The first time I experienced Sleep Paralysis “duppy hol dung” was when I was a child of six years old in Jamaica, this is my earliest memory. It was torturous. I heard my mother singing in the kitchen, I felt the sun streaming in and beaming down on my bed, I heard the birds in our next door neighbour’s Mr. Henry mango tree whistling, and I could not wake up. I smelled my mother’s ackee and saltfish that she was preparing for breakfast and I tried to scream but could not. I felt my father’s presence come into my room, smelled the ganja he was smoking and I wanted to shout “Daddy help me!” but my lips could not move. The air was tight and I felt as if I would suffocate, I had not thought of death back then while this happened or the fear of it, I just wanted my mother. My small body attempted to shake myself awake and all of a sudden I jolted awake, gasping for air. Ears ringing, heart racing, me sweating and afraid. It was to be the first (perhaps the first, this was my first memory) of many of my sleep paralysis experiences, and when I became Obara Meji, the experience took on a different feeling, a very different one…
Over time this thing has plagued me and has been such a disruption in my life. I dreaded going to sleep alone at nights because I always had to have someone sleep with me in order to shake me out of it. This shaking and struggling, frightening state that I was in, it was the most horrific feeling. My mother told me to call upon Jesus and that worked for a while. I was Christian back then, so I figured that my consciousness agreed with my belief and worked on my behalf. She also told me to say the 23rd, 27th, and 91st psalms and that worked also until after a while they stopped working and unless I called out to Jesus, using his name it stopped. After I moved away from Christianity and whenever I experienced this, while struggling to wake up, I would hesitate to call on Jesus (please take note that in those moments of terror, while struggling to wake up, while fear grips you and you feel as if you are dying, you can think and make decisions) not knowing if it would work for me, because I was no longer a practitioner of Christianity. At times when the terror was too much, I would call his name, and true to my thought, nothing! I laugh as I type, because just now as I wrote that last sentence I had a flash of Jesus (Jesus in my head is Jamaican by the way, as I am Jamaican) looking down at me and kissing his teeth with a screw face and a spliff kocthed on the side of his lips saying “mek yuh ah call man name fah, yuh nuh sey mi nuh real!” and then he would bun mi out.
Ok back to the struggling, when calling out to Jamaican Jesus and he would bun mi out, I would call out to my deity to whom I am an initiate, Osun (Oshun) and yes I would come back to myself. There was one time, when I was in a fight to wake up and I forgot to call upon anything. I literally could feel the presence of something standing over me and try as I might, the brute was strong and overpowered my enemy (me, but I use the words “my enemy” to deflect the negative away from me) for a while. I thought in that moment that this was it. I heard a voice say to me, Obara relax, just relax my dear. You were far away into your travels (sleep) and now that you have come back the position in which you left to travel is new and your spirit is trying to get back inside your body, but you are fighting it, thinking that it is a foreigner. What you feel is your own spirit and it wants you to relax, my dear, so calm down, and allow it to enter. I heard this, I do not care if you do not believe me, but this is what I heard in my mind from a gentle voice that had no gender. I relaxed and in a whoosh, I woke up gasping for air.
I have gone over and over in my mind, that specific time when I got that message and have wondered if this is what happens all the time. Do we go to sleep in one position and when our spirits come back to our bodies and we are ready to wake up, if we are in a sleeping position which may disturb how the spirits enter the body when they come back, is this the reason why we struggle?
Is it that our brain is alert but in a confused state when it wakes up before the spirit, which is its engine, while it tries to come in? Ok, Science may say this, not in the same words of course, but does sleep paralysis happen when the spirit comes back and is not able to come in the way it is supposed to? The physical body does have many different points of entry and exits. Yes it does. When we sleep we all leave our bodies and travel to the world of dreams and visions. Yes there is such a world, what this really means is that we are guided to wherever we have permission to go, by our guides to receive messages or experience certain things. There are other worlds which looks just like our world, Earth, there are more than one (I will do classes on this some time soon). Many people who have very high vibrations can go beyond this world (the spiritual earth) and enter to realms of spirit where many who have physical bodies cannot go and return back to normal life.
When I received initiation into Osun, I remember laying on the ground in front of Osun’s shrine in Lagos Nigeria. It was a long and hard night of dancing and celebration of my wonderful initiation and finally I was able to sleep. As I slept, unaware that my God mother slept beside me, I heard a strange sound, like a hard wind or a tornado… Woogu, Woogu, Woogu, Woogu! loud and fast. I tried to open my eyes and found that I couldn’t, all I saw was full white before my closed eyes. I heard my Godmother get up and all the Osun women sitting up, as I struggled to open my eyes, while still hearing this sound loud and fast. I wanted to panic, I tried to panic and shake wildly, begging them to shake me out of this terrifying feeling, Instead I heard my God mother’s voice say, “leave her, let the Orishas communicate with her”. I felt hot and disturbed and afraid. Here I was in Africa, being initiated, my family several hours away, here I had no one and this thing that had plagued me all my life had come to disturb me or so I thought, and these women were watching me struggle to wake up, to me it seemed as if I was just a spectacle. I wanted it to end. However this “duppy hol dung” experience was different.
While I felt the same dread and terror, I realized that I was having a great spiritual experience, which was apart of my initiation, my personal experience, no one else I know went through that. I could hear all the mothers softly chattering, whispering to each other while watching me, but I was in another world while hearing them. I was present where they were, but caught up somewhere else, where I saw pure white and heard the names of every Orisha as they introduced themselves to me one by one by name and others things which each told to me. The Woogu sound was on full speed and loud, but I heard them speak to me, and all that I had gone through while the celebration of the first night of initiation, the singing and drumming, I heard it all over again as the Orishas came in and presented themselves to me. Being born that day was Obara Meji, I had no idea, but I was being blessed, unimaginably so. The mothers knew and so they watched me as I layed on the floor before them in that mystical place, holding on between life and death, except this death was my rebirth, me being born again. The Woogu began to slow down, and the singing stopped along with the drummings, the white was still present, but all that moved fast paced before slowed and I slowly came back to myself and opened my eyes. All the mothers watched me intently, on edge, I guess to make sure that I had indeed arrived, and when they were sure, they shouted “Oore Yeye Osun OOOOO!!!” (All praises to my mother Osun).
My God mother whispered to me, “It seems that you are talented, never before have I initiated a person and they traveled as quickly as you, if at all.” She said this with a beam of content in her eyes and a smile. When I went back home, I did not experience Sleep Paralysis for two years, to my surprise. It had always plagued me at least once per week perhaps. Was I free of it? I wondered. I knew it would come back and I dreaded the day. I will have to make a part three to this (no promises though), but when, I am not sure, there is so much more of this phenomena that I want to share with you and of course I always share my many experiences, and with this sleep paralysis experience, it could be an encyclopedia.
I believe people who have experienced this are people who have a particular spiritual height. Their spiritual vibration is different from those who do not experience this. It does not mean that those who do not experience this is not open or spiritual, it means that we, who go through this are spiritual warriors, those who have a spirit to fight spiritual beings who may come to disturb us or those who may just be passing through. However, not everyone who goes through this, goes through it for the same reason. For example remember what I told you before about the entry points and the spirit trying to get back to the body? I go through this a lot, and I have come to realize that it is when something foreign comes into where I am sleeping, something foreign meaning spirits, whether they are sent or just earthbound spirits. I am a spiritual warrior and mine is not what science describes it to be. At times I may hover above my physical body trying to get in, scary also, or while someone is trying to shake me out of it, I will hear and feel them but cannot respond. Duppy loves to challenge me, so they try to connect with me always, these things are my own personal experiences and my own belief as to why they occur. I use to hate them, and if I am honest I still do, yet I know that most often these experiences serves as a warning to me when unfriendly spirit entities comes to attack and over the years they have taught me how to fight. Do I like it? No, I do not. Am I grateful for the experience, knowing what I know now and how it is a part of my spiritual journey and teachings? Yes, I am. Spirituality, learning, doing, teaching, practicing, experiencing these things and more, is not an easy road, but one must answer their call. My own is a battle, an awareness, time travel, a meeting and occasionally, me trying to get back into my body after coming back from traveling, or me trying to escape a particularly frightening dream. I have more to share, but not today, another day, perhaps.
Ọkùnrin rí ejò obìnrin paá, bí ejò bá ti kú, ọ̀ràn bùṣe /
A a snake and a woman kills it; once the snake is dead, that settles it…..Yoruba Proverb!
[Substance over form; focus more on the result achieved rather than on who achieved it or the method used]
Everything comes when it must, and everything happens for a reason, do not hurry your life, what is destined for you, cannot escape you, just keep the faith, be patient and be prayerful, filled with compassion, kindness and respect for all, let these qualities be among your name, God will fill in the rest…..Obara Meji!
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love….Obara Meji
There are no disappointments in life, only lessons learned!….Obara Meji
Obara Meji is a spiritualist, Ifa-Orisa practitioner, and teacher of metaphysics. Since 2011 she has used her online platform to share her personal experiences to those seeking answers about spirituality. Her teachings will expand into short stories, novels, and public speaking to continue her mission of bringing enlightenment to the world.