The Witching hour

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A couple of weeks ago our house alarm went off in the middle of the night. Nothing strange or newsworthy.  Except this happened four nights in a row and every night between the hours of 2-3 AM.

The first night my husband stumbled out of bed, looked around and mumbled some lame excuse to the security company over the phone that was armed and ready to come and save us from the intruder. The second night he tumbled out of bed annoyed and immediately blamed the cats, but found them fast asleep in the children’s beds.  The third night he jumped out of bed spitting out a couple of unsavory curse words.  This time we blamed geckos and humungous spiders.  The fourth night he snored and mumbled through the wailing siren and I got up.  It was only then that I truly realized that it happens every night at the same time.

This took me back to when I was a student nurse. For those of you that didn’t know I was a registered nurse.  One of the first things we were told when working nightshift, was about the “death hour”.  Unexplainable things happened between 2 and 3 AM.  I was a skeptic.  They were trying to scare us.  NO!

I quickly learned that it was not an urban legend trying to scare the living hell out of us. Patients that were stable and nowhere near the critical list would suddenly take a turn for the worse.  Patients that were being discharged in the morning would die silently in their beds.  I adopted the habit of roaming between hospital beds with a flashlight in that hour.  I had some very irate patients in the morning.  Nobody likes a flashlight shone in their eyes in the middle of the night.

Now I must also mention that the death hour not only meant somebody was going to die, it also referred to inexplicable occurrences. Patient IV’s would be closed and there were only two nurses in the whole ward and neither of you did it.  When I worked in Neonatal the incubators temperatures would suddenly all be turned down.  It was at that time of night – the darkest, quietest time – that you would see a dark shadow flitting around a corner, something would fall with a clatter off a shelve in the storeroom, the fluorescent lighting would flicker and die and the worst of all was the hair rising presence of some unknown entity brushing your arm and the oppressing, suffocating feeling that you are not alone.

Though we referred to it as the death hour, it has another name – the witching hour. It’s the time of night when creatures such as witches, ghosts and demons are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful and black magic to be most effective.   Some researchers refer to this time to be anytime from midnight and reaching a peak at 3 AM.  During this period, the veil between the spirit world and earth are at its thinnest, allowing entities from other realms to visit us humans. At the 3 AM the night is at its darkest and evil spirits, demons and witches draw large amounts of power from the dark, especially when there is a new moon.

Even Shakespeare referred to this in Hamlet: “’Tis now the very witching time of night.”

Whether or not you believe in the witching hour, strange things always seem to occur in the darkest hour.

My house alarm has not given us any problems since. Maybe the alarm tripping spirit is waiting for another new moon to come and visit.

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/5114174540/”>AlicePopkorn</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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