Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Hag

The only time I remember meeting The Hag was when I was around twenty years old. The Hag is another name for what we call sleep paralysis, an event that is often reported as being accompanied by the feeling that something malevolent is sitting on your chest preventing you from moving. A frightening dream is the main meat of this event, a dream not recognized as one because the sufferer thinks they are perfectly awake and for some inexplicable reason not able to move. The body is frozen in place and the eyes are seemingly open, witnessing any number of grotesqueries. Cold sweat is probably also present.
    Now I'm unsure if The Hag is an unfair name. I have spent some small time in my life worshipping The Crone, one of three aspects of The Goddess in the western neopagan tradition of Wicca. The Goddess, we learn quickly, ain't all fun and games, light and love and prancing through the forest. Nor is she all black nail polish and fishnet sleeves. She is all manner of things, big and small and one of her aspects is The Crone. This is an archetype of mature human womanhood, old lady who has seen it all, passed through the myriad stages of life and has accrued wisdom. I guess The Hag would be the shadow side of this aspect, an embittered old being hellbent on poking young-uns with misery sticks.
    My meeting with The Hag is memorable. No old evil creature is remembered as sitting on my chest. What I do remember is waking up in the middle of the night and being frozen in place. Immediately the fear starts coursing through me. My eyes are snapped open and glued to the window of my bedroom. Outside my window, horribly backlit and casting spidery shadows throughout the room, is the tall knotted tree that by day just stands there. Well, this night its branches are creaking down across the window pane with total evil intent. The limbs of this tree want in, they want to breach the bubble of my bedroom and devour me. I am sweating pure fear, unable to do anything but witness the reality that everything I thought I knew is wrong. Monsters are real. Reality as we know it is total BS. Monsters are real and there is one outside my window trying to get in.
    This is where my 'dream' ends. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I notice is that I am facing away from the window. I chuckle a sigh of relief. It couldn't have happened, I rationalize, I was frozen in place staring at the window and here I am waking up in another direction. It was a dream, only a dream. Another detail, there has never been a tree outside my window. In that moment of horror I assumed the tree was always there, suddenly having turned mobile and monstrous. No tree, I wasn't facing the window equals I was dreaming.
    I have had cosmic abstract night terrors rife with symbolism from age 5 to 7, I have had muttering, gibbering fever dream deliriums as a kid and a teenagers. I have had nightmare after nightmare, weirdnesses too many to recount. But this was the only time I remember The Hag. She showed up as a tree turned bad, a force of nature usually associated with green growth and clean air, now knotted with ill intent and out to kill any promise of rest.