I’ve been having a wonderful time with my latest book on Psychic Self Defence. If my eyesight was a bit better I’d be having an even better time, but there you are, you can’t have everything. I’ve almost finished the first draft now, just another three chapters to go, and then it’s back to editing from the beginning.
At the moment I’m working on a chapter about the Night Mare. Now usually we think of nightmares as being bad dreams, perhaps the result of unwise snacks just before bedtime. In a Christmas Carol, for instance, Scrooge accuses the ghost of Jacob Marley as being a bit of lumpy gravy or an undigested potato!
But The Night Mare (also known as The Mare or The Hag) is something a bit different. The terror lingers on for days afterwards, sometimes even years. Indeed, some people never forget it. And it’s surprising what a common experience it is.
It’s fashionable nowadays to call this experience sleep paralysis. And in many cases I’m sure that’s probably what it is – but not always. Sometimes there are times when a diagnosis of sleep paralysis is stretching the limits beyond.
What has particularly interested me during my research are those cases where the Mare is either someone known to the victim, or has changed into an animal (usually a cat, but sometimes a dog or a wolf or even a monster.)
Equally intriguing are the animals that never make an appearance as the Mare. Snakes, for example. And spiders. Most people have a fear of those creatures, so you would expect them to turn up in something as terrifying as the Nightmare, wouldn’t you?
And then I discovered the Spider Wight in an Anglo Saxon charm. Now there is some dispute about what a spider wight actually is, but no dispute about what it does. Like many (though not all) manifestations of the Mare, it puts a bridle on the victim and ‘rides’ him. Sometimes it simply rides the victim around the room, at other times it makes off into the countryside leaving the victim fairly knackered the next morning.
I suspect the old Spider Wight is still out there somewhere, doing mischief. Maybe people don’t like to admit to it, that’s all. It’s not an easy thing to come to terms with… having a spider come into your bed, throw a magic bridle on you that will turn you into a horse and then ride you over the Brecon Beacons. And yet… I think people are probably still having many of these dreams, or at least versions of them. It’s just that we no longer have the folklore or mindset to explain what we mean.
Myths are still very much alive and with us…. whether we realise it or not. 🙂