I’ve never had much truck with ghosts and all that shite. Everything can be explained by Science, Art or both – and if it can’t, there’s probably a good reason for it: like we haven’t evolved enough to comprehend. Giving my great grandfather a mobile phone in his trench in Flanders would have been futile. To him it would have been nothing more than a small cigarette box with numbers on. No use for vital communication that may have saved his and his comrades’ lives. Besides what use is one mobile phone? Who do you ring?
Anyway, I’m getting distracted. Long time readers of blog may recall about 4 years ago I promised to tell the tale of my Old Hag dream. Well here it is!
In old London town back when George Michael was considering turning another corner (Ah! Pop Pickers, that’s got you thinking ‘Now…what year was that?’) I was going through quite a messy split from long term girlfriend, Ruby. The reasons for the split? Well they were complicated (Fred) and hard to explain (her boss) – it’s OK, I’m over it now, and I got custody of the Photo-Me booth strips of the pair of us. However, suffice to say I may have had this on my mind a bit.
One night I went to bed in my flat in Bow only to be awoken in the small hours, unable to move, for sitting on my chest was a cackling, wizened old hag with the unmistakeable, though distorted features of Ruby. As I looked up at her, still pinned at my chest, she suddenly grew incredibly tall, her head almost disappearing from view in the madly distorted perspective. ….and she was gone.
Too much Guinness?
No. Its actualy quite common. Sleep paralysis as it is known, is a phenomenon in which people, either when falling asleep or wakening, temporarily experience an inability to move. It is a transitional state between wakefulness and rest characterised by complete muscle atonia (muscle weakness). It can occur at sleep onset or upon awakening, and can be associated with terrifying visions (e.g. an intruder in the room or sitting on the sleeper), to which one is unable to react due to paralysis. It is believed a result of disrupted REM sleep, which is associated with complete muscle atonia that prevents individuals from acting out their dreams. It exists in a similar form in many cultures around the world . In Finnish and Swedish folklore for instance, the culprit is a mare, a supernatural creature. The mare is a damned woman, who is cursed and her body is carried mysteriously during sleep and without her noticing. In this state, she visits villagers to sit on their rib cages while they are asleep, causing them to experience nightmares. The “Old Hag” was a nightmare spirit in British and North American folklore. In Vietnam it is called ma đè, meaning “held down by a ghost,” or bóng đè, meaning “held down by a shadow.”
Fuseli: ‘The Nightmare’ 1782
© Andy Daly 2013