The witching/devil's hour

27th July 2018. Reading Time: 5 minutes General, Famous Paranormal Cases. 4832 page views. 2 comments.

The witching hour, dead time and the devil’s hour are just some of the terms used to describe a time in the dead of night.  Between 3-4am is considered by some as the time most likely for all things that go bump in the night to come out and play.  What are the origins behind this and is there any truth to it?

The witching hour, dead time and the devil’s hour are just some of the terms used to describe a time in the dead of night. Between 3-4am is considered by some as the time most likely for all things that go bump in the night to come out and play. What are the origins behind this and is there any truth to it?

Not so many years ago when my children were babies, the witching hour for me was that 1 hour at night time where for no reason at all, my kids were unsettled and cried for not reason. No matter what I did, it didn’t matter. It happened every single without fail. For my first son it was 5pm. My second son it was 9pm. There was no rhyme or reason to it. When I turned to mother’s group forums it seemed to be a common thing they dubbed ‘the witching hour’. I would soon come to learn when I delved into the world of the paranormal that they had their own version of the witching hour. There is also the ‘devil’s hour’, ‘dead time’ and the ‘chime hour’. They all work on the premise that supernatural activities are strongest between 3-4am. For us paranormal investigators, it is thought that it is the time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is the thinnest and you are more likely to have an experience or ‘communicate’ with the other side. Where did it all come from and what does it all mean? More importantly, is there any truth to it?

The ‘devil’s hour’

A lot of paranormal beliefs have originated from religious belief. It would be of no surprise to you as well that the term ‘the devil’s hour’ is no exception. While some people believe it is associated with with the Devil’s mockery of the Holy Trinity. We know about the 3 knocks or the 3 scratches, so it would make sense to associate 3am with this as well. It is also said that Jesus died on the cross at 3pm so it is no surprise that the Devil would be strongest at 3am it is believed. For this reason, a lot of superstitious religious people believe that the Devil’s minions or ‘demons’ for a better word are at full strength at this time. Don’t even get me started on 3:33am.

It is believed however that this term came from lack of prayers during what is called the Canonical hours. These are the times where services and prayers would take place. During the hours of 3-4am, there are no Catholic church services or prayers meaning that it would be ample opportunity for ‘evil’ to come through from a religious sense.

The 'witching hour'

The term the witching hour is associated with so many things it has become a part of the urban dictionary. From being known as the hour after a bar closes to the acceptable time to be out at night, it covers a wide range of topics. It is also considered the best time for a ‘witch’ to cast a spell – hence the term the witching hour. Centuries ago when Woman were accused of witchcraft for simply looking sideways, if they were caught outside during the hours of 3-4am it was considered they were up to no good and were sentenced for witchcraft. It is believed by some to be have been coined by William Shakepseare. We all know the tale of Hamlet dealt with ghouls and ghosts.

“ Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn, and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world: now could I drink hot blood
And do such bitter business as the day
Would quake to look on.”

Several references in Shakepeare’s work reference the witching hour and that it is at midnight and not 3am. Other writers throughout time have referenced this as well but the time has varied.

Is the witching hour Midnight or 3am?

Different circles classify it in different way. It used to be referred to as 3-4am, however in modern times it seems to be between Midnight and 2am. The reason behind this is that when is when a new day starts (at midnight). It seems like there is really no rhyme or reason behind it all. It is all based on paranormal folklore.

Why do people wake up at 3am?

I am one of these people. On regular occasions for a week at a time, I wake up at 3am. Is it because of the witching hour? Is it because of synchronicity? It could be due to the fact that most people are in their REM sleep cycle at this point of a night. It is during this time that you can become restless, your heart rate can rise and you can become anxious and wake up out of your slumber. Is this why so many people report suddenly waking at 3am?

So is there any truth to the statement?

The only way to determine this is what I am always banging on about and that is recording results and the time that activity is occurring. Then we can look at a pattern. In my own experience, I honestly have never experienced anything of significance between midnight and 2am or at 3am. Quite honestly if I am still out investigating at 3am, I am pretty tired and over it by this point! It is not to say that things don’t happen at these times, I personally don’t believe the time makes a difference. It’s the same with the misconception that activity only occurs at night. I am sure you will agree that people have had paranormal experiences at different times of the day. One of my most memorable experiences was during the day. It was very sunny and light outside, but something got my attention.

Theories such as these are based on a person's own experiences. My comments above are based on my own personal experience. Does it mean I am right? No it doesn’t, it is just what I have experienced. Go out there and experience things for yourself and make your own conclusions. So what do you think? Is paranormal activity heightened during the witching hour?

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  • Jimmy Garcia 5 years ago

    I found out with a sleep study that 3 am is when my brain gets most active during REM. I wake up almost every night/morning between 3 and 4 am, but usually able to go back to sleep. I have been up a couple of times at that time to do investigations, but unless there is a lot of activity, I would rather be on the way home. Only advantage I see at that time is it is usually very quiet outside, so very little sound contamination or lights from cars.

  • Joseph Kapusta 5 years ago

    I feel the only true course of action is as you describe. We must collect the necessary data for comparison purposes. I honestly hold to none of the paranormal folklore. None of it is based on proven truths. My thoughts on this topic in particular are that the demons are pretty good time keepers while coming from an environment that supposedly is not defined by linear time! They are very talented indeed to be the world travelers they are and still allowing for whatever global time zone they may be in. As the saying goes, "it's happy hour somewhere." I guess the same holds true for the anti-hour for demons as well.