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Sleep paralysis…it’s a word that means a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s the stuff of nightmares. In fact, it is the inspiration for the word “nightmare.” Mara is an old Norse word that refers to a supernatural being that lies on people’s chests at night and suffocates them. By around the year 1500-1800, this explanation had been mostly abandoned and many parts of Europe interpreted these attacks as.. you guessed it.. witchcraft. There are  reports all over the world describing the same events, too. In Japan, they refer to their attackers as Kanashibari. In Newfoundland, it’s called Old Hag Syndrome.

The term Kanashibari means “to tie with an iron rope.”Ancient Buddhists believed that they could use magic to paralyze others as if they were bound by rope. Believers in the Old Hag claim to experience a person sitting on their chest, making them unable to move but fully conscious and aware of what is happening.

Skip ahead to modern day.. Scientists now offer an explanation to what is and has been occurring to these victims for so many hundreds of years. It goes something like this: Your brain and body aren’t on the same page when it comes to your sleep pattern. You “wake up” during REM sleep and are mentally aware, however you are physically still incapable of movement. The dream state that your mind should be in causes hallucinations, and the fear of being paralyzed creates a panic which causes you to see these terrifying creatures and feel as though you’re suffocating. Makes sense, right?

Now, here’s my personal story and where my doubts come into place. I began experiencing sleep paralysis at age 14. It started one night when I was with some friends playing the Ouija board. The board spelled out “burn, burn, burn.” I was sure my friends were playing tricks on me. That night, I went home and went to sleep. I awoke in the night paralyzed for the first time. We had an electric heater, which sat outside my doorway and it was flaming. I went back to sleep (episodes often don’t last long), and the next day woke to see that the heater was fine and in tact. Then, night after night I would wake in the middle of the night paralyzed and seeing these creatures. I became afraid to sleep. I didn’t know what was happening (remember, I was only a teenager). After doing a ton of research (years worth, I would say) I came across the scientific explanation that I described in the last paragraph and was satisfied that this was the reason for my experiences.

Years pass, and I have episodes periodically.. I would say at times once a week but other times once every few months. Then, I began to speak to some friends about it. I described the four creatures I always see:

  1. The black “blob” that shoots across my wall and ceiling and is silent.
  2. The observer. He stands at the end of my bed and watches. He’s blacker than night and has an indescribable look.
  3. The growler. This one gets in my face. His eyes glow and he has rows of teeth and he growls with a sound that is deeper than any human could ever produce.
  4. The woman. She told me once that she would like to take over my body because hers was of no use anymore.

Now, call me crazy if you will. These all could be my imagination. The thing is, though, my friends see the same creatures. So, that begs the question of how each of our subconscious thoughts and fears have created the same images. I’m not really a religious person, but there has to be some reason why these creatures are a shared phenomenon. Not only did we describe the same beings to one another, but I saw proof from a friend in a book he had written 3 years prior, which described each one in full detail.

It may also be noteworthy that recently the beings have become stronger. About a year ago, I felt like my “soul” was being lifted from my body and thrown against the wall. Over the past 6 months, I’ve began to scream out in my sleep to the point that I wake my children. I say things like, “Get away!” “Stop throwing bats at me!” “Get this [explative] away!”

I’d like to know, has anyone else had these experiences and what are your beliefs? Do you see them as religious attacks or a scientific anomaly? Are your creatures similar to mine? Do you have conspiracy theories such as aliens or beings from another universe? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this, as I have been dealing with it over half my life! Thanks!