It’s been a long time now since I’ve slept with the lights on. I considered the first day a crowning achievement. Now I sleep with an eyemask. Not because I like the darkness in so much as I don’t want to see what could be looming over me.
I’ve wondered on and off over the course of my life, why do we humans fear the dark.
I’ve heard all the keen observations from the professionals. I’ve read up on second sleep. I’ve come to many of my own conclusions about why we fear the dark and yet, no matter how logical I try to be, I always come back to the idea that we fear the dark simply because there are things in the dark that ought to be feared.
Recently I rented and watched THE NIGHTMARE, a documentary (by documentarian Rodney Ascher of Room 237 fame), that chronicles Sleep Paralysis as experienced by eight individuals. None of them know each other and none of them, I am certain, know me. And yet I found parallels between our experiences that seemed too orchestrated to be coincidence.
There was a time when I was absolutely sure I was a victim of Alien Abduction Syndrome. I read and re-read John E Mack’s seminal book (Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens), and I knew something was invading my space at night, slowly leeching me of all my energy. Something sinister and otherworldly and ancient. Like that meme with Giorgio Tsoukalos’ smiling mug says, “…Aliens!”
Who are the aliens?
Just who exactly is lurking in the shadows, between the witching hours, trying to scare us? And why are they still doing it? Delving into the Sleep Paralysis phenomena over the years, I can’t help but wonder if there is a correlation between sleep paralysis and demonic possession. When does a person become possessed exactly? Has anyone ever actually witnessed a possession taking hold?
If we are weakest when our bodies are still and our minds are wandering and our eyes are rapidly moving through a stream of subconscious imagery, then how is it not easier for such unknown and unknowable things to take a hold— to possess us?
I think about this as I remember a particular experience from THE NIGHTMARE in which a young man recounts a demonic entity with red eyes, talking to him. Beside him his girlfriend lay terrified as a cat-like entity with red eyes shouted demonic-sounding words at his sleeping form. Are these things capable of taking physical form? Are they capable of taking human form?
Sleep paralysis is well documented in literature and art. It is an old, shared experience that was attributed to Witches riding a sleeping victim, hence the term “night mare”. For as long as we have walked the earth, there have been nightmares. For as long as there has been spiritual awareness and the knowledge of good and evil, there have been demons.
For as long as we have walked on the surface of the earth, we have been aware of the things that dwell beneath our feet.
Whether you believe in Demons, Djinn or Ghost or maybe none of these things and yet all at the same time, there is something dwelling just outside our line of sight, just a tad to the left our perception. Something over and under and within and throughout that has never been seen head on and yet, we know it is there.
I used to meditate. I was a novice. Not your neighborhood Shaman extending her hand into the universe. At first I enjoyed the feeling that came with letting go. Then came the day when a heavy darkness loomed over me. I closed my eyes tighter, waiting for it to pass. The last time I meditated, something shadowy and malevolent lurked in the corner of my room.
I never meditated again.
I have heard horror stories about meditating. Nothing like mine. I have no scientific evidence to use to expound on the possible negative effects that come with separating from ones physicality. But I have often wondered if being ill, asleep or meditating—not feeling fully in our physicality—isn’t an invitation for incorporeal beings to take a hold of our bodies.
We are physical beings in a physical world. We are only temporarily in between states that separate us from this physical world. When we are alive and awake in the world, we are a force to be reckoned with, but when we are asleep or in that shady spot between being and simply existing, we are vulnerable.
Our bodies are our vessels and so when a body is empty… what happens then?
In Hollywood, dead bodies are possessed by evil spirits or some biological agent that creates a zombie where a person once stood. Demons can hop in and out of bodies just as easily as the fictional Demon hunter Constantine can banish them to hell. In fantasy, the body is always open to invasion, from demons, aliens and even gods. Everyone wants a body these days, it seems.
With 7 billion people on the planet, that’s a lot of bodies. If only it were that easy. Possessions are not as rampant as they are on television. Alien Abductions seem to ebb and flow depending on how they are handled (in the media and in research). Should we rue the day when any kind of body infiltration is too rampant for comfort?
Someday we may find ourselves seamlessly slipping from one mechanical body to the next, just as easily as we change outfits. We will be like gods, possessing machines when our bodies can no longer contain us. What then? Will we be the fabled invaders of yore, in a never ending cycle of superiority over the laws of physics, or will we be but mere copies of something even swifter, more cunning and ever elusive?
Only time will tell.