Peter Tosh and the Sleep Paralysis Phenomenon – Part 1/3
July 22, 2016 Culture of Awareness
By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness
Sleep paralysis is a phenomenon where a person wakes up to find that they can’t speak and have no control over their body. The body induces paralysis naturally while you sleep, but for some, it will occasionally (or frequently) remain that way for a short time upon waking up. Sometimes it’s accompanied by visions of a demonic shadow entity that hovers over the afflicted and, in extreme cases, seems to hold them down. Science has not yet presented a solid explanation for the appearance of this entity, and some believe it’s a demon keeping them in a paralyzed and fearful state for its own amusement.
Peter Tosh Suffered from Sleep Paralysis
Reggae legend Peter Tosh was one of many sleep paralysis sufferers who believed he was tormented by something evil. In fact, one particular paralysis experience led to his constant use of his famous phrase bumbo klaat. Along with Bob Marley and a host of other Jamaican musicians who pioneered the reggae genre, Peter Tosh emerged onto the world stage in the late 70s.
Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh. Credit: pinterest.com He started out as lead guitarist and backup singer in The Wailers, the musical group he formed with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer (which became Bob Marley and the Wailers once Tosh and Wailer left). He even taught Marley to play guitar, and he stayed with his band until 1973 when he left to pursue a solo career. When Tosh and Bunny Wailer split from the group, Marley was forced to put together a new Wailers lineup which consisted of only a few members of the original – including Ashton ‘Family Man’ Barrett on bass. Despite a successful solo career, Tosh never seemed to blow up like Marley did in the years that followed. However, one could argue that his passionate music and powerful performances (and speeches) should have put him right up there with Marley. Tosh suffered from recurrent episodes of sleep paralysis early in his career, and as a religiously minded Rasta, he blamed evil spirits.
Cannabis Legalization, Militancy and Equal Rights
Credit: billboard.com Like other Rasta musicians, Tosh advocated the legalization of cannabis in his home country of Jamaica and famously sang that he didn’t want peace; he wanted justice.
Everyone is crying out for peace, yes None is crying out for justice Everyone is crying out for peace, yes None is crying out for justice I don’t want no peace I need equal rights and justice – Peter Tosh, from his song “Equal Rights”
A New Paradigm, Unexplained, Unexplained Mysteries
Peter Tosh and the Sleep Paralysis Phenomenon – Part 2/3
July 23, 2016 Culture of Awareness Leave a comment
By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness (Continued from part 1) SleepEducation.org tells us that being awake in bed unable to move is a horrifying experience accompanied by fear, anxiety, strange sensations and experiences described as hallucinations (1). Again, this description pertains more to ISP than the less common RISP. Apparently, the ‘hallucinations’ can even happen if the body isn’t paralyzed upon awakening (1). SP starts to appear during your teenage years and becomes more prominent during your 20s and 30s (1). It can follow you into later years (1), but it’s not a significant health risk (1).
SP Experiences: Joe’s Dream
Before we learn more about Peter Tosh’s sleep paralysis, let’s look at some accounts from others who’ve experienced this terrifying phenomenon. Our first story doesn’t detail a scary encounter with demons. It’s more of an introduction into what sleep paralysis can be like for people who experience occasional ISP, but it’s interesting nonetheless. The author, Joe, noted that while his experience wasn’t terrible, he never wanted to go through it again. Joe’s experience began as a dream he was having of a conversation with a friend about a girl he liked (3). She had just broken up with her boyfriend, and Joe was telling his friend that he wanted to ask her out (3). He turned around in the dream to see her standing behind him, shocked at his confession (3). He too was shocked at having his secret exposed, and he remembers falling backward from the shock as if he were fainting (3). This made him aware he was dreaming, because he never faints in waking life (3). He immediately woke up but could hardly open his eyes (3). He felt like he was spinning and couldn’t control his eye movement or move his arms, which felt like they weighed a thousand pounds (3). His ears were ringing, and he grunted a few times as he attempted unsuccessfully to get out of bed (3). He couldn’t control his vision despite his attempts to look around his dimly lit room, which made him fearful (3). He wasn’t afraid of seeing demons or being held down, but he was afraid of his inability to move (3). He decided after a while to stop fighting it and drift back to sleep, and the moment he began to drift off, his eyes snapped open and he was fully awake, alert and in control of his body (3). He was in a peaceful state and his muscles felt euphoric (3). He likens the feeling to the effect of pain medication after surgery (3). By the end of it all, Joe remembered he needed to get rest for an important exam and promptly went back to sleep (3). The experience was ‘strange and confusing’ for him, and thanks to the internet he was able to determine he had experienced sleep paralysis (3). Joe’s is an obvious case of ISP, and thankfully for him there were no ‘hallucinations’ involved. Others aren’t so lucky.
“Just Coming In…”
Chrissy Stockton at Thought Catalog compiled fifteen stories from people who’ve experienced sleep paralysis. Some of them are strange, some unsettling, some fascinating and some beautiful. The first on Chrissy’s list is undeniably unsettling: The person who shared this story has experienced sleep paralysis more than once, but he or she has never witnessed the ‘shadow’ common in SP cases (4). One morning he was lying on his left side when he began to feel pressure in his chest (4). He started to panic when he realized he was paralyzed (4), and he heard something whisper in his ear, “just coming in to say goodnight” (4). He then felt like he was being pushed toward the edge of his bed (4). He described the experience with two simple words: terrifying shit (4).
Extreme Effort to Break Free
One reader’s repeated SP experiences are similar to Joe’s. He/she is also fortunate not to see demonic entities, but he lays awake and aware of his surroundings yet paralyzed with ‘extreme effort’ required to wake up the rest of his body (4). He has to start by wiggling his toe and building momentum throughout his body, and it takes an enormous amount of energy (4). If his effort isn’t consistent he has to start over (4).
Two Golden Men
One reader reports that sleep paralysis was the best experience of her mother’s life (4). Her mom told her that when she was younger, she woke up to find herself paralyzed and her room ‘lit up’ with two men dressed in white and gold sitting at the edge of her bed playing musical instruments (4). One of the men was playing a guitar and the other a wind instrument she didn’t recognize (4). She felt immense joy and peace while this was happening and she wanted more than anything for the men to stay (4). When she was finally able to move her head, she heard one man say to the other that she was awake and it was time for them to go. They vanished (4). (Continued in part 3 tomorrow) Sources: (1) “Sleep Paralysis – Overview & Facts”, SleepEducation.org, n.d. – http://www.sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders-by-category/parasomnias/sleep-paralysis/overview-facts (2) “What is Sleep Paralysis?” Sleep Paralysis World, n.d. – http://www.sleepparalysisworld.com/ (3) Joe from Minnesota, “Very Interesting Sleep Paralysis Experience”, End Your Sleep Deprivation, n.d. – http://www.end-your-sleep-deprivation.com/very-interesting-sleep-paralysis-experience.html (4) Stories compiled by Chrissy Stockton, “15 People On Their Experience With The ‘Sleep Paralysis Demon’”, Thought Catalog, January 3, 2014 – http://thoughtcatalog.com/christine-stockton/2014/01/15-people-on-their-experience-with-the-sleep-paralysis-demon/ (Other sources embedded in report)
A New Paradigm, Alternative News, Unexplained, Unexplained Mysteries
Peter Tosh and the Sleep Paralysis Phenomenon – Part 3/3
July 25, 2016 Culture of Awareness Leave a comment
By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness (Continued from part 2) One of Chrissy’s readers has had three interesting and unsettling paralysis experiences in his/her life. During the first one they saw a ‘cat-sized’ shadow at the foot of their bed, which slowly crawled up to their chest (4). During the second one they witnessed a ‘shadow man’ walking around their room before disappearing (4). This was the scariest out of all of them. The last one wasn’t scary, but amusing: they witnessed penguin-like creatures walking around their room (4).
Tosh, Sleep Paralysis and Bumbo Klaat
Now, we’ll learn about one of Peter Tosh’s paralysis experiences and how it led to his constant use of his favorite phrase. As I mentioned, Tosh had numerous experiences with sleep paralysis which makes it likely he suffered from RISP. Interestingly enough, despite this likelihood, Tosh witnessed the demonic entities common in ISP cases. He called them ‘vampires’. Linton Hines Jr. theorizes that the stress caused from being underprivileged in Jamaica, a colonial country where escaping poverty is nearly impossible, could’ve been responsible for Tosh’s ‘vicious bouts’ of sleep paralysis and paranoia (5). He also theorizes Tosh’s continuous cannabis use could’ve been to blame (5). I disagree, but admittedly, more research needs done in the area of cannabis and mental health. My personal opinion is that cannabis can be helpful for certain conditions that cause severe stress or trauma, and Tosh reportedly attributed his sleep paralysis to Satan or, again, vampire minions that wanted to kill him. Being a devoted Rasta, he was highly religious and somewhat superstitious.
Credit: popmatters.com According to Dr. M.G. Smith, the stress involved with opportunities to increase social status is a cause of sleep paralysis (5). This theory could be correct because Tosh’s worst paralysis experiences happened during the Waliers’ attempts to get a record deal with Coxsone Dodd at Studio One in Kingston (5). In his song Bumbo Klaat, Tosh describes an SP experience where he was held down by an ‘evil spirit’ and saved by Jah (the Rasta term for God) with the word ‘bumbo klaat’:
One night, an evil spirit held me down I could not make one single sound Jah told me, ‘Son, use the word’ And now I’m as free as a bird Oh bumbo klaat, oh ras klaat Oh bumbo klaat, oh ras klaat (6)
He would go on to use the word constantly, even during interviews.
Death in 1987
Tosh’s life was tragically ended on September 11, 1987 during a ‘robbery’ at his home in Kingston. Some people don’t believe the official story surrounding his death because he was an outspoken revolutionary in 70s and 80s Kingston, where tension was already high. Like Bob Marley who died six years earlier of skin cancer, his life and work were cut short and the world was rid of yet another reggae pioneer without whom the genre wouldn’t be what it is today. Peter Tosh was rough, rude and refused to tolerate a corrupt system that kept his people down through poverty, inconceivable police corruption and a host of other nearly inescapable circumstances. He used his rage at the system and his passion for justice to show the world what true rebellion looks like. He did it all from a deeply religious point of view, and I’m sure he attributed his success to his devotion to Jah. It’s unfortunate that he experienced sleep paralysis and tragic that he was taken from the world so soon, but if you experience sleep paralysis, it doesn’t mean you’ll suffer the same fate. Keep in mind that Tosh was an internationally famous musician who remained in Jamaica long after Marley had left for London. Marley left on a self-imposed exile in 1976 to live and work in London after an attempt on his life was made two days ahead of a free concert in Jamaica he was set to headline. This by itself shows you that the island was a dangerous place at the time. Tosh’s death wasn’t inevitable, but like Marley’s, it could’ve been avoided had he perhaps been in a different place. However, he may have felt that to leave Jamaica would be to betray his people or the movement he helped create. He may have felt a sense of pride for remaining in Jamaica after Marley went to London. He may not have wanted to leave, and in my opinion his death had less to do with his experiences with sleep paralysis and more with the environment in which he lived.
I’ve never experienced sleep paralysis, but from what we’ve learned and what my wife has told me about her experiences it sounds like something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Hopefully you’ve never gone through it, but if you have, feel free to share your experiences in the comments below. Like other unexplainable phenomena, we have a lot to learn about sleep paralysis and much of it will require an open mind.
Credit: minddisorders.com Our current knowledge of it doesn’t paint a decent enough picture of what it is, why people experience it or how RISP can be treated or avoided, and the countless anecdotal reports available on the internet are our most valuable sources of insight into what this experience is like. Hopefully we can one day find a solution to the problem, but for now, remember that everyone, including celebrities, is prone to conditions that may make you feel like an outcast. No matter what you suffer from, there’s always someone out there who’s experienced it too. We just need to get rid of the taboo surrounding these issues so we can discuss them openly and help each other through them. Sources: (1) “Sleep Paralysis – Overview & Facts”, SleepEducation.org, n.d. – http://www.sleepeducation.org/sleep-disorders-by-category/parasomnias/sleep-paralysis/overview-facts (2) “What is Sleep Paralysis?” Sleep Paralysis World, n.d. – http://www.sleepparalysisworld.com/ (3) Joe from Minnesota, “Very Interesting Sleep Paralysis Experience”, End Your Sleep Deprivation, n.d. – http://www.end-your-sleep-deprivation.com/very-interesting-sleep-paralysis-experience.html (4) Stories compiled by Chrissy Stockton, “15 People On Their Experience With The ‘Sleep Paralysis Demon’”, Thought Catalog, January 3, 2014 – http://thoughtcatalog.com/christine-stockton/2014/01/15-people-on-their-experience-with-the-sleep-paralysis-demon/ (5) Linton Hines Jr., “Peter Tosh A Revolutionary: 12 Fascinating Facts About The ‘Stepping Razor’”, ThyBlackMan.com, November 10, 2015 – http://thyblackman.com/2015/11/10/peter-tosh-a-revolutionary-12-fascinating-facts-about-the-stepping-razor/ (6) Peter Tosh, “Oh Bumbo Klaat Lyrics”, Lyrics Mode, n.d. – http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/p/peter_tosh/oh_bumbo_klaat.html (Other sources embedded in report)