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What is the Witching Hour?

Darkness has traditionally been associated with witchcraft.
People believe that the connection between the real and supernatural worlds is strongest during the witching hour.
Owls are one of the unusual creatures often seen only at night.
Bats come out of hiding in the witching hour, which might explain their connection to ideas of witchcraft.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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The witching hour is a time of night when supernatural creatures are believed to be particularly active, making it a prime time of night for witchcraft. Many people think of midnight specifically when they hear this term, while others more generally associate it with the dead of night, the dark hours when few people are awake and about. The association of darkness and supernatural activity is quite ancient, although the term itself only dates back to around the early 1800s; terms like “the witching time of night” were used prior to this period.

Darkness has had mystical associations in many human cultures, perhaps because it is difficult to see at night, causing skewed perceptions of the world. In the middle of the night, people are also presumably more tired, and therefore potentially susceptible to events that may feel supernatural. Traditional witch doctors, shamans, and other supernatural practitioners have often worked at night, belying the idea that only dark magic is practiced at night.

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Many people historically believed that the witching hour marked a period of greater activity by witches, demons, ghouls, and other creatures who are not of this world. In some regions of the world, people still try to avoid going out late at night, while others who are interested in supernatural events may make a deliberate effort to be out and about at midnight or thereabouts. While belief in the supernatural is generally on the fringes of many modern societies, even pragmatic people have been known to comment that the depths of the night do sometimes feel a bit eerie and mysterious, especially during a new moon.

Members of the neopagan community may perform ceremonies at a late hour to take advantage of the belief that the connection between the supernatural world and the real world is stronger during the witching hour. The idea also crops up in many fantasy books, and people may jokingly refer to it in the context of a late night out. In many societies, people who are out late at night are often viewed with suspicion, due to centuries of superstition about the things that happen late at night.

One certainly need not be superstitious to believe in the witching hour. The late hours of the night often do seem to have a different quality than the early evening and the daytime, perhaps because of the lack of people and the darkness. This time of night often reveals lots of creatures that most people never see during the day, such as owls, bats, and other nocturnal animals, and this perhaps explains their traditional association with witchcraft in many cultures.

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Discuss this Article

anon932005
Post 25

For two weeks in a row I've been waking up from 3 am to 3:45 am with strange dreams and it seems like if I'm waiting for something and nothing happens.

I want to know if a relative is wanting to talk to me. I’ve been told that there’s a spirit with me all the time, but I don’t know whether it’s a good spirit or a bad one. Reply back please. I’m really tired and scared. I’m female and believe he’s a male.

anon353682
Post 24

I'm a strong believer in the supernatural, but as a Christian, I believe that instead of having fear of dark spirits put some trust in say, God. I think it would be obvious the more you fear the demonic instead of reminding yourself that there is higher good power you are just making it worse for yourself and only strengthening the malevolent entity.

unamed123
Post 21

@vampire865: I don't think so. It is normal.

vampire865
Post 19

I often wake up at 5 am and have this toothpaste taste in my mouth. I also get blinded by the sun as I draw my curtains. Is this normal? Am I a vampire? Could I be demon possessed?

anon265392
Post 17

From 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. is the strongest time for good people to pray for others to help them or for the dark practitioners to do their psychic attacks. The sleeper's subconscious mind is most open to receiving influence at that time period.

anon259863
Post 15

I am a witch and the witching hour is 3 a.m. It's the time of night when our work is most powerful.

anon255044
Post 14

This is happening to my girlfriend. Is there any way to stop it or end it so you no longer have to go through this?

anon246914
Post 13

In Japan, their witching hour is at 3- 4 a.m

anon244829
Post 12

I always wake up at 1 a.m. It's really creepy. I start hearing weird sounds, and I always have weird dreams where I don't see anything, and I feel pain like my skin is coming off, and I hear screams.

anon243711
Post 11

I think I'm a vampire too. Every time I see someone I just have the urge to drink blood. I like the way it taste. It's very tangy and salty to me. Almost like an orange and salt smoothie. Is that weird, or does blood taste the same to everyone?

anon243077
Post 10

This sounds a lot like me! I wake up at 1 every night as well. I don't know about being a vampire, though. It doesn't sound like you're biting anyone's neck or sucking blood off random animals but, it is possible.

anon242994
Post 9

I think I'm a vampire. I always wake up at 1. It is scary. I see shadows on the wall, hear people giggling and sometimes I'm hanging upside down on my bed Sometimes I hear a ghost whisper in my ear saying hi and go. Now I'm scared at my house. Once I was in my room and I saw a ball and there was nothing there. I was so scared.

anon241072
Post 6

I think I may be demon possessed. I wake up at 3 am every night with the smell of burning roses. I frequently hear voices and sometimes start speaking in tongues. Usually after I'm done speaking in tongues I start convulsing. The convulsions stop when I start seeing shadows on the wall, then my head starts spinning around. Does anyone have the number of a good demon whisperer?

anon237164
Post 5

Peace Girl says: If you have never been on one of those cemetery investigations from 11 PM to 3AM you have never seen witching hour. I went last night and we didn't get back till 4 this morning and, it is indeed 9:48 AM and there will be hell to pay. Also I don't think it is a coincidence that most of the times when I wake up at night it is between midnight and 3 AM and I have troubles falling back to sleep.

I was once told that the witchcraft was done at three AM and the spirits come haunting. And yes, it could be I have more glucose pulsing through my brain than most people in the middle of the night, or an overactive imagination, but at 1 AM this morning, we were at a cemetery, my first investigation, and at that cemetery the fog was gray and black. Not normal fog.

I have a friend who can see or hear the spirits depending on the spirits' "mood" I like to say, and she absolutely did not get out at this one. And I saw the black fog. I was still shivering from the first cemetery like an ice cube on steroids. It wasn't great. I've decided that for a while I'm not the best person to go investigating with in the middle of the freaking winter!

anon114810
Post 4

I read an article talking about the witching hour referring it to the fact that your brain is releasing glucose into your body to get it ready for the day and your brain tends to wake up before your body does and that's when so many supernatural or spiritual sightings occur. Thought that was interesting.

raresteak
Post 3

The witching hour may be used to describe times ranging between 3am and 6am. The "devil's hour," however, is used to describe 3am almost always. The practice of witchcraft is believed to be most effective during the witching hour.

Also, The Witching Hour is a novel written by Anne Rice. It came out in 1990 and depicts the life of a family of witches.

treme2005
Post 2

My grandparents always used "the witching hour" in reference to a good time to have an alcoholic beverage. I don't know that they were aware of the historical connotation or not, but I always thought it was a cute way of saying it was time to party.

hangugeo112
Post 1

In many cultures, parents have tended to mention common mythological specters to get their children to stay in their rooms after a certain hour. Such a practice has naturally been passed down for generations and even held as true fact by some.

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