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He shows up without a sound, and only appears when it’s pitch black. He wears a hat and has a cape or coat about his shoulders. No one knows why he comes, or where he’ll show up. After you hear this interview with Marjorie, you might have even more questions than answers.  

Who is the Top Hat Man?

This has been documented all over the world, yet they remain a complete mystery.

This uninvited shadow stranger even appears in Netflix’s series The Haunting of Hill House. Or, at least, he’s referenced. Want to learn more? Of course you do. Check out this article (if you dare).

For some images of this phenomenon caught on camera, and for information about support groups for those who have encountered this traumatizing evil entity, check out the Hatman Project.

What is the Hat Man?

Several theories exist. The Hat Man could be a ghost, a shadow person, an evil spirit, a sleep paralysis demon, or even the Devil. One favorite theory of ours was inspired by our interview with April the Psychic Housewife, when she was teaching us about the different types of ghosts. One of the entities she described was a kind of evil soul wrangler, who collects lost spirits, turning them away from the light and making them into shadow people. This could very well mean that the shadow man we call the Hat Man might in fact be multiple entities of this nature.

Is the Hat Man a Shadow Person?

It’s hard to answer this question, considering there’s no universal definition of shadow people, either. We’ve heard that shadow people are the earthbound spirits of the deceased, but also that they’re evil shadow entities that never were people to begin with. Shadow people tend to be more ephemeral than descriptions of the Hat Man, who has a relatively strong energy, a more well-defined (albeit dark) face and form, and causes more fear.

You can also find some interesting information and pictures at the older site of Shadow People archives.

There’s something different about this tall shadow figure.

Many paranormal enthusiasts believe that shadow people are a type of spirit. We hear terms like “shadows of the deceased” and “shadows of the dead,” implying that these shadow people are just another way some folks observe ghosts.

Is the Hat Man a living person?

What people see is probably not a physically-present body of a living human person, dressed in an actual hat and coat. They’re probably not even seeing an actual living person casting a real shadow. Hat Man sightings definitely seem to be paranormal phenomena, based on accounts.

However, we’ve heard the theory that the Hat Man is the astral projection of a living person. In other words, at the very moment one person is seeing the shadowy figure of the Hat Man, somewhere else, perhaps in a totally different corner of the world, is practicing astral projection, sending their consciousness out into the world to…do what?

What does he want?

There’s no real consensus to what the Hat Man wants, or what is the main purpose of him appearing to someone. Examining his behavior hardly helps. Most of the time, witnesses describe his actions as pretty banal, even when they come with strong feelings of fear or doom. The Hat Man is known mainly for basically standing still in the same place for a while, at a bit of a distance (like in the corner of a dark room, just outside the bedroom door, or across a street) and silently observing people.

In at least one account we’ve heard, he approached someone’s bed without waking them from sleep (we know because his sister was watching from her bed in the other corner of the room). Is it possible nobody has managed to catch the Hat Man acting out his true intentions because he already did so while they were still asleep?

What does the Hat Man look like?

This notorious shadow man can appear in different ways, from purely physical to pure shadow. He is, however, always dressed basically the same way: a very tall shadowy figure wearing a black brimmed hat like a top hat, and a long trench coat-style garment. People describe him as similar to a shadow: ill-defined, and hard to focus on, but not usually transparent. We’ve heard that even when he’s standing under a bright light, the light does not really illuminate him, almost as if he’s actually made of shadow. The scariest thing we’ve heard about the Hat Man’s appearance from our true paranormal story interviews is that you can’t quite see the facial features of the shadow man, but you just know he is smiling. That just feels soooooo wrong.

Depending on the witness, he may even be wearing various hats. Most people see him wearing a top hat, but others report a fedora, a southwestern cowboy hat, or even a gaucho hat. Also, depending on the popular culture of the time period when he’s spotted, that trench coat he’s wearing could be the solid outline of more old-timey clothes, like a duster, or a cloak, or a cape.

Does the Hat Man always appear as a dark shadow?

Some reports include an unusual detail that feels out of place on a shadow, like a gold pocket watch, or glowing red eyes, but those are less common. To be honest, these inconsistencies sound like embellishments. The rare sightings of the Hat Man having red eyes and a golden pocket watch feel more likely to be dreams or hallucinations or even false accounts, but I suppose these could be explained by a secondary source of red light or golden reflection showing through the shadow from behind or something. Or, perhaps what we think is just one shadow man in a hat is actually multiple shadow people who dress and act alike?

A true story about seeing the Hat Man

In her story, our guest speaker Marjorie says the Hat Man looks a little like Nosferatu to her. That’s not particularly comforting to us. After all, the iconic vampire villain, played by Max Schreck in the 1921 silent film, is still surrounded in dark mystery and intrigue. Where did these legends come from? Was Max Schreck really a vampire himself, and Nosferatu is his personal story? Why were most original copies of the movie burned? Find these answers and more in this Mental Floss article.

Our guest Marjorie also says the Hat Man looks like a cross between Max Schreck and Gabriel Byrne from Miller’s Crossing. We’ll let you mentally put that one together yourself. Listen to Marjorie’s personal story about the Hat Man’s visit to her childhood home.

How to see the Hat Man

You might want to reconsider your desire to see the Hat Man for yourself. Many encounters are described as incredibly scary, ominous, and dark. Many who have a story about seeing the Hat Man in real life believe he had evil intentions, or attempted to cause some sort of harm. There are some reports of the Hat Man actually attacking people.

Two other common methods of seeing the Hat Man are in dreams and during sleep paralysis.

What does it mean to see the Hat Man in a Nightmare?

Depending on your beliefs, dreams might be complete fanciful imagination, or they could be an important message to the asleep person, either from the subconscious or an external entity. Therefore, a nightmare about the Hat Man could mean anything, couldn’t it?

When we picture having a nightmare of the Hat Man, we have to wonder: was Freddy Krueger inspired by a real sighting of the Hat Man? After all, both get you while you sleep, and neither is ever without their signature brimmed hat.

Is the Hat Man a sleep paralysis demon?

The crazy thing about sleep paralysis is that during this phenomenon, one is kind of both awake and asleep at the same time. When we go into REM sleep, our brain turns down our ability to move our body; that’s why most people don’t sleepwalk or roll off their bed every night while they dream, like they might do during night terrors.

Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon that happens when a person is in the process of waking up (or sometimes falling asleep. The part of the brain with our consciousness wakes up, and the eyes open, but the part of the brain that shuts down movement in sleep is still somewhat active. The result being, one feels fully awake and paralyzed Also, that person can see the room or the dark world in shadow around them, but may also see…other things. The nature of these other things is debatable…are they seeing ghosts, demons, hallucinations, or dreams?

What is a sleep paralysis demon?

Dreams would be the most likely explanation, given that the person experiencing the phenomenon is only half awake, half stuck in REM sleep. The timeless nature of dreams would also explain why it seems to go on for a while after coming out of full sleep, when in reality it probably only lasts a few seconds. Yet we know of at least one true sleep paralysis demon story where multiple people seemed to be seeing the same black figure in the room during sleep paralysis. And many people who report seeing a dark shadow entity during sleep paralysis describe that shadow person as evil, or even demonic.

Another crazy phenomenon people experience during sleep paralysis is the feeling of something—or someone—sitting or standing on their chest, pinning their body down to their bed. This is usually explained away as just their body trying to fight the sleep paralysis, but in the moment it can seem to correlate with seeing a shadow person sitting on their chest, so the fear is real.

While it’s probably not a good idea, it is possible to intentionally induce sleep paralysis through sleep deprivation.

Is the Hat Man real?

We aren’t convinced that the Hat Man is so easily explained as sleep paralysis. After all, at least one of our guests saw the Hat Man out in the world while completely awake, not in their bed room or in any way close to falling asleep.

Thoroughly spooked yet? So are we!

Have you seen the Hat Man, or other Shadow People?

Here at Homespun Haints Podcast, we interview people who have true first-hand stories about shadow people, ghosts, paranormal activity, cryptids, not-so-mythical monsters from folk lore, and the like. If you feel like it’s about time you finally told your story, we would love to have you as a guest on our podcast. Just submit your story here, and we’ll be in touch soon.

Until then, have a spooky day!


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