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21st Century Demonology – Part 2: Folklore, Sleep Paralysis, and Brainwaves

“But, unhappily, this domain of enchantment is in all respects comparable to the gold of Faerie, which is presumably its medium of exchange. It cannot withstand daylight, the test of the human eye, or the scale of reason. When these are applied, its paradox becomes an anticlimax, its antithesis ludicrous; its contradictions are without genius; its mathematical marvels end in a verbal quibble; its elixirs fail even as purges; its transmutations do not need exposure at the assayer’s hands; its marvel-working words prove barbarous mutilations of dead languages, and are impotent from the moment that they are understood; departed friends, and even planetary intelligences, must not be seized by the skirts, for they are apt to desert their draperies, and these are not like the mantle of Elijah. – The Book of Ceremonial Magic, Arthur Edward Waite, 1913

Rest assured, there are few things more terrifying than waking up in the middle of the night, unable to move, and seeing shadowy figures, discussing what exactly they should do with you while flashing a light in your face. Thankfully, but no less comforting, these beings are known to completely vanish as the person continues to regain their movement. Before discussing the nature of these “beings” and what the definition of “being” could even be considered, it is of crucial importance to emphatically state the following: the person who discounts paranormal activity of this variety is a person who harbors the utmost state of ignorance. This type of person sits in such a deep state of denial not for ignoring one extensive body of data—but ignoring at least three here.

Firstly, is the phenomenology of the event—meaning not only the physical traces of any events, but the emotional traces. As this series will thoroughly elaborate, the true empirical criteria here is of the psychosomatic variety. There will always be hoaxes, but to say that nothing like non-physical entities exist, is to look the sufferer and the witness in the eye and deny them the innermost personifications of their trauma—or transcendence, depending on the encounter. This is the skeptic turning their back to another in need, ultimately.

Secondly, this same ignorant individual is ignoring the significant preliminary scientific data that has been done into the subject of demonology. Although the science itself almost never suggests this, there is a great deal of little known esoteric/occult scientific data which specifically elaborates on the realities of demonology. If “occult” and “science” sound like an illogical equation, click here.

The third primary set of data is that which is called “folklore.” In this case, folklore, interpretations of observed phenomena that currently do not have an empirical explanation, fall into the category of folklore, loosely including ideas of traditional religion, superstition, prominent and archetypal fictional stories told in cultures, and the occult.

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Fleshing out the first of these points is largely for the individual to research, and the second point actually cannot be engaged until the third of them is addressed. Folklore sets the context of society. Before the birth of media technologies like the radio, television, and internet, gossip used to be folklore. This note of media manifestation is essential, because while traditional man did not have the extensive application of the scientific method, they were also not bombarded with symbolic media propaganda at every turn throughout the day. In terms of the analysis of the data, the stage in this case needs to be set with the data that primarily existed before media machinations, and have carried over into this postmodern era.

As the first step, consider the Nightmare. Today, the nightmare is considered a “bad dream” that causes a person a significant degree of terror, trauma, or at least intense discomfort. Since nightmares are considered a common occurrence, it might perturb a person to know that the word came from the Mare or Mara of the night, which was also known as the Succubus/Incubus, which was said to slink through the keyholes of bedrooms, rest their knees on the chest of the sleeper, and proceed to strangle them. Often, these visits of the Mara were considered in folklore to be a brush with death, and the survival of the “Grim Reaper” character which today stems from this idea—as well as the traditional vampire.

While the idea of the Night Mare generally stems from Germanic folklore, it is incidentally (or perhaps not so incidentally) also the name of the arch demon in Buddhism. As Gautama Buddha sat under the Bodhi, unwinding the tangled karmic excess of his own neurology, it is said the female demon, Mara, was the ultimate temptress of the Buddha, proving to be his final barrier to enlightenment. Not surprisingly, this showdown was set at night. Thus, eastern demonology is often considered to be the study of the Daughters of Mara.

In the Hebrew Talmud, an apocryphal prequel to Adam and Eve’s relationship, God created a female out of “filth and sediment” for Adam, and this female was named Lilith. Adam was a bit repulsed by Lilith, and Lilith felt equally. After a brief and disgruntled relationship, Lilith left the garden due to her overwhelming feeling of being a type of slave, where she was said to live near the Red Sea, spawning over one hundred demon children or “lilim” daily. When God and his angels found her, she refused to return, and basically turned to a life of crime by birthing the plagues of mankind, strangling young men in their sleep, causing epilepsy in people, and eating children from their cribs in the dead of night.

The many demons that were said to haunt mankind (perhaps they could be considered as Satan’s initial roster as well, excluding the angels that were said to fall from Heaven with Lucifer) were the Children of Lilith, equivalent to the Daughters of Mara in this case. In this esoteric context of the Book of Genesis, God even created a second woman before Even, named Namaah. God apparently was still working out some minor kinks in his technology, because Namaah also incidentally became a demon. Both Lilith and Namaah are said to have coupled with the archangel Samael, and Namaah even corrupted the archangel Azrael, which is the Angel of Death.

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Not only did she desert Adam as well, but she became the ultimate cohort of Lilith on their quest to mutilate mankind in their sleep. As if this situation was not heady enough, Namaah is also the name of King Solomon’s wife, which is specifically interesting since King Solomon plays a fundamental role in Freemasonic and Rosicrucian symbolism. King Solomon was also the one who was said to collect the 72 traditional demons into a brass case and cast them into a deep lake to rid mankind of them. Unfortunately, the Babylonians were said to be the ones who fished it out and unleashed them. This is the origin story of the divinatory art of Goetia, which is the study of the invocation of angels and demons. But not only is Namaah the wife to King Solomon, she is also mentioned in the Book of Genesis as being a descendent of Cain, which creates further Kabbalistic analysis that includes ideas of Adam leaving Eve to copulate with Namaah and Lilith, spawning the demons of humanity as a result of their intercourse. It’s quite interesting to see that the idea of the first “incubus” is intimately connected with the notion of masculine-symbolism of God or divinity, as God created both Lilith and Namaah, and it is generally considered that the Buddha wouldn’t have even reached enlightenment without the trials that Mara tested him with.

So what does this disturbing occult history have to do with modern science and sleep paralysis? It sounds like something that Eli Roth would be filming, but, more than just a strange horror story, these esoteric tales from both the east and west embody attempts towards ancient science, in a world that was just beginning to understand the nature of the scientific method. The next piece in this equation, now that the context of the stage is set, is this scientific investigation. Provided by the striking and obvious parallel to sleep paralysis in all these concepts, it is simply logical to propose that any scientific data taken from studies done on sleep paralysis may in fact lead to some understanding of this bizarre esoteric demonology.

Common folklore on sleep paralysis suggested that a person never fall asleep supine, with the chest up to the sky. This was considered to be something like leaving the gates of defense wide open to a mare of the night. There is also, of course, the idea of a person being paralyzed because of the idea of this demon sitting on top of them and strangling them. Interestingly enough, scientific studies have shown that 58% of sleep paralysis encounters with shadow people happened while an individual was sleeping in the supine position, which was much higher of a rate than any other sleeping position. This scientific study also showed that,

“The cluster of symptoms associated with ‘incubus’ may reflect the nature of respiration during REM sleep. Just as we don’t notice our heartbeat when we aren’t paying attention to it, our breathing during REM sleep is a natural reflex. It is rapid and shallow and there is a deprivation of oxygen (hypoxia), high amounts of blood CO2 (hypercapnia) and an occlusion of airways. Due to the paralysis that naturally occurs during REM sleep, the contribution of throat muscles to breathing are reduced. As a result of all this, it is impossible for a person to voluntarily control their breathing during REM. Usually this is unnoticeable when asleep, but a sleep paralysis sufferer becomes consciously aware whilst remaining in a state of REM-induced paralysis. Efforts to take voluntary control of breathing are unsuccessful, and the struggle for breath may manifest in a feeling of breathlessness and lead to panic. In addition to this, paralysis in the muscles of our upper airways may contribute to feelings of choking and suffocation.”

The studies at hand can be read here and here.

While many people are quick to say, “Ah, there’s the logical explanation,” in all reality, this could just as easily be a scientific documentation of the physical phenomena of the demonic presence. Taken from an article on the stages of sleep cycles, consider the implications that the brain’s function may have with the ambient environment during states of non-ordinary (not experienced during alert, waking consciousness) brain activity.

“During a normal night’s sleep, a sleeper passes from the theta waves of stage 1 and 2, to the delta waves of stage 3 and 4. Delta waves are the slowest and highest amplitude brain waves. There is no real division between stages 3 and 4 except that, typically, stage 3 is considered delta sleep in which less than 50 percent of the waves are delta waves, and in stage 4 more than 50 percent of the waves are delta waves. Delta sleep is our deepest sleep, the point when our brain waves are least like waking. Consequently, it is the most difficult stage in which to wake sleepers, and when they are awakened they are usually sleepy and disoriented. Interestingly, delta sleep is when sleep walking and sleep talking is most likely to occur.”

The Delta Wave brain function is the most conclusive link that science has given between this idea of folklore and phenomenology, since it is the stage least similar to waking consciousness, it is the deepest stage in the sleep cycle, and it is the functionary state where the abnormal aspects of sleeping occur, which is called “somnambulism.” Since this is the term for sleepwalking, the parallel between sleep paralysis may be confusing, but they are actually quite similar upon analysis. The only difference between the effects of sleep paralysis and of sleepwalking, is that the first experiences an inability to move during acute awareness, and the other experiences the ability to move during a total lack of alert consciousness. Essentially, they are polar opposite expressions of the same phenomena.

Additionally, since delta waves occur during stages 3 and 4 of sleep, and sleepwalking is generally considered to happen in the stage 3 spectrum, what is being observed here is a continuum of brain wave activity. From the scale of alertness to dreaming, a person falls into a light sleep where they are in “catnap” mode; then into a deeper phase where certain physical actions can be performed if briefly wakened but critical thinking has been entirely shut down; next a person drifts into a state where they have essentially lost control of their physical bodily functions, and have focused the extent of any conscious willpower to the mental realm. Dreaming, in this case, would be considered the pinnacle of the mental brain wave activity on this continuum, and an idea of sleep paralysis could be like a signal jam right before a person is transmitting into a dream state.

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If these ideas are not conclusive enough, the link between hypnosis and somnambulism proves the theory increasingly interesting. Here is a quote taken from Tranced Out, which discusses research into hypnosis and neuro-linguistic programming,

“First of all, somnambulism is an outside-directed state. You don’t go into self-hypnosis somnambulism. It just doesn’t exist. What I found is that the ‘following instructions’ part of hypnosis is actually the most useful. The second criteria, then, for somnambulism, is that it is a state where we uncritically accept suggestions, and where we are not checking them against previously held ideas or belief systems.”

Suffice it to say that somnambulism is an intricate and essential state in any form of hypnosis, for the reasons that have been outlined here. Neuo-linguistic Programming (NLP) as well provides an unbelievably stark map for how paranormal phenomena may interact with the human brain, which will be discussed later in this series.

Through the mechanics of phenomenology outlined in Part 1, it therefore appears that during the latter stages of delta wave somnambulism, a person can accidentally attract an unwanted electromagnetic transmission, like a shark tasting a trail of blood in the water. Once this happens, the individual is then subjected the sort of “hypnotic state” playing field of awareness that this electromagnetic transmission has set for them. In this case, this transmission, or the shark in the analogy, is the shadow person or the demon.

With this working theory, it can therefore be quite easily postulated that encounters with cryptozoological beings, extraterrestrials and UFO’s, ghosts, and the like, can be said to occur when a person drifts closer towards delta wave activation in their waking perception. Delta waves, in this model, are the opening in this curtain of electromagnetic phenomena, and if one is not careful, all sorts of things (good and bad) can come out. How a person may engage in this brain function during a waking state, will be discussed further in the series. As well, it should be stated that this is not an attempt to disprove the physical manifestation of these encounters. Simply, this article asserts that this “hypnotic state” of sorts, inherently blurs the line between the psychological and the somatic.

Recommended research:

In summation, let it be known that science and folklore are not literally the same, and that sleep paralysis is not entirely a form of demonic possession, nor is someone who experiences sleep paralysis evil or being punished. However, they are experiencing terror just the same, and terror that is often physical. It has been considered throughout any and all esoteric philosophies this common notion of the spiritual ecosystem being similar to bacteria in a mammal’s stomach, or to the colonies of microbes and micro-organisms that live on a person’s skin. It might even make some people uncomfortable to know that they have micro-organism arachnids living in their eyelashes, squirming around, breeding, and having entire lives right next to their eyeballs, but this is simply nature, and it is entirely healthy.

In a sense, a person always has some sort of intimate relationship with the bacteria in their gut, and in this sense, esoteric scholars believe that the human brain has intimate relationships at any given time with the electromagnetic spirit realm. The function that this spirit realm plays, like the bacteria in the stomach, is so essential to normal function that it is hardly ever recognized for what is actually is—and subsequently, credit due to this electromagnetic curtain of activity is often given to unrelated and mundane events.

To end this, a quote by Fortean investigator, John Keel, couldn’t explain it better,

“The most fearsome monsters of all may inhabit the dark corners of our mind waiting for us to release them through our believes[sic] and gullibility. The phenomenon feeds on fear and belief. Sometimes it destroys us altogether, other times it leads us upwards into the labyrinth of electromagnetic frequencies that form a curtain in the area we call windows and stalk us to drink our blood and create all kinds of mischievous beliefs and misconceptions in our feeble little terrestrial minds.”

A person should study demonology because, as outline in Part 1, this is the study of the worst, but also the best of what this electromagnetic realm has to offer. The more positive aspects will be outlined next, and as always with the negative, preventative is really the best medicine.

[accordion title=”21st Century Demonology Continued” close=”0″]Part 1: Esoteric Sciences, Fortean Cryptozoology, & Beyond
Part 2: Folklore, Sleep Paralysis, and Brain Waves
Part 3: Theurgy and Jacob’s Ladder to the Stars
Part 4: Media Metaphysics & Shamanic Trances
Part 5: Cast Index, Ceremony, and the Metaphysic Ecosystem[/accordion]


Anthony Tyler
A journalist and author from Anchorage, Alaska, Anthony Tyler aims to twist the knife in both phony new-age ideals and scientific materialism by drawing attention to the rich heritage of esoteric science throughout history. Far from being “satanist,” the esoteric (i.e. occultism or comparative religion) marks the beginning of mathematics, astronomy, psychology, medicine, and even politics. Esoteric science represents a cache of little-known knowledge detailing how to decipher the human's unconscious mind--and the unconscious mind is essentially everything that the human mind is not considering at any given moment.

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