The Night Mare

Have you ever had one of those spine-chilling nightmares that left you feeling fearful and anxious, even after you woke up? Well, you’re not alone. Nightmares have been haunting humans for centuries, and different cultures around the world have crafted their own stories and myths to make sense of these eerie dreams. While the specifics may differ, they all share a common goal: understanding and overcoming the fear that comes with these unsettling nocturnal experiences.

Meet the Night Mare/Hag: A spooky Scandinavian tale

Imagine stepping into the mysterious world of Scandinavian folklore, where one eerie character takes center stage—the Night Mare, also known as the Hag. This supernatural being is often portrayed as a spooky female spirit or a witch-like figure that has been creeping into the dreams and stories of Northern Europeans for generations.

What does she look like?

The Night Mare’s appearance is a bit of a puzzle. Different stories depict her in various forms, but the most common description is that of an old, haggard woman with long, unkempt hair. Some tales even suggest that she has the power to shape-shift, turning into different terrifying forms to frighten her victims. Her ever-changing appearance adds to her chilling mystique.

A paralysing presence

The Night Mare is believed to enter the world of humans while they’re fast asleep. She makes her presence known by sitting on the chests of her unsuspecting victims. This spooky act creates a feeling of heaviness and makes it tough for the person to move or even breathe—kind of like the eerie sensation of sleep paralysis.

Terrifying nightmares

Encounters with the Night Mare often lead to one thing: nightmares. People who have the misfortune of meeting her usually report having vivid and terrifying dreams during these nighttime visits. These nightmares are so intense and unsettling that they stick around in the victim’s memory long after they wake up.

Sleep disturbances: Her ominous legacy

But the Night Mare doesn’t stop at nightmares. She’s believed to bring a host of sleep disturbances. Think night sweats, night terrors, and an overwhelming sense of fear, all of which come along with her presence. These disturbances steal away peaceful slumber, leaving individuals feeling tired and anxious, stuck in a cycle of dread.

Warding off the Night Mare

To protect themselves from the Night Mare’s creepy visits, folks in Scandinavian cultures turned to different methods. Some would place iron objects or tools, like scissors or horseshoes, near their beds, believing that the Mare was repelled by iron. Others recited prayers or incantations before bedtime, asking for protection against her sinister presence.

Cultural variations around the world

Now, as we venture beyond Scandinavia, we stumble upon a treasure trove of unique interpretations of nightmares from all corners of the globe. In Western folklore, nightmares are often linked to malevolent spirits or demons. Medieval Europe added a dash of sensuality with stories of incubi and succubi. Native American tribes crafted dreamcatchers as protection against nightmares. In Chinese and Japanese folklore, dream-eating creatures make an appearance, and various African cultures view nightmares as messages from the spirit world. In Islamic tradition, prayers offer a shield against nightmares.

Seeking comfort and understanding

Each culture has its own way of explaining and coping with nightmares. Regardless of where we come from, we all share the universal desire to find comfort and understanding in the mysterious realm of our dreams, a reminder of our common humanity.

My latest Youtube video

In this weeks Youtube video I explore my take on the folklore of Night Mares in a short film. You can watch it here:

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By Tiina

I'm a Swedish Fine Art Self portrait Photographer and I love telling stories with my art. I can't imagine a world without love, imagination and creativity. That's what makes my heart and soul feel alive.

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