Incubus and Sucubus Mythology

Details of the attacks by an incubus/succubus vary form the mild to the horrific. Victims generally claim to feel the presence of some entity lying on top of them, making breathing difficult. In extreme cases the individual may feel he or she is be suffocated… even strangled. Other people claim to have seen horrible images, including black shapes, snakes, demonic forms and even the grinning and malevolent face of the incubus/succubus. There have been reports of heavy pressure on the chest, the sensation of biting teeth or limbs being painfully twisted. People have spoken of their eyes being open during the attack, but being unable to anything except darkness… unable to gasp or cry out, unable to breath or feel or hear anything. Details of being unable to move and being pulled into the bed make uncomfortable reading – but not as terrible as the mental anguish. Some people report feeling an evil presence (or even presences) and sensing imminent death. Imagine being unable to see who or what is assaulting you. Or – in the worse case scenario – gasping fresh air into your lungs after an attack, relieved that your ‘nightmare” is over… only for the attack to start all over again, worse this time because you are awake and more aware of the presence.

The male version of this demon is the incubus, and while it drains a woman of her own strength it has an even more sinister agenda. It is supposed to mate with its victim to produce more incubi. The result of this unearthly union is known as a cambion, and when the child is born it appears to be a stillbirth because it shows no obvious sign of life. Its eyes may blink and its limbs may move – it may even speak, but it has no pulse and its breathing is invisible. Around the age of seven years the child will start to behave as a normal human child, but there are sharp differences. Not only is a cambion very beautiful; it often displays an evil character bestowed upon it by the demonic parent. It is also very intelligent and able to persuade even the most resolute human to carry out its wishes. Merlin, the wizard from King Arthur’s classic legends, was supposedly the product of an incubus and a mortal woman, with some legends claiming Merlin’s mother was actually a nun.

At one time there was a concern regarding the gender of incubi and succubi – it was claimed they were actually one demonic entity with the ability to change its sex depending upon the gender of its victim. It would transform itself into an incubus after it had been with a man, and use the seed it had collected upon the female victim. If the woman did conceive the result would still be a cambion, because although the child’s genetic background was human the demonic intervention guaranteed paranormal development.

Stories about incubus/succubus demons have been told throughout history, and from all over the world. Here is a selection of some of the better-known characters:

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Jewish folklore tells of Lilu, an incubus who visits women while they sleep. His feminine counterpart is Lilin. These demons were a particular source of anxiety for mothers because they were known to kidnap children. Ardat Lili was another succubus who would visit men at night to ensure the continuation of her demonic race. The incubus was Irdu Lili, who would visit human women to ensure they would produce his offspring.

El Trauco is a mythical dwarf residing on the Chilean island of Chiloé, who despite his hideous appearance has the ability to seduce women. His piercing gaze is feared by male islanders because it has the ability to kill. However there have been occasions when a strong willed man has been able to secure the services of El Trauco for one year, simply by fixing his own gaze upon this incubus first. These stories are rare, however, because El Trauco is able to sense human presence long before the person is sighted. So powerful is his magnetism that selected women (usually sleeping) will instantly fall in love with him, aided by the fact he disguises himself as a wealthy landlord or even a priest.

El Trauco’s wife is the equally dreadful La Fiura, an incredibly ugly and shameless little woman who will cast a sickness spell upon anyone who rejects her advances. So foul is her breath it will scar a human and turn animals lame. Despite this she is an irresistible temptress who, after using her victims, will drive them insane.

Encantado is a Brazilian shapeshifter who spends his days as a Boto dolphin frolicking in the Amazon River. At night he takes on the appearance of a handsome young man who seduces young girls. He always wears a hat, because his head retains a prominent dolphin-like appearance when in human form. Encantado is very partial to parties and music, and despite coming from a utopian world craves the pleasures and hardships of human life. Encantado can also bewitch a person to make him/her do their bidding or turn someone into an Encantado. At their most extreme they can inflict sickness, insanity or death upon their victims. Fortunately for these freshwater dolphins (yes, they do exist) it is considered bad luck to kill a Boto. And do not make eye contact with one, or you will suffer nightmares for the rest of your life.

Zanizibar, an island off the coast of the African country of Tanzania, is the chosen abode of Popo Bawa, an incubus who selects male victims. His name means “bat-wing”, and refers to his shadow rather than his physical appearance, which varies thanks to Popo Bawa’s shapeshifting powers. During daylight hours he looks like an ordinary human being, but at night transforms into a shadowy ghostlike figure with a dreadful odour. He makes himself known by scratching on roofs and at windows with long talons. He also threatens his victims with longer and more vicious assaults should they dare tell anyone Popo Bawa has decided to pay them a visit. Yet it is claimed he becomes angry should anyone deny his existence.

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Hungary’s Liderc hatches from the first egg of a black hen, and is sometimes called “miracle chicken”. Liderc flies through the night skies as a fiery light, sprinkling flames on the earth below. On landing it will shapeshift into a human and access houses through keyholes and chimneys, visible to its victims as a dead relative or loved one. It brings sickness and death to its victims, as well as making the house very dirty before departing. Birch branches and burning incense may stop Liderc from entering the house, but some claim it is very fast and hides in cemeteries. Another story claims Liderc attaches itself to a victim, shapeshifting into either an incubus or succubus depending on its victim’s gender. In a twist on the vampire legend it may drink blood from its host, making the victim weak and tired. This Liderc likes to hoard gold, so its human companion becomes wealthy. This creature can be exorcised by either sealing it inside a tree hollow or persuading it to perform some difficult task, like carrying water with a sieve or moving sand with a rope. A second version of the Liderc is much smaller and live in boxes, pockets of discarded clothes, among rags or in glass bottles. Again the human will become wealthy, and may even find himself bestowed with mystical powers… but in exchange for his soul.

The “Hexanhammer” is a book written during the fifteenth century. Also known by its Latin name Malleus Maleficarum or “The Hammer of Witches”, it contains information pertaining to witchcraft, and includes a section on the five methods used to stop attacks by a succubus or incubus:

Exorcism – an ancient and very common practice, whereby a priest or other religious leader calls upon God and, together with religious symbols such as Holy Water and Crosses, to cast out the demon. On occasion Angels and/or Archangels may also be called upon to assist with the exorcism.

Sacramental Confession – a sacred rite designed to protect by bestowing a blessing of spiritual grace through Christ; similar to baptism or confession.

Angelic Salutation – “The Angels’ Greeting” calls for intervention from Mary, Mother of Jesus by repeating two verses from Saint Luke’s Gospel in the New Testament.

Excommunication – spiritual leaders will ban the afflicted individual from the community until the demon leaves, or until the victim asked for spiritual intervention.

Transportation – moving the victim from his/her house to another place or town where he/she will be safe from the demon.

Unfortunately it appears not all succubi/incubi will respond to attempts to cast them out. A Franciscan friar named Ludovico observed: “They do not obey exorcists, have no dread of exorcisms, show no reverence for holy things, at the approach of which they are not the least overawed”.


by Sarah Todd