Mythical Creatures: Mara

Hello Everyone,

Wow, indeed. I have been lacking. Utmost apologies for that but perhaps as the more eerie time of year is starting to set in and everyone’s creepy level begins to climb a good blog about nightmares will redeem myself. Actually it’s not so much about the nightmares themselves but about a creature that helps cause them, known as the Mara.

Sleep Paralysis:

Most people these days are familiar with the term ‘sleep paralysis.’ This is because of modern science and studies that have shown that many people have this occur and some more than others. But back in the days before these studies this was considered to be caused by different aspects in one’s life. The Mara.

rem sleep paralysis


Mara are evil spirits that attack when the victim is asleep. They press down, or sit, on the chest of the victim and interfere within the dreams of the person. Leaving them somewhat awake but still in a dream state, filled with horror and unable to move and rid themselves of this evil.


Not only would they interfere with the dreams of the person, causing severe nightmares and the inability to distinguish in the mornings between the realities of what happened and if it was perhaps a dream, but they would leave the victim restless and tired in a physical state of despair.


The Mara date back to the 13th century or perhaps even earlier. Many different myths are told of how they came to be. One is a child that died before baptism coming back to haunt those who it would have been with in the real world and not the dream world. Or at least somewhere in between. They may take the form a strand of hair or a moth that lies on the victims face to be almost invisible to others observing in the dark candle lite night causing these symptoms on a victim.

kinashibari sleep paralysis

Some myths mention the Mara being larger creatures with the physical ability to cause this stress on a human without using special powers. The sheer weight of the Mara alone could press the breath out of the victim. The word Mara actually derives from several times, one being from Mare. This is because they would ride the victim like a horse all night leaving them restless and confused come sunrise. Others say the word Mara dates back further and is a meaning for ‘harm’ in that which it does to the victims.

It was even believed that the Mara would leave horses restless in the barns or stables. Riding and tormenting them all night so come morning the horses where to spooked and too weak from riding. Some even believe the evils spirits that many know as Succubus and/or Incubus are similar creatures but with more sexual intentions when preventing their victims from a sleepless night. But that is a different blog to come, hopefully, in the future. But for now on when you think about nightmare, remember where the Mare comes from….the Mara.



Evil Spirits, many forms depending on the culture and how the Mara came to be. They can be large enough to hold a full grown person down or as small as a strand of hair. They are immortal and have no set lifespan. They attack during sleep, causing nightmares and physically draining the person in the real world while leaving them helpless to experience the Mara but in such a dream state that they are unsure on if it truly happened. They can supposedly be repelled by sleeping with a piece of Iron often used in children’s beds to prevent a child’s sleepless behavior. They live wherever they seem fit but most tales take them to Scandinavia especially among the Norse times.


Thanks for Reading,

Joshua Crane Dowidat




Allan, T. (2008). The Mythic Bestiary. London: Duncan Baird Publishers

Images Retrieved from:

Slavic mythology from Poland (part 3): ZMORY


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