Sorcières de nuit
Nightmare was the original term for the state later
known as waking dream (cf Mary Shelley and Frankenstein's
Genesis), and more currently as sleep paralysis,
associated with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
The original definition was codified by Dr Johnson
in his A Dictionary of the English Language and
was thus understood, among others by Erasmus Darwin
and Henry Fuseli, to include a "morbid oppression
in the night, resembling the pressure of weight
upon the breast."
Such nightmares were widely considered to be the
work of demons and more specifically incubi, which
were thought to sit on the chests of sleepers. In
Old English, the being in question was called a
mare or mære (from a proto-Germanic *maron,
related to Old High German and Old Norse mara),
whence comes the mare part in nightmare.
The mythology of the Sea Island people of South
Carolina and Georgia describes the negative figure
of the Hag who leaves her physical body at night,
and sits on the chest of her victim. The victim
usually wakes with a feeling of terror, has difficulty
breathing because of a perceived heavy invisible
weight on his or her chest, and is unable to move
i.e., experiences sleep paralysis. This nightmare
experience is described as being "hag ridden"
in the Gullah lore. The "Old Hag" was
a nightmare spirit in British and also Anglophone
North American folklore.
This type of waking dream is called mareridt in
Danish, nachtmerrie in Dutch, malson in Catalan,
cauchemar in French, mardraum or mareritt in Norwegian,
pesadilla in Spanish, Albdruck, Albtraum (from Álf,
Old Norse for Elf) or Nachtmahr (older) in German,
incubo in Italian, mardröm in Swedish, painajainen
in Finnish, luupainaja in Estonian, pesadelo in
Portuguese, èmèng in Mandarin, gawi
in Korean, karabasan in Turkish , kanashibari in
Japanese and bakhtak in Persian.
The Nightmare, Henry Fuseli, 1802 (Frankfurter
Goethe-Museum, Frankfurt)Various forms of magic
and spiritual possession were also advanced as causes.
In nineteenth century Europe, the vagaries of diet
were thought to be responsible. For example, in
Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge
attributes the ghost he sees to "... an undigested
bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese,
a fragment of an underdone potatoe...".
A mara, or a mare is a kind of malignant female
wraith in Scandinavian folklore believed to cause
nightmares. She appears as early as in the Norse
Ynglinga saga, but the belief itself is probably
even older (see below). "Mara" is the
Old Norse, Swedish, Finnish and Icelandic name,
"mare" is Norwegian and Danish.
"Lillith, La reine de toutes
les sorcières de nuit."
The mara was thought of as an immaterial being
– capable of moving through a keyhole or the
opening under a door – who seated herself
at the chest of a sleeping person and "rode"
him or her, thus causing nightmares. In Norwegian/Danish,
the word for nightmare is mareritt/mareridt, meaning
"mareride". The Icelandic word martröð
has the same meaning, whereas the Swedish mardröm
translates as "maredream". The weight
of the mara could also result in breathing difficulties
or feeling of suffocation (an experience now known
as sleep paralysis).
The mara was also believed to "ride"
horses, which left them exhausted and covered in
sweat by the morning. She could also entangle the
hair of the sleeping man or beast, resulting in
"marelocks", a belief probably originating
as an explanation for polish plait – a hair
disease. Even trees could be ridden by the mara,
resulting in branches being entangled. The undersized,
twisted pine-trees growing on coastal rocks and
on wet grounds are known in Sweden as martallar
According to a common belief, the free-roaming
spirit of sleeping women could become maras, either
out of wickedness or as a form of curse. In the
latter case, finding out who the cursed person was
and repeating "you are a mara" three times
was often enough to release her from this condition.
The concept of the mara has very old roots in the
folklore of the Germanic peoples, possibly the belief
was shaped as early as in proto-Indo-European religion.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the
word can be traced back to an Indo-European root
*mer, meaning to rub away or to harm.
See: THE HAGS OF NIGHT
Identifying one's dream signs, clues that one is dreaming.
Dream signs are often categorized as follows:
Action — The dreamer, another dream character,
or a thing does something unusual or impossible
in waking life, such as photos in a magazine or
newspaper becoming 3-dimensional with full movement.
Context — The place or situation in the dream
Form — The dreamer, another character, or
a thing changes shape, is oddly formed, or transforms.
This may include the presence of unusual clothing
or hair, or a third person view of the dreamer.
Awareness — A peculiar thought, a strong emotion,
an unusual sensation, or altered perceptions. In
some cases when moving one's head from side to side,
one may notice a strange stuttering or 'strobing'
of the image.
Cohesion — Sometimes the dreamer may seem
to "teleport" to a completely different
location in a dream, with no transition whatsoever.
Death Syndrome is recognized as a leading cause
of death in young men in Thailand, the Philippines
and Japan, but the largest number of such deaths
occur in north-east Thailand.
doctor Pedro Brugada discovered the cause of such
deaths in 1986, linking them to an irregular heart
beat that causes the chambers of the heart to pump
out of sequence, halting blood circulation.
Thailand, folklore has long held a different cause
- widow ghosts. These ghosts are said to snatch
the souls of young men when they are asleep.
To avoid nightmare death, some Thai men paint their
fingernails red or wear lipstick at night to trick
the widow ghosts into believing they are women and
SUSPECTED IN BED DEATHS OF 18 LAOTIANS - New York
syndrome is called ''bangungut,'' a Filipino word
for ''nightmare,'' and is described in medical literature
as ''nightmare death syndrome.
The Night Hag is almost certainly linked to the
common apparition seen during the hypnagogic state
of sleep. The night-hag of Russian, Polish, Serbian,
and Slovak folklore. She torments children at night.
In some regions, the mothers place a knife in the
cradle or draw a circle around it with a knife.
Hiding an ax or a doll under the floor beneath
the cradle also prevents her from getting at the
child (possible based on the belief that supernatural
beings cannot touch iron). Other names for the hag
include kriksy and plaksy. Her Bulgarian equivalent
is the gorska makva, a hideous wood-hag.
Lindemans, Micha (2004).
See: Does Recurrent Isolated
Sleep Paralysis Involve More than Cognitive Neurosciences?
By Jean-Christophe Terrillonand Sirley Marques Bonham
The phenomenon of sleep paralysis has attracted
increasing attention in the scientific community
only in recent years, even though the occurrence
of what may be described as sleep paralysis has
been documented as early as Hellenistic times. At
a fundamental level, the term "Isolated Sleep
Sleep paralysis is a common condition characterized
by transient partial or total paralysis of skeletal
muscles and areflexia that occurs upon awakening
from sleep or less often while falling asleep. Stimuli
such as touch or sound may terminate the episode,
which usually has a duration of seconds to minutes.
This condition may occur in normal subjects or be
associated with narcolepsy, cataplexy, and hypnagogic
Physiologically, it is closely related to the paralysis
that occurs as a natural part of REM (rapid eye
movement) sleep, which is known as REM atonia. Sleep
paralysis occurs when the brain awakes from a REM
state, but the bodily paralysis persists. This leaves
the person fully conscious, but unable to move.
In addition, the state may be accompanied by terrifying
Symptoms of sleep paralysis can be either one of
the following or a combination:
Paralysis: this occurs after waking up or shortly
before falling asleep. the person cannot move any
body part, cannot speak, and only has minimal control
over blinking and breathing. This paralysis is the
same paralysis that occurs when dreaming. The brain
paralyzes the muscles to prevent possible injury
during dreams, as some body parts may move during
dreaming. If the person wakes up suddenly, the brain
may still think that it is dreaming, and sustains
Hallucinations: Images or speaking that appear
during the paralysis. The person may think that
someone is standing beside them or they may hear
strange sounds. These may be dreamlike, possibly
causing the person to think that they are still
dreaming. Often it is reported as feeling a weight
on one's chest, as if being underneath a person
or heavy object.
These symptoms can last from mere seconds to several
minutes (although they can feel like much longer)
and can be frightening to the person. There may
be some body movement, but it is very unlikely and
hard for a person to accomplish.
Lilith is a female Mesopotamian night demon believed
to harm male children. In Isaiah 34:14, Lilith (Hebrew
Lilit) is a kind of night-demon or animal, translated
as onokentauros; in the Septuagint, as lamia; "witch"
by Hieronymus of Cardia; and as screech owl in the
King James Version of the Bible. In the Talmud and
Midrash, Lilith appears as a night demon. She is
often identified as the first wife of Adam and sometimes
thought to be the mother of all incubi and succubi,
a legend that arose in the Middle Ages. Lilith is
also sometimes considered to be the paramour of
Satan. And Queen of Succubus. It is said that as
she brings a man to orgasam she sufficates him as
she steals his sperm to produce and bear more demons.
Necromancer Lisa Lee Harp Waugh says she is the
mother and the orignal hag of the night.
Sleep paralysis occurs during REM sleep, thus preventing
the body from manifesting movements made in the
subject's dreams. Very little is known about the
physiology of sleep paralysis. However, some have
suggested that it may be linked to post-synaptic
inhibition of motor neurons in the pons region of
the brain. In particular, low levels
of melatonin may stop the depolarization current
in the nerves, which prevents the stimulation of
the muscles, to prevent the body from enacting the
dream activity (e.g. preventing a sleeper from flailing
his legs when dreaming about running).
Several studies have concluded that many or most
people will experience sleep paralysis at least
once or twice in their lives.
Many people who commonly enter sleep paralysis
also suffer from narcolepsy. In African-Americans,
panic disorder occurs with sleep paralysis more
frequently than in Caucasians. Some reports read
that various factors increase the likelihood of
both paralysis and hallucinations. These include:
Sleeping in a face upwards or supine position
Irregular sleeping schedules; naps, sleeping in,
Sudden environmental/lifestyle changes
A lucid dream that immediately precedes the episode.
In African American culture, isolated sleep paralysis
is commonly referred to as "the devil riding
In the Cambodian, Laotian and Thai culture, sleep
paralysis is referred to as "pee umm"
and "khmout sukkhot". It describes an
event where the person is sleeping and dreams that
ghostly figure(s) are either holding him/her down
or the ghosts can just be near. The person usually
thinks that they are awake but is unable to move
or make any noises. This is not to be confused with
"pee khao" and "khmout jool"
which refers to a ghost possession.
In Hmong culture, sleep paralysis describes an
experience called "dab tsog" or "crushing
demon" from the compound phrase "dab"
(demon) and "tsog" (crush). Often the
sufferer claims to be able to see a tiny figure,
no larger than a child, sitting on his or her chest.
What is alarming is that a vast number of American
Hmong, mainly males, have died in their sleep prompting
the Centers for Disease Control to create the term
"Sudden Unexpected Nocturnal Death Syndrome"
or "SUNDS" for short.
In Vietnamese culture, sleep paralysis is referred
to as "ma de", meaning "held down
by a ghost". Many people in this culture believe
that a ghost has entered one's body, causing the
In Japanese culture, sleep paralysis is referred
to as kanashibari ( literally "bound or fastened
in metal," from kane "metal" and
shibaru" to bind, to tie, to fasten").
This term is occasionally used by English speaking
authors to refer to the phenomenon both in academic
papers and in pop psych literature.
In Hungarian folk culture sleep paralysis is called
pressing") and can be attributed to a number
of supernatural entities like "lidérc"
(wraith), "boszorkány" (witch),
"tündér" (fairy) or "ördögszereto"
(demon lover). The word "boszorkány"
itself stems from the Turkish root "bas-",
meaning "to press".
In Iceland folk culture sleep paralysis is generally
called having a "Mara". Mara is an old
Icelandic word for a mare but has taken on the meaning
for a sort of a devil that sits on ones chest at
night, trying to suffocate the victim.
Kurdish people call this phenomenon a "mottaka",
they believe that some one, in a form of a ghost
or perhaps an evil spirit, turns up on top the of
the person in the middle of the night and suffocates
him/her. Apparently this happens usually when some
one has done something bad.
In New Guinea, people refer to this phenomenon
as "Suk Ninmyo", believed to originate
from sacred trees that use human essence to sustain
its life. The trees are said to feed on human essence
during night as to not disturb the human's daily
life, but sometimes people wake unnaturally during
the feeding, resulting in the paralysis.
In Turkish culture, sleep paralysis is often referred
to as "karabasan" ("The dark presser/assailer").
It is believed to be a creature which attacks people
in their sleep, pressing on their chest and stealing
In Mexico, it's believed that sleep paralysis is
in fact the spirit of a dead person getting on the
person and impeding movement, calling this "se
me subió el muerto" (the dead person
got on me).
In many parts of the Southern United States, the
phenomenon is known as a "hag", and the
event is said to often be a sign of an approaching
tragedy or accident. In New Orleans The Voodoo's
Call It entering the Voodoo gates of Guinee.
Hoodoo Dream Paralysis
Voodoo Cemetery Gates Of Guinee, The Mysterious
Portal To The Afterworld--Ginalanier.com
Ghede' is a very wise man for his
knowledge is an accumulation of the knowledge of
all the deceased. He stands on the center of all
the roads that lead to Guinee, the afterworld. To
find these mysterious gates in the city of New Orleans
might take a little detective work. Some Locals
say if their open when you find them... beware!
If you then enter you will never return to the real
The exact location of the haunted cemetery gates
isn't really ever told to outsiders of the Secret
Societies. Sometimes the gates come and find
you while you sleep. They will haunt you in
your bed and hold you there tight as if nailed in
an invisable coffin.
New Orleans Tour Guides and Haunted Cemetery or
ghost tours will skirt around the issue, or just
look at you like they don't know what your talking
about, so never mention it (seriously). They say
just to talk about the accursed cemetery gates spells
doom to those that ask or search for it or speak
of it openly to anyone. Those who know feel it is
inviting them , "The Ghede" to take you
away. Only someone pure of heart with only one burning
question to be answered by the dead is ever told
the whole truth. A unnamed New Orleans Voodoo priestess
says quite bluntly, search and you shall find them
rusted shut, or worse they will certainly find you
and be wide and opened.
To find these gates, they say is to find the way
to communicate openly with the dead. And not just
the spirits of those that have died in New Orleans.
Local Voodoo followers of Marie Laveaus' Secret
Society profess that anyone can come to these gates
of Guinee if you can find them.
Speak the name of the deceased you wish to speak
to aloud five times through the bars, and they will
come and speak to you from the other side. One real
warning though, if the rusted shut heavy gate opens
do not enter. For you will be one of the living
trapped in the world of the dead forever. If you
arrive and the Guinee gates are open turn and walk
away crossing yourself three times as fast as you
can and don't look back.
In New Orleans voodoo-religion, Guinee is the legendary
place of origin and abode of the voodoo gods. It
is here that the souls of the deceased go after
their death. On their way to Guinee, they first
have to pass the eternal crossroads which is guarded
" Although one is pure of thoughts and in
heart, searches for the gates of the truly dead.
You never know when the November winds blow, If
the cursed gates are searching for you too.""If
you enter the gates backwards you might have a small
chance, to flee with your life all intact. But if
your motives are untrue then the living death calls
your name , then there is nothing you can do."
... Attributed to Madame Marie Laveau, 1800's
Ogun Oru is a traditional explanation for nocturnal
disturbances among the Yoruba of Southwest Nigeria;
ogun oru (nocturnal warefare) involves an acute
night-time disturbance that is culturally attributed
to demonic infiltration of the body and psyche during
dreaming. Ogun oru is characterized by its occurrence,
a female preponderance, the perception of an underlying
feud between the sufferer's earthly spouse and a
;spiritual' spouse, and the event of bewitchment
through eating while dreaming.
The condition is believed to be treatable through
Christian prayers or elaborate traditional rituals
designed to exorcise the imbibed demonic elements.
In Zimbabwean Shona culture the word Madzikirira
is used to refer something really pressing one down.
This mostly refers to the spiritual world in which
some spirit--especially an evil one--tries to use
its victim for some evil purpose. The people believe
that witches can only be people of close relations
to be effective, and hence a witches often try to
use one's spirit to bewitch one's relatives.
In Ethiopian culture the word Dukak is used. Dukak
is believed to be some form of evil spirit that
possesses people during their sleep. This experience
is also believed to be related to use of Khat. Most
Khat users experience sleep paralysis when quitting
after a long time of use.
In Ireland it is also known as just "the hag."
The expression originates from reports of an old
woman that was believed to be seen near the sufferer
Several studies have shown that African-Americans
may be predisposed to isolated sleep paralysis also
known as "the witch is riding you," or
"the haint is riding you."In addition,
other studies have shown that African-Americans
who have frequent episodes of isolated sleep paralysis,
i.e., reporting having one or more sleep paralysis
episodes per month coined as "sleep paralysis
disorder," were predisposed to having panic
attacks. This finding has been replicated by other
In Pakistani culture, it is an encounter with evil
jinns and demons. It is also assumed that it is
due to the black magic performed by enemies and
jealous persons. Curses could also result in ghoul
haunting a person. Some homes and loactions are
also haunted by these satanic beings.
The range of alleged "paranormal" experiences
that this condition may explain--from alien abductions
to ghosts sightings--is truly vast.
In Western medieval legend, a succubus (plural succubi)
or succuba (plural succubae) is a demon, who takes
the form of a beautiful woman to seduce men, especially
monks in dreams to have sexual intercourse. They
draw energy from the men to sustain themselves,
often until the point of exhaustion or death of
According to the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Witches'
Hammer", published against the recommendation
of the Catholic Church in 1487 and officially banned
in 1490, succubi would collect semen from the men
they slept with, which incubi would then use to
impregnate women thus explaining how demons could
apparently sire children in spite of the traditional
belief that demons were incapable of reproduction
through generative or gestative means. Children
so begotten were supposed to be those that were
born deformed, or more susceptible to supernatural
From the 16th century, the carving of a succubus
on the outside of an inn indicated that the establishment
also operated as a brothel.
The word "succubus" comes from an alteration
of the Late Latin succuba meaning "strumpet".
The word itself is derived from the Latin prefix
"sub-" which means "below, underneath",
and the verb "cubo" which means "I
lie". So a succubus is someone who lies under
another person, whereas an incubus (Latin "in-"
in this case stands for "on top") is someone
who lies on top of another person.
The appearance of succubi varies, but in general
they are depicted as alluring women with great beauty,
often with demonic batlike wings, and large breasts;
they also have other demonic features, such as horns
and cloven feet. Occasionally they appear as an
attractive woman in dreams that the victim cannot
seem to get off his mind. They lure males and in
some cases, the male has seemed to fall "in
love" with her. Even out of the dream she will
not leave his mind. She will remain there slowly
draining energy from him until death by exhaustion.
Other sources say the demon will steal the male's
soul through the act of intercourse.
d'homme qui vous baise la nuit!
In Western medieval legend, an incubus (plural
incubi) is a demon in male form supposed to lie
upon sleepers, especially women, in order to have
sexual intercourse with them. It was believed to
do this in order to spawn other incubi. The incubus
drains energy from the woman on whom it performs
sexual intercourse in order to sustain itself, and
some sources indicate that it may be identified
by its unnaturally cold penis. Religious tradition
holds that repeated intercourse with such a spirit
by either males or females (the female version of
the incubus is called a succubus) may result in
the deterioration of health, or even death.
A number of mundane explanations have been offered
for the origin of the incubus legends. They involve
the Medieval preoccupation with sin, especially
sexual sins of women. Victims may have been experiencing
waking dreams or sleep paralysis. Also, nocturnal
arousal, orgasm or nocturnal emission could be explained
by the idea of creatures causing an otherwise guilt-producing
and self-conscious behavior.
Purported victims of incubi could have been the
victims of sexual assault by a real person.
Rapists may have attributed the rapes of sleeping
women to demons in order to escape punishment. A
friend or relative may have assaulted the victim
in her sleep. The victims and, in some cases the
clergy, may have found it easier to explain the
attack as supernatural rather than confront the
idea that the attack came from someone in a position
Lisa Lee Harp Waugh Of the American
Ghost Hunter Society. States that Incubi and Succubi
of today from her personal research with Necromancy
has afforded her the knowledge that Succubi do attack
woman enticing them to become lesbians and Incubi
attack men to become homosexual.
She also states that Female demons
and Succubus are more cunning then their counterparts
the Incubus. Succubi have a desire to produce more
demons. Incubi to torture their victims sexually.
This she says was found out during
an actual Necromantic ritual. Visit
Lisa Lee Harp Waugh's Web Site
The American Ghost Hunter