Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Old Hag

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?

11 comments:

Craig said...

Oh my God, do I ever remember those dreams. It is amazing how many people have had similar experiences.

nadinebc said...

Did you have them often? Have any trick to wake yourself out of them?

Anonymous said...

I have these too! They are the most frightening dreams; however, I have yet to see the old hag. I had a night like this a few weeks back and I feel like I'm screaming at the top of my lungs but (apparantly) nothing is coming out. The only way for me to make it stop is to get up out of bed and have a drink of something; however, I'm never aware enough to actually get up out of bed. It's the strangest and scariest thing!

Steph

Craig said...

The ones I had showed a siloet of an old woman kind of hunched over walking with a walking stick in her hand.

I am not even sure if she ever spoke or anything.....eventually I just got over it....

Chris said...

“The Hag” is a phrase I haven’t heard mentioned in a long time. I used to have those dreams - not too frequently - but still quite frightening, especially when you’re a kid.

To answer your question: How many of you have had a visit from the Old Hag? I can’t say she visited often, but I think I dated her sister a couple of times back in the eighties. And that was a lot more scary then any dream let me tell ya.

nadinebc said...

LOL Chris! You survived it though!

Anonymous said...

My dad used to have visits from the old hag occasionally (Usually brought on by stress).
He would scream and thrash about, and wake everyone in the house up.
When he would wake up, he would be panicked and out of breath.
The out of breath part is said to be the Old hag sitting on your chest.
He would then be exhausted for the rest of the day, despite having slept for 6 hours before her visit.

nadinebc said...

It is crazy stuff! Thanks for the visit!

Anonymous said...

shiI may have had the experience but the finest artistic representation of the phenomenon is the work of Rodney Mercer who currently lives in Corner Brook,NL.

Unknown said...

Happen to me lots of time.actually happens to Mr an hour.seems taken forever get out of it.

Josh Battcock said...

Once a week, I have one reoccurring dream. I had it since I was about 3 or 2 years old. But now their getting even weirder. I have a dream, where I'm being held under water in, almost like a large bathtub, not being able to fast for air. It's a really weird dream because I can always feel the salt water get in my eyes, and I always feel two hands pushing down on my chest, not letting me gasp for any air. Once I wake up, I get into this exact situation of not being able to move. At first I used to wait for my body to wake, and tell my mom, but as I got older I learned how to deal with it. Even though once I am awake and moving properly, I always feel as though I'm suffocating. And sometimes I wake up coughing, and it feels I'm coughing up water. The dream is always so real, which scares me a little.