2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Magic Thursday...erotic dreams, incubi and succubi

Erotic dreams, most of us have experienced them at some stage in our lives... but did you know according to legend you may have been visited by a nocturnal mythical sexual predator?

Succubus and Incubus

[image courtesy: Tribe.net]

At a cursory glance, demons who visit - seducing and arousing humans whilst they slumber, are ripe for development as paranormal romance characters. So it is unsurprising that the Incubus and Succubus are increasing in popularity in the paranormal genre (I myself have used DemonSpawn in three of my books). However, how much do you really know about these sexy, devilish heroes and heroines? What do they really look like? Where did they come from?  What are the myths surrounding them?

Allow me to enlighten you!

The first, rather sad point of note for all you Incubus fans out there is...

[Image courtesy: Burak Ozcivit]
ß We'd like to believe an Incubus looks like this.

[image courtesy: wikipedia]
The sad fact is they really look like this   à
Not looking quite so sexy now are they?

However, the succubus in contrast, appears as a beautiful and very desirable woman (although at times is depicted with bat wings). Which I don't think is particularly fair, but there you have it.

 So where do the Incubi and Succubi hail from and what do they do?


The term incubus is constructed from the Latin verb, incubo, incubare, or "to lie upon". 
The term succubus  means "strumpet" (from succubare "to lie under", from sub- "under" and cubare "to lie").
[Image courtesy: Wiki]
The Incubus and Succubus are demons that can be traced back to medieval European folk law. Of course,various demons and mythical creatures through-out the world share similar predatory sexual traits with them, (eg; Lamia, Qarînah, Yuki-onna , Rusalka to name but a few.)  Alas, today I shall just focus on the succubi and incubi.

The medieval period in which these creatures are found, encompasses the Middle Ages - namely the 5th  to 15th centuries AD. This period of history is marked by the rise in organised religion, particularly in the later middle ages, where famine and disease were rampant. Conservative Christianity, the Crusades, and the Inquisition all came to rise during this period. It was a time of fear and ignorance - where mythology, magic and reality were considered completely intertwined. When no decent explanation could be found for some phenomena - magic, demonology and mythology usually provided the answers. This was the the perfect environment for the succubi and incubi to grow in popularity and infamy.

Ludovico Sinistrari (1622-1701) a demonologist /priest explains the phenomena;
If we seek to learn from the authorities how it is possible that the devil, who has no body, yet can perform actual coitus with a man or woman, they unanimously answer that the devil assumes the corpse of another human being, male or female as the case may be, or that, from the mixture of other materials, he shapes for himself a body, endowed with motion, by means of which body he copulates with the human being.
 In medieval European folk law - the Succubi appeared to men during the night and seduced them into sexual activity. It is perhaps a little unsurprising that celibate monks seemed to be the worst affected by succubi attacks, and would often blame them for their own lustful thoughts and erotic dreams. I'd probably blame extreme sexual frustration, but that's just me. The succubus could also actually be an incubus in disguise, seducing men to harvest their semen for  the later impregnation of a human woman.

Bonaventura Cavalieri (1598 – 1647)
Devils in the form of women [succubi] yield to males and receive their semen; by cunning skill, the demons preserve its potency, and afterwards, with the permission of God, they become incubi and pour it out into female repositories.

The incubus, similarly, rose to prominence at the same time. Like its female counterpart, it attacks women in their sleep, sometimes leaving them with nothing but the memory of an erotic dream and  a pressure like someone is sitting on their chest. Other women of the time, reported much more violent incubi. The reports of priests tell that the women found themselves paralysed and unable to save themselves from the demon's attentions and woke with unexplained bruises and cuts.
Unexplained pregnancy was occasionally blamed on a visitation by an incubus. The spawn of an incubus were said to posses supernatural powers, and be susceptible to demonic influence. Legend has it that Merlin, of Arthurian legend may have been the child of a human mother and demon father.

The rise of the incubi and succubi may have something to do with the position and views of women in the Church. During middle ages, female sexuality was largely taboo. Any sexual arousal of a woman had more to do with devils, spirits and lax morals than it did with any biological explanation... like ovulation.

The hype and fear about the Succubi and Incubi eventually began to wane sometime during the 18th Century.

There are, in fact, some pretty ordinary explanations for these nocturnal phenomena. Erotic dreams and unconscious orgasm can occur because of the intense activity that is constantly going on in our subconscious minds. Since sex is one of the most powerful of all human drives, it's little surprise that some dreams have a strong sexual content.

Additionally the the sense of paralysis and weight on the chest during or after an 'incubus attack' could be related to a condition known as sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis occurs either when falling asleep, or when awakening. The paralysis can last from several seconds to several minutes, with some rare cases being hours [Wikipedia].

You can see that in the absence of medical information, myth and magic become plausible explanations for what is a relatively bizarre biological occurrence.

If you cruise the net, you can actually find websites that talk about what to do if you are subject to an incubi/succubi attack. So belief in this is still strong within some groups of society. (Click Here to read some advice).

In summary, the incubus and succubus are absolutely fascinating mythologies that are gaining momentum in the paranormal genre.
Titles such as Gentlemen Do Prefer Succubi, Succubus Dreams, Incubus and Incubus Hunter are beginning to grace the shelves of our bookstores and flutter their way back into the mainstream consciousness in a way they haven't for centuries.

So it seems that the incubi and succubi are moving out of mythology and into discussions and literature once again and most importantly back into our favourite genre... paranormal romance.

Have a magic Thursday, and when you go to bed tonight...don't let the incubi bite...



  1. Great post - really interesting =)

    We like to use scapegoats don't we! LOL

  2. I have never really researched these sorts of demons before, so this made for a fascinating read!

    I also find it interesting that an 'excuse' had to be found for explaining away normal sexual behaviour - most typically by those in charge in the day ie.the church, or men. :-) But it makes for lots of good fuel for a writers imagination, doesn't it?

    I think I may have to mull over the idea that sparked reading this post and jot it down. It might make a good book one day. :-D

  3. Yes, I think they are fascinating. Glad you enjoyed the post :D

  4. Nice post, Nicola! I have a succubus/incubus romance in my book Shadowfae. Yes, that's a shameless plug :)

    The cool thing about writing less familiar beasties like these is that you can do whatever you like with them!

  5. Thanks, Nicola. Always good to consider new possibilities for characters/worldbuilding...