Legend has it that you should never sleep with an empty chair in your room, especially if your room is cold. Why? Well, that’s because spirits like to hang around cold places, and empty chairs are an invitation to sit and stare at you while you’re sleeping. According to paranormal investigators, some people can see these spirits in their dreams, and said spirits often cause them to wake up between 2 and 3 a.m., seemingly without reason.
While he can’t quite say how far it dates back, paranormal expert, medium, and spiritual author Jock Brocas tells Sleepopolis that this is an old Irish superstition. Brocas notes that, “People attempt to put bags or clothes on their chairs because there’s an inherent fear of not wanting an evil spirit in your house, but the reality is, the spirit is not going to care whether there’s something on the chair or not. That’s not how an evil spirit works.”
And sure enough, we found plenty of folks across social media who have poo-pooed this superstition, trusting in a pile of laundry to protect them from evil spirits taking a load off on their chair. On the other hand, we also found quite a few who insist they’ve had very real experiences with these sleep-watching spirits.
One woman wrote: “I have had this happen… In my dream, I was talking with my hairdresser, and all of a sudden, everything went dark. She pointed behind me and whispered, “BTW, she is standing right behind you!” That’s when I woke up. I didn’t open my eyes, but I was suddenly aware of this old lady watching me sleep. She was standing by my bed, right behind me, just staring at me!”
Another said: “I always keep my room super cold, even in the winter. I have a bean bag chair in my room, and last night, I woke up to the smell of my Nana’s perfume. This morning, when I got up, I looked at the bean bag, and it looked like someone had sat in it. No one has sat on it since it’s been moved to my room.”
A Case For Keeping TVs Out Of Your Room?
The internet is good for a lot of things, one of which is providing just enough information to scare the bejeezus out of us. And we didn’t have to go far to find this gem — TVs and mirrors facing your bed create portals for demons.
This is a popular myth on TikTok, and we found quite a few videos, like this one by The Facts Geek, with over 1 million views sharing the same information. The Facts Geek tells us that TVs are essentially black mirrors that create a portal for demons to watch you sleep. And while we couldn’t find any stories on the internet to back up the” TV as a demon portal” idea, we dug up this blood-curdling story about mirror portals.
Moon_child_731 shared: “It’s said that mirrors are portals to places we are not familiar with. My stepmother used to have a mirror in her room near the bed, and the first week of it being there, she suffered […] sleep paralysis. She explained how, in her dream, she was awake and turned to see her precious mirror only to see someone stepping out. That someone, at first glance, was a handsome man. They made eye contact, and he began to approach her, only to her horror, this handsome man’s face began to morph into a horse with bloodshot eyes. I’m not sure what happened because she didn’t wanna go into detail. Must have had a good scare because she sold her mirror soon after.”
Brocas tells us that while this particular anecdote is also a superstition, “Mirrors were not just used for reflection in ancient societies. They can be dangerous, and they can open portals.”
Sure enough, our research shows that The Maya people believed the human world was only one of many, and reflective surfaces, like mirrors and water, were portals to the spiritual world and other realities.
While plenty of superstitions are alive and well in the 21st century, Brocas notes that “The reality is a person’s intention is what attracts spirits, and their belief is what brings these things to life.”
To illustrate his point, Brocas uses the example of Ouija boards. “The Ouija board isn’t inherently dangerous. What’s dangerous is people’s intentions. If they have an intention to connect to the other side, that’s where the trouble starts.” Brocas says, “Essentially, you can make a Ouija board out of anything and get the same results.”
Ultimately, Brocas says, “Superstitions have validity as a result of the mass consciousness of people who believe them. It’s people that give these things life.”
1. Eden Van Saun’s Keck Research Project “Cosmic Mirrors” on display at USD. University of San Diego. May 1, 2023. Accessed October 25, 2023. https://www.sandiego.edu/news/detail.php?_focus=88883.
Brocas, Jock. Author interview. October 2023.