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Horror Mystery and Lore

A Look Into the Succubus

What do we really know about succubi? As far as can be seen from movies and literature, they aren’t usually regarded with fear—although they should be. The idea of a run-in with a succubus, a female sex demon, is usually considered an arousing fantasy—those who have experienced them first-hand would strenuously disagree. There are numerous posts on Reddit that offer details of the simultaneously pleasurable and terrifyingly evil encounters with a real succubus. Suffice it to say, some of the victims of succubi meet their end in a terrible fashion.

The silhouette of a woman in bed, Succubus
Photography by Alexander Krivitskiy

Real Encounters with Succubi

While it seems unthinkable that something as outlandish as a succubus could be real, let alone feed off of their human lovers, there are documented cases that lead us to believe that such demons could possibly exist—have you ever encountered a succubus or an incubus?

J. K. Huysmans Seeks Religion, Finds Sin

A French author of the nineteenth century, J. K. Huysman had decided to go on a pilgrimage—having spent much of his life exploring various paranormal and supernatural phenomena. In an effort to travel back to the Christian roots of his childhood, he took up residence at a monastery. A misled belief that has been held for centuries, especially in the case of demonic possession, is that a pious lifestyle will provide personal protection from all evil spirits. This was an unfortunate rumor because it seems that the more dedicated a person is to their religious beliefs, the likelier that they are susceptible to attracting demons of all kinds. As a man with good intentions, he was not necessarily the most virtuous of people and he soon found himself to be the target of a succubus.

While he slept one night in his room at the monastery, he was awakened in the middle of his climax—seeing the succubus just as she began to vanish. Huysmans was certain, after seeing evidence that someone or something else had been in his bed with him while he had been sleeping. The belief at the time was that a succubus would steal the semen from unwitting male victims, then transform into an incubus, the male counterpart to the succubus, then use it to impregnate female victims.

Silhouette of a woman, Succubus
Photography by Alexander Krivitskiy

Pope Sylvester II’s Rise to Power

Prior to becoming Pope Sylvester II, Gerbert of Aurillac was a student, he fell in love with the daughter of the dean of this university. Unfortunately for Gerbert, she rejected him as he was far below her own social class—the anguish and unrequited passion he had for this woman possessed Gerbert with lustful and lascivious feelings. This was when he met Meridiana, an exquisitely beautiful young woman who seemed to appear out of nowhere. She promised him that should he remain faithful to her alone that she could make him intelligent, wealthy, and provide him the intimacy that he so desired. Gerbert couldn’t accept her deal quickly enough and through proving his loyalty, she helped him traverse through the ranks of the church and was appointed as archbishop of Rheims. By the time he had become pope, he was far above the social class of the woman who had slighted him; when he cheated on Meridiana with the dean’s daughter, she forgave him due to his previously intense loyalty.

Meridiana was Gerbert’s closely guarded secret, because of the well-known requirement of chastity for the Catholic clergy. He continued in his successes, until one day, Meridiana predicted he would die during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem—as it would seem, the age-old adage of, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” is really the case when dealing with a possessive, jealous, female sex demon. Terrified, Gerbert canceled his trip to Jerusalem, then publicly confessed to his lifetime of sins, fearing that if he were to die without repenting, he would have gone straight to hell. He later died in Rome, where he now resides in a tomb, which is reported to begin to sweat when the current pope is destined to die.

A Succubus Disguised as An Imaginary Friend

In 2012, a young man named Patrick was the target of a succubus that had been posing as his imaginary friend from childhood—this friend, Lucy, would come to Patrick when he was lonely and play with him, following him throughout his childhood and watching him grow. One day, she confided in Patrick that one day he would be old enough for her to teach him interesting and exciting things that he couldn’t yet understand. His parents were understandably disturbed by his obsession with his imaginary friend, so they took him to several different psychologists to see if they could get him some help. When Patrick got to the age of sixteen, he said that Lucy persuaded him to meet and date real women so that she could start teaching him these new things; he claims she stuck around for several years, teaching him how to satisfy himself and the women he took as partners. Lucy finally disappeared when Patrick fell in love and married.

Cultural Representations of the Succubus

Lady Lilith Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1868
Lady Lilith Dante Gabriel Rossetti 1868

Lilith, the First Wife of Adam

As the first wife of Adam from the Garden of Eden, Lilith is the archetype of feminism, independence, and dominance. While she takes many forms in the various versions created of her, she became the first succubus when she left the Garden of Eden and interbred with demons—she was said to give birth to over a hundred children a day, creating an entire race of succubi. She is such a powerful icon as a demon and a succubus, that there are reports from men from vastly different cultures, throughout the centuries that claim to have been visited by Lilith—some who summoned her, others were just unsuspecting victims. Lilith, is by far the most famous succubus in all of the lore, appearing in Christian, Roman, Greek, Judaic, Sumerian and Egyptian cultural mythologies.

In Sumerian lore, she was the goddess of fertility and witchcraft, which evolved with the Assyrians and Babylonians who categorized her as a demon. She appears in Greek mythology as well, portrayed as a romantic adversary of Hera, who as a jealous goddess cast her out and sent her to roam the lands and consume infants.

Um Al Duwayce

In the Middle East there is a version of the succubus known as um al duwayce—she is the possessor of both incredible beauty and the most intoxicating scent. Um al duwayce roams the desert, acting as judge, jury, and executioner to men who would commit adultery. Hold on though, it gets better—for the men who she has tempted into having sex with her, her lady bits act as a guillotine for the victim’s manhood, then she reveals her true form and devours him alive.

Qarînah 

Similar to the succubus, the qarînah belongs to Arabic superstition, she is a spirit with origins in ancient Egypt and possibly within the pre-Islamic animism of Arabia. While the qarînah is invisible, she can be seen by a person who possesses the second sight, but instead of showing as a woman, they are depicted as a household pet. It is said that the people that the qarînah possesses can never enter into marriage, or she will end their lives.

Autumniessink

The Hawaiian succubus isn’t known by too many details, except that she appears as a beautiful young woman, then sneaks into the tents of virgin men at night and robs them of their purity. In order to stay virginal and otherwise thwart the Autumniessink, the man must wear a loincloth made from Hawaiian Snowbush.

Movies and Television Shows That Make Us Weary of Pretty Women

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Lost Girl (2010 – 2016)

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!

Categories
Horror Mystery and Lore

Telling the Difference Between Demonic Entities

Possession movies, even when they are highly religious in context, bring in huge crowds of fans, starting with The Exorcist (1973) and continuing on throughout the years, we never really get down to the brass tacks of demonic entities, who they are—or might be—and the people they have affected. Demon lore is complex in every religion and affiliated culture, there are elaborate organizational schemes for demons dated back from the 16th and 17th centuries and yet we still have so little understanding of them. For the many ills and misfortunes that plague the human race, there is the possibility of a demonic association that leads to exorcisms in many cultures. Specifically, in Catholicism, exorcisms deal with demonic possession, in which demons are said to battle for control of the soul of the victim they have targeted, these practices date back to 1614.

The Demons that Invade Our Lives

Christian demonologist Johann Weyer estimated that there were nearly 7.5 million demons that served as minions to 72 different princes of hell. Each of these demons belongs to a class of demons; to name a few, there are demons that attack people in their sleep, drain vitality, or possess those who are struggling with their own identity. So, let’s take a look at the different types of demonic entities that go beyond the typical Catholic exorcism expectations.

Attractive demoness
Photography by Alice Alinari

The Succubus

During the Middle Ages, authorities within the Christian religion asserted the existence of sex demons, which they furthered that to insinuating that sex with such demons was a sign of witchcraft. Although it’s a widely accepted possibility in the paranormal community, the stories and theories of such acts are described as horrific to experience. To be clear, while this may sound like an exciting ride for some lonely people out there, it’s not something that anyone in their right mind would purposefully pursue—it’s never consensual.

The Djinn

Collection of Genie Lamps--don't summon a Djinn!
Photography by Louis Hansel

Between 100 and 400 AD, the Testament of Solomon was written, which served as a list for Hebrew, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Persian demons. The Djinn are self-propagating, malicious, yet mortal demons. They are an invisible creature by nature but have shape-shifting abilities so they may better stalk their prey. Solomon was able to control these types of demons which he called djinn with his magical ring and he would frequently treat them as his own personal slaves by making them transport him wherever he wished upon their backs.

My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915. Fritz Schwimbeck
My Dream, My Bad Dream, Fritz Schwimbeck, 1915.

The Nightmare

The story of this nocturnal visitor originated in the ancient world, in which a spirit or demon would come into the room of its sleeping victim, male or female, to incapacitate the individual and feed off of their vitality. In all reported cases, it is said the victim awakens to either a heavy weight on their chest or one that starts at their feet and progresses to their chest, either way, they are unable to move out from under the weight of the night hag. As they’re feeding off of the individual, the victim feels as if they’re suffocating and paralyzed, despite being fully conscious. Victims of the night hag end up reporting feeling groggy, sick, and otherwise exhausted both mentally and physically the next day.

Western-style vampire bears her fangs.
Photography by Rondell Melling

The Vampire

Now just wait, you’re probably conjuring up an image of Dracula hunched in a dark window of his castle in Transylvania, brooding and dangerous. The concept of the vampire in modern culture, especially since Stoker’s rendition, are the undead who return to kill and torture the living, but the actual origin is somewhat different. Older than the Slavic version of Dracula is a supernatural and demonic entity that did not actually take human form and it spans the world with small variations.