Unexplained scratches

If you like watching documentaries about ghosts like I do then you’ve probably noticed that if someone is being haunted by an evil spirit or a demon, they tend to find scratch marks on them.

The person often wakes up to find scratches on them. It is less common for them to appear during the day but this still happens. Maybe this has happened to you or you know someone who says this has happened to them.

If you don’t know anyone who has experienced this, then let me tell you that it has happened to me.

You may be expecting me to tell you an exciting tale about an evil demon who tried to steal my soul or something along those lines but instead my story doesn’t involve a malevolent demon or a revenge seeking spirit. It simply involves an unexplained phenomenon.

It all started a few years ago. It was a regular Sunday afternoon and I was sat in my bedroom reading a book when all of a sudden I felt a horrible burning pain on my upper left arm. I quickly pulled up my sleeve and was astonished to find three long scratch marks.

My boyfriend was in the room with me and I showed him the scratches straight away. His instant response was to tell me I must have scratched myself in my sleep and that I’d only just noticed. As great as this explanation sounds, I knew that wasn’t the case. The scratches were new, I could tell. They were raised and bleeding very slightly. I’d been awake for 7 hours so any scratches I may have inflicted on myself in my sleep would have surely begun to scab up by that point.

After dismissing his explanation, my boyfriend then suggested that I’d just scratched myself without realising. This too seemed implausible since I was wearing a thick jumper so it would have been difficult to scratch myself that deeply, plus I’ve never scratched myself that hard and not realised as I did it.

A few days later, the same thing happened again, only this time I had scratches on my other arm. It started the same way with a burning sensation. I started doing some research online and all I could find was articles to do with demon possession and haunted houses.

I didn’t jump straight to the conclusion that a demon was after me because I just didn’t feel like that was the case. The house didn’t feel haunted, there were no other signs that my house was being invaded by unearthly beings. I didn’t feel frightened or threatened. The only odd things happening to me was the scratches.

A few days later it happened for a third and final time. These scratches where the most painful and appeared on my back. Again it was three long scratches and it started with a burning sensation.

Since this happened to me, I can’t watch documentaries about demons and ghosts in the same way. Whenever someone claims to have been scratched by a demon, I think ‘Yeah yeah it happens’ I can’t take that sort of stuff seriously because I know it can just happen without explanation.

You could say that it’s different when scratches appear on someone who is also experiencing other signs of a haunting, but what if all signs of a haunting are just a bunch of things that sometimes happen with no explanation. The laws of probability say that unexplained scratches would happen in conjunction with other signs of a haunting to some people. Other signs could be things like unexplained footsteps and a feeling of being watched.

It feels like I’m doomed to go back on fourth with my opinions about the supernatural. Sometimes I’m provided with evidence for ghosts, other times I am confronted with facts that say otherwise and then there are times like this, where weird stuff happens and I don’t know why.

The Shadow Man

Even though people have encountered shadow people for centuries, it is only recently that it has become quite a mainstream paranormal topic.

The first memory I have of encountering shadow people was when I was 4 years old, I had no idea what they were but they didn’t frighten me. They’d always appear at around twilight time in a particular corner of our garden, one would appear for a split second and then vanish and then a few minutes later another would appear for a split second and it’d go on like that for a while. I was so accustomed to seeing them that I didn’t really think they were anything out of the ordinary. Eventually I mentioned it to my dad, he said he’d seen them too when he was young and that eventually I’d stop seeing them.

I stopped seeing the shadow people in our garden at around 6 years old. The cessation of my experiences with shadow people ended at around the same time that I began to question reality more. I think that at that age, children begin to develop an ability for critical thinking and as the mind changes and evolves, the ability to see otherworldly beings seems to end.

Not all paranormal experiences end during childhood. Many adults see shadow people but there seems to be a difference in how they’re perceived. Adults who have seen shadow people tend to have a more negative view of them. They often say that they could sense evil. It’s difficult to decide whether there are different types of shadow people, maybe we’ve been wrong to group all paranormal things that resemble a shadow as ‘shadow people’ some of them could be aliens, some could be time travelling beings and others could be something much more demonic. It is the latter catogory of shadow people that I want to talk about.

One warm summer evening in 2009, I got a call from a singer who was starting up a band, he’d heard I was a guitarist looking for a band and wanted me to come round for a jam. I turned up to his house the next day with my guitar, met the other band members and had a fun afternoon of playing music.

The exterior of the house.

It all seemed well and good and although I was apprehensive about making a good first impression, there was something else that bothered me. His house was creepy! we were practicing in his dining room but when I went to use the upstairs bathroom, I felt uneasy, I didn’t like being alone in that house. At the time I didn’t think too much into it because I was more concerned about joining the band and music, but after being invited into the band, I began to notice more about that house.

It was probably a few months later when I actually saw something. I was in the kitchen making myself a cup of tea, the kitchen door was wide open and it led to the hallway which had the stairs and a door to the living room in it. In the corner of my eye, I saw a tall black thing walk quickly from the bottom of the stairs through to the living room. I could tell it wasn’t human, but regardless of this I checked the living room and there was no one there.

You don’t only see it, you feel it.

I saw the black thing in the corner of my eye a few times but I didn’t mention it to anyone as I thought I’d be laughed at. I’d seen things in the corner of my eye before and I think most people have. Most of the time it’s just your imagination, but this is different. You don’t only see it, you feel it.

When I started dating the singer, I told him about what I’d been seeing in his house. He said that his mother is a strict Christian who insists the house is blessed and can’t be haunted. I should mention here that it is his mother’s house but I didn’t really speak to her at first, it took a while to get to know here.

A view from the kitchen to the hallway. (Although you can’t quite tell from this picture, the stairs are on the left and the living room door is on the right)

One day I was sat in the conservatory chatting to the rhythm guitarist we had at the time, he was facing the door which led to the kitchen. He was in the middle of talking when he suddenly stopped mid sentence, his face went pale. I asked what was wrong and he said he’d just seen a ghost. I asked him what it looked like and he described it as a tall black shadow. I mentioned that I’d seen it too but when the singer (now my boyfriend) came back from the shop he told us to stop being stupid and that if his mum heard us talking about it, she’d chuck us out.

His mother didn’t like anyone to discuss ghosts in her house and she wouldn’t even entertain the idea of her house being haunted, her son (my boyfriend) was very much the same in the early years.

I remember one night when it was just myself and my boyfriend in the house recording music in the dining room, I went to the kitchen to get a beer when I noticed a rattling sound. I looked around the kitchen and saw a bead necklace hanging from a door handle swinging from side to side. I assumed it must have been knocked somehow but as I watched it, it became more erratic and started swinging faster and became almost aggressive. I shouted for my boyfriend to come and look at it, as soon as he walked in and saw the swinging necklace, he grabbed it and flung it in a drawer and refused to discuss it. He has changed so much over the years, but I believe he didn’t see the shadow man like everyone else did because he refused to acknowledge things like that.

Years later, the singer and I began living together elsewhere but we still visited his mother in the house. Our bass player at the time had also moved into the house because he had nowhere to live. This is where the story gets weirder. I had told the bass player about the shadow man in the house so at the time I wasn’t sure if the events which happened next occurred because I’d filled him with paranoia, but the shadow man definitely seemed to get stronger as soon as he moved in.

He felt the shadow man was watching his every move.

Our bass player who was once a loud and energetic character became more and more withdrawn the longer he lived there. He confided in me one day that he’d heard someone shout ‘Fuck you’ loudly in his ear when walking down the stairs on numerous occasions and that he felt the shadow man was watching his every move. Even though I had seen the shadow man with my own eyes, I put his experiences down to his use of cannabis.

Regardless of my skepticism I remember we decided to ask the tarot for guidance, it didn’t really help that we kept drawing ‘the devil’ card in every reading. I took this as a sign that there was something a bit odd going on. Not long after he’d hit rock bottom, he left the house and the band. He had a lot going on in his head, but looking back now, I can’t help but think that the shadow man fed off his negativity and that if he remained in its presence much longer, it would have attached itself to him.

The Devil Tarot card

After some hard times recently, my boyfriend and I ended up having to move in with his mother, so as I write this I am in the domain of the shadow man. Nothing has changed, there is an oppressive atmosphere and I have seen the shadow man a few times but it’s always such a brief sighting that it’s hard to even describe it. My boyfriend has now also seen it.

The layout of the house has changed a little over the years. There’s a door that goes into the kitchen from the dining room and this door has some frosted glass that allows you to see into the kitchen. Whilst my boyfriend was recording some guitar for a song in his makeshift recording studio in the dining room, he saw what he thought was me walking into the kitchen. He saw it a few times in the corner of his eye, so he became quite distressed when he found that I was still in bed with a migraine and had not left the room. His mother was out so the only explanation was the shadow man.

Finally I have a kind of conclusion, or atleast an explanation. One night I was sat downstairs talking with his mother about her journey to becoming a Christian and she told me something that she’d never mentioned before, it was something that could finally explain everything that had been going on.

It had once tried to drown her in the bath.

I already knew that she used to dabble in the Occult as a teenager and that doing all of that had encouraged her to turn to God later in life. What she’d never mentioned before is that whist messing around performing rituals and séances, she had unwittingly conjured something evil into her life. She described it as a tall dark thing that would come into her bedroom at night and try to strangle her. She said that it had once tried to drown her in the bath. It wasn’t until she became a Christian that she stopped seeing it.

This could explain the origin of the shadow man but the unsettling thing is that although she claims to not see it anymore, everyone around her has. Believe it or not, I have tried to keep this post brief, but there have been a lot of other people who have encountered the shadow man in her house.

Maybe her belief in God has protected her from the shadow man but it has entered our reality and can’t leave. It could be looking for a new person to attach to, I believe it was trying to attach itself to our old bass player. I only hope that I am strong enough and positive enough to keep the shadow man from attaching itself to me.

Sleep Paralysis

The mundane explanation for sleep paralysis is that sometimes when we’re asleep, our brains become active but our body remains asleep. A person experiencing sleep paralysis will wake up and find that they’re unable to move, they may feel afraid and sometimes they may even feel a presence or see an entity in the room. It can occasionally be accompanied by the sensation of something heavy pressing on their chest, this can even cause breathing difficulties. The whole ordeal can be very terrifying.

The strange thing about sleep paralysis is that no one actually knows why it happens. It is something that nearly 50% of us will experience at one point in our lives. For me it has happened more than once. I’m thankful that my experiences have not been as frightening as other people’s accounts, yet there seems to be a common theme with everyone’s sleep paralysis experience.

Demon visitations, alien abduction and ghosts have been explained away by sleep paralysis. It seems like the logical answer to explain away unexplained phenomena. The problem is that sleep paralysis itself is unexplained, mysterious and more terrifying than scientists want to admit.

The most terrifying aspect of sleep paralysis is when the sufferer senses someone or something in the room with them. It is a theme that is common throughout the world, and it begs the question, why? one hypothesis is that it is an instinct that has stayed with us as we’ve evolved. It was a way for our caveman ancestors to be aware of their surroundings while they slept. This idea just doesn’t make sense to me. Imagining entities watching us while we sleep doesn’t seem like a useful technique for preparing for an attack.

Occam’s razor dictates that the most obvious explanation is more likely to be correct. The obvious explanation with sleep paralysis appears to be that there actually is something there in the bedrooms of sleep paralysis sufferers. I’m not saying that they’re being visited by demons or aliens or ghosts, but what if our unconscious minds work with our subconscious to enter a plain of existence that is slightly different from our own reality.

You’ve probably heard of an incubus and a succubus before. They were thought to be demons that enter the sleeping quarters of sleeping men and women to perform sexual acts on them. They’re now thought of as an olden day explanation for sleep paralysis. Again, I find it baffling that we’ve tried to explain away what could be considered ‘paranormal’ with something that is equally unexplained and in its own way ‘paranormal’. The question is, what if the old legends are true? what if these entities are real, some kind of inter-dimensional being that requires you to be on the right frequency for it to make contact with you.

I’ve spoken to a lot of sleep paralysis sufferers and most of them said that during an episode, they were visited by a hag like woman. I too have been visited by this woman.

I remember on one night I woke up to find I was unable to move, this wasn’t the first time I had experienced this, I knew it was sleep paralysis so I didn’t panic, I just tried to move and jerk myself awake. In the process of trying to move, I suddenly felt a sense of dread, I knew that something was coming for me. I heard it walking up the stairs outside my bedroom door. It made an awful gargling, choking noise as it got closer to my bedroom door. I didn’t want to see it, I was desperately trying to wake up because seeing that thing would have just killed me (that’s what I was thinking at the time). I managed to wake up just before she got to my room. Even though I didn’t see her, I knew what she looked like, and I knew she wanted to kill me. After speaking with other people about it, I realise that she was ‘the hag’.

‘The hag’ is just one of many sleep paralysis visitors that people have described. I find it strange though that there are categories of visitations. If it were all imaginary, wouldn’t every experience be different? wouldn’t everyone see or sense a different person or being. Why are there only a small number of beings that people tend to see? could it be that the explanation is that these beings are indeed real?! no matter what they are, there is one thing to be said about them, they are sinister, evil and they want your soul!

Near Death Experiences

I have very conflicting thoughts about near death experiences. On the one hand you could say that those who have experienced it, really did leave their bodies since there have been experiments which have possibly proven it.. but then there’s the scientific side of things which attributes these experiences to cerebral hypoxia.

There have been numerous experiments designed to better understand near death experiences (NDE) one of the more well known experiments started in 2008 and is set to fully end sometime this year. It has so far involved hospitals in the UK, USA and Austria and is lead by British medical professor and resuscitation specialist Sam Parnia. So far they have found that patient awareness occurred paradoxically some minutes after the heart stopped, at a time when the brain ordinarily stops functioning. If it wasn’t the brain that was creating the ‘hallucinations’ then where were these images and experiences coming from?

The skeptical scientists of this world believe that NDEs happen when the brain is starved of oxygen (cerebral hypoxia) it’s just a result of the dying brain. This theory sounds very plausible but it contradicts the many experiments that have shown that patients in hospitals whose hearts had stopped had somehow experienced things which a brain that was so starved of oxygen couldn’t possibly imagine or recall later once the patient was fully conscious again.

In reality we don’t have enough knowledge of how the brain works or how it functions when it’s starved of oxygen… we don’t even know what dreams are and why we have them. One major thing supports the theory of cerebral hypoxia being the cause of NDEs and it is that people tend to have slightly different experiences depending on their cultural background. If someone from a Christian background believes he went to heaven or hell and someone from a Hindu background sees Yamarāja (the Hindu god of the dead) it implies that NDEs are a product of our imagination and of course our cultural and religious backgrounds.

The one thing that keeps me from siding with the skeptical scientists is that even though people from around the world have different NDEs depending on their backgrounds, some elements are the same no matter where they’re from and what they believe. A bright light, a tunnel, seeing loved ones who have passed on are very common experiences. The fact that religious experiences coincide with these other experiences should not discredit them, since it could even be possible that all religions are correct or that the loved ones who have passed on could be projecting something comforting to the dying person so that their transition into death is peaceful. Another thought here is that some of the core elements of an NDE have even been reported by children of 3 years old and younger. In other words, they had NDEs at an age where they should not have been influenced by culture or tradition.

Prophetic Dreams

I remember watching a documentary about a man who had predicted a plane crash that killed everyone on board. He claimed that he knew it would happen, because he had dreamed about it. On several occasions he had frantically called the airlines to warn them, but was of course not taken seriously. He had a few more dreams about it, and began learning more details about the crash. He could describe the plane, the flying conditions and the nature of the crash, but still no one would listen. Eventually his premonition came true. It seemed almost pointless for this man to have had those dreams, since there was nothing he could do about it. It makes you wonder why the universe would try to tell someone about a disastrous future event when they have no control over the situation. Surely it would have been better if the pilot of the doomed plane had the prophetic dreams. Maybe it all depends on how open you are to receiving messages from the universal energy. It just so happens that the people who are more open, tend not to be in positions of power.

I recently experienced a dream that might be considered to be prophetic. If it was just me who had had this dream, I might not think much about it, but I’m not the only one. Over two months ago, I dreamed that a dark cloud had formed above the entire world, people were panicking and rioting and it was very scary. When I woke up, I immediately wanted to tell my partner about it. Before I could complete the sentence ‘I had a really strange dream..’ my partner interrupted and said ‘No I had a strange dream!!’ he began telling me that he dreamed a dark cloud had come over and caused everyone to panic. I couldn’t believe it! I told him about my dream and at first he thought it was cute we’d had the same dream. He put it down to us being very close and maybe watching something on TV that caused us both to have similar dreams. I still kept thinking that it meant something.

Not too long after we had those dreams, the coronavirus began to spread around the world until it was finally recognised as a pandemic. I could say that maybe my dream was warning me of our impending doom, but it gets weirder.

I’m subscribed to a group on Facebook, that mainly features paranormal tales and ghost stories from its members. A recent post to the group caught my eye. A man had written about a dream he had a few months ago about a dark cloud. His description of the cloud matched the cloud in my dream. ‘It was a huge cloud a dark cloud! taller than a cumulonimbus and lower to the ground than normal clouds’ Other members of the group had commented to say that they too had had similar dreams. Some thought that the dreams were a warning of the coronavirus. I can see how something dark coming over our world and creating panic, sounds like it’d be a premonition about a pandemic, but it’s a little too abstract for my liking. The man who dreamed a plane was going to crash, had detailed dreams about it. There was no confusion or metaphor. It got me wondering if maybe we had those dreams to warn us about something else, something far worse. A world war perhaps? a mushroom cloud? the end of the world?

I can’t be certain that these dreams mean anything, it could be a coincidence that a load of people had the same dream. It could be one of those common dreams like the ‘falling dream’ or the ‘naked at school’ dream, but none of us had yet had ‘the cloud’ dream until this point in time. Maybe we’re looking into it more because of the current state the world is in right now. It doesn’t really matter so much if it was warning, I don’t think any of us are in a position to change what might happen to the world. We’ve all had these dreams for either no reason at all, or for reasons that we can’t explain or change.