Incubus

Date of Discovery

The first references date back to 2400 BC in the Sumerian Kings List

Name

Incubus

Physical Description

This demon is known to take many shapes and can appear as a fully grown man, a woman or witch, and sometimes seen as a rank goat. This demon uses the different shapes as a way to deceive the intended victims.

drawing of an incubus in a woman's nightmare

Origin

The first known stories of the incubus demons are found as early as 2400 BC. However this demon has many forms and lore from different regions of the world. In German folklore he is known as Alp. In Zanzibar Popo Bawa is actually known to attack men in private locations. The Trauco in Chilean lore is an Incubus that is dwarf like and assaults young women.

This particular demon is also often found in Christian history and has even been exorcised before.

Mythology and Lore

It is believed that an Incubus is a demon obsessed with sexual intercourse. This demon will assault it’s victims in nightmares or as a shapeshifter taking different forms to entice or force sexual actions. There are tales of pregnancy from this demon across religions and regions. Those pregnancies left behind children of a demon. The demon is mainly seen as male although it will take female form if that is better suited to accomplish it’s goals. The succubus is in many ways a female version of this demon who primarily targets men.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books

  • The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology Hardcover – 1988

Movies

Television Series



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Krampus

Krampus Stuffing Child into Basket
Krampus Stuffing Child into Basket

Date of Discovery

If you believe the idea that the Wild Man could, in fact, be the predecessor or most ancient embodiment of the Christmas Devil, then the first report of his existence dates back to 2000 BCE.

Name

Krampus actually goes by several different names, including Knecht Ruprecht, Certa, Perchten, Black Peter, Schmutzli, Pelznickel, and Klaubauf. There is also a record of him being referred to as the Wild Man, but it is unsure if these legends refer to Krampus himself, or Bigfoot. Krampus and Bigfoot are considered distinctly separate creatures.

The name Krampus is derived from the German word krampen which means, “claw.”

Physical Description

Der Weihnachtsmann und Krampus
Der Weihnachtsmann und Krampus
(St. Nicholas and Krampus)

Krampus is typically portrayed as a monstrously large, muscled, dark half-goat, half-demon, with horns, fangs, and a ridiculously long tongue. He’s seen as the anti-St. Nicholas who carries a chain with bells to announce his arrival, as well as a wicker basket or, in some cultures, a bag and bundle of birch sticks so he can mercilessly beat naughty children and then haul them to the underworld.

Origin

The origin of Krampus as he is known today relates heavily to German folklore that celebrates Krampus with a December 5th holiday celebration called Krampusnacht, where children placed their shoes out to see whether or not they have been naughty or nice. If a child had been naughty, they would receive either a rod or piece of coal, where good children would receive candies or some other type of sweet treat.

Mythology and Lore

Due to the possible spread of misinformation on the internet, it has recently been proposed that Krampus is the son of Hel, a Norse goddess of the underworld–so much so that it has appeared in articles in National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine. That claim, however, is not necessarily as factual as it may seem–those who know Norse Mythology either have no record of this part of the mythology or vehemently rebuke the idea.

Instead, Krampus is the Christmas Devil–the evil counterpart of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus whom aside, from leaving children an indicator of their behavior throughout the year, would gather bratty and naughty children into a sack or wicker basket, beat them with the birch sticks he carried and the drag them off to hell.

It’s a popular event in countries such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic for men to dress in a Krampus costume and take part in an event called Krampuslauf. Typically this is celebrated as a sort of parade of Krampus monsters as a way to bring back old traditions.

Mythological Timeline

The people over at the Official Krampus website gave a timeline of how the mythology of the Krampus legend is believed to have evolved. There are several references that might indeed be speaking of what we now call Bigfoot, which is also referenced to the Wild Man.

Krampus Chasing a Child
Krampus Chasing a Child on a German Krampusnacht Postcard

2000 BCE

  • In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu is considered the earliest known appearance of the Wild Man within folklore.

600 BCE 

  • Within the Old Testament, in the Book of Daniel, the Christian mythos tells of when God punished King Nebuchadnezzar for his pride and turned him into a hairy beast.

217 BCE 

  • Saturnalia, a pagan holiday within the month of December is officially introduced in Rome as the official winter celebration. It established one of the first instances of social role reversals where the slave became the master and vice versa. People would throw wild parties and give gifts to one another.

300s

  • Around five hundred years after the introduction of Saturnalia to Rome, the Romans had actually converted to Christianity–with their influence, they converted many Germanic tribes to Christianity. Their pagan roots survived only in small remote villages within the Alps where the Church could not gain favor.

1250

  • Konungs skuggsjá, or King’s Mirror–a historical Norwegian text in which the Wild Man appears, described as being covered in hair.

1600s

  • The first appearance of Krampus as Knecht Ruprecht within the Christmas procession in Nuremberg.

Early 1800s

  • When the Brothers Grimm began recording and publishing Germanic Folktales, acceptance began to be re-established within the culture. Jacob Grimm even mentioned Krampus within his Deutsche mythologie.
  • Within this time postcards celebrating Krampusnacht were introduced into the culture of Austria, Germany and other parts of Europe which officially initiated the recognition of Krampus and other companions of St. Nicholas.
  • When German and Dutch immigrants began to arrive in the US, they also brought the popularity of Pelznickel traditions to Pennsylvania, and Maryland which spread as far west as Indiana.

2004

  • A collection of vintage Krampus postcards from the 1800s was published by Monte Beauchamp as Devil in Design. This would mark the growth of the popularity of Krampus within the English speaking world.
  • The Venture Bros., an Adult Swim Network show featured Krampus during a Christmas special.

2007

  • Supernatural, an American television show based on the unexplainable supernatural mythos of the world, they showcased Krampus as a diabolical monster they had to defeat.

2009

  • Stephen Colbert, an American comedian, brought Krampus on to his television show The Colbert Report.

2013

  • Krampus was featured twice within American television, by appearing both on Grimm and the animated television series American Dad.

2015

  • The movie Krampus was released as a horror/comedy fusion.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature

Movies

Television Series



Is there anything we missed about Krampus? Let us know in the comments section below!

Nightmare

Date of Discovery

Linguistically speaking the etymology of the word Nightmare dates back to the 1300s, but the phenomenon has been under investigation as far back as the second century.

c. 1300, “an evil female spirit afflicting men (or horses) in their sleep with a feeling of suffocation,” compounded from night + mare (n.3) “goblin that causes nightmares, incubus.” The meaning shifted mid-16c. from the incubus to the suffocating sensation it causes. Sense of “any bad dream” is recorded by 1829; that of “very distressing experience” is from 1831. Cognate with Middle Dutch nachtmare, German Nachtmahr. An Old English word for it was niht-genga.

Etymonline.com – “Nightmare”

Name

The Nightmare is a type of demon that is also known as a Night Terror, Night Hag, and Old Hag. Unlike the named demons that make up the commanding force of demonic entities, these lesser demons are known only by their function.

Physical Description

Although there isn’t a consistent description of the Nightmare, the various descriptions throughout the history of the demonic entity suggest that it can take a variety of forms. In most cases, the demon presents as an invisible entity, although there are reports of it being a dark shadowy figure or an inhuman and demonic shape. Most reports indicate that its breath can be heard as a low rasp, it possesses glowing red eyes, as well as a strong revolting odor that fills the room in its presence.

Origin

The best guess on where the Nightmare originated is second-century Greece when Galen of Pergamon first investigated the phenomenon.

Mythology and Lore

As can be assumed by the name, the Nightmare attacks mostly at night but is known to do so at any given time during the day or night. Within the paranormal community, the Nightmare is often confused with poltergeist activity, and in rare cases has been associated with vampire attacks. The Nightmare is also related to the Mara (also known as a succubus), another type of demon that attacks humans at night, with the ultimate goal of sexually assaulting them.

As a typically nocturnal influence, the nightmare strikes people when they sleep, often causing the individual to experience strange smells, sounds, and images, then causes suffocation and a phenomenon known by the scientific community as sleep paralysis. Other characteristics are varied from case to case but remain a consistent variable when taking into consideration all of the reported attacks. These cases involve the individual waking from a deep sleep unexpectedly to the sensation of an unseen entity sitting upon their chest—the individual’s attempts to move, struggle, speak or scream are futile, which is understandably the most frightening aspect of the attack. It seems the Nightmare’s purpose is not to kill, as the attack ends just before the individual passes out. The victim typically recalls all details of the alleged attack the next day and demonstrates a prolonged sense of mental, emotional, and physical fatigue.

In some reported cases of a Nightmare attack, victims are awakened to audible footsteps approaching them as they lay in bed, while there is no figure to attach the footsteps to, they immediately feel the effect of being paralyzed, likely due to extreme fear.

Nearly 15% of the adult population worldwide has reported having at least one attack from a Nightmare within their life, according to modern research. Documented in second-century Greece, physician Galen of Pergamon analyzed several patients who reported having nightmares but attributed the phenomenon with indigestion. While it’s still often proposed as an explanation for individuals reporting such cases to their doctors there are a couple of other theories that have been developed since—commonly, sleep disorders such as narcolepsy, as well as the rare case of repressed sexual tensions. Suffice it to say, these explanations may be accurate for some of the cases, but it does not satisfy them all.

During the Middle Ages, when circumstances such as this were being investigated, it was normal for the explanation to be something supernatural, such as witchcraft to be the cause. In fact, the names, “Night Hag,” as well as, “Old Hag,” refer to an older term for witches, “hag.” Witches were believed to come into a victim’s house at night and then, “ride,” a person’s chest at night, causing the victim to feel as if they were being suffocated, then exhausted the next day. This is actually where the term, “hagridden,” was born, to indicate a feeling of being run down, or exhausted. It was also common for individuals to accuse witches of attacking them magically, by cursing them and sending a demon to attack them. It was a common belief that a religious object held close to the body, or an amulet worn around the neck would ward off any potential Old Hag encounters.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Qalupalik

Date of Discovery

The legend of the Qalupalik comes from Inuit folklore, and are said to be as old as the culture itself.

Name

The Qalupalik (plural: Qalupaliit) is also spelled Qualupalik, and Qallupilluit and in the native Inuit writing system is referred to as ᖃᓪᓗᐱᓪᓗᐃᑦ (Qalupalik).

Similar to the Kappa from Japanese folklore, and more distantly related to the Siren and the Mermaid.

Physical Description

The Qualupalik is said to wear an amauti (dual: amautik, plural: amautiit), which is similar to a parka, but traditionally worn by parents so they may carry their young children bundled on their back.

As with most similar legends, there are conflicting reports as to the physical appearance of the Qalupalik—they are, however, always referred to as being humanoid. While there are some reports of a male-gendered Qalupalik, the most traditional depiction of these creatures are believed to be female in nature. They are often referred to as having long flowing hair, as well as elongated, sharp fingernails or talons that tip their webbed hands and feet, and green slimy skin. Other descriptions refer to her skin as being scaly or bumpy and in some depictions they have fins coming out of their heads and backs.

Origin

Northern Alaska and Canada’s first Inuit settlers began crafting tails of these mythical creatures to warn and scare children into taking their harsh environment seriously. This makes dating the origin of a single village or time difficult; however, these tales are still taught today to keep the Inuit cultural folktales alive and the oldest written version of this story dates back to 1888 when Franz Boas, a German Anthropologist took it upon himself to record the oral stories of the indigenous peoples of the North American regions.

There is little information to be found about the Qalupalik whether you’re looking on the internet or in the University archives of Fairbanks Alaska—this is primarily due to the origin of this tale being passed from generation to generation orally until their forced integration into European-American culture and sent to Christian boarding schools. It was at this point in the Inuit culture that many of the old traditions and legends were left behind and forgotten.

Mythology and Lore

The legends perpetuated about the Qalupalik state that these creatures lure children in by humming at the shoreline or knocking under the ice in order to coax a child to a weak part in order to grab them through the thin sheet of ice. In consideration of the amautiit they wear, the Qalupalik secures the child to their back and carries them away to their underwater cave. While in some legends, it is said that the Qalupalik eats the child immediately upon capturing them, other sources state that the Qalupalik places them into a supernatural sleep to feed off of the child’s innocence in order to steal their youth and remain immortal. Most sightings happen and are not properly recorded, or the Qualupalik is mistaken for some other aquatic cryptids that are known to be in the same regions.

These creatures, like many that are derived from Inuit folklore, serve a utilitarian purpose of keeping young children safe in the dangerous icy world they live in. The legend, in essence, keeps children away from thin ice or bodies of water, as this is where the creatures are said to live. Children are warned that if they are found alone at the edge of the ice, the Qalupalik will stuff them into its amauti before drowning them in the icy water. The less supernatural explanation is that an icy shoreline or thin ice is a life-threatening hazard for children and scaring them with a threatening monster is the best way to help children to understand the danger and keep them away.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books & Literature
Short Films

Check out our article on the Qalupalik below, where you can see Nunavut Animation Lab’s “Qalupalik” animated film.

Works Cited

Akulukjuk, Roselynn. “PUTUGUQ & KUBLU AND THE QALUPALIK.” Kirkus Reviews, Inhabit Media, 7 May 2019.

Houston, James. “Inuit Myth and Legend“. The Canadian Encyclopedia, 04 March 2015, Historica Canada. Accessed 17 December 2020.

Hrodvitnir, Yamuna. “Qalupalik: The Monstrous Inuit Mermaid.” Medium, Medium, 26 May 2020.

INUIT MYTHOLOGY.” Inuit Mythology.

Kilabuk, Elisha, and Sarah Sorensen. “The Qalupalik.” Quill and Quire, 30 June 2011.

National Film Board of Canada. “Nunavut Animation Lab: Qalupalik.” National Film Board of Canada, 2 Dec. 2010.

Oliver, Mark. “11 Mythological Creatures That Reveal Humanity’s Deepest Fears.” All That’s Interesting, All That’s Interesting, 17 June 2020.

Pfeifle, Tess. Qalupalik. 8 Jan. 2019, www.astonishinglegends.com/astonishing-legends/2019/1/7/qalupalik.

Qalupalik.” Mythpedia Wiki.

“Tales and Traditions.” The Central Eskimo: Introd. by Henry B. Collins, by Franz Boas, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of Ethnology, 1888, pp. 212–213.

Toombs, Terrye. “Alaska Folklore: Five Mythical Creatures of the Last Frontier.” Anchorage Daily News, Anchorage Daily News, 2 Dec. 2017.


Is there anything we missed about the Qalupalik? Let us know in the comments section below!

Updated on December 16, 2020 by Mary Farnstrom

Succubus

Date of Discovery

Due to the Biblical origin of the first succubus, it is fair to say that the first date that the succubus appeared in literature was circa 1450 BC when the Old Testament of the bible was first composed.

Name

Known as a succubus, but often each has her own name—Lilith, the Lilin, Belili, are just but a few examples.

The male counterpart to the succubus is the incubus.

Physical Description

Silhouette of a woman, Succubus
Photography by Alexander Krivitskiy

A succubus varies in the details of their appearance, but thematically they are young women with unearthly beauty. In some instances, they also have a combination of bat-like wings, a wealth of bosom, horns, and cloven feet—their beauty is such that their victims cannot stop thinking of them even after the attack has occurred.

Origin

The origin story of the succubus can be found with the most famous of them all—Lilith—the first wife of Adam. Her story began in the Garden of Eden and the race of demons that spawned from her unholy womb gave life to the demons we know as succubi today.

Mythology and Lore

It seems that a succubus, like any other demon, isn’t just some random entity—there is actually dedicated lore on several well-known succubi throughout history.

Lilith

In Western society, Lilith is a character represented as the first wife of Adam of Biblical times—an extremely controversial figure within Jewish folklore, she was omitted from the creation story in the Torah, instead only appearing in some of the Midrashic texts. In some of her origin stories, God created her from the dust and placed to live in the Garden of Eden with Adam. Problems arose between the two first products of creation, as believing that they were created equally from the dust of the earth, Lilith refused to allow Adam to treat her as his subordinate. When Adam disagreed, Lilith left the Garden of Eden to exercise her independence—the story of the first woman who figuratively snapped her fingers and told her lover, “you don’t own me!”

Lilith by John Collier 1887
Lilith by John Collier 1887

In one version of the story, Adam told God that Lilith had left the garden, so God sent Senoi, Sansenoi, and Sammangelof to retrieve her—these three angels found Lilith having children. It was then that the angels cursed her so that one hundred of her children would die every day for her disobedience. Lilith cursed humanity right back and is said to be the cause of infants being still-born, as well as SIDS.

A second version of the story is that after the angels told her to return to the Garden of Eden, she actually tried to return, but found that Adam had already been given a new wife—Eve. So out of spite, while Adam was sleeping, she molested him while he was sleeping, impregnated herself then bore the Lilin, who were earth-bound demons she used to replace her children killed by angels.

In both Arabic and Jewish myths, she isn’t the first wife of Adam, she’s just a succubus—a female demon who hunts men, seduces them, then drains their life with a kiss. Anyone who has seen Lost Girl would be able to tell where they got the inspiration for their main character Bo. In Jewish lore especially, mothers believed that Lilith would kidnap and consume their children.

Mara

The Mara is considered one of the succubi, but her function is primarily that of sucking the vitality out of people while they’re sleeping—this is also credited to the Nightmare, or sleep paralysis, which are demons who sit on the chest of their victims, sometimes choking them while they lay paralyzed.

Rusalka

Slavic folklore brings us the Rusalka—who presents as a female ghost, water nymph, or lake-bound succubus; she has fiery green eyes which she uses to seduce and lure men into her grasp, where they die in her arms. She’s comparable to the Scandinavian and German Nixie. In the spirit version of the Rusalka, she is simply the soul of a young woman who died in or near a lake, usually at the hands of her lover. The only way to rid yourself of a Rusalka is to avenge her death, at which point the spirit will move on to the next plane of existence.

Yuki-Onna

In Japanese folklore, there is the Yuki-Onna, which translates to “Snow Woman,” who is a type of female spirit who condemns travelers to death in the snow. She appears as a tall, beautiful woman, with long hair and nearly translucently pale skin, which allows her to blend into the snowy landscape.

Allu

In Akkadian mythology the Allu faceless demons that were born of Lilith or one of her demon servants. They destroy all they come across and capture, even their father, who while on his deathbed, would be robbed of his soul which would block him from ever entering the afterlife and cause him to roam the land of the living as a malevolent ghost.

Belili

Sister of Dumuzi, and wife of Nin-ghiszida, Belili is considered to be the first Sumerian goddess called Geštinanna. Geštinanna is the goddess of agriculture, fertility, and dream interpretation and was later included in the Babylonian pantheon as Belili—as the wife of Bel she is often compared with Ishtar, Astarte, and Asherah. Commonly associated with sacred prostitution and sacrificing human children, in which versions she is associated with Lilith and the demon Asmodai.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Books

The Shadow of the Succubus (2004)

Movies

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Television Series

Lost Girl (2010 – 2016)



Is there anything we missed about Succubi? Let us know in the comments section below!

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