Nightmares and Scary Bad Dreams

Nightmares can leave you terrified or filled with utter despair, and for centuries we have debated on what causes bad dreams with witches being the culprit in the days of yore. Yesterday’s witches have transformed into today’s extraterrestrials or scientific mumbo jumbo.

In the 13th century, nightmares were thought to be evil spirits that haunted you during your sleep and left you feeling suffocated. A mare was an evil spirit, goblin or demon that tormented humans with terrifying dreams. A mare would sneak into your bedroom as you slept, sit on your chest and instigate bad dreams.

The actual translation of both the Norwegian and Danish word for nightmare is “mare ride.” In Iceland it translates to “stamp on” or “trample.” The Swedes refer to it as a “mare dream” and according to dream folklore, a mare was also known as a night hag.

The mare, also known as mara, mere, mahr, merrie, mora, maron and others, all referred to a night demon which not only rode humans as they slept, but horses as well. Whether horse or human, you’d wake drenched in sweat with your hair in tangles feeling completely and utterly exhausted.

Sometimes the mare was a beautiful woman who tortured a man with desire then dragged the life out of him. She was known as a “night woman” or “nightwalker.”

Some believed the mares to be witches who could take animal form when they went into a trance, appearing most often as cats, dogs, birds, bees, moths, frogs, toads, or horses. These trance witches became spirits in their altered state which gave them the ability to hover or fly through the air, and even walk on water.

Trance witches, also known as mora witches, were the ultimate in out-of-body experiences as once your soul separated from your body, it became a mora. The evil mora could fly through the air to visit anyone anywhere, and was supple enough to fit through even the tiniest keyhole. Once in your bedroom, the mora witch’s spirit sat on your chest and attempted to strangle or torture you in some way. In 1669, Mora witch trials took place in Sweden which became the precursor to the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts.

Indeed, nightmares leave one feeling as if they’d been mentally and emotionally tortured as they slept. The very word “mora” can mean many different things, all of them frightening: wandering soul of a living human, night creature, and nightmare. Mora stems from the Greek moros meaning “death.” Thus a mora witch was a death witch whose goal was to suck the life right out of you.

As the belief in witches faded into the realm of fairytales, evil spirits were removed from the definition of nightmare which got watered down to mean simply a bad dream or distressing experience. Where witches and demons were thought to cause nightmares in the olden days, psychologists have come up with new scientific explanations for dreams that haunt you in the night.

Bad dreams and nightmares are now thought to be caused by post traumatic stress syndrome, unresolved issues, anxiety, or as a side effect of prescriptions or drugs. Nightmares are also linked to a host of mental disorders such as dissociative disorder and borderline personality disorder which include multiple personality disorder, amnesia, and other disorders that detach you from reality in some way.

Nightmares of death and disaster can leave you wondering if you were dreaming of the future, predicting your own demise, or foretelling some great disaster. Such nightmares can torment you for days, months, and even years with the fear that the horrible dream will come true.

Paralysis and difficulty breathing may accompany a nightmare, along with the belief that you’ve been visited by otherworldly creatures. Where those creatures were once called demons, witches, incubi or succubi, today they are attributed to extraterrestrials.

For those who do not believe in the possibility of otherworldly visitation, science offers a host of explanations including hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations, temporal lobe lability, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, sleep paralysis, and what you eat and drink before falling asleep.

As a person who has suffered nightmares, bad dreams, and vivid dreams of extraterrestrial visitation, I take issue with the scientific explanations that suggest I was simply hallucinating from early childhood into my forties.

I’ve shared my nightmares and bizarre dreams in depth, and matched them with known UFO sightings wherever possible in the book Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions.

Believe what you will about the cause, whether hallucination, visitation, or simply the result of an incredibly active imagination, but the end result is the same: a nightmare is a scary bad dream by any name.

  • Alien Nightmares: Screen Memories of UFO Alien Abductions

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