Have you ever had a nightmare where you were aware you were dreaming but unable to wake yourself up, unable to move, and in some cases unable to breath? It is a phenomenon that has been documented around the world; in Newfoundland we call it ‘The Hag”, scientists call it Sleep Paralysis.
The experience varies from person to person. Some people see a woman’s face in the distance but they cannot pick out her features. However the dreamer senses something is very wrong and becomes anxious. As the figure draws near they realize it is an ugly old crone. When the Old Hag finally reaches the terrified dreamer she slowly crawls up over the person’s body and straddles their chest; slowly crushing the chest cavity in, cutting off their breath. All the while the dreamer is hyper aware of what is going on: the fact that they are sleeping, that this is not really happening, and yet they can smell the Old Hag, they feel her leathery touch as she stretches over them and breathing becomes a struggle.
Sound like fun? Yeah right.
I have had this happen to me a few times, while I have only ever seen the Hag herself once, my experience with sleep paralysis is a little different. I usually do see a figure, but the figure is just out of my sight, watching me. Sometimes the figure moves closer but I miss the actual movement I only catch the change in position. That is when the panic starts. My breathing turns to desperate gasps for air. I struggle to move, to get away, to wake myself up- but I can't even move my baby toe. I try to call out for help, but I cannot make a sound. Eventually I wake up with a start, gasping for air, with sweat cold on my skin. Every time I have one of these dreams something awful happens in my life soon after. I know it is just coincidence, or my subconscious mind picking up on cues my conscious mind doesn’t want to see- but it is still unnerving.
Last night I had the dream for the first time in a long time and this morning it is all I can think about. I was hoping I could just write the experience of my system but so far it isn’t really helping. I still have that anxious feeling, like I am waiting for something.
How many of you have had a visit from the Old Hag? They say it can run in families, if you experience sleep paralysis, it is likely you have a relative who suffers these lucid nightmares as well. If you are not from Newfoundland, what do you call this type of dream?