On Tuesday 30 August 2016, at approximately 3am, I performed a blood ritual designed to summon a succubus. On hearing this, generally people are so preoccupied either with laughter, terror or confusion that the question of what a succubus actually is doesn’t even come up. But for those of you who don’t know…
A succubus is “a female demon believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men” and, as vague as this is, it seems to be about as much as the internet community can agree on. Historically, succubi have their roots in Medieval Kabbalah, a stream of Jewish mystical thought and were traditionally conceived of as horrific, life-draining seductresses. Fast-forward to today and you’ll find quite a different story. There are, of course, forums riddled with arguments regarding the nature of succubae – with little to no consensus on the specifics – but, in general, these creatures are no longer seen as so dastardly. At the very least they’re considered neutral, at best, positively amicable and always sexually insatiable. There has been an eruption of (largely misogynistic) popular interest surrounding succubi; tales of life changing experiences and blossoming friendships, desperate requests for legitimate information, books, pornography, eBay listings for ‘haunted’ items, all seemingly centred on a rampant desire to enlist a no-strings-attached, complicit, sex-slave.
“Anything is acceptable [with a succubus]”, states the description of a possessed ring; experience “extreme hard-core demon-sex”, and “increased sexual powers”! Fortunately (and unsurprisingly), there is very little substance to these claims.
If succubi do exist, I seriously doubt that they look like the ample-breasted, slightly purple, horny (in more ways than one) women that populate Google image search, and I’m hardly alone in my misgivings. Those more seriously entrenched in the happenings of occult spirituality tend to agree that succubi are a bit more ambiguous than most forums and every picture on DeviantArt would suggest.
Not bound by form or gender, they are determined more by the imagination of the person interpreting them. It was with this latter understanding that I continued my experiment.
So, ignoring the more obvious question of ‘why at all?’, you might find yourself wondering, ‘why a succubus?’
Well aside from the obvious appeal of ‘extreme hard-core demon-sex’ and ‘increased sexual powers’, when compared to the list of other possible candidates a succubus seemed like a good entry-level demon. One likely to yield immediate results but not place my soul at any substantial risk should things go wrong.
And so with the decision made I found myself awake at 3am sitting, in nothing but my underwear, on the floor of my bedroom preparing to bait a demon with my blood. Here’s how it went.
I awoke suddenly, with an eerie amount of lucidity, at about 2:54am, and, with equal parts apprehension and resignation, rolled out of bed. I set up a pillow to sit on, turned on some binaural beats and (having been assured that the type of candle was largely inconsequential) lit my novelty kangaroo-shaped-candle to begin the ritual. After relaxing for a moment in the glow of the marsupial-fuelled flame, I began to write a letter of intent to Lilith, the mother of all succubi, requesting that she send one of her daughters to pay me a visit. I’ll leave the particulars of the letter to your imagination but needless to say it was classy.
Once it was done I addressed Lilith directly (using a set phrase conveniently available on the internet) before jabbing myself with a needle and allowing no less than five drops of blood to soak into the letter. Once the blood settled, I set the letter alight and relaxed in the glow, preparing to enter the closest thing to a trance that I could manage. As I began to meditate I focused on things that I’d read a first time summoner could expect. These include (with varying degrees of rarity): a wind on your cheeks, a pressure on your chest, the sensation of being touched, mild to strong sexual arousal, mild kinetic activity and full blown manifestation.
I experienced all of the above, other than actual manifestation, and a few other things too, such as mild bodily vibrations and a floating sensation. Additionally, I found that I could actually direct the sensation to different parts of my body by voicing, out-loud, commands to touch various parts of my body and every night of the week following the ritual I experienced similar phenomena (with varying degrees of intensity). And so all of this, finally, leads me to conclude – as at the outset of this experiment I had hoped it would – that demons are definitively and undeniably real.
However, before you rush off to summon yourself a succubus, hear me out, because there’s a catch.
Although I did experience everything that was to be expected, these demonic symptoms were things I’ve (mostly) felt before, and it’s likely that you have too, though you may not have been aware of it. This is because, as your body transitions into sleep, lots of weird and foreign feelings wash over you. However, at this stage you’re a bit too far gone to actually notice. But, if you enter this state consciously through meditation, you can experience it all in a very real and very intense manner. Some of the effects include intense vibrations, euphoria, radical twitching and my personal favourite, orgasmic-full-body-soul-lightening™. Rumour even has it that if you make it to the end of the cycle you’ll find yourself in a lucid dream (though I tend to freak out before then).
It’s around this liminal state of consciousness, in which the limits of your mind are far less defined, that the supernatural orients itself. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a single respectable supernatural pursuit that doesn’t require you to enter a trance of some sort. This may sound a lot like I’m saying that demons don’t exist but don’t be misled. Though for me these ‘spiritual’ phenomena can be explained in physiological terms, for many people they can’t,and for these people the necessary existence of demons has very real repercussions.
These occultists do not mistakenly believe in demons. They’re not simply misinterpreting an objective world. It’s not even enough to allow that ‘for them demons are real’; that hegemonic reality deems this misinterpretation ‘legitimate’. ‘Objectivity’ arises only out of environmental interactions and consensus regarding the interpretation of sensual experience. ‘Truth’ is simply interpretation. Academically, the difference is that between epistemological and ontological perspectivism. The former states that there is a real physical world and that every living creature has a different or perspective of this world. Though these various perspectives depend on the nature of species’ biology and social environment – which both play roles in the creation of truth – epistemological perspectivism does not entail equality of perspectives. There is a hierarchy of validity in which some perspectives sit closer than others to the objective truth. It is epistemological-perspectivism that allows Western scientism (the popular over-confidence in scientific ‘truth’) to acknowledge other cultures’ world-views as legitimate, whilst still judging them as less valid than its own. To understand that religion and spirituality are true for those who believe in them, as science is true for those who don’t, all the while assuming that science is more true than religion – that western truth is more true than other truth. This is opposed by ontological-perspectivism, which suggests that objectivity is inextricable from socio-cultural formations and subjective interpretation. Simply put, this means that we can never know objectivity because we can never step outside of our interpretative mechanisms to view the world objectively. We can only ever understand the world through our personal and collective interpretations. It follows that the objective nature of our physical world is inconsequential, because seeing it for what it is is an impossibility that may as well never even be considered. By this logic, every reality is equal, though in society not all are considered to be so. If all the competing realities were groups of people standing around patting each other on the back, the dominant modes of thought, like scientism, and all major organised religions, are just the groups with the most people and the most back-patting.
For me, my demon-summoning experience highlights the fragility of reality. Though I had experienced many similar things during non-demonic meditation, under the conditions of the ritual the sensations and my understanding of their origin were actually very different. By taking a frame of belief different to my own and using ‘irrational’ fear to diminish my scepticism, I was able to physically alter my experience of what I consider to be scientifically quantifiable physiological phenomena.
In the trance – this space of mental liminality – not only did the meaning of these visceral physical sensations change but so too did the sensations themselves. In this space it is possible to take a small step back from one’s foundations and, in doing so, realise how tenuous the human framework of meaning and experience really is, and understand a little better how easily it could be rearranged or toppled entirely.
Taken to its logical conclusion, this somewhat Cartesian philosophical stance entails that one can never know anything outside their own personal interpretation of biological sensations. Though this could seem a little isolating and bleak, it also reveals something quite incredible. If we truly are each trapped in our own subjectivity, with nothing objective to tie us together, then in order to maintain the illusion of a shared reality, humanity must all be phenomenally similar. Humans exist in an incredibly sophisticated and nuanced global web of interaction. Not only can we see each other and recognise each other as human but we can engage with one another. Together, humans shape and build worlds; construct meaning and truth. We perpetuate this meaning through education to form realities and foster purpose.
How could these things be possible for a species of organisms that are forever destined to be trapped in their own heads? The only possible explanation is that we share, to a minute degree, a universal interpretative toolset – a common humanity. Cultural and social variations become utterly insignificant differences in the face of our vastly shared experience of reality and one can truly appreciate that, though we live in a world of monumental inequality, all humans are fundamentally the same.
It’s pretty beautiful really.