Dealing with Nightmares, Sleep Paralysis and Spirits

“The Nightmare” by Johann Heinrich Füssli

Several people have experienced some sort of sleep paralysis; the feeling of being pushed down by something in very simple terms. And while there are several scientific explanations for sleep paralysis, multiple different cultures associate this phenomenon with spirits; who can also cause nightmares, scratch you up, feed on your life essence or even act like incubi/succubi.

The German “Alp” or “Mahr” for instance is believed to sit on a sleeping person’s chest to suffocate them and drain them. For magic practioners those paranormal explanations can come in extremely handy, since magic in general attracts spirits. This doesn’t mean that a medical explanation should be dismissed in case you are experiencing sleep paralysis.

So when do you know you’re actually being haunted, instead of just sleep deprived? Well, malevolent spirits can also cause very graphic and traumatic nightmares. If those nightmares are coupled with either sleep paralysis or scratches when you wake up; then you can assume it’s a malevolent spirit. Sometimes those spirits won’t assault you in any physical way, but haunt your dreams every night instead.

Another way to find out if you’re actually being haunted is to do a reading via your preferred choice of divination and even warding your own bed and see if it works.

As for divination, I personally use Tarot and Geomancy. Those following cards and figures can pop up in case of an actual haunting (this goes for any type of haunting, not just dreams!):

  • Tarot: The Devil, Five of Wands, The Moon, Court Cards.
  • Geomancy: Rubeus, Puer and Carcer.

The following methods have been passed down to me from my own teacher, and they work wonders from my own personal experience; especially in the case of sleep paralysis and nightmares caused by spirits. I’m posting them because I’ve seen several people complain about horrible nightmares and sleep paralysis with possible malevolent spirit attachments; so I hope this will help any of you guys, as these methods have helped me and my friends several times!

“The Nightmare” by Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard

What to do when you wake up, can’t move and are pushed down by something?

This is a scary situation, no matter how you put it. I’ve experienced this myself several times, and things that helped in the moment are the following:

  • Hebrew names of God (Tetragrammaton, Elohim, Adonai Zebaoth, El Shaddai etc.)
  • Psalm 23.
  • Psalm 4 before going to sleep.

The Hebrew names of God make malevolent spirits disappear very quickly, however both the Hebrew names and the Psalms are a temporary solution. If you pray them, say them and etc. they act as a temporary banishment but not as a ward. Spirits that attack you during your sleep and even invade your dreams need physical wards; and often times you yourself have to cleanse yourself in case any attachment occured.

I want to note that the Hebrew names of God and the God of Israel Himself are not reserved for Jews or Christians. They work wether you’re Pagan or not and are allowed to be used and called upon by Pagans, as we can read in Solomon’s dedication of the temple:

“Likewise when a foreigner, who is not of thy people Israel, comes from a far country for thy name’s sake (for they shall hear of thy great name, and thy mighty hand, and of thy outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to thee; in order that all the peoples of the earth may know thy name and fear thee, as do thy people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.” 1 Kings 8:41-43 RSV.

“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:7 RSV.

So if you genuinely need help against evil spirits in general, don’t be afraid to call on the God of Israel for help. We can see people, who worked with pagan deities, called on Him in order to drive out evil spirits in the PGM; which are magical texts dating from 100 BCE to 400 CE:

“Hail, God of Abraham; hail, God of Isaac; hail, God of Jacob; Jesus Chrestos the Holy Spirit, the Son of the Father, who is above'” the Seven, / who is within the Seven. Bring Iao Sabaoth; may your power issue forth from him, NN, – until you drive away this unclean daimon Satan, who is in him.” PGM IV. 1227-64.

“The Dedication of the Temple of Solomon” by engraving T. Mosses after John Martin; Courtesy of The Clark Art Institute

Bathe in salt water!

This might sound odd to some people, but this is almost fool proof. Salt in general has a protective property against spirits due to it being ruled by the Moon. Prepare a salt ritual bath for yourself and cleanse yourself of any negative energies and spirits. This will break any attachment a malevolent spirit might have had.

I personally use a few table spoons of sea salt, some other people will add herbs (which is fine as well) or other natural materials with cleansing properties. After I mixed the salt into my bath water, I’ll pray Psalm 51 over it. Praying the Psalms might be uncomfortable for Pagans; so it’s fine if you want to skip this step (although I’ve seen the Psalms working for Pagans as well!). Instead of the Psalm you can pray your own prayer for washing away negtive energies, spirits and etc. and tune it more towards your own beliefs. Either way works!

After that, just bathe. Submerge yourself completely and wash yourself clean of any negative attachments, energies and spirits. If you like you can use a mantra to help you concentrate on the cleansing process! Once you feel everything gone, you can step out. For Jewish or Christian practitioners it’s suitable to pray either the Ana B’Choach or Our Father here (or both if you want) to close the ritual. If you are Pagan or uncomfortable with this for other reasons; you can thank your patron/patroness or the universe for the cleansing.

Banish the malevolent spirits!

Now it’s time to banish any malevolent energies and spirits from your living space. This can be done however you like. One very simple way is to, again, use salt! Mix some salt with water (I personally pray Psalm 29 over it) and sprinkle it everywhere.

Set up wards!

Wards can be set up in many different ways. You can draw a protective sigil on parchment and place this under your bed, or you can get some iron (which also wards off spirits) and place it under your bed as a ward; or anywhere you need wards to be set up. One of the most effective wards is actually a traditional pentagram, which had been used to ward off evil night spirits!

Another type of ward, similar to the pentagram, is the ouroboros – which had been used for protective measures in the PGM.

You can use any of those, and if you’re Christian, Jewish or comfortable with Abrahamic prayers you can also write a protective Psalm, like Psalm 23, inside your sigil.

I hope anybody reading this got something out of it. Thank you for reading!


  1. “The Bible” RSV.
  2. “The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation with Demotic Spells” edited by Hans Dieter Betz.

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