The painting “Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli has for long, captured my imagination. He illegitimately fathered Mary Shelly, the author of Frankenstein. He has a number of other interesting paintings but this one reached me with some sort of a gothic appeal.
Some people say this painting makes references to sleep paralysis and that the image if the horse is with reference to the suffix ‘mare” in the word ‘nightmare’. The word ‘mare’ is said to come from the word ‘maren’ which means to crush. I am just regurgitating what I have read online so if you really want to know more about this, Google it.
The beast on the woman’s chest is known as an Incubus, which is said to be a demon that molests women while they sleep. There is also one for males called the Succubus. These tales are from old folklore and I am theorizing (basically coming up with my own bullshit) that people came up with these ideas to rationalize wet dreams. Some Christians today believe they are still victims of the Incubus and that they are constantly being raped by the demon. Personally, times are hard and I am not sure I would be offended by a 2am booty call from the Succubus.
This post goes out to my mates at The Dreams Blog. I thought you might find this painting just a little inspirational or interesting for that matter. I like to think of this painting as a portrayal of the mystery that creates and lies within our dreams. The Incubus does not seem to be engaged in any sexual activity with this woman but rather in deep thought. Maybe watching her dreams or even generating them. The horse in the picture looks quite frightening, and if it does represent a nightmare the Incubus looks more like a guardian rather than an instigator. Thoughts?