Dead Love: Zombie Dreams & Sleep Paralysis

Sleep paralysis is such a big deal, here, in South Carolina that I’m not surprised at all to have experienced it. Did an old boo hag come in through the window and sit on my chest? Perhaps you aren’t surprised that a zombie girl would suffer the “terror that comes in the night.” It does seem to have a lot of similarities with Vodou visitations from the loa, who ride their minions or serviteurs.

“When the Loa descends or ascends from the world of the spirit that surrounds us, following the intriguing lines of the veve that calls it and forms its visual link to the physical world, it unleashes irrepressible force. The Loa, after all, is energy. Some call this spirit. Some call this God. Some say it is the energy collected in an idea. The veve is no more than a picture, but pictographs—glyphs, letters, ideas given shape—are all that spirit needs to find its way toward form. The lines of the vevé provide a path for the Loa to enter this world. And there, on the other side of the vevé, waits the hounfour—the expectant gathering—beleaguered humanity desiring reassurance, connection and release. In the midst of this appreciative crowd, the serviteur invites the Loa. She has food for the Loa. The food is an offering and a trap. The Loa must eat to anchor in a world of substance, to merge more readily with the serviteur.

Ah, the serviteur. The serviteur has given herself to the community. (The serviteur can also be a man, by the way.) She is the horse, the cheval that the Loa will mount and ride. In the end, it is always hard to give up one’s identity. The seviteur’s soul, her Ti Bon Ange, does not want to make room for the Loa.” —from the unedited Dead Love

Not a pretty picture, especially at night when you wake up and there it is … sitting on your chest and you try to holler, but all that issues from your frozen countenance is a high-pitched moan.

I don’t care if they call it narcolepsy, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, or the hyptonia that occurs during REM sleep; it’s a frightening feeling. No wonder folks here in the low country keep the windows closed at night.

—Erin Orison, DEAD LOVE/the Daily Slice