I used to dread the night because I would have the same nightmare over and over again. A reoccurring nightmare.
One night, when I was 15 years old, I snuck out of my house in the middle of the night. My parental unit forbade me from hanging around with my best friend, Ben; likewise, Ben's mother forbade me from hanging out with Ben too. She thought I was a bad influence and my folks felt the same way about Ben. This left us with only one option: sneaking out at night. Usually we spent the night committing criminal mischief all night long. But one night in particular Ben and I decided to hang out inside of a metro train parked in Barrington, Illinois. Inside of that train, Ben and I talked about different stuff before Ben broached the topic of dreams. It was then that I broached the subject of reoccurring dreams - or, should I say nightmares or night terrors - and Ben said he had one to tell me, a nasty one.
I told Ben that my reoccurring nightmare involved an "old hag." Ben's face turned white and his jaw dropped. He said "Me too! An old hag with red eyes...". And, I said "She had a goat's beard on her chin and...". Ben interrupted "Yeah! Exactly. An old hag with red eyes and a goat's beard. And she always attempts to kill me. I'll try to run away from her but my legs wouldn't work so I couldn't get away from her."
I felt chills going down my spine. The old hag reminded me of the Freddy Krueger nightmare: his victims' legs wouldn't work either, as if each foot was buried in cement blocks. Ben told me that the old hag used to chase him down with a knife in hand, stabbing at him until he awakened from the dream. In my own dreams, the old hag would drive an old vehicle and attempt to run me over, or she would drive so close to the edge of a bridge that I had no choice but to jump off of the bridge to avoid getting hit. Fall. Fall. Fall. Only when I hit the ground in my dream did I awaken.
Another thing that Ben and I had in common is the general mood preceding the nightmare. Everything begins with a state of normalcy... And then suddenly a foreboding feeling of impending danger sets in, until you experience doom. Then the old hag emerges.
Because I have suffered from sleep paralysis for years, I bought a book about sleep paralysis by Ryan Hurd, a researcher of dreams. There, in that book, was a discussion about none other than the "old hag" in sleep paralysis nightmares. So, the old hag that terrorized Ben and I also terrorized other people. According to Ryan Hurd, men complaining about an old hag haunting them in their nightmares dates back centuries, even millenniums.
Apparently an old hag also strangles people during sleep paralysis nightmares. Some people say the old hag is a succubus. True or not, I don't know. Personally, I do believe the old hag is a demon, perhaps Lilith. She was said to kill children, having two faces: one of beauty, and the other of hideousness. She uses her ability to appear beautiful in order to disarm people; eventually she delights in showing her hideous face.
Let me repeat what Ryan Hurd documents in his book, Sleep Paralysis. Even though Ryan Hurd is not convinced that there is a spiritual element at play in "old hag" nightmares, his book is still worth a read because it contains instructions for breaking loose from sleep paralysis.
Furthermore, Hurd's book describes the typical sleep paralysis in these terms. You have gone to bed and believe you are asleep, yet waking up with consciousness. Suddenly, you feel as though you are not alone, as if you are being watched by an invisible entity that can be sensed. You begin to feel that the thing in your room is evil incarnate, a demon or its likeness. Fear seizes you but you are unable to move at all in order to flee or yell for help. At this point, people see common figures like shadow people or a dark, hooded figure with red eyes, or an old hag. The tormenting entity then approaches you; sometimes, walking on your bed, where you feel the mattress compressing under what feels to be a foot landing upon the bed and sinking into the mattress, and another foot coming toward you, until you feel as though you have been straddled or until you feel like you're being touched, or sexually violated. Again, you want badly to move but you are paralyzed and unable to do so. That's the typical scenario.
And that is what also happened to me. I've endured sleep paralysis nightmares for years. It was exactly as stated above. In my own case, the old hag didn't appear during sleep paralysis, but rather while I was actually sleeping. The entity that tormented me during sleep paralysis was a demon, a demon that could be sensed and seen as a shadowy mass. It touched me. It violated me sexually. And it possessed me. Once possessed, I could move but it wasn't' very fun to do so. The demon made me look at myself in the mirror, and my face changed from me to a possessed version of me that was extremely scary. The demon made me fly upwards into the air, only to drop me and allow gravity to inflict painful injuries. It would slam me against walls and toss me around like a ragdoll. I was powerless against it. Everything it did was all about making me feel powerless. With powerlessness came fear and terror. In one possession nightmare, the demon told me its name, and the sound of its name itself was as horrifying as its presence, as though saying the name was tantamount to conjuring it, or giving it spiritual permission to possess me. Once it said its own name, the name echoed in my mind and I struggled to mentally forget the name by blocking it out... A futile effort. It laughed at me as I prayed to God. It mocked my prayers. It mocked Jesus Christ, within my prayers. And it laughed at me. As my prayers went unheard, my fears intensified.
I think back to the time I experienced the worst possession dream and remember that my family members - who I didn't share these experiences with - kept trying to get me to go to church. They physically forced me to attend church once, and I felt like a demon amongst Christians, with a deep and unexplainable loathing for being in church. They told me after the first visit that the first visit was mandatory but afterwards it would be my choice to go or not and I chose not to go. Deep down inside, I believed in Jesus. I don't know why I felt like a vampire writhing away in the sunlight, simply by being in church itself. And when the money pan was passed around, I just passed it over me to the next guy, when I felt like vomiting in the donation pan instead. I was very deeply incongruent when it came to religion. Partly that is because my father used to throw away every Gideon's bible he found in motels and he forbade me from wearing a cross or going to church. My mother was similarly disengaged from church, having had a bad experience with church people in her own childhood, over the whole tithing thing. My dad divorced my mom and remarried an Asian woman who put little Budha idols all over the house, including in my own room. So by the time I was 15, I had already rejected the church due to my upbringing. I especially hated Catholics, because I had read the first few chapters of the bible, including Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and it was pretty clear when it said thou shalt not worship idols, and thou shalt not worship other gods. Later on in life I read the whole bible and even Jesus Christ called God "father" and nobody else, and when Jesus prayed, he prayed to God the father, and nobody else, not to "saints." I equally hated TV evangelists and felt they were scamming the public out of their money. Around that time, there was one TV evangelist named Tilton that I especially despised as a con artist. I guess my view of TV evangelists and Catholics had an impact on me and contributed to me not wanting to attend any church of any denomination. In hindsight, I believe that made my prayers fall upon def ears. I think it made it possible for me to experience sleep paralysis and such horrible nightmares. I still don't go to church this day. I tried but couldn't afford to give a church 10% of my wages from working (tithing). Plus, someone asked me to remove my hat in church and I walked out of that church for good afterwards. Anyways, I'm including the religious anecdotes only to help you put me in context with the stories I shared.