Imagine waking up during the middle of the night finding yourself unable to move, every breath a difficulty to draw and the walls seem to close in on you. Imagine laying there frozen and confused, not sure whether you’re awake or asleep. Imagine the fear when you notice the horrible face for the first time, the breath on your face like death in your nostrils.
This story might be mere fiction but this is what numerous people have been reporting for years, tales of a horrible hag that sits on your chest and breaths on your face. You will find yourself paralyzed and unable to move, in some cases your limbs might be free but your body pinned down by the creature.
Norwegian myth speaks thus about a hag called The Mara, name which has inspired the word nightmare in many of the Scandinavia languages, mara meaning mare. Mare in Icelandic for example is: Meri which is derived from the name Mara. Martröð in Icelandic means nightmare but Mar is also from the word Mara.
There is also a Icelandic saying which sounds like this: “Liggur eins og Mara á mér.” Which means lays upon me like a Mara.
She is not always described as a hag but always as a evil female specter like creature that haunts people while they are asleep. She supposedly can go through small crevices and holes like wisps of smoke.
This creature is also known in other parts of the world and one example might be the Polish Night hag or the Nocnitsa, also known in Russia, Slovakia and Serbia, she has also been known by the name Plaksy and sometimes Krisky. She is also known in Bulgaria as Gorska Makua. People believe this hag to torment children in their sleep and a form of protection is to place a knife in the child’s cradle or use it to draw a circle around it. Some also believe that an ax or a doll can be placed underneath to drive the hag away.
People have been tormented by Mara like creatures for as long as we remember and it is not always the hag we have been talking about. In some case it might be a demon that sits on your chest and in others some specter or ghost, but the Mara is believed to be the most common.
Whether it is a demon, a ghost or a hag most scientists today belief that the real culprit is sleep paralysis, a symptom where people remain alert despite the fact their body is really asleep or in REM state, this is believed to cause panic and fear and in some cases hallucinations.
Who knows, perhaps there is something called a Mara or maybe it’s just sleep paralysis, either way perhaps you should keep the light on when you go to sleep tonight!