Seeing shadows out of the corner of your eye is not that unusual. There are many reasons for this phenomenon from mundane to magickal. Most paranormal investigators refer to these phenomenon as shadow men or shadow people, however in our experiences there are many causes for seeing shadows, particularly in your peripheral vision.
Let's begin with the practical and mundane causes for people to observe shadow people, shadow cats or witch cats. Then we will cover the possibilities from a practical Pagan's perspective, along with ways to wrangle witch cats.
As Pagans and Witches, we are practical folks and must first consider the mundane factors. There are certain foods and chemicals that will emphasize these occurrences.
For example, if you drink more coffee than usual, have less sleep than usual, change your sleep schedule frequently, or consume certain amphetamine and related compounds such as ADHD medication, you may see witch cats more frequently (and you will attract more attention from animals). Of course if you are under the influence of a hallucinogen or have entered a shamanic mind state, it is to be expected that you will see a wide range of possible visual phenomena. This brings us to the physical causes.
Physical & Physiological Causes:
In addition to ingesting compounds, there are physiological causes for seeing shadows. Your eyes have both cones and rods. Peripheral vision is produced largely by retinal rod cells and these do not produce detailed resolution like the central cone cells. Rod cells sense light and movement, but not color like cone cells. This can cause a low resolution, low color, fleeting movement to be seen out of the corner of your eye (shadow).
The more attention given to this phenomenon, the more it will be observed due to visual substitutions. When you have ambiguous, conflicting or insufficient sensory stimuli, your brain will resolve it by providing you with an interpretation. In other words, your brain will interpret the shadow image through its own expectation filter, providing you the image of a face, figure, cat, or other common human interpretation.
As mentioned above, most paranormal investigators will quickly define the shadows you see as shadow men. Next you may be informed that these shadow people are ghosts, demons, angels or lost spirits. This may be one possible answer, but in my experience it is not the most common. An exorcism is often recommended by paranormal and metaphysical workers.
Causes from a Pagan's Perspective:
One of the most important skills a Witch can develop is to observe without labeling. There is no way we can know all the facts, so report what you see, not what you think you see. In other words, avoid filtering your observations through predefined expectations. Yes, you might be seeing time travelers or inter-dimensional being, but there is no way to really know. Maybe they are ghosts, aliens or demons, who can truly say? What is important from a practical viewpoint is to observe and control how these shadows affect you and those around you.
That said, of course I have my own solutions based on my observations. In my experiences, witch cats are a frequent infestation for Pagans and Witches who are dealing with a lot of stress or working a lot of magick. My current working theory is that extra energy that is lingering sort of collects, like an energy dust bunny. They can become terrible, even frightening (which they like and feed off of) but are actually very simple to remove.
They can also be made more cohesive through negative attacks against you or your home, such as the classic "evil eye" whether intentional or not, or outright magickal attacks.
Once you have accumulated several observations, you can investigate to see if there are any common causes, mundane or magickal, and turn these triggers off.
Magickally and metaphysically speaking, I have observed that witch cats appear more frequently to those who are working with magick and are psychically attuned to differences in energies. Of course, some of this may be due to the chemical or physical causes listed above (Witches often keep late nights). However, I've observed some common situations that cause the appearance of these shadows.
- The person observing the shadow is highly psychic, empathic, or has been performing magick.
- The person observing the shadow has been meditating or entering shamanic states of consciousness.
- The area where shadows appear is highly charged.
- The area where shadows appear is often in "tweens" like doorways and windows, near the edges of magickal circles, near thresholds.
- The area where shadows appear has collected psychic and physical junk, such as stacks of paperwork, piles of clothes, un-cleansed crystals on an altar, etc.
- An area has been cleared and cleansed, but no charge was provided in place of the cleared out energy.
- Most often, there is an accumulation of random energy, and the more attention you give to the shadows, the more cohesive and "manifest" (for lack of a better word) they become.
No matter what the cause for witch cats, shadow cats or shadow people (whatever you wish to call them) it is clear that the more energy, paranoia, or concern you provide them, the more frequently you will see them. From a magickal perspective, you are feeding them energy.
From a Pagan perspective, it is best to do a thorough cleansing, but don't make the frequent mistake of cleaning everything out and leaving a vacuum. After a cleansing, the best protection is a new charge or blessing. Good options are for grounding, clarity, blessings, and peace.
Laughter, sunshine, fresh air, regular sleep, proper diet, standard physical cleaning, not giving the shadows too much power or attention, proper grounding and clearing of energy and charging cleared areas with a specific intent are all good housekeeping practices to keep them away.
There are several cleansing and protection rituals in the PaganPath Library under "Rites, Rituals & Magick" that are helpful for serious or out of control infestations.
Just remember, relax, don't give them your fear, and don't feed the witch cats!