Thursday, June 26, 2014

Succubus and Incubus

A topic within the paranormal that I have seen grow immensely over the past couple of years is the one involving creatures like the succubus and the incubus. Stories of these beings have been found in Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Assam, Chile, Ecuador, South Africa, and probably more. I've seen these creatures described a couple of different ways, from demons, to witches, to vampires. Where do these myths come from, and what is it about these beings that holds such fascination?

One of the first occurrences of an incubus and a succubus comes from Mesopotamia and the Sumerian King List (2400 BC). Here, the incubus, Lilu, is said to disturb and seduce women, while the succubus, Lilitu, appears in erotic dreams. An older mention of a succubus is with Jewish mysticism and the creature Lilith. According to this story, Lilith was the first woman and didn't want to be submissive to Adam. She left the Garden of Eden and had sex with the archangel Samael, resulting in her transformation into a succubus. Another mythological representation of an incubus comes from the stories of King Arthur. It has been said that Merlin was the son of an incubus, and that's where he received his powers and abilities.  And, of course, Christianity is rife with tales of demons and how one can avoid them.

Some more recent mentions of succubus-like creatures have popped up recently. The SyFy show Lost Girl portrays a female protagonist, said to be Fae, that gains energy by taking the life force of the people around her. She can do this during her sexual encounters, or sometimes by mere touch. American Horror Story: Coven also explored a succubus character. In this show, the succubus was only beginning to understand her powers as a witch. As for the incubus, I haven't seen this type of character come up in movies or television as much. However, I have read a number of books that concern an incubus or two (yes, the same would go for the succubus).

In the days before science, people would often look to the unexplained for answers to their questions. For instance, if a woman's husband passed away and she became pregnant outside of another marriage, it would be acceptable for her to claim an incubus visited her a night. Also, when a man would need to explain why he had a wet dream, a succubus could be an acceptable scapegoat. Today, these explanations seem laughable. However, there are still people that claim to be visited by such demonic entities. Doctors have dismissed these reports as hallucinations, waking dreams, and paralysis.

As for the fascination of these beings, I think it's now becoming more acceptable for people to discuss sex in public. With social norms shifting, many people are now given the freedom of wondering what it might be like to be visited by, or even be, one of these creatures.

What are your thoughts on the incubus or the succubus? Do you know of any other places where these creatures take center stage?

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