Have you ever woken in the middle of the night with a pressure on your chest, drenched in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and found that you couldn’t move or speak? It may have been a nightmare, or it may have been The Nocnitsa.
The Nocnitsa, (from Russian, Polish, Serbian, and Slovak folklore) or The Night Hag, goes by many names, but has a few terrifying characteristics that cross the folklore boundaries. Known to be related to the Incubi and Succubi of the world, she feeds off your energy while you sleep. The Nocnitsa is known to sit on your chest while you sleep (in the position known as “sleeping with the dead” when you are lying on your back with your hands on your chest) so she can draw your life energy from your body.
Generally, the Nocnitsa enjoys feeding off the energies of children. The Night Hag seems to be less particular. Ever wonder where the traditions of leaving a knife in a child’s cradle, or drawing a circle around a crib came from? It is said that these traditions were believed to combat the Nocnitsa, to prevent future night terrors.
The Nocnitsa, or Night Hag, is said to have eerie, glowing red eyes. She is sometimes described as being one with the shadows. Some allege her to have a screeching voice, and many believe she brings the scent of dirt or moss from her forest habitat.
So, if you ever hear an unexplained screeching noise accompanied by the smell of earth, sleep on your stomach, with the lights on.
As I lie in bed, waiting for sleep to take me, the hairs on my arms begin to stand alert. I roll over and pull the covers higher to shield myself from the cool air coming from the fan. As I start to close my eyes again, I hear a rustling noise come from the window.
With a loud gasp, I jump up to turn on the lamp on my night stand. “What are you doing?” my husband asks. “I swear I heard something,” I say as I point a trembling finger toward the window. “I think you were dreaming. Go back to bed,” he says as he rolls back to face the opposite side of the room.
I make one more sweep of the room with my tired eyes before reaching for the lamp. As the light flicks off, I swear I catch a glimpse of what appears to be a set of glowing red eyes staring back at me from the window. I quickly switch the light back on, hoping to find the source of the eerie reflection. Nothing appears. ‘I really need to get some sleep,’ I say to myself as I switch off the light again.
Moments later I begin to relax, feeling the heaviness wash over me. Right on the brink of slipping in to sleep I feel something land on the edge of the bed. I hear a “huff” sound and think ‘ it’s just the dog, ‘as I allow my body to sink further into the bed.
Suddenly, the room falls silent. I can no longer hear the soothing sound of the fan or the slow, rhythmic breathing of my sleeping husband. I try to adjust my position and find that I am held in place by an unseen force. There is a pressure on my chest, my arms and legs feel heavy, and won’t obey my thoughts. My heart begins to race and I try to call out to my husband. I have no voice. I try again and only silence and air escape my lips. I try with all my might to thrash my limbs and scream for help when I feel a sudden jolt, and a release.
I’m able to breathe again. ‘Just a nightmare,’ I think to myself. I quickly turn my head to face my husband to find some comfort, and I am met with an icy, empty stare. Mouth wide open and eyes un-moving, I find my husband’s face caught in a silent scream. As I try to sit up to turn on the light, the pressure returns to my chest. My arms are pinned down, my heart beats wildly.
And, the last thing I see, as a silent scream emerges from my mouth, is a pair of glowing red eyes staring down at me, connected to a decaying visage with long, dark hair, and an open mouth full of rotten teeth.