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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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)



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Vampire

Date of Discovery

Vampires date back to prehistory and were significantly lacking in physical documentation until the “Scriptures of Delphi,” were discovered during the second half of the 19th century. Having been written somewhere around 450BC, it predated any other known documentation of vampires. These creatures didn’t actually appear by name until 1047 in a more modern Russia.

Name

The Vampire as we know the legend today has had many names over the years, such as the original name it was known by, Upir, which was discovered in the document from 1047 which referred to a Russian prince as an Upir Lichy, which translates into, “wicked vampire.”

Alternative names for the vampire (French) are derivations from the original form, Upir, as vampyre (Archaic), vampir (German), vàmpīr (Serbo-Croatian), *ǫpyrь (Proto-Slavic), upýrʹ (Russian), and upiór (Polish).

Descendants of the original vampire lore are known as bhêmpayar (Bengali), vaimpír (Irish), vanpaia/banpaia (Japanese), vhĕmpāyar (Marathi), wɛm-paai (Thai), bhampair (Scottish-Gaelic), vampiri (Swahili), and fampir (Welsh) just to name a few–all of the terms that are used to describe the vampire are related etymologically.

There are many creatures that resemble the vampire in nature but are not directly related to the original demon.

Physical Description

Due to the wide variety of characterizations of vampires, but they are often portrayed as sharp-fanged humanoid creatures–they are typically said to have pale skin and range in physical appearance from grotesque to preternaturally beautiful depending on the source of the folklore.

Origin

Having originated during prehistoric times, it’s difficult to know just how they came into being. Although not always documented as the first official legend of vampires the “Scriptures of Delphi,” were found in the archaeological sites of Delphi, said to be written by the infamous Oracle of Delphi. The scriptures have within, there is a section known as the “Vampire Bible,” which is, of course, used as a colloquial term. The “Vampire Bible,” speaks about the first vampire, Ambrogio.

The first, more modern document that is known to enter vampires into legend in the new age as Upir, appeared a significant amount of time after the Scriptures of Delphi were written and subsequently lost to time.

The first known document that has entered them into legend is clear that the vampire existed well before the word for it did. In 1190, “De Nagis Crialium,” was written by Walter Map and accounts for vampire-like beings in England. Just six years later and William of Newburgh’s, “Chronicles,” accounted for several more stories of vampire-like revenants which also occurred in England. As far as is known, this was the last time they were written about until the 1400s, after Vlad Tepes, son of Vlad Dracul was born. Vlad Dracul or, “Vlad the Dragon,” was the father of the man that the world came to know as Vlad the Impaler–the original Dracula.

Mythology and Lore

Blood and flesh consuming revenants or demons can be found in nearly every culture worldwide; these creatures were incredibly well documented in each of these cultures. Before they were known as vampires, they were considered demons or spirits, and are often still comparable to demons in modern pop-culture. In the millennia that the legends of vampires have existed, there are only a handful that have truly captured attention worldwide. Most of these originate from the 1700s and particularly Transylvania –where there were reports of vampires that came from evil beings, suicide victims, witches, a malevolent spirit inhabiting a corpse, or being bitten by another vampire. This actually caused mass hysteria in many regions and was followed by believed vampires being publically executed.

Tales like Ambrogio, Dracula, Nosferatu, and more have led to the evolution of the vampire legend and turned these creatures into one of the most popular and well-known figures in horror culture.

Modern Pop-Culture References

Due to the immensely popular nature of the vampire, these modern media references are but a raindrop in the ocean of what can be found in literature, movies, and television series.

Books

Movies

Television Series



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