College of the Magic  Arts,,,
Sex and Magic
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According to many Church Fathers, an incubus is an angel who fell because of lust for women.  Essentially the incubus is a lewd demon or goblin which seeks sexual intercourse with women.  It is also termed follet (French), alp (German), duende (Spanish), and folletto (Italian).  The corresponding devil who appears to men is the succubus.  When associated with one particular witch or sorcerer, both incubus and succubus are know as magistellus, or familiar.  Inasmuch as the nightmare dream is sexual in latent content, incubus is often used interchangeably with the near demon; in fact, the Latin word for nightmare is incubo (< to lie upon; compare Mod. Eng. incubator).  The "Description of Wales" in Caxton's Chronicle dives an early definition in English:

 That fiend that goth a-night
  Woman full oft to guile,
 Incubus is named by right;
  And guileth men other while,
 Succubus is that wight.

The learned Guazzo, who in his Compendium Maleficarum (1608) discussed at some length the niceties of the theory, wrote: "[The incubus] can assume either a male or a female shape; sometimes he appears as a full-grown man, sometimes as a satyr; and if it is a woman who has been received as a witch, he generally assumes the form of a rank goat."  While the temptation to lechery was itself never doubted, considerable discussion took place in the earlier Middle Ages about the corporeal manifestation of these devils, taken over into Christianity from Hebrew lore and classical mythology.  The development of the theory may have been retarded by the hesitancy of Augustine, who admitted only that these demons were "affirmed by such persons [of indubitable honesty and report], and with such confidence that it were impudence to deny it."  However, Augustine believed that devils "have often injured women, desiring and acting carnally with them."  One of the later demonologists, Sinistrari (died 1701), explained how a spirit could become a body:

If we seek to learn from the authorities how it is possible that the devil, who has no body, yet can perform actual coitus with man or woman, they unanimously answer that the devil assumes the corpse of another human being, male or female as the case may be, or that, for the mixture of other materials, he shapes for himself a body, endowed with motion, by means of which body he copulates with the human being.
By the thirteenth century, however, the great doctors of the Church conceded that such beings existed.  Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) wrote:
Nevertheless, if sometimes children are born from intercourse with demons, this is not because of the semen emitted by them, or from the bodies they have assumed, but through the semen taken from some man for this purpose, seeing that the same demon who acts as a succubus for a man becomes an incubus for a woman. (Summa Theologica)
Elsewhere, in the De Trinitate, it was claimed:
Devils do indeed collect human semen, by means of which they are able to produce bodily effects; but this cannot be done without some local movement, therefore devils can transfer the semen which they have collected and inject it into the bodies of others.
Caesarius of Heisterback believed that devils collected human semen emitted in nocturnal emissions or masturbation and used it to create new bodies for themselves.  Bonaventura similarly wrote:
Devils in the form of women [succubi] yield to males and receive their semen; by cunning skill, the demons preserve its potency, and afterwards, with the permission of God, they become incubi and pour it out into female repositories.
The incubus demons took pains to get the best quality semen.  Sinistrari (without approving) summarized two late sixteenth century writers, the Dominican Thomas Malvenda and Dr. Francisus Valesius:
What incubi introduce into the womb is not any ordinary human semen in normal quantity, but abundant, very thick, very warm, rich in spirits and free from serosity.  This, moreover, is an easy thing for them, since they merely have to choose ardent, robust men, whose semen is naturally very copious, and with whom the succubus has relations; and then the incubus copulates with women of a like constitution, taking care that both shall enjoy a more than normal orgasm, for the greater the venereal excitement the more abundant the semen.
Just as the ingenuity of demonologists was taxed to prove that the acts of witches were more than illusions, as the Canon Episcopi averred, so did the theorists have to labor to make the theory of the incubus as an actual lover displace the earlier idea of erotic dream.  But at last they succeeded and the rational views of Gervais of Tilbury (1214), for example, did not return until the centuries of witch hysteria were over.  Only then, by the time of Louis XV, could his personal physician, De Saint André, again suggest that the incubus was partly the result of an overstimulated imagination and partly an excuse for illicit relations:
The incubus is most frequently a chimera, which has no more basis than a dream, a perverted imagination, and very often the invention of a woman. . . .  Trickery has no less a place in history of the incubus.  To conceal her sin, a woman, a girl, a nun in name only, a debauchee, who affects the appearance of virtue, will palm off her lover for an incubus spirit which haunts her.  (Lettres au sujet de la magie, des maléfices et des sorciers, 1725)
Such comment was a far cry from 




The Vehicle of the Thunderbolt

Quite early in the history of the Great Vehicle feminine divinities found their way into the pantheon.  One such was Prajñ?p?ramit?, the Perfection of Insight, the personification of the qualities of the Bodhisattva.  Later, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who were thought of as male, were, like the gods of Hinduism, endowed with wives, who were the active aspect, the "force" or "potency" (?akti) of their husbands.  The god was thought of as transcendent and aloof, while the goddess was active in the world; thus the god might be best approached through the goddess.  The productive activity of the divine was thought of in terms of sexual union, an idea as old as the Rg Veda.  With the spread of these ideas sexual symbolism, and even sexual intercourse as a religious rite, were incorporated into the teachings of some schools of both Hinduism and Buddhism.  With these ideas were combined  a new magical mysticism.  The Lesser Vehicle taught that the release was obtained by the gradual loss of individuality through self-discipline and meditation; the Great Vehicle added that the grave and help of the heavenly Buddhas and Bodhisattvas assisted the process.  The followers of the new teaching taught that it could be best attained by acquiring magical power, which they called vajra (thunderbolt, or diamond).  Hence the new school of Buddhism was called Vajray?na,
the Vehicle of the Thunderbolt.  Even the Sthaviravadins taught that the monk who reached a high stage of detachment and mental training acquired supernatural powers.  At all times there were free-lance Buddhist monks, who did not live regularly in monasteries under orthodox discipline, and who attempted feats of sorcery and necromancy, such as the Buddha is said to have condemned.  It was perhaps among these free-lances that the ideas of the new Vehicle developed, to be codified and given dignity under the P?la kings of Bengal and Bih?r. 
Even in the 7th century Hsüan Tsang found certain monasteries permeated with magical practices.  The chief divinities of the new sect were the "Saviouresses" (T?r?s), the spouses of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  There were also a host of lesser divinities, many called by the names of demons, such as "outcaste women" (m?tangis), demonesses (pi??cis), sorceresses (yoginis), and she-ghouls (d?kinis).  The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with their T?r?s were approximated to the less amiable members of the Hindu pantheon, and were often depicted with many arms in ferocious poses.  As in the days of the Br?hmanas, it was though that these deities should be compelled rather than persuaded.  The textbooks outlining the means of doing this (s?dhana) were called Tantras, and hence the new cult is often referred to as tantric.  By
pronouncing the right formula (mantra) in the correct manner, or by drawing the correct magical symbol (yantra), one might force the gods to bestow magical power on the worshiper and lead him to the highest bliss.  Among the many formulae of tantric Buddhism one is specially famous--the "Six Syllables" (Sadaksar?), ?m mani padme h?m, still written and repeated thousands of times daily in Tibet. This phrase: "Ah! the jewel is indeed in the lotus!", may be sexual in significance, mystically repeating the divine coitus of the heavenly Buddha and Prajñ?p?ramit?, and of Avalokite?vara and his T?r?.  Tantric Buddhism did not neglect the techniques of mental training which were part of all the chief religions of India, but their direction was altered.  Their primary purpose was to obtain supernormal power.  The meditations of the Vajray?na were often positively psychopathic.  The practitioner of the system might so hypnotize himself as to imagine that he was reborn from the womb of a T?r?, to kill his father the Buddha and take his place.  In sexual union with a female devotee he and his partner would
become Buddha and T?r?, or he himself might become T?r?.  In the sexual rites of tantric Buddhism all taboos were lifted.  Even incest was permitted, for what was sin to the ignorant was virtue to the initiate.  Drinking of alcohol, meat-eating, killing of animals, and sometimes even of human beings--every imaginable sin--were practiced at the tantric covens.  These things were, however, done under strict control, and only by the initiates at sacred ceremonies.  Like the Bengali tantricist of later times the Vajray?na initiate might in his ordinary life be a normal man, whose occasional religious debauchery served as a catharsis to his evil psychological propensities and was of real help to him in leading the good life as he understood it.


 Another form of religious ceremony was that practiced by the sects which worshiped feminine divinities.  These sects are generally known as tantric (from their scriptures, called tantras), ?aktic (from their worship of the ?akti, or personified energy go the god), or "left-hand" (from the fact that the goddess sits on the left of her lord).  Their members believed that the usual Hindu rites and ceremonies, though not wholly ineffectual, were only suitable for the ordinary worshipers of the goddess; the adepts, who had undergone long rites of initiation, practiced other ceremonies of much greater efficiency, similar to those of the Buddhists of the "Vehicle of the Thunderbolt" (p. 280f).  The Tantric rites involved the breaking of all the usual taboos of
Hinduism.  Small groups of initiates met at night, often in a temple or private house, but also frequently in a burning-ground, among the bones of the dead.  The group formed a circle, seated around  the circumference of a large circular magical diagram (yanta, mandala) drawn on the ground.  Though the members of the circle might include Brahmans and outcastes, there was no class distinction at the ceremony--all were equal, and no ritual pollution occurred from their contact.  After regular evening worship, the propitiation of ghosts, and other rites, the group would indulge in the five Ms (pañca-mak?ra): madya (alcoholic drink), m?msa (meat), matsya (fish), mudr? (symbolical hand gestures, known in other branches of Indian religion, and in dance and drama, p. 385), and maithuna (sexual intercourse).  The rites concluded with the worship of the five elements, to which the five Ms mysteriously corresponded.  Among some Tantric groups the last of the five Ms involved promiscuous copulation, while the members
of others brought their wives to the circle.  With yet other groups those rites which were reprehensible to orthodoxy were performed only symbolically.  The remarkable "black mass" of the Tantric sects, whether in Buddhism or Hinduism, became very popular in Eastern India in the late medieval period.  It is still sometimes practiced, but quite without publicity, and it is probably that with the growth of puritanism and rationalism, the number of Tantric groups in India is now very small indeed.


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