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The phenomenon known as stigmata is the alleged appearance of marks or sores on the skin, which manifest in accordance with the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. Claimed experiencers the likes of Padre Pio and others have said that such anomalous bleeding of the palms is a divine mark or signature, of sorts, and helps provide proof of the life and purpose of Jesus, as well the holy spirit’s ability to manifest itself within physical bodies of the faithful.
Scientifically, the reason that a mark or other wound might appear on the skin, and solely as a result of spiritual belief founded in the resurrection of Christ, is quite perplexing. Is the mystery of stigmata really divine proof of God’s presence, or is it merely proof of the mind’s ability to override certain functions of the human body… or even to create new ones that defy logic or reason?
The story that follows is not an example of “stigmata” in the truest sense, but instead involves the alleged appearance of an inexplicable scar on a man’s left hand, in conjunction with an episode that he related to me as being some kind of “spiritual warfare” he endured, following an episode with the phenomenon popularly known as sleep paralysis. I can neither substantiate, nor detract from the claims made by this individual, whose scarred left hand, as seen in the photo above (which I recently took myself), is paired with a bizarre story of a malevolent entity from beyond this physical plane of existence.
The story began at a recent dinner party, where I was eventually joined by a number of mutual friends of mine, who attend church together here in Asheville, North Carolina. At one point in the evening, three of them–Parker, William, and Sam (I’ve chosen to use only their first name to honor their request for privacy)–retreated with me to the living room to discuss various strange stories and other anomalous happenings associated with the area. At one point, Parker began to tell us all about a strange dream he had experienced recently, in which he (being a very devoutly religious person) felt that he was being accosted by demons.
“They were coming at me from every direction in the dream,” Parker said. “At one point, I began to say the name of Jesus, and in the dream I had, one of these devils reached directly for my throat, as though to choke me.” Parker said that, after he awoke, he could still feel a burning sensation around his throat, as though literal hands had been there, trying to strangle him.
I find stories like this very interesting, as they seem to point to an actual, tangible element that may spill over from one’s dreaming mind in such instances. Alternatively, if viewed from a more spiritual disposition, perhaps such stories could also point to the literal existence of forces which, for lack of a better term, could be demonic in nature.
The Malevolent “Green Man” Leaves his Mark
As Parker related his story to us, I had noticed his companion, Sam, getting more and more quiet. Immediately afterward, we all left for the kitchen to refill our beverage glasses, while several of Parker’s family members could be heard laughing and talking down the hallway in the den. At this point, Sam took me aside, and rather candidly told me that he had a story similar to Parker’s that he wished to share with me while the others weren’t around.
Sam’s experience began with a strange dream, in which the environment resembled the town of Asheville, though a mangled, misshapen variation of it–perhaps even “post apocalyptic,” as Sam described it. At one point, Sam said that he and all his friends and loved ones were all gathered in a room together, when a large, strange man with green skin and a long knife appeared, barking orders at everyone.
“They all began to kneel before this man,” Sam told me, “but I kept telling everyone they didn’t have to follow his orders.” Sam urged them all to get up, and as he continued trying to warn the others, he watched in terror as the green man went to each of them, and began disemboweling every person with his knife as they knelt before him.
At this point, Sam became aware that he was dreaming, and awoke from the nightmare; however, he found that his body was still paralyzed, and that he was unable to move anything but his eyes. Then, casting his gaze to the foot of his bed, Sam was overtaken with fear at the realization that the green man, complete with his long knife, was now standing there.
“I will destroy everything that you love and hold dear,” the demonic entity taunted, as he began moving toward Sam, who, at this point, was struggling to find a way to cause his body to awaken from the paralysis.
“Just as this guy was coming in near to me, I finally began to snap out of it, and felt my body begin to move. Without thinking, I leaped up and out of the bed, and as I did so, the green man lunged toward me, swiping the blade of his knife at me and cutting the back of my left hand, just before he disappeared.” As he spoke, Sam lifted his hand into view, where one can clearly see the small, straight scar on his skin. As he consented to allow me to photograph it, Sam expressed that the reason for the “attack,” in his opinion, might have been due to a mission trip he had been planning, during which he would be visiting Kenya the following week. He has never encountered the terrifying knife-wielding entity again, following the incident which allegedly left its physical mark on his hand many years ago.
Sometimes the distinctions between real life and the dream-state can become greatly lessened… and as this case shows, in what may be a terrifyingly realistic way. It is clear that Sam had been experiencing the phenomenon known as sleep paralysis toward the end of this nightmarish episode. While many individuals will experience this phenomenon during their lifetime (an experience for which there are physical conditions known and recognized by medical science that cause it), such experiences that involve vivid manifestations, both visible and audible, remain in the minority. Over the years, having taken a clinical interest in sleep paralysis and, namely, the kinds of auditory and visual hallucinations that can occur during such episodes, I have had a number of people recount to me similar experiences to the one Sam described (a few of which I detail in my book Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule).
Whether real, or perhaps merely an archetypal “evil” from within Sam’s own subconsciousness, what was the significance of the malevolent green man? Had this strange marking, which I managed to photograph in the photo above just after Sam told his terrifying story, actually been left by the strange entity from his dream? Or is this perhaps an instance where an almost psychosomatic affliction, similar in many ways to reports of stigmata, had appeared as a result of the extreme terror surrounding an event that occurred entirely in Sam’s mind? Regardless, whatever actually happened to Sam seems to have left its unearthly mark on him, providing a constant reminder as to those things in our universe that “could be”… whether or not we want them to be.