In Germanic folklore, there’s a supernatural being known as the Alp. Which, when translated, means “elf.” But, an Alp is nothing like what we would think of how an elf should be. An Alp is a nightmare monster. Its primary victims are women, and they only attack at night, by transforming their victim’s dreams into horrible night terrors. The Alp seems similar to the “old hag syndrome” known to occur during sleep paralysis, because they paralyze their victim, and sit on their chest, making every breath they take harder and harder.

This is a classic and timeless Alp painting

The Alp can shapeshift and walk among humans. Though, the form they take is almost universally a type of animal. One of their favorite things to do is turn into a bird and spy on potential victims, learning the ins and out of that person’s psychology, making it easier for them to twist their dreams into unique nightmares explicitly suited for them.

Much of an Alp’s power comes from a magical hat called a Tarnkappe, which is the birthright of all Alp bestowed upon them beyond space-time by unknown forces. The hat gives an Alp the ability to go invisible, and humorously, the cap is always visible when the entity takes an animal form. Som, if you see a snake with a hat on, you better watch out. If and Alp takes on the form of a human, it always has a unibrow.

If an Alp loses its magic hat, it will go to great lengths to retrieve it. And if a human happens to find it, it’s good luck, because Alp are known to reward the finder of its hat significantly when returned. And not in an evil, or tricky way either like most monsters in folklore, but a real honest reward. Though this is probably the only situation, a human would have a positive encounter with an Alp.

Alp also can curse humans with their evil eye, which can range from illness to misfortune. But the curse can be broken if the Alp’s evil eye is damaged somehow, or even removed from the socket. Many an adventurer has gone out on quests to remove the eye of an Alp that cursed a friend or loved one.

The dreams it constructs will be customized specifically for your fears and worries

The Alp has often been connected to witchcraft as well, and some have even said they possess vampire-like traits. Such as an Alp sticking its long tongue down someone’s mouth to feed, or sucking the blood out of its victim’s nipples, as well as having a thirst for pregnant women’s breast milk. In all cases, the victim is paralyzed while the monster satiates its hunger.

Sadly there are little ways to protect oneself against an Alp. Locking doors and windows won’t protect you. They take a particular delight in overcoming obstacles to their victims. They can shapeshift to squeeze through even the tiniest crevice and wiggle their way around inside the wall until they find an opening. However, there are a few ways to protect yourself from this Germanic monster. You can place your shoes by the bed with laces and to pointed towards you, plug up the keyholes of your home, keep a light on during the night, place an iron horseshoe on the bedpost, or get into bed backward. An Alp can also be stunned or immobilized if a lemon is shoved in its mouth, but is otherwise invincible.

Sweet dreams

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