What Is the Old Hag?
Synonymous with the experience of sleep paralysis, the legend of the Old Hag has roots in several European countries. The term itself is connected to the term “crone” and
“witch”. In Briton the hag is reputed to “ride people at night” and is a similar visual one gets when they imagine a witch riding her broom across a moon-lit sky.
The Old Hag and Historical Accounts
Depicted in myth from ancient times, the “Hag” or “Night Hag” as she is sometimes called, has a lot of historical references.
In some parts of the world, Persia for example, the Old Hag is called Bakhtak and she is said to sit on the chest of people while they sleep, making it impossible for them to move or breathe.
In Ireland the Old Hag is considered wise and magical. Some Irish folklore also has a hag, called Black Agnes, eating young children and other people who might be vulnerable.
Slavic myths call her Baba Yaga and she is considered a “wild woman” or a “lady of dark magic”. She is described as an evil witch who cannibalizes people and casts spells.
With all these legends, one can see how fairy tales and myths of witches evolved. Stories like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, and many others, all have a hag/crone/witch antagonist.
Want to learn more? Here are some great links for further research.