Lore Report: “A Great Weight” (Episode 146)


In the realm of sleep and dreams and internal forces, sometimes the most frightening disturbances can come from within us: visions that startle us awake, or experiences that are too disturbing to allow us a good night’s rest. We’re told that it’s all a figment of our imagination, and most of us have wrestled with a horrifying question once or twice before: what happens if our nightmares become reality?

In Episode 146 of the Lore podcast, host Aaron Mahnke is in top form as he delves below the surface of waking reality to focus on the phenomena of nightmares and sleep paralysis. Mahnke begins with a survey of the wildly off-the-mark explanations throughout history for the cause of nightmares. He also explains why we are prone to bad dreams at certain points of the night. Next he provides an overview of sleep paralysis–that sensation of a pressing, immobilizing weight upon the sleeper’s chest, accompanied by feelings of suffocation. As Mahnke demonstrates, such frightful experiences have been noted the world over long before the clinical term “sleep paralysis” came into use. Tracing the etymology of the word “nightmare” all the way to the start of the 14th Century, he elucidates the word’s roots in the idea of bedroom intrusion by a demonic force. Reaching the dark heart of the episode’s narrative, Mahnke shares a series of gripping stories involving seemingly otherworldly incitements of nightmares–by the likes of incubuses, witches, and ghosts.

I was very surprised that Mahnke never referenced the famous Fuseli painting, The Nightmare (pictured above), which is certainly relevant to the central discussion of “A Great Weight.” Also, I wish that Mahnke had delved a little further into the modern understanding of sleep paralysis, but these are mere quibbles. Appropriately stocked with chilling tales, this nightmarish episode is a dream come true for lovers of macabre lore (and Lore).


2 thoughts on “Lore Report: “A Great Weight” (Episode 146)

  1. In 2019 I experienced the Incubus Phenomenon three times. A frightening demon was on top of me while I was seemingly awake. Years ago I had seen the famous painting but didn’t do much more research until it happened to me. It was so scary and realistic that for a long time I was afraid to go to sleep. It felt as if the demon were raping me. I’ve experienced plenty of nightmares and dreams in my life but never anything so frightening as those three episodes of sleep paralysis and the imagery of the demons that came with them. I know it was only a hallucination but it was a traumatic experience that still sometimes has me afraid to fall asleep lest it happen again.

    I listened to the episode of Lore that you wrote about here. I was Googling for more information on the episode and that is how I found your page.

    • Hi Stacey. Wow, that sounds very intense. Hopefully it’s something you never experience again.

      Thanks for checking out the blog!


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