Ever had a strange and frightening experience in your bedroom? A sense of a dangerous, maybe even deadly, creature lurking in the corners of the bedroom, and that suddenly leaps onto the bend and holds you down? And there are very often sexual aspects to all of this. If this sounds familiar to yourself, don't worry, you're not alone. It’s important to note that such creatures are not limited to just one or two parts of the planet – or even to specific time-frames. Incubi and Succubi are everywhere – exactly as they were in the distant past. In Newfoundland, there is the Old Hag – a female monster that, just like legendary Lilith, straddles the unwary in the dead of night and steals semen from terrified men. South Africa has the monstrous Tokoloshe. Scandinavia is home to the Mare – which, rather notably, is from where the word "nightmare" comes. Popobawa creates fear and dread for the people of Zanzibar. The Karabasan is a Turkish version. The Boto haunts the cities and jungles of Brazil. And, the Lidérc plagues the people of Hungary. While the names are many and varied, the key component of a sexual encounter in the dead of night, in which the victim is unable to stop the experience, is worldwide.
There is very little doubt that the most terrifying beings that fall into this category are the Succubus and the Incubus. In his 2011 book, Strange Intruders, David Weatherly says that these creatures "“live in a spirit world and crave the energy and life essence of the living." They are dangerous, violent and manipulative things that very often present themselves in the form of a person’s definitive fantasy. There is, however, nothing appealing about these monsters of the night. In fact, they should be avoided at all costs. It’s either that or ultimately pay a terrible price. The problem is that it’s very difficult to escape their clutches when you are in bed, completely paralyzed, and held down by a malevolent thing from another plane of existence.
The term, "Incubus," is a most appropriate one, as it is derived from ancient Latin term which means "to lie upon." The word itself is “incubare.” In essence, the term is a most apt one, as the Incubus does exactly that: it lies upon its victim and sexually assaults them. The Incubus is the male version of this menacing beast, while the Succubus is the female. It’s a phenomenon that has been with us just about as long as civilization has existed. As evidence of this, we’ll now take a trip back to the world and the people of Mesopotamia, which, thousands of years ago, was situated in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and covering Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Is it possible that all of this, from the earliest years of civilization to the present day is due to nothing stranger than the complexities of the human mind? Doubtful. Admittedly, yes, technologically-speaking, we are very different to the people of yesteryear. On the other hand, though, and just like today, the people back then had families and friends, and they laughed and they cried. In that sense our minds are not so different.
Those who are skeptical of the idea that bedroom invaders of a supernatural nature really exist, suggest that all of the above – from the distant past to the present day - can be explained away by what is known popularly as sleep-paralysis. Its medical term is hypnagogia – it’s a period during the sleep state when, sometimes, a person semi-awakens. And, in that half-awake / half-asleep state, the brain can do some very strange things, including creating a sense of something threatening in the bedroom. It’s a condition which was coined back in the 1800s, by Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury, who was a French doctor. Sleep paralysis does not – and cannot – explain away everything, though. There are, for example, cases in which the encounter leaves behind it residual odors, such as brimstone and sulfur – which are reported in numerous paranormal encounters, including the early 1950s-era experiences of Albert Bender, who quickly found himself on the wrong side of the Men in Black, when he started to dig into the UFO mystery. Not only that, Bender had a classic Old Hag type experience back in 1953. On occasion, a wife has seen her husband straddled by one of these crazed things – and vice-versa. As this shows, these encounters are most assuredly not totally internal to the victims: there is a dangerous, undeniable external aspect, too.