Incubi and Succubi: Protection from Dark Magics and Cures for Night Terrors – Part II
Some researchers have suggested that Incubus/Succubus attacks are related to strong sexual repression. As noted above, tales of Incubi and Succubi were originally linked more with monks and nuns – two groups of individuals who have sworn celibacy. As the nature of the attacks is sexual and has been associated with erotic dreams and/or bodily sensations, there is a belief by some that victims of the attacks feel sexual desires that they refuse to acknowledge, thus their subconscious plays out sexual feelings at night when it can run rampant. There is also a belief that the encounters are hallucinations or delusions that emerge from the repression of sexual desires.
The Incubus lies atop the dreamer, begets horrors. (CC BY 2.0)
On the other hand, others have focused on the sensation of fear associated with the attacks and believe that the person who has these types of experiences suffers from strong anxiety or stress issues. Even in the Medieval period, medical doctors suggested that it was useful for a person to reduce their stressors to help do away with the demons. For example, Bernard de Gordon wrote that the person “should live in joy and happiness and avoid all sadness,” and suggested that music or conversations with friends could help the patient feel better. He also proposed that a person being attacked by an Incubus “should have a beloved friend who, upon hearing him calling out and almost lamenting, should wake him.”
‘The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters’ (1799) By Francisco de Goya. (Public Domain)
On the surface, tales of alien encounters and the attacks of Incubi/Succubi are similar in many ways. Both often involve “meetings” with supernatural beings (generally at night) and memories of seeing unexplainable sights and/or hearing strange sounds. After a meeting with either entity, the person may also describe feeling physically drained or confused.
Furthermore, some people have argued that what history and legends call demons are beings from space which have allegedly been documented since time immemorial. Like the supposed demons, some aliens are said to feed off of human energy as well – sexual or fear-based - and like the supposed demons, they may drain their victims until the point of near death.
Artistic depiction of a Grey Alien. (Public Domain)
Sleep paralysis is the sensation of being unable to move as a person is entering or leaving a rapid eye movement (REM) sleep state. This is the time when people usually dream and the body’s muscles are relaxed even to the point of paralysis – which may be to stop a person from acting out his/her dream. The “demon” is thought to appear to the individual at hypnopompic (occurring while awakening) or hypnagogic (occurring while falling asleep) moments and are believed by some researchers to be the product of frightening hallucinations.
Many people suffering from sleep paralysis describe the sensation of someone sitting on or pushing on their chest, back, or side. They sometimes feel a sensation of someone choking, biting them, or twisting their limbs, and also often describe the feeling of an “evil” presence in the room with them when these attacks occur. Moreover, the physiology of REM sleep is related to erections in men and lubrication in women. This combination of factors may explain how the fearsome demons appear: as the brain tries to explain the heavy sensation and inability to move – causing fear, and the simultaneous feelings of arousal.
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- Morpheus, the Greek God of Dreams who delivered messages from the gods to the mortal world
- Dreams and Prophecy in Ancient Greece
- The Egyptian Dream Book
Top Image: Artist’s depiction of a succubus (CC BY 2.0)