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Succubus bracket 02

A 16th Century sculpture representing a succubus.

In folklore traced back to medieval legend, a succubus (plural succubi) is a
Succubus

A Succubus

female demon or supernatural entity that appears in dreams, who takes the form of a human woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual intercourse. The male counterpart is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated intercourse with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or even death.

According to the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Witches' Hammer", succubi would collect semen from the men they slept with, which incubi would then use to impregnate women. Children so begotten were supposed to be more susceptible to the influence of demons.

Honoré de Balzac wrote a short story The Succubus concerning a 1271 trial of a she-devil succubus in the guise of a woman, who amongst other things could use her hair to entangle victims.

From the 16th century, the carving of a succubus on the outside of an inn indicated that the establishment also operated as a brothel.

In modern fictional representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress; whereas, in the past, succubi were generally depicted as frightening and demonic.

AppearanceEdit

The appearance of succubi varies just about as much as that of demons in general; there is no single definitive depiction. However, they are almost universally depicted as alluring women with unearthly beauty, often with demonic batlike wings; occasionally, they will be given other demonic features (horns, a tail with a spaded tip, snakelike eyes, hooves, etc). Occasionally they appear simply as an attractive woman in dreams that the victim cannot seem to get off their mind. They lure males and in some cases, the male has seemed to fall "in love" with her. Even out of the dream she will not leave his mind. She will remain there slowly draining energy from him.

In modern timesEdit

To this day the blame of nocturnal emissions and other sexual occurrences or mysteries are, in some cultures and circles, blamed on a demon of sins such as a succubus.

Experiences of apparent supernatural visitations at night can sometimes occur as effects of hypnagogia.

EtymologyEdit

The word is derived from Late Latin succuba "strumpet" (from succubare "to lie under", from sub- "under" and cubare "to lie"), used to describe the supernatural being as well. The word is first attested from 1387.

In folkloreEdit

Lilith (John Collier painting)

Lilith (1892) by John Collier in Southport Atkinson Art Gallery

According to Zohar and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith was Adam's first wife who later became a succubus. She left Adam and refused to return to the Garden of Eden after she mated with Samael. In Zoharistic Kabbalah, there were four succubi who mated with Samael. They were four original queens of the demons Lilith, Agrat Bat Mahlat, Naamah, and Eisheth Zenunim. Succubi may take a form of a beautiful young girl but closer inspection may reveal deformities such as having bird-like claws or serpentine tails. It is said that the act of sexually penetrating a succubus is akin to entering a cavern of ice. There are also reports of succubi forcing men to perform cunnilingus on their vaginas that drip with urine and other fluids. In later folklore, a succubus took the form of a siren.

Throughout history, priests and rabbis including Hanina Ben Dosa and Abaye, tried to curb the power of succubi over humans.

Not all succubi were malevolent. According to Walter Mapes in De Nugis Curialium (Trifles of Courtiers), Pope Sylvester II (999–1003) was involved with a succubus named Meridiana, who helped him achieve his high rank in the Catholic Church. Before his death, he confessed of his sins and died repentant.

Ability to reproduceEdit

According to the Kabbalah and the school of Rashba, the original three queens of the demons, Agrat Bat Mahlat, Naamah, Eisheth Zenunim, and all their cohorts give birth to children, except Lilith. According to other legends, the children of Lilith are called Lilin.

According to the Malleus Maleficarum, or "Witches' Hammer", written by Heinrich Kramer (Insitoris) in 1486, a succubus collects semen from the men she seduces. The incubi or male demons then use the semen to impregnate human females, thus explaining how demons could apparently sire children despite the traditional belief that they were incapable of reproduction. Children so begotten – cambions – were supposed to be those that were born deformed, or more susceptible to supernatural influences. The book does not address why a human female impregnated with the semen of a human male would not produce a regular human offspring. But in some Viking lore the child is born deformed because the conception was unnatural.

QarinahEdit

Main article: Tabi'ah

In Arabian mythology, the qarînah (قرينة) is a spirit similar to the succubus, with origins possibly in ancient Egyptian religion or in the animistic beliefs of pre-Islamic Arabia. A qarînah "sleeps with the person and has relations during sleep as is known by the dreams." They are said to be invisible, but a person with "second sight" can see them, often in the form of a cat, dog, or other household pet. "In Omdurman it is a spirit which possesses. ... Only certain people are possessed and such people cannot marry or the qarina will harm them." Till date, many African myths claim that men who have similar experience with such principality (succubus) in dreams (usually in form of a beautiful woman) find themselves exhausted as soon as they awaken; often claiming spiritual attack upon them. Local rituals/divination are often invoked in order to appeal the god for divine protection and intervention.

YakshiEdit

In India, the succubus is referred to as the seductress Yakshi. In India, a succubus is described as a lone lady draped in a white sari (traditional Indian dress worn by women), with untied long hair. She generally is said to haunt lonely paths or roads, and to have died from torment by a male, and thus would seek revenge on any male. The stories of Kalliyankattu Neeli and Kanjirottu Yakshi are examples.

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