitating. Some stories claim if the Fetch is seen and the viewer tries to follow it, they will quickly disappear down a hallway or alleyway.

A Vardøger is believed to be a spirit or a creature with origins in Norse mythology, associated with an out-of-body experience. Commonly described as déjà vu in substance, but in reverse, vardøger is where a spirit with the subject's footsteps, voice, scent, or appearance and overall demeanor precedes them in a location or activity, resulting in witnesses believing they've seen or heard the actual person before the person physically arrives.

Vardoger is a Norewegian word that means "the premonitory sound or sight of a person before he arrives." This bears a subtle difference from a doppelgänger, with a much less sinister connotation. It has been like ned to a phantom double, or form of bilocation (the phenomenon of being in two places simultaneously). Originally, vardøger was considered a fylgja, a sort of guardian or following spirit that would manifest on behalf of its host.

To some, the Vardøger is considered to be something of a trickster, going out before the person to whom it is bound, to announce that person's impending arrival. They are believed to be immaterial, incorporeal, intangible and invisible by nature, while others believe them to be shape-shifters, capable of assuming a ghostly form.

Flickergeists, more accurately known as Flimmern-Geists, are believed to be shadowy beings that live beyond our vision, but that we can sometimes see out of the corners of our eyes. These observations are most often accompanied by shivers, chills and a sensation that something odd has happened or that someone is watching you. The words “Flimmern” and “Geist” are Germanic in origin and translate as Flicker-Spirits or Flicker-Guides. Flickergeist is the popular vernacular form.

This unexplained phenomenon was first described by the German Lutheran theologist and alchemist Jakob Bohme in the 16th Century. He asserted that this phenomenon happens when a person sees shadowy figures out of the corner of their eye, whose origins are unknown. Generally, these beings flicker in-and-out of a person’s peripheral vision and appear to be humanoid, dark and agile. Superstition at the time held that these Flickergeists were largely associated with death and may well have given rise to the popular image of the “Grim Reaper” – a dark hooded figure that flickered in-and-out of a person’s vision shortly before they died.

It is believed by many that these just-out-of-reach spirits are trying to grab the attention of a person. There is a current school of occult that proposes that these Flickergeists are the spirit guides that lead a person’s soul to the afterlife. Other believe that these spirits have darker intentions, and some modern urban legends revolve around Flickergeists who mean to do harm.

Some scientific research suggests that these unexplained apparitions are the hallucinations of the brain deciphering the edge of visual perception. They cite physical exhaustion, malnutrition, metal fatigue, or other conditions which may cause this visual quirk. Some spiritualists believe that it is in this marginal zone, the edge of vision, that the eye and the mind are able to perceive another more paranormal dimension than our own.

A Shadow Person is the perception of a patch of shadow as a living, humanoid figure, particularly as interpreted by believers in the paranormal or supernatural as the presence of a spirit or other entity. Shadow People are different than ghosts as the Shadow People are believed to be conscious entities that are aware of what is going on around them, unlike other apparitions.

Most accounts of Shadow People describe them as black humanoid silhouettes with no discernible mouths, noses, eyes, or any expression whatsoever. Some witnesses have also described child-sized humanoids or shapeless masses and a few rare reports also include glowing red eyes. Generally, they are described as lacking mass, though their specific nature varies from a two-dimensional shadow to a vaporous or distorted three-dimensional form. Their movement is often described as being very quick and disjointed; they may first move slowly, as if they were passing through a heavy liquid, and then rapidly jump to another part of a witness' surroundings.

Shadow People are also believed to be corporeal in some cases, and similar to poltergeists in ability, can interact with their environment. But unlike poltergeists that are thought to be created through outside means such as murder or suicide, some paranormal researchers say Shadow People could be created subconsciously by the negative energy of a person, likely the viewer. It is also the theory that while ghosts were at one point an actual physical person, the Shadow People are something else entirely.

Several religions, legends, and belief systems describe shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities such as shades of the underworld. For this reason, Shadow People have been connected with demonic entities, but some theorists also suggest they are creatures of another dimension that are manifesting in a different sort of way, bleeding through into our own dimension. We are seeing them when our consciousness momentarily moves between realities (or levels of consciousness) for a brief moment, and we can glimpse at the beings in the other reality.

Various medical specialists and doctors have provided evidence for physiological and psychological conditions can could account for reported experiences of shadowy shapes that were seemingly alive. A sleep paralysis sufferer may perceive a "shadowy or indistinct shape" approaching them when they lie awake paralyzed and become increasingly alarmed. A person experiencing heightened emotion, such as while walking alone on a dark night, may incorrectly perceive a patch of shadow as an attacker. Many methamphetamine addicts report the appearance of "shadow people" after prolonged periods of sleep deprivation. Methamphetamine usage also adds a conspiratorial component to the sleep deprivation hallucinations making them take on a malevolent tone.

Some individuals have described being menaced, chased, or attacked by Shadow People. There have also been reports of Shadow People appearing in front of witnesses or lingering for several seconds before disappearing. Witnesses report that encounters are typically accompanied by a feeling of dread. Many believers and paranormal authors do not agree whether Shadow People are either evil, helpful, or neutral. However, since the first report of a Shadow Person there are no reported claims of even one of them doing anything positive whatsoever. There are many paranormal experts who believe that however it is that they are manifest, it is almost universal that Shadow People appear to want to feed off of your negative energy and fear.