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Invasion of the Doll People

John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies (1975) – argues Colin Bennett – stands alongside John Michell’s Flying Saucer Vision (1967), John Fowles’ The Magus (1965), Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality (1994) and Anthony ‘Doc’ Shiels’ Monstrum (1990) as a modern masterpiece that reimagines our place in the world. Such classics point to ancient magical connections between Mind and Landscape, the antithesis of the godless ‘objectivity’ of a sterile materialist culture.

The best writers are painters; not content merely to describe, they scorn the base instincts of cloddish objectivity and, as John Keel has done, allow themselves to become part of the investigation itself. Like the characters of Borges and Castaneda, such writers allow themselves to be fooled on occasion in order to hack into the system and let the investigation talk to them. Sometimes this risky participation mystique brings them near to death and madness, as it brought Coleridge and De Quincey and indeed Keel himself. If they survive at all, such shamanic writers bring back wonders, demonstrating that a seeker who takes no risks learns nothing.

In The Mothman Prophecies, Keel tells an astonishing tale of how, as a budding UFO researcher in November 1966, he began investigating sightings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, of an incredible animal form with characteristics of both man and moth. Keel found, as had his friend Ivan Sanderson before him, that the pursuit of a mystery creature – a ‘cryptid’ – leads very quickly to involvement with the mysteries of a landscape and a community.

Forster’s Marabar caves, Hamlet’s castle at Elsinore, and Thomas Hardy’s Egdon Heath are all aspects of crypto-geographic personalities; they live and breathe as huge animated forms and penetrate human awareness the way ivy weaves through an old house. These supra-human forms are quite conscious, aware, and active. In West Virginia, Keel found the local ‘system-animal’ had its own agenda; it ‘spoke’ through simulacra and weather, atmosphere and geology, coincidence and dream. Before the coming of Christianity and science, such forms as Keel describes were a fully understood part of an integrated world image that linked Mind to sacred sites, landscape, ideas and evolving culture. They were part of the knitting together of matter and idea, body and soul.

The fairies of ancient tradition did this with the kind of droll humour, grotesque mimicry and conspiratorial fooling experienced not only by Keel, but by many in the community of Point Pleasant. Our relations and dialogues with such forms of spiritual energy were destroyed when we fell first into monotheism and then again into mechanical science. The changing landscape feels and thinks, and when it is hurt it can hit back, producing forms from under the hill that disorient and confuse. They may act in defence against some kind of violation of landscape, often to a destructive purpose.

But what did Connie Carpenter see on Sunday, 27 November 1966, as she passed the deserted greens of the Mason County Golf Course outside of New Haven, West Virginia? According to Connie, it was “shaped like a man, but very much larger. It was at least seven feet tall and very broad.” As its large, round, fiercely-glowing eyes fixed upon her with hypnotic effect, the grey figure unfolded a pair of wings 10ft (3m) in span. With these wings hardly moving, it then rose up in the air “like a helicopter” and swooped over her car.

Over 100 people saw this bizarre creature that winter. Point Pleasant was a town with no bars, and a population of some 6,000. Even before the sightings of Mothman and UFOs, Keel tells us of black helicopters, cattle mutilations, and ‘zones of fear’. But all these things take a back seat when humanoid or semi-humanoid forms (such as Mothman) appear. The modern mind’s sense of wonder, severely shackled by socially enforced scientific dialectical materialism, has hardly any models for Mothman. Stalking the humble environs of Point Pleasant are vague forms, almost-shapes from ethereal cloud worlds. If ever there was a fortean ‘banned’ show, it is this one.

The Mothman and his dark-clad ensemble of MIBs mumble codes and bits of strange languages as if in half-sleep. They try to drink jelly, have difficulty with knives and forks, and delight in leaving messages that utterly confuse the UFO witnesses and so-called contactees. They arrive at the homes of witnesses in black saloon cars with untraceable license plates, wearing authentic USAF uniforms, and tell them not to listen to John Keel, should he ever call and ask questions about Mothman… or anything else, for that matter. Some make vague threats to these witnesses, but only as a kind of automated after-thought. Others smell bad, their clothes hang on their very bones, and they wheeze and cough as if seriously ill. Their language and sentence-structure appear to be curiously manufactured, as if by some faulty machine. Their time references are seriously out of date, and all common social and personal sense is fractured in some peculiar way.

As if this were not enough, the phenomenon followed Keel around. After he returned to Manhattan, some 800 miles (1300 km) from Point Pleasant, the figures that continued to manifest appeared to be part of a linked group, and were intensely agitated by Keel’s investigations. It was almost as if his inquiries played a part in bringing them into being. The deeper he dug, the worse the situation became. And of course the telephone system – a classic icon of paranoia – starts talking to itself, selectively ringing and connecting parties in the investigational loop. The postal service becomes equally moody. Like the entities themselves, it is not so much threatening as appearing to undergo the mood changes of a small child.

As word of his investigations spread, Keel becomes a foco novo for UFO ‘contactees’. They lurch towards him in concert, like the zombies in Night of the Living Dead. They find him, wherever he is, and they contact him by all possible means. Most claim that they have a personal message from the UFO occupants for Keel himself. As a result, poor Keel finds himself mentally in the middle of a maze of smashed telephone junctions and early soap and science fiction plots. He does not meet any of the entities directly; the UFO contactees become his listening posts and they relay what the entities have said. Some hear the entities speaking in their minds, and the accuracy of the information given in this manner is often chilling.

Contactee Howard Menger & friend
Howard Menger

Contactee Howard Menger and friend

Keel has three different systems. He passes questions to the contactees; they relay them to the entities and give Keel the replies. Though Keel makes the questions as complicated as he can, there are quick and correct answers. He posts letters to addresses he knows do not exist, yet gets answers (in block capitals) the very next day. Lastly, he speaks directly to the entities by phone, and the voices on the other end sound to him like those which speak through a medium at a séance.

A single theme unites the vast confusions of the contactees. It is the warning that humanity is about to go through a most profound change involving a new form of control or reprogramming. At that time, 1966, personal computers were almost 20 years in the future, yet it seems as if Keel entered an Internet-like gaming world of many dimensions resembling, perhaps, the classic 1960s British TV series The Prisoner. The contactee world echoes his most private thoughts and throws back answers, conclusions, recommendations and not a few jokes.

As a high-tech party trick, this phenomenon could be totally personalised with spectacular physical effects; for instance, Keel picks a motel at random to find mail waiting for him there. If George Adamski and Howard Menger had contacted such a wrecked ship of mad fools and cadaverous actors as Keel describes, they might well have been victims of similar confusions some 15 years before Keel experienced them. But the clever and analytic Keel – perhaps sharper than Adamski and Menger (above, bless them!) – noted “that as soon as my attitude towards a game changed, the entities switched to a new game”.

As Keel describes it, the whole State of Ohio suffered what can only be described as an invasion of ‘dolls’. Just one of the curious things about these figures is that, more than anything else, they remind us of the Media. Keel’s living cartoons scream, gurgle, and generally camp it up, as if a laboratory full of half-completed media ‘personalities’ had been freed by some doll-liberation society. As human imitations, his communicating entities – Indrid Cold, Klinell, Mr Apol, and Lia – are bland, floppy and androgynous, more comic than sinister. Seen as figures in a late-1960s prophetic Media allegory, Keel’s grotesques are like early Michael Jackson seedlings, stalking the borderland between the ‘factual’ Point Pleasant and the ‘fictional’ Twin Peaks.

Point Pleasant or Twin Peaks?
Point Pleasant

Point Pleasant

Keel’s book was indeed prophetic; the new ‘control system’ emerged as Mass Media, which is essentially a ‘doll culture’. Our media ‘personalities’ behave much like those observed entities. More than 30 years later, we now know what Keel’s idea of ‘reprogramming’ really aimed to do… to destroy the OFF switch. We are all Americans now, whether we like it or not.

Alien ‘invasion’ may, in fact, have taken just such a subtle form, its flying discs mere props from some abandoned rehearsal. In this, popular culture has proved itself to be a more complex thing than mere peasant-control. It is an entire universe full of very complex communications, far more significant and powerful than pre-industrial ‘fact’; the ‘product’ is a state of mind, not an industrial artefact. Perhaps after all, the ‘trip’ experiences of the 1960s taught us one important thing: that time itself is linked essentially to change of metaphor.

If the entities we meet in The Mothman Prophecies are ‘built’ of anything it is metaphorical suggestion-concentrate – Media plasma. This means that ‘contact’ is much more likely to resemble a software gaming experience than anything to do with the equations of the Industrial Revolution. Since human consciousness is built of advertisements, we should not be surprised that the virtual event – such as the Y2K concern, the Gulf War and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden – has come to dominate. An advanced alien culture may have abandoned our crude concepts of industrial solidity altogether in favour of slivers of powerful suggestion-stuff with ‘performance’ replacing crude ‘reality’. But of one thing we can be sure – consciousness of any kind will contain elements of corruption and madness, failure and despair, and perhaps even love and inspiration.

But if – as The Mothman Prophecies implies – the spirits of hill and dale are laughing at us, it would make for a much more interesting and fruitful interaction between Humanity and Nature than that of the simple-minded Real versus Unreal. It would also be a refreshing change from the Holy, Sober, and Profound Christian view. To put Keel’s experience in the very best of Classical perspectives, we might have to return to the ancient Greek view that the truth is scandalous beyond all belief, and the gods are neither respectable nor sensible entities at all.

Of course, those afflicted with the ‘real’ will want to know whether The Mothman Prophecies is fact or fiction. Composed over 30 years ago, it was prophetic in its suggestion that the then prevailing model of Mind – as a hard-wired Pavlovian/behaviourist ‘information processing’ machine (relying on a far too easy separation of facts and fictions) – was doomed. Keel himself suggests that the software of image and advertisement is a much better model for the thinking process, and that related mental activity is more like a fuzzy negotiation between hallucinations than a ‘factual’ process in the old industrial sense.

In his later Disneyland of the Gods (1988) Keel, looking back on The Mothman Prophecies, suggests that mental operations are organised by the metaphor of entertainment rather than any structure of factual logic. Certainly the major assassinations of our time were more about show business than old-fashioned politics. Like Keel’s grotesques, all the killers were show-dolls of a kind, each one a Pandora’s box of living conspiracies, just as was every single one of the victims, from John Kennedy to Princess Diana.

In the Web-world of the burgeoning 21st century, it is possible that such ephemera and such semi-realisations will unleash treachery, revenge, murder, and destruction just as did the old economies, politics, structures of decayed science, and vanished national identities. Even chronic English scepticism – like the science it supports – is now part of the entertainment industry. Most sceptical claims are counter-hoaxes, different aspects of the same fortean joke that made Keel’s Point Pleasant the factual version of the later fictional TV series Twin Peaks. In a fortean world, fact and fiction are versions of one another. In every British city and town there are alchemical temples manned by celibate witch doctors; this organization is called the Catholic Church and, as Jung reminds us, the Mass is an alchemical ceremony with roots deep in ancient occultism. Brought up to date, a change of paradigm means a change of media. In this sense, the patently incomplete nature of Keel’s aliens means that they are neither real nor unreal so much as being ‘under construction’.

In the fortean sense, scientific objectivity has ‘banned’ our recognition of any participants in our conscious life other than fellow humans. Shakespeare shows that there are unnamed dramatis personae implicit in the human situation, showing that humans are not lords of creation but part of an evolving chain of being, shading from ‘solid’ to almost nothing. This chain consists of animal, vegetable and mineral domains, all of which have dynamic anthropomorphic elements that we ignore at our peril. Like Shakespeare’s The Tempest, The Mothman Prophecies depicts humans as poised between the animal kingdoms and the realms of the gods. When the transport to and from Middle-Earth breaks down, many domains above and below hit back, throwing off man-made structures. In this sense, Hardy’s Egdon Heath is as much responsible for the death of Eustacia Vye as Keel’s mysterious beings are for the collapse of the bridge at Point Pleasant and the deaths of 38 people. The Greek Tragedians understood completely such connections between environment and social character, motivation and supra-human agendas. Meantime, fallen moderns grate their teeth on the mechanical, and wonder that they cannot explain events in Dallas 1963, the assassination of Princess Diana, or the murder of little Jon Bennet.

Back in New York for Christmas 1966, the horns of Elfland still sounding in his head (as they did for Coleridge and Blake), Keel, too, is nearly done for. Like many who return from the magic landscape of Magonia, Keel, as wounded initiate, is sick and exhausted. Occult initiation is always a near-death experience. When he hears the news of the collapse of the Point Pleasant bridge on TV, he knows that his West Virginian wounds will be there for a lifetime, reminders of time present and time past, arrival and departure. Finally, John Keel decided that human beings do not solve mysteries so much as decide which set of answers they can most comfortably live with. In showing how he reached this decision, he created a true 20th-century sonata form in The Mothman Prophecies.


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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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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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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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