Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Goblins and demons and other night creatures

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published October 30, 2014

It was 4:30 a.m. when I got out of bed, and reached for the holy water and rosary beads. For the past few hours I had been ensnared in a tangled web of nightmares. Each time I would awaken from one—shaken and scared—and then minutes later I would fall back asleep and the story would continue.

After this happened multiple times, I had the definite sense that I had to do something to vanquish whatever spider was spinning out these treacherous tales.

I realize many people would say, “Oh, it’s just a dream” or “It’s just your subconscious acting up” or something along those lines, but there are some dreams that seem to convey a message—and I think it’s worth paying attention to them.

These nightmares all had a common theme, and it wasn’t pretty. In one I walked into a room and encountered a sinister, snarling pitch-black dog that rushed at me and painfully bit my hands. I knew he was no ordinary beast—and the next day I remembered that Satan is often depicted in just this way.2014 10 30 GB MURRAY Goblins and demons and other night creatures

In another I encountered demons with eyes that were empty holes in their faces—and watched in horror while they attacked a priest.

Although the images were deeply disturbing, in each nightmare I felt that I could defend myself by making the Sign of the Cross and pronouncing the name of Jesus Christ over and over—since this is the one name that evil cannot withstand.

Upon awakening I said the rosary, crossed myself with holy water and then tucked the beads beneath my pillow. After that I fell into a deep, restful—and uneventful—slumber.

The next morning I realized these dark dreams had occurred on a rather auspicious feast day, the one dedicated to the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. St. Michael is often depicted vanquishing a dragon—which, of course, represents Satan.

I also discovered that the term “nightmare” has within it the Old English word “mare,” which originally referred to a mythological demon or goblin who tormented people with terrifying dreams.

The nightmares definitely gave me a renewed sense of the reality of the devil. I realize many people consider themselves too progressive to believe in him, and this is precisely what the prince of darkness would want.

As the French poet Baudelaire put it in 1864, “The Devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.”

It doesn’t take much investigation to see that the devil’s bloody fingerprints are everywhere. Whenever we read about kidnappings, rapes, murders and terrorism, we can conclude that the perpetrators gave Satan permission to come into their hearts.

In Bram Stoker’s book “Dracula,” the main vampire is a satanic creature—whose name translates to “dragon”—but he cannot cross the threshold of anyone’s home without an invitation. In a similar way, the devil can’t slither into our hearts without our permission—or lure us into sinning without our consent.

When I woke up from my recent nightmares my first instinct was to turn on the light. Later, though, after I had prayed the rosary, I was able to sleep in the pitch blackness again.

After all, St. John called Christ the “Light that shines in darkness”—and this is still true today. Jesus can always vanquish the darkness and despair of the devil, whether it’s in the dream world or in our everyday lives.

Lorraine Murray’s latest mystery is “Death Dons a Mask,” set at a small Decatur parish. Artwork is by Jef Murray. Readers may contact the Murrays at