A woman awakes in the middle of the night terrified. She attempts to sit up but is
unable to move. As she glances at the foot of her bed, she thinks she sees a dark shadow;
maybe a person in a dark robe, or perhaps only a shadow. In a few minutes, she is able to
move and speak, and the "figure" is gone.
This woman experienced what is known as a Mara, which usually happens at night,
either during sleep or during a lucid dream, but the experiencee is always wide awake.
Paralysis is almost always reported, and the presence of a figure, which some interpret as
an angel, a vampire, a ghost, a deceased loved one, an extraterrestrial, and a wide variety
of "otherworldly" beings.
A scientifically baffling characteristic of mara's is the bodily changes that can take place
to an experiencee. For example, if one experiences a vampire attack, they may discover
puncture wounds on ones neck, which may also be bleeding. Those who interpret the
event as an alien abduction, may find mysterious cuts, or particles of matter (implants)
under their skin. It has been suggested that the power of suggestion was at work, as the
mind can convince the body that it has been bitten, and in response, blood vessels may
break, causing the effect of a vampire bite, or needle marks. The mara experience is
directly influenced by the individuals beliefs. For example, a religious person may
interpret such apparition as a heavenly being, while a UFO-believer may describe the
figure as an alien entity.
An anonymous lady described a mara experience where she was woken up just after she
had fallen asleep. She felt a presence in the room but could not move to confirm the
strong sensation, nor could she make any sound. She began to panic and soon saw a
dark shadow in the corner of her room approach her. She then felt a weight on her chest
and a sharp pain on her neck. A few minutes later, the pain stopped, and she was able to
move again. She rushed to the mirror, and found two red swollen spots on her neck but
no puncture marks. In an interview, she said, "I don't believe some being visited me. I
had seen a vampire movie a few days ago, and I think my mind simply worked that into
some sort of realistic dream or something."
Another story was told by a man who said that he woke up in the middle of the night
because he had a hard time breathing. When he opened his eyes, he saw a dark being
sitting on him, choking him. When he tried to move, he realized that he was paralyzed.
In his mind, he envisioned a cross, and immediately, the being vanished, leaving the man
gasping for breath. He also does not fully believe that he had an evil visitor in the night.
He believes that perhaps his cat laid on his chest or neck, and in his semi-asleep state, his
mind created a hallucination of a dark shadow (which he adds, could have been his
bunched up bed covers).
Mara experiences vary between cultures. Tales from Europe and Nova Scotia, Canada,
describe a similar experience called "hagging", where an old, ugly witch sits on a man's
chest. Other cultures describe dark figures, sometimes wearing capes and tall, pointed
hats. Still others have feelings of being raped by succubi or the popobawa of Africa.
The religious envision angels, while others interpret the "visitation" as that from alien
beings or vampires. Skeptics use this fact to conclude that the maras are not real but
merely a figment of an over-active imagination.
Through the research I've conducted, I find no actual proof of real visitations in the night.
Most people who have experienced maras do not believe that they had encounters with
the otherworldly. Instead, they are not entirely closed minded to the fact that it may have
been the result of the subconscious fabricating a vision. Although I believe there is some
kind of entity out there, I do not think that the majority of maras are real.