The details of an incubus/succubus’ attacks range from mild to horrific. Victims generally claim to feel the presence of some entity above them, making it difficult for them to breathe. In extreme cases, the individual may feel suffocated… even strangled. Others claim to have seen horrifying images, including black forms, serpents, demon forms, and even the malevolent smiling face of the incubus/succubus. There have been reports of strong pressure in the chest, the sensation of biting the teeth, or the limbs twisting painfully. People have said that his eyes were open during the attack, but that they couldn’t do anything but the darkness…unable to gasp or scream, unable to breathe or feel or hear anything. The details of not being able to move and being pushed onto the bed make for an uncomfortable read, but not as terrible as the mental anguish. Some people report feeling an evil presence (or even presences) and feeling impending doom. Imagine not being able to see who or what is attacking you. Or, worst case scenario, sucking fresh air into your lungs after an attack, relieved that your “nightmare” is over… only for the attack to start again, worse this time because you’re awake and more aware of the presence

The male version of this demon is the incubus, and while he drains a woman of her own strength, he has an even more sinister agenda. He is supposed to mate with his victim to produce more incubi. The result of this supernatural union is known as a cambian, and when the child is born, he appears to be a stillborn because he shows no obvious signs of life. His eyes can blink and his limbs can move, he can even speak, but he has no pulse and his breathing is invisible. Around the age of seven, the child will begin to behave like a normal human child, but there are big differences. A Cambion is not only very beautiful; he often displays an evil character bestowed upon him by the demonic father. He is also highly intelligent and able to persuade even the most determined human being to carry out his wishes. Merlin, the wizard of the classic King Arthur legends, was supposedly the product of an incubus and a mortal woman, and some legends claim that Merlin’s mother was actually a nun.

At one point there was a concern regarding the gender of Incubi and Succubi: it was claimed that they were actually a demonic entity with the ability to change sex based on the gender of their victim. She would transform into an incubus after having been with a man and use the seed she had collected on the female victim. If the woman conceived, the result would still be a change, because although the genetic base of the child was human, the demonic intervention guaranteed a paranormal development.

Stories about incubus/succubus demons have been told throughout history and around the world. Here is a selection of some of the best known characters:

Jewish folklore tells of Lilu, an incubus who visits women while they sleep. Her female 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 visited men at night to ensure the continuation of her demon race. The incubus was Irdu Lili, who visited human women to ensure that they produced his offspring.

El Trauco is a mythical dwarf resident on the Chilean island of ChiloĆ©, who despite his horrible appearance has the ability to seduce women. His piercing gaze is feared by the island men because he has the ability to kill. However, there have been times when a strong-willed man has been able to secure El Trauco’s services for a year, simply by first setting his own gaze on this incubus. However, these stories are rare because El Trauco can feel the human presence long before the person is seen. So powerful is his magnetism that selected women (usually sleeping) will instantly fall in love with him, aided by the fact that he disguises himself as a rich landowner or even a priest.

El Trauco’s wife is the equally terrible La Fiura, an impossibly ugly and shameless little woman who will cast a sickening spell on anyone who rejects her advances. Her breath is so foul that she scars humans and lame animals. Despite this, she is an irresistible temptress who, after using her victims, will drive them crazy.

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 women. He always wears a hat, because his head retains a prominent dolphin-like appearance when in human form. Enchanted is very fond of parties and music and, despite coming from a utopian world, he yearns for the pleasures and difficulties of human life. Charmed can also charm a person into doing his bidding or turn someone into a Charmed. In their most extreme form, they can inflict sickness, madness, or death on their victims. Fortunately for these freshwater dolphins (yes, they do exist) it is considered bad luck to kill a Boto. And don’t make eye contact with one, or you’ll have 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 shape-shifting powers. During the day he looks like a normal human being, but at night he transforms into a gloomy ghostly figure with a frightful smell. He makes himself known by scratching ceilings and windows with long heels. He also threatens his victims with longer and more cruel assaults if they dare to tell anyone that Popo Bawa has decided to visit them. However, it is stated that he gets angry if someone denies his existence.

Liderc from Hungary hatches from the first egg of a black hen, and is sometimes called a “miracle chicken”. Liderc flies through the night skies like a fiery light, spraying flames over the land. Upon landing, he will shapeshift into a human and access houses through keyholes and chimneys, visible to his victims as a dead relative or loved one. She brings sickness and death to her victims, as well as making a lot of mess in the house before she leaves. Birch branches and burning incense can prevent Liderc from entering the house, but some claim that he is very fast and hides in graveyards. Another story claims that Liderc attaches itself to a victim, shapeshifting into an incubus or succubus, depending on the victim’s gender. In a twist to vampire legend, he can drink his host’s blood, weakening and tiring the victim. This Liderc likes to accumulate gold, so his human partner becomes rich. This creature can be exorcised by sealing it inside a tree hole or by convincing it to perform some difficult task, such as carrying water with a sieve or moving sand with a rope. A second version of the Liderc is much smaller and lives in boxes, pockets of discarded clothing, among rags or in glass bottles. Once again, the human will become rich, and may even be granted 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 Witches Hammer”, it contains information related to witchcraft and includes a section on the five methods used to stop the attacks of a succubus or incubus:

Exorcism: An ancient and very common practice whereby a priest or other religious leader calls upon God and, along with religious symbols such as Holy Water and Crosses, expels 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 Greeting – “The Angelic Greeting” calls for the intervention of Mary, Mother of Jesus, repeating two verses from the Gospel of Saint Luke in the New Testament.

Excommunication: Spiritual leaders will expel the afflicted individual from the community until the demon is gone, or until the victim requests spiritual intervention.

Transportation: moving the victim from his home to another place or town where he will be safe from the demon.

Unfortunately, it seems that not all succubi/incubi will respond to attempts to cast them out. A Franciscan friar named Ludovico observed: “They do not obey exorcists, they do not fear exorcisms, they show no reverence for holy things, before which they are not in the least intimidated.”