Like most paranormal geeks, I follow a number of blogs. This interesting link popped up on one of my favorites The Daily Grail: Mark of the Dream Beast: A Modern Stigmata Story?
Now, I do not pretend to have any idea what causes stigmata other than noting that the mind has a heck of a lot more influence over the body than we give it credit for. In this case though, the story of the young man that Micah Hanks refers to as Sam can be easily explained if looked at from a magical/folkloric mindset.
As I have explained in other posts, in magical philosophy, there are planes of existence other than the physical plane in which we normally live and human beings have been traveling in those realms, consciously or not, since the dawn of time. Although we may speak of the shamanic journey, qabalistic path working, astral projection or any of the other ways that one can wander in the Otherworld, one of the most common ways in which each of us journeys into the Otherworld is via dreams.
Of course, there are different types of dreams. I imagine that most of us are familiar with the daily download type of dream in which the dreamer is simply processing events of the day. As well, most humans have dreams that seem to emanate from the deeper levels of themselves, providing access to information that might not be available to the conscious mind. Whether we credit this information to the deep levels of our subconscious, to accessing the collective unconscious of CJ Jung or to the Inner Guide, that part of us which is hooked into the Divine, such dreams often provide us with answers to problems and other guidance that we find useful.
Some dreams though set us on our collective behinds and make us think. Have you ever had a vivid dream of flying, or of being in a strange place that was so real you could remember the sensory impressions when you awakened or had a nightmare that was so real that you forced yourself awake to escape whatever was chasing you? If so, then you have been “out of body”. Most dreams take us out into the astral, the realm in which all our thoughts have an impression and where you can find, literally, anything that has occurred to the mind of humans since they became conscious. Vast and difficult to maneuver, when we pop out on the astral in dreams we are normally drawn to “places” and experiences and beings that accord with our mind set or whose attention we have attracted in one way or the other. The vivid nightmare after watching a horror movie, the one that seemed to real for comfort and had nothing to do with the movie (except perhaps using it as a transitions into the dream), is a good example. You watched the movie and set your personal energy to a level that attracted something unpleasant to you. And you wonder why magicians practice banishing rituals?
Astral journey dreams can be unpleasant but they can not hurt you. I suppose that it is possible for an astral entity to scare someone with a weak heart to death but, other than that, astral entities have very little “traction” in the physical world. As I have gone on about at length in my little series on Grays, though, the etheric realm, the one closest to our own, the mirror realm of the physical world, is an entirely different matter. Traveling in that realm is a good bit more hazardous since the traveller becomes liable to what some occultists call the law of rebound or reflection – in other words, what happens on the etheric is reflected into the physical i.e. if you are injured in the etheric, you will suffer injury in the physical as well.
In Sam’s case, this appears to be what happened. Sam was asleep and had a vivid nightmare (astral). He “became aware that he was dreaming, and awoke from the nightmare” . . . or thought he did. Sleep paralysis can certainly be explained by various psychological and neurological issues but one of the things that occultists recognize is that sleep paralysis may also be caused by a lack of ability to use the etheric body. Most humans in our culture do not even recognize that “out of body” experiences are real much less that there are various “vehicles” one can use for traveling the different planes. The etheric body, in most people is not highly developed and when we do find ourselves in it, it is quite “stiff” at first and difficult to move. I think that Sam, rather than waking up, actually dropped from the astral level to the etheric (which looks just like our world, remember). Since he was not an experienced etheric traveler, he struggled to get moving but was eventually able to move enough to escape his attacker. He did get cut before he woke into the physical completely and that cut to his etheric body was reflected into his physical body.
All of this happened as Sam was actually making the transition from the etheric to the physical and into full waking consciousness. He might even have found himself standing next to the bed as he had been in the etheric. I will not conjecture as to why Sam had this experience; it is not common for someone to encounter a being in the astral that is capable of following one through to the etheric. Suffice to say that something attracted the “demon’s” attention and that Sam might want to consider some of the protective measures I mentioned in my series on the Grays.