Social Parapsychologist Elliott Madison of the White Crow Society differentiated standard sleep paralysis from Nocturnal or Old Hag assaults as the guest on the first half of Friday's show. Regular sleep paralysis, he said, is associated with hormones that suppress motor functions during the dream state, that haven't completely worn off upon awakening. And while the Old Hag Assaults were related to this condition, Madison believes these incidents in some ways defy a strictly medical interpretation.
"She was like living death, white straw-like hair, one glowing eye--¦skin stretched over a skull," one caller described his encounter with the Hag. Such stereotypical descriptions of a small menacing humanoid run cross-culturally, leading Madison to conclude that the phenomenon is not related to hallucination or dreams which would show more variability. "There has to be some kind of an external trigger," that could include some type of paranormal explanation, he said.
90% of the Nocturnal Assaults occur when a person is lying on their back, so by not sleeping in this position, one can reduce the likelihood of it occurring, Madison said, adding that sleep deprivation and stress can also be contributing factors. Should one find oneself in a threatening episode of paralysis, he suggested trying to make small incremental motions, as well as "mental movements," such as repeated prayer.
Friday Night's Open Lines in the second half of the show, continued in the Old Hag vein with many callers sharing their encounters. One young man told of an incident where a strange creature actually got into his bed with him, and he could feel its long hairs.
Later "Caller 66" gave a dire prediction (which he said came from God) that there would be a worldwide blackout this Sunday, and that some nuclear weapons would accidentally go off during the outage.
A few years ago, I had an Old Hag experience. I noticed myself laying in my bed. It was early morning and my apartment was illuminated by the dawn sun. I looked towards the foot of my bed and saw a short woman with black, hair, eyes, and dress standing in the corner of the room. This terrified me and at that moment I realized that I was paralyzed. In an instant, I saw the woman approach me at a very fast speed. It was as if every time I blinked (although I am not sure I was blinking), she had advanced on me until her face was right in front of mine and it felt as though she was sitting on my chest. After that, I seemed to break out of the paralysis and found myself laying in bed in my empty room.
I have had a few instances of hypnagogic (hallucinatory) sleep paralysis in my life, but this was the scariest. I find the phenomenon fascinating and it has lead me to believe that many instances of paranormal experiences can be explained by episodes of sleep paralysis and the very realistic visual hallucinations that can come with it.
One night I woke up in the early hours of morning, it must have been around 2 am, and realized something was terribly wrong. First of all I seemed to be laying ACROSS my bed, instead of in it, with my head on my pillow. The second thing I noticed was that I couldn't move, that something was pressing me down into the mattress. I couldn't actually feel an object, but it was more of a force. My muscles simply would not respond.
I also felt a presence, a malicious entity of some sort. I rarely use the word "evil", I usually reserve it for people like Hitler or Saddam Hussein, but this felt evil, and whatever it was, was enjoying my fear.
I then heard the words "Guess who?" in a sort of mocking tone. At this point, although I was afraid, I became angry. I was upset at having been awoken and I thought to myself "HOW DARE you come into my domain and torment me?" As a Reiki Master and energy worker, I began to make the Reiki symbols for power and white light in my mind, saying their names over and over and forcing my willpower to get me to sit up. I slowly seemed to rise from my bed and stand up, but it was like something was all around me, holding me back. It felt like I was underwater, weighted down and trying to walk instead of swim.
I remember thinking I needed help, so I forced myself slowly across the hall to my sister's room, thinking I would wake her up to help me. I came to a stop beside her bed and tried to say "help me, help me." But I couldn't. No words would form, no sound would come. I turned around and looked into her full length mirror and saw my own face, but it was terribly different. My eyes seemed darker, and I was grinning horribly, my teeth and gums seemed black. I could almost hear a snide laugh from somewhere.
Now I was really angry. I knew I was either dreaming or it was all an illusion. Once again I made the Reiki symbols and mentally yelled "GET OUT!" I felt the force start to weaken as I walked back to my room. Oddly enough, at that moment my cat walked in and rubbed against me, purring. I felt the force release me right away and dissipate. My cat looked around nervously, as if she sensed something wrong and I picked her up and took her to bed with me. But I didn't go back to sleep until I had lit a white candle and cleared the space in my room of whatever negative energy had creeped in.
I still don't know how much of it was a dream or how much was reality.
--From Ashley in Louisiana
I had an "Old Hag" experience when I was 5 years old, which I remember vividly to this day-- at age 33.
I shared a room with my sister, and one autumn night I woke up for no reason at all. It was as if I heard something... I sat up in bed and looked around. And somehow I just knew that something was coming.
I got scared and laid back down and pulled the covers up. In just a few seconds, I could hear the sound of footsteps on the gravel pathway that led to our front door. They got closer and closer, and paused at the front door. Then, without the front door opening at all, I heard the footsteps continue on the carpeted hallway, coming closer and closer to the bedroom.
Once more the footsteps paused at our bedroom door, and I closed my eyes in terror. I thought it was the devil. I had a feeling of utter evil from this thing. It came through the closed door of our bedroom without opening it, and approached my bed. Then I felt the weight of something sit down next to me on the bed. This being radiated a most severe PRESENCE. It's hard to describe. It's like the very atmosphere around it was distorted and somehow hummed in a threatening way.
Nothing happened. I kept my eyes closed and tried not to show how scared I was. A few minutes passed and still nothing happened. For some reason, I started thinking this was a test of some sort, though I didn't know how it could be.
My fear abated a tiny bit, and I dared myself to open my eyes to see if it really was the devil. So I peeked through my eyelashes... and saw a very angry looking old woman with long LONG wild grey hair and penetrating dark pupils staring at me. I was expecting to see some sort of guy with horns and a pitchfork, so the old lady was a surprise, and I opened my eyes all the way.
Then, when I looked at her hard eyes, I felt her say in my mind, "Thee will do." Which makes no sense at all. I would do what for what?!?
Anyway, her speaking with her eyes scared me so badly that I closed mine tight again. I had a notion that if I had done the wrong thing she would have killed me. I knew it as if someone had told me, though no one had.
She left the same way she arrived. And I went back to sleep knowing I'd passed that strange old lady's test and was safe from her.
Bumper music from Friday September 26, 2003