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Paranormal

Empire of the Air

A debt is owed to John Keel, Jacques Vallee, and Mac Tonnies in any discussion of the more bizarre but perhaps more likely explanations for paranormal and extranormal activities observed by we Terrans. The people of earth should be aware by now that we are not the only beings in this cosmos with rational intellect; we should additionally be open to the possibility that we are not the top of the food chain or the most advanced life form on the planet. In fact, we may fall somewhere in the middle, or possibly even at the bottom.
What’s more, is that we all instinctively understand this to be true. On the most fundamental levels of our beings – and the most essential strata of our collective being –  we are perfectly aware that we are predator as well as prey.
Is a virus superior to us? Is a virus that can kill millions or billions or even all of us, superior to us? Or are we on a parity with these things, capable of destroying them, even as they are capable of killing us?

Who made these things?

A herd of cattle can be dangerous to a lone human being. Even a single cow can crush a man. But the irony in this is that the cow is food to the man, while the reverse proposition is merely absurd. What humans lack in physical power, we make up for in technological supremacy and intellectual flexibility. You may be crushed or gored by a bull, but you are unlikely to be tricked by one.
Religion is a fantasy, but that doesn’t make religion untrue or invalid. Science is a religion, and therefore no more an unreality or a body of lies. The scientist assumes his or her perception is valid in the first place, and from this basis draws a series of conclusions. When challenged on the fundamental assumption at the core of all other scientific reasoning, the scientist refuses to entertain discussion on the matter… or else they act amused and engaged just long enough to undermine the notion that we should wonder at such things at all. To those committed to a faith of any kind – be it in the unseen or in the numeric – there can be no valid questioning of the basis for thought or the terms of discourse. Rather than attempt to prove the validity of our reality, every person of faith – whether said faith is placed in religious or scientific dogma – will avoid the question with verbal gymnastics or cognitive chicanery. Underneath every belief system is the haunting suspicion in the mind of the believer that everything they hope, adhere to, and trust, is a lie.

This evolved on Earth. That’s why it’s similar to you… It just happens to be much older.

In a large enough system, all human fantasies are realities. More disturbingly, in a sufficiently large system, all fantasies not imagined by humans are also realities. What is it to be the nightmare that nightmares have?
Radio silence would be a great idea. Barring that, not sending directed interstellar messages is at least advised. Don’t talk to the sky unless you are ready to hear the answer.
The Little People of Fairy lore are often poorly described. Legend and myth expect us to fill in many blanks, where they are not written from a viewpoint that assumes outright that we already know the boundaries and imagery of what is being explored or described. No less, the Fae can manipulate what we see and hear; in general, they are the masters of our experiences. They possess control over magick, and Arthur C. Clarke long ago reminded us that magick is the word we use for technology and processes that we cannot otherwise understand. The Fae are inhabitants of this world, and they coexist with us in much the same way that we coexist with serpents, insects, and fish: They know what we are, and we are rarely to be found in their precincts. It is very likely that when we are found in their dwelling places, we are either killed, or else we discover that we make great pets.
Is the true form of the Little Person really the Gray Alien of modern folklore? There’s an argument to be made against this, since if we are dealing with a being capable of manipulating our perceptions, it might well be composed of anything and take any shape. But a certain logic needs to be acknowledged in these matters. Human beings have a pair each of arms and legs, a single head, a pair of eyes, and a variety of other immediately recognizable features. The “alien” Grays of popular culture possess all of these traits, albeit subtly altered in various ways that add up to a somewhat disturbing image. Generally, these creatures are described as smaller than we humans. They are also hairless. We are generally less physically powerful than forerunner versions of our own kind, and we are probably much less hairy than previous hominid versions. There is a parallel, here, and perhaps also a parable.
The Gray is a humanoid. It is a being from this world, evolved before us and living alongside of us with a possible common ancestor as the root. It built the great megalithic structures we cannot comprehend, and it is responsible for the frequent sightings of impossibilities in this world – the UFOs and USOs, the Bigfeet and Sea Monsters, the paranormal visions and manifestations. Some of these phenomena may be intentional manipulations or obfuscations. Some of them may be considered side effects of their technology interacting with our environment. Weirder but more clearly human phenomena also fit into this overarching view: The Nazca lines become fairly obvious attempts to establish direct contact with a superior species of men – no doubt viewed as gods – in an effort to obtain their aid or encourage positive interventions by them in human affairs. The behaviors that gave rise to weird ritual sites and huge public works projects undertaken by people living at or just above the subsistence level may have their roots in emulation, but they also indicate certainty on the part of our ancestors that the Others not only existed – they were also available for consultation under the right sets of circumstances. It is this level of apparent certainty which implies that early human beings knew for a fact that these higher forms were present and interacting with them. One does not undertake a complex and long term public works project – generally before the invention of the concepts of “public” or “works” – without the reasonable expectation that it will achieve its purpose. It’s a fair bet that ultraterrestrials once walked the earth. One must wonder, however, where they have gone…

Mandala expresses interdimensionality as a two-dimensional proposition.

There are many places in the earth beyond our ability to properly and thoroughly explore. The deep oceans and the “deep places of the earth” are merely two examples. We have no way of considering what lives exactly two seconds ahead of us in time, or what might exist primarily in the 8th through 11th dimensions of space-time in this reality.
To the forerunners of our own age, such beings belonged to the “empire of the air” – a mystic, fairy realm populated by visions and dreams made manifest. Another, infinitely darker realm existed alongside, home to various twisted beings and races of monsters. Our anthropologists and psychologists tell us that this division of the universe into material and metaphysical planes was merely a way of managing humanity’s fears and aspirations. But they can as easily be completely wrong: it could instead be that human beings at the subsistence level live in a world to which they are much more fundamentally bound. No less, the human need for entertainment and distraction is part of a coin, whose other side is a set of highly developed traits evolved to command an intimate knowledge of the surrounding environment. It is not enough to see the world. It is not enough to hear it or taste it or to smell and touch it – one must feel the world in a way beyond the physical. Some scoff at these ideas, but they are not the people who survived the true wilds of this world fifty thousand years ago.
The ancient shamans laugh at us.

The Time-Maker

If we doubt the possibility of ultraterrestrials, we choose to ignore the vast and ever-growing body of information derived from contact with the weird and the unknown. We choose to overlook the long-standing factor so essential to the human experience – that very different, very superior creatures seem to interact with us every so often. We cannot get hard, physical evidence of these things with any reliability, for much the same reason that no ant court has managed to charge a human child with genocide and enter a magnifying glass into evidence. In the case of the Fae, the Others, the Air-Lords – we may call them everything and nothing – they are the masters of this, their planet. We are merely other creatures in the menagerie, as compelling to them as chimpanzees are to us – and likely also just as primitive and repulsive. Man is his own zookeeper.
Our religions are direct records, in many cases, of the interaction between homo sapiens and this higher form. Do they hesitate to make us believe that they are angry, vengeful gods, when we appear on the brink of stampeding in the wrong direction? Would we hesitate to stun or kill a chimpanzee that had gone into a killing frenzy?
They taught us the secret of the Pyramid, a physical representation of our social order and power-hierarchy. It is no accident that Wizards have congress with Machine Elves. It is no error that led the Ten Thousand Sects to manipulate the outer by means of the inner. There is a Pyramid on your money, and one on your mind, as well.

You know this one… But the issue is WHY you know this one.

When we please them, we can be trained and guided. When we displease them, we come to bad ends. We do not hesitate to “put down” beloved pets and rabid animals alike. A great many other scholars who are regarded as “fringe” – even though they may very well have discovered a profound, world-shaking truth – have already made the point that the “alien abduction” cases and their hallmark phenomena are remarkably similar to human behavior toward other animals. We tag and track and capture various wild specimens from time to time. We become involved in training and experimenting on animal populations for all sorts of reasons, including tracking environmental impact, counting heads, livestock, labor, and studying mating habits.
Are we not also very obviously guided, trained, and bred? And do our own records not reflect this? Yahweh in the Bible does not “choose” the Hebrews – he breeds them. He refines them and adjusts them at his will, directing them first to wallow in misery over having lost out on a perfect paradise through an act of disobedience – also known as Free Will. Elohim (or Yahweh) punishes the first Hebrews, and subsequently all Hebrews as a result, for thinking for themselves. He then casts the out first to be nomads, then the conquered, and then conquerors. If one pays very careful attention to the structure of the Genesis narrative, Adam and Eve come off not as the first humans, but rather as the forerunners of the Hebrews. There are already other people in the world by the time Eden is created. Yahewh (or Elohim) is engaged in a little breeding experiment, among other things. Somewhat later on, he sends a pacifist with a redeemer’s soul, who nonetheless still has a bit of the Old Testament anger where necessary. Will Yahweh one day send another, a destroyer, to refine the earth and purge it? And just who is Yahweh, anyway, this member of a wider whole called, “Elohim”?
Ask a character like Rael of the Raellian faith, and you will hear that these “divinities” are just extraterrestrials. But this is also an excellent back up story behind which to hide, when the original cover story begins to break down. No less, the response of the experimental subjects to the data they are fed is an excellent way of tracking the cognitive development of said subjects. As they wake from one dream, another should be introduced. The act of challenging and overcoming these deceptions improves certain properties of the variable group. It is also bound to generate intense debate within the whole of the experimental population, since they are intentionally kept from evolving in such a way as to identify who it is that is controlling their reality, and why.

Today, this is ridiculous. Tomorrow, this is Religion.

We are an experiment, and the experiment is ongoing. Someone is trying not simply to tell us something, or care for us, or use us – they are attempting to make us into something.
The Ickes & Sitchins of this world cannot be altogether right, because the idea that we are only food or slave labor is simply too human and too pat. A number of logical fallacies are also present in these contentions. For instance, if a species is advanced enough to keep us as a food, they are advanced enough to do so without resorting to manipulation. Additionally, if a group is advanced enough to create us and manipulate us for slave labor, they are equally advanced enough to not require slaves or slave labor. There’s almost certainly more to this game, since whatever these ultraterrestrials are, they are considerably different from us. That which is different in form and function will also reason differently and possess different goals. That which is superior to us in capabilities will also be superior to us in planning and orchestration.
The breeding and mating issue is a significant one, and it should be taken very seriously. We need to recognize that our myths and fantasies are telling us boldly and directly that we are being cultivated and managed and molded by higher powers. Merlin did not choose Arthur to rule the Britons – he bred Arthur by manipulating the mating of his parents. The fairies regularly picked impressive human mortals with which to mate, as did the ancient Greek gods. These themes repeat in every pantheon, every system of faith, every version of the truth. The core message is undeniable: we are being genetically managed. We are being conditioned and developed. We are under the direct, continuous, and quite invasive control of a master species (or group thereof) advanced well beyond us, that shares this world with us and may well frequent the stars.
When you mate with a goddess, can you really be so arrogant as to believe that she couldn’t find someone better among her own kind? Did Aphrodite’s true form really consist in the apogee of feminine beauty? Or was she a Gray utilizing direct mind control to make a human male believe he was in the act of mating, when in fact he was simply having his sperm milked in a technical and unromantic procedure designed to harvest valuable genetic material?

Mighty Aphrodite

Are we really to believe that aliens are cherry-picking the human genetic tree for the choicest fruits? Or is it that those supposed vats filled with alien-human baby hybrids are just produce for sale in interstellar markets? Could it be that the “aliens” are nothing of the sort, and the program of breeding that abductees insist is underway is in fact an illusion designed to conceal a deeper – perhaps darker – purpose? Is it not more likely that – if genes are being harvested – the goal is to collect the weakest and most servile traits, rather than the strongest? A servile hybrid race might be useful… so too a servile human species, carefully bred to remain backward, ignorant, and simplistic. This very orientation must apply not only to alien outsiders and their agendas, but also to fellow inhabitants of this planet who are far more advanced than we.
Of course these could be the secret truths: that we are food, or entertainment, or tools in the hands of those far greater than we. Perhaps all three scenarios are valid, and our fates ultimately depend upon which kind of ultraterrestrial we encounter. But there is a long standing tradition behind all of this that we are being bred. And an even longer-standing tradition that the alien/god beings that give us our religions are giving us cultural themes, concepts, institutions, and morals, such that they define for us what is right and what is wrong. They have taught us law and order and government. They have given us the “appropriate” forms of these structures.
A wider issue presents itself when we consider these possibilities and their attendant factors: how much of our arts, entertainment, philosophies, and faiths are carefully managed educational and indoctrination devices? A strong argument can be made for various interacting societies beyond our own, some seeking to provide humanity with a paradigm designed to elicit growth, whereas others are dedicated to encouraging thought that leads to weakness, obedience, and despair. Who moved the pen of Howard Philips Lovecraft? And who moved the quill of William Shakespeare?
The intelligence behind any mechanisms of social organization is able to rule a society without even being present. Once a species is broken to harness and set to run a particular course, those who made the harness and charted the route need not even really pay attention. Their creations will continue on unchecked, undiverted, and utterly focused – if by focused we mean so blindly obedient as to not realize that every rule, notion, and intention is not their own. We rarely consider the possibility that puppets see their strings, but understand them to have a far different purpose than their real use. Perhaps the puppet believes the string is a function of physics, and that the movements that appear to control the puppet’s arm are just quantum fluctuations in no way guided by an intelligence. Well, this is what the puppet physicists believe, anyway.

Perhaps the puppet physicists are correct, and the puppeteer is as much a puppet of forces greater than he.What is the nature of man? And what is the nature of consciousness, if these things are not unknowable and beyond us, much as a marionette would not understand who or what hovers over the stage?
Is there a Ghost in the Machine? Or is there instead an Emperor of the Air?

Paranormal

Intruders and incubi: The waking nightmare of sleep paralysis

Brian Barrett Motherboard

© Nicolas Bruno

Once, when I was 17, I woke up in the dark and couldn’t move.

I could hear, at least. That’s why I was awake to begin with: someone was banging on the front door in the middle of the night, insistent, sharp, angry.

I could see, too. My eyes were open to the ceiling above me. My head, though, was locked into position by some invisible vise. I tried to yell, to warn my parents about the angry intruder outside, and the irrevocable harm I was convinced he would do. I couldn’t yell. The knocks got louder.

No matter how insistently I begged my body to jump out of bed and find a place to hide, it remained a slab. Something terrible was about to happen to me, to my family. The door was going to give way. The outsider was going to come in. I was going to face whatever—whoever?—came after completely immobilized and alone.

It was the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life. What I realized, looking back later, was that it still would have been even if it weren’t for those knocks on the door, and my certainty that something awful would follow. My deepest fear came from the realization that my body, in that moment, had become completely dissociated from anything I recognized as myself. It was a car sinking to the bottom of a lake, my mind its captive passenger, waiting to drown.

I don’t remember how long it lasted, but eventually it wore off. I quickly found out that the person on the porch was my older brother, home at an unexpected hour on an unexpected visit from college. It took me a few more years to figure out that the other part, the immobility, the sense of self reduced to flickering consciousness, even the deepness of the fear I felt, had a name. It was sleep paralysis.

At least, that’s what we call it now. Dr. S.A. Kinnier Wilson coined the term in a 1928 edition of the medical journal Brain. His description then should feel familiar to anyone who has experienced sleep paralysis today: a man dreamed of a murderer, then carried that dream over to a conscious state. The patient in question “lay thus, flat on the floor, motionless but suffering acute mental stress.

That’s not to say that sleep paralysis is a relatively new human experience. A Dutch physician named Isbrand van Diemerbroeck published several case histories that accurately describe sleep paralysis in 1664, one of which, titled “Of the Night-Mare,” may as well have been penned by Mary Shelley.

“In the night time, when she was composing her self to sleep, sometimes she believed the devil lay upon her and held her down, sometimes that she was choaked by a great dog or thief lying upon her breast, so that she could hardly speak or breath, and when she endeavored to throw off the burthen, she was not able to stir her member,”van Diemerbroeck wrote, suggesting moderate exercise and plenty of juice as a possible remedy to the invisible nighttime demon attacks. [17th century sics implied throughout.]

Even that landmark medical documentation isn’t remotely the first reported instance. Go back further still, and you’ll find references to sleep paralysis in medieval Persia and Ancient Greece and even more ancient (400 BCE) China. There’s probably a cave drawing somewhere that depicts a red-eyed saber-toothed tiger sitting atop a paralyzed Neanderthal’s chest. Sleep paralysis is as ageless and as universal as fear itself.

It’s not quite as simple as simply being afraid, though. It’s a complex confluence of physiological and psychological occurrences that force you to experience your deepest nightmares with eyes wide open.

Take a normal night of sleep, assuming you still have those once in awhile. Your body cycles through five sleep stages, the last of which is REM, which you probably remember from your high school biology class as being your brain’s lights-out, shut-it-down, dream-time state.

Which is great! Dreaming is wonderful, especially if you ever wondered what it might feel like to fly down Rodeo Drive with a soft serve twist cone in one hand and a chainsaw in the other. Dreaming, though, can also be dangerous, because your big dumb body doesn’t necessarily know that your brain is just playing pretend. Given the opportunity, your body will act out those dreams, which can lead to a whole other terrifying condition called REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD).

You’ve heard of sleepwalking, which can technically be a type of RBD, depending on whether it occurs during the REM stage of sleep. Many RBD episodes are much more involved than just puttering down the hall, however. Think of it like this: juggling with tennis balls and juggling with flaming swords are both technically types of juggling, but you’d never confuse the two.

Comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia turned his experiences with RBD into a very entertaining show, book, and film called Sleepwalk with Me. Well, entertaining but also terrifying; at one point in his mid-20s, Birbiglia threw himself out of a closed, second-story La Quinta motel window. At the time, in his dream, he was trying to escape an incoming guided missile.

The reason more people don’t experience RBD is that the brain also has a safety valve. “During dreaming… bursts of neural activity called PGO waves spread through the cortex, producing the imagery we experience during dreams,” explained James Allan Cheyne, sleep paralysis expert and professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo. “Simultaneously, activation spreads down the spinal column causing spinal interneurons to suppress signals that normally would produce muscle movement.”

Your body, in other words, paralyzes itself during REM sleep to keep you from throwing yourself down a stairwell when you dream about laying out for touchdown pass to win the state championship.

Sleep paralysis, then, is what happens when you wake up before that effect has had a chance to wear off. Your body has frozen to keep you from acting out your dreams. But also, haha, good joke, you’re still dreaming.

“You have aspects of REM sleep that are going on when you have waking, conscious awareness,” said Brian Sharpless, assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University and author of a recent book about sleep paralysis. “First, you’re paralyzed, and second, you are having dreams, but unlike normal dreaming these two things are happening while you’re awake and able to look around the room.”

Not just any dreams, though. Sharpless estimates that while a little less than a third of our normal dreams could be considered nightmares, 80 to 90 percent of dreams experienced during sleep paralysis qualify. “You can kind of imagine why,” he said. “If you’re lying on your back and can’t move, that’s scary enough. And if you’re having hallucinations that are scary as well, that’s a bad mix.”

My own sleep paralysis, then, was fairly textbook. The banging on the door vaulted me into consciousness but not out of REM, leaving me frozen in a liminal hell of the mind, waiting for a bad man with an axe to bust down my door. Actually, I got off easy.

As it turns out, sleep paralysis nightmares can be divided into three tidy categories, two of which—the Intruder and the Incubus—would make for decent Paranormal Activity sequels. The third is “vestibular and motor,” a less-fun name for a more-fun condition.

Cheyne cautions that these categories are broad, and the experiences the describe can vary greatly. On the other hand, he also is one of three authors of a landmark 1999 scientific paper, published in Consciousness and Cognition, that helped define them.

Vestibular and motor incidents—Cheyne calls it “Unusual Bodily Experiences” in his 1999 paper—are relatively harmless, potentially even enjoyable. “It’s fancy term for feeling like your body is being moved without its volition,” Sharpless explains. “You could feel like you’re floating, or levitating, or your arm is being lifted.” Not so bad, right? Your standard Sigourney-Weaver-in-Ghostbusters scenario.

The other two, Cheyne says, have no such upside potential.

For Intruder experiences, the main sensation is the sensed presence—a feeling of something in the room,” he recently explained over email. “That something may then also be seen, heard, or physically felt. It may move around the room, approach the bed, and sometimes climb onto the bed.”

Scary! But remember, at this point you also can’t move. As far as you know, you may never be able to move again, even if you somehow survive being horribly violated by the shadow monster in your periphery. Screaming would at least be cathartic, but you can’t scream, and you can’t breathe all that well, so all that’s left is to wait.

I was fortunate in that my Intruder scenario involved an actual (friendly!) person. That gave quicker closure, presumably, than some hallucinatory demon-dog lurker might have. I was fortunate, also, that I didn’t draw an Incubus instead:

The Incubus experiences often continue this sequence by climbing on top of the ‘sleeper,’ Cheyne continues, “perhaps smothering, and even assaulting them physically and sexually.” This is how your brain works. This is van Diemerbroeck’s devil.

© Nicolas Bruno

Beginning in February of 1995, reports began to circulate throughout Zanzibar of a spirit that assaulted men and women in the dark of night. Its name was Popobawa, which means “winged bat,” because that was the form it was said to take most often, though it was just as often invisible.

As social anthropologist Martin Walsh detailed in 2009, Popobawa attacks spread quickly throughout the country, jumping from person to person, house to house, and village to village, eventually constituting a full-blown paranormal pandemic.

The bat demon was said to sodomize its victims. The response was violent. At one point, residents of Zanzibar City murdered a suspected Popobawa who unsurprisingly turned out to be a human, one who had visited the capital in search of mental health treatment. The terrors, both spiritual and corporeal, continued. Then, three months after they began, the Popobawa incidents stopped.

An entire nation plagued by a sex-starved bat demon would laughable as a SyFy channel script. As reality, it seems impossible. That it led to mobs and murder, more so.

It happened, though. And again, to a lesser degree, in 2007 (“Sex attacks blamed on bat demon” read the restrained BBC headline that time). How?

“A typical [Popobawa] assault involved somebody waking up in the night to find themselves being attacked by an amorphous or shape-shifting intruder, which was most frequently described as ‘pressing’ or ‘crushing’ their chest and ribs, and of suffocating them until they had difficulty in breathing and passed out,” Walsh wrote. “In general all of the victims experienced extreme terror, and were often frozen speechless when they were assaulted.”

An intruder. An incubus. The inability to move. The loss of respiratory control. The Popobawa, Walsh concludes, was no demon. It was textbook sleep paralysis, at a massive scale.

Zanzibar’s example is extreme, but far from isolated. Every culture has its bogeyman. Every century has ghost sightings. Everyone has heard things go bump in the night.

“We believe that sleep paralysis is a good, naturalistic explanation for a lot of paranormal beliefs,” said Sharpless. “Alien abductions that occur at night; visits by ghosts and demons; more recently, shadow people. If you look at people’s first-hand descriptions of these events, they map really well on to sleep paralysis.”

“Different cultures have come up with unique names for sleep paralysis that are descriptive of various common experiences in how it manifests,” explains Kevin Morton, who five years ago founded a site dedicated to better understanding sleep disorders as part of an undergraduate project at Stanford University. “In Japan it’s been known as ‘Kanashibari’ (retaliating spirit), in Thailand ‘Phi um’ (enveloping ghost), or the ‘Hauka’I po’ (night marchers) in Hawaii.”

In the same way that we might ascribe a happy coincidence to a guardian angel or God, we paint sleep paralysis with the brushstrokes of our deepest terrors.

Sleep paralysis being blamed on ghosts, spirits, and demons transcends cultures, but you can count on Japan to give it the perfect anime treatment.

Estimates vary as to how many people will experience sleep paralysis at least once in their lifetime. Sharpless pegs it at 8 percent of the general population, with students (28 percent) and psychiatric patients (32 percent) even higher. Sharpless thinks that spike may be attributable to those groups having disrupted sleep patterns to begin with, making sleep paralysis more likely. Cheyne notes that incidence rates are higher still “in societies with an active tradition of haunting night spirits.”

Despite the prevalence of sleep paralysis, especially among certain groups, there’s been no large intervention trials to determine an effective treatment for it. In a 2014 paper, Dr. Sharpless and co-author Jessica Lynn Grom outlined a few preemptive methods (e.g., changing sleep positions and patterns), as well as techniques to help mitigate the impact mid-episode. Among the most effective of those? Simply trying to calm yourself down in the moment, if you can manage it. Focus on trying to move your extremities. Don’t worry about the demon on your chest.

That’s more easily accomplished if you’re aware that you’re experiencing sleep paralysis, or even of what sleep paralysis is. It’s a condition that’s been largely (apologies) in the dark, in part because it’s not an easy thing to talk about. I didn’t tell anyone about my experience for years, and even then it was only after I had found out what it was. Until then, I was too worried that it signaled something deeply wrong with my body or mind or both.

“Sleep paralysis has quite a large awareness bias associated with it,” says Morton, whose site has received hundreds of submissions from people who have lived it, and a magnitude more visitors looking for answers. “It is such a crazy experience–waking up with your body paralyzed, often hallucinating frightening dream imagery, occasionally of a sexual nature–that those who experience it often don’t talk about it with others, usually out of fear that they will be seen as crazy or possessed, or just otherwise stigmatized if they bring it up.”

Morton is optimistic about the internet’s power as a great normalizer; all it takes is a quick search of symptoms to find out that you’re neither possessed nor insane. Sleep paralysis also seems to be having a larger cultural moment beyond the web, if a phenomenon as old as consciousness itself can be said to have moments.

That’s a brief clip from The Nightmare, a documentary from Rodney Ascher, which brings brings to life people’s real descriptions of sleep paralysis events. Ascher, who previously directed the critically lauded Room 237, pursued the topic after experiencing it himself. Devil in the Room, a short film released in 2014, takes a similar approach, while photographer Nicolas Bruno has a series of photographs depicting the horrors he has experienced in his years of sleep paralysis.

Most dreams stop when they want to, not when you tell them. A modicum of awareness, though, helps with what comes after. Even if you can’t beat sleep paralysis, you can cope with its reverberations.

There’s comfort in knowing that the demon on your chest actually resides in your mind. Or at least, that yours isn’t the only mind with demons.

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Paranormal

The Charlie Charlie Challenge – what is the spooky craze?

A strange new viral phenomenon has left social media buzzing with attempts to summon a Mexican spirit.

Although it has been around for quite some time, the challenge, which involves using pencils and a piece of paper to summon a spirit named Charlie, has really taken off this week.

To play, participants are required to take a piece of paper, balance two pencils in a cross shape in the middle and then write the words “yes” and “no” at the four corners of the page.

To begin, those taking part must then clearly recite the phrase “Charlie, Charlie, are you here?”.

If the pencil moves then, according to the myth surrounding the game, the spirit of Charlie will have arrived to begin answering your questions.

Despite the widespread uptake of the challenge on social media this week however the mechanism behind this alleged paranormal communication is actually very simple – the pencils will invariably move by themselves no matter what because they are so precariously balanced.

The vibration of a footstep, someone shuffling around in the room or even a subtle draft from a window or door can make it seem as though Charlie has come out to play.

Nevertheless with the “Charlie Charlie Challenge” becoming increasingly popular online it is likely that we will be seeing quite a few reaction videos of pencils moving over the next few weeks.

Source: Independent

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Paranormal

A Drug Addict Changed His Ways When He Saw Something Strange In This Photo

While some consider ghosts to be expert photobombers, they’re certainly not alone in the world of paranormal photobombing. Demons also seem to be quite good at it. In fact, demons might actually be better photobombers than ghosts, which is something Joe Martinez learned a few years ago in the most shocking way.

Martinez, who was heavily involved with drugs at the time, went with his wife to his in-laws’ wedding anniversary celebration. It was a fairly ordinary party by all accounts. At one point in the evening, however, someone snapped a picture of Martinez posing with his wife. No one thought anything of it…until the picture was developed.

Could it actually have been a demon? Perhaps it was a trick of the light? According to Martinez, several reputable paranormal investigators examined the photo and found no evidence of tampering. Even stranger is the fact that the demon creature did not appear in any other photos from the anniversary party. Fake or not, at least this photo did some good in getting Martinez to clean up his life.

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