Blog Archives

Welcome to the Teem: Ryan Hurd


We’re extremely pleased to announce the addition of Ryan Hurd to our writing teem. He will contribute a recurring column titled “Visions, Dreams, and Visitations.”

As indicated by such a title, Ryan is an expert on dreams and consciousness. He is founder of, a website dedicated to sleep, dreams, and consciousness research. He is also a frequent contributor to Business Insider and Reality Sandwich. His books include Lucid Immersion Guidebook: A Holistic Blueprint for Lucid Dreaming (2012) and Sleep Paralysis: A Guide to Hypnagogic Visions and Visitors of the Night (2011). As an educator, Ryan has presented to a wide range of audiences, including invited lectures at Stanford University, the Institute of Buddhist Studies, and the Rhine Institute. As a qualitative researcher, he has presented and published papers on sleep paralysis, lucid nightmares, and the application of dreaming for uncovering researcher bias and novelty. He has a MA in Consciousness Studies from John F. Kennedy University, as well as a bachelor’s degree with a specialization in archaeology, and is a board member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. Other professional memberships include the American Anthropological Association and the Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness.


The first installment of Ryan’s column is now available, and in keeping with its December 24 publication date, it’s a seasonally appropriate offering: “Horror for the Holidays: Santa, Krampus, and the Dark Divine.” Whether you’re already familiar with the Krampus or have never heard of this dark companion of Santa Claus who haunts European Christmas lore but, in Ryan’s words, “was curiously scrubbed out from our cultural repertoire when St. Nick came overseas to the New World,” you’re sure to find this piece a darkly illuminating addition to your holiday reading.

To Cleanse the Doors of Conception: Psychic Dreams, Scientific Monsters, and Transcendent Realities

Dream researcher, Teeming Brain friend, and future Teeming Brain contributor Ryan Hurd — who has spoken about dreams, consciousness, sleep paralysis, and related matters at Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley, the Rhine Center, and elsewhere — recently shared an account of an apparently precognitive dream that he personally experienced. As I was reading through it, in addition to finding his description of what happened to be rather fascinating, I found that a number of thoughts and recognitions were crowding forward from the peripheries of my awareness to announce the wider implications of such experiences. All of them have to do with the question of what’s really involved in and portended by exactly the philosophical effect Ryan identifies in connection with anomalous experiences in general, namely, a cracking of the “dam” of assumptions that lead most of us to explain away the significance of such anomalies for our worldview, or even to screen out a conscious acceptance and/or awareness of such things altogether. When this kind of breach in one’s personal cosmos is effected, the resulting flood of formerly rejected realities has the capacity to recast everything in ways that can be experienced as horrific, salvific, or even both at once. Read the rest of this entry

Fuseli, Sleep Paralysis, and Horror’s Master Image

Just in time for the Halloween holiday, Ryan Hurd has published a horror-fied guest post by me at Dream Studies, his thoroughly excellent Website about dream science, nightmares, and related altered states of consciousness. The article describes my long-in-coming recognition about a very famous painting (you know the one; see above) and the way it has come to serve as a transformative nexus of dark meanings enfolding a vast span of unsettling subjects. Readers of my Liminalities column here at The Teeming Brain will find the article an extension of some of its major themes. Likewise for readers of my horror fiction.

Here’s a taste:

When I first started experiencing sleep paralysis attacks accompanied by visionary assaults from a shadowy demonic presence in the early 1990s, I was already a long-time fan and student of supernatural horror. I had grown up enthralled by horror stories, novels, and movies, as well as by nonfiction explorations of supernaturalism and the paranormal. I was also intrinsically interested in religion and spirituality. So perhaps it was predictable that my sleep paralysis encounters would hit right in the middle of all this and produce some profound emotional and philosophical effects. But what startled me as much as anything was the recognition, which didn’t arise until more than a decade later, that there already existed a kind of master visual image that united this network of concerns and sat at its center, acting as a nexus of nightmares and emitting cultural, psychological, and spiritual waves of dark inspiration.

… [Christopher] Frayling was getting at far more than he even knew or intended when he traced the horror genre’s origins to Fuseli’s painting, Mary Shelley’s waking nightmare, and the growing culture-wide ferment and foment at the turn of the 19th century that involved science, religion, art, literature, ideas about creative inspiration, and the growing recognition that the conscious “daylight” mind is accompanied and influenced — and is also, as shown in both nightmares and horror tales, menaced — by a subconscious or unconscious “nightside” realm of dreadful entity.

— Matt Cardin, “Nexus of Nightmares: Fuseli, Sleep Paralysis, and Horror’s Master Image,” Dream Studies, October 31, 2012

Book Recommendation: “Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness”

Readers of The Teeming Brain will find something of more than passing interest in the just-released nonfiction anthology Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness: Liminal Zones, Psychic Science, and the Hidden Dimensions of the Mind. This is indicated not only by the book’s heady subtitle, and not only by fact that it is co-edited by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan of Reality Sandwich fame, but by the fact that its contents include three essays by current and future Teeming Brain contributors.

David Metcalfe, who writes our popular column De Umbris Idearum, is present with an essay titled “On Anthropological Approaches to Anomalous Phenomena: Explorations in the Science of Magic and the Narrative Structure of Paranormal Experiences.”

Popular consciousness and edge-science author Anthony Peake, whose person and books we’ve mentioned many times, and who will soon be featured as a Teeming Brain contributing writer, is present with an essay titled “Layers of Illusion: Manifesting Astral Body, Dream, and Lucidity.”

And Ryan Hurd of, whose books and lectures on consciousness, dreams, sleep paralysis, and related matters are among the best around, and who will also soon become a Teeming Brain contributing writer, is present with an essay titled “Sleep Paralysis Visions: Demons, Succubi, and the Archetypal Mind.”

The rest of the table of contents reads like a who’s-who of fascinating figures in these and related areas. Here’s the official description:


In Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness, a diverse group of authors journey into the fringes of human consciousness, tackling such topics as psychic and paranormal phenomena, lucid dreaming, synchronistic encounters, and more. The book is published by Evolver Editions/North Atlantic Books.

Collected from the online magazine Reality Sandwich, these essays explore regions of the mind often traversed by shamans, mystics, and visionary artists; adjacent and contiguous to our normal waking state, these realms may be encountered in dreams or out-of-body experiences, accessed through meditation or plant medicines, and marked by psychic phenomena and uncanny synchronicities. From demons encountered in sleep paralysis visions to psychic research conducted by the CIA, the seemingly disparate topics covered here congeal to form a larger picture of what these extraordinary states of consciousness might have to tell us about the nature of reality itself.