Succubus/Incubus-Related Exerpts from the Malleus Maleficarum
From Question Two
Now with regard to the tenor of the Bull of our Most Holy Father the Pope, we will discuss
the origin of witches, and how it is that of recent years their works have so multiplied among us.
And it must be borne in mind that for this to take place, three things concur, the devil, the witch,
and the permission of God who suffers such things to be. For S. Augustine says, that the
abomination of witchcraft arose from this foul connexion of mankind with the devil. Therefore it is
plain that the origin and the increase of this heresy arises from this foul connexion, a fact which
many authors approve.
We must especially observe that this heresy, witchcraft, not only differs from all other heresy
in this, that not merely by a tacit compact, but by a compact which is exactly defined and
expressed it blasphemes the Creator and endeavours to the utmost to profane Him and to harm His
creatures, for all other simple heresies have made no open compact with the devil, no compact,
that is, either tacit or exactly expressed, although their errors and misbelief are directly to be
attributed to the Father of errors and lies. Moreover, witchcraft differs from all other harmful and
mysterious arts in this point, that of all superstition it is essentially the vilest, the most evil and the
worst, wherefore it derives its name from doing evil, and from blaspheming the true faith.
(Melaficae dictae a Melficiendo, seu a male de fide sentiendo.)
Let us especially note too that in the practice of this abominable evil, four points in particular
are required. First, most profanely to renounce the Catholic Faith, or at any rate to deny certain
dogmas of the faith; secondly, to devote themselves body and soul to all evil; thirdly, to offer up
unbaptized children to Satan; fourthly, to indulge in every kind of carnal lust with Incubi and
Succubi and all manner of filthy delights.
Would to God that we might suppose all this to be untrue and merely imaginary, if only our
Holy Mother the Church were free from the leprosy of such abomination. Alas, the judgement of
the Apostolic See, who is alone the Mistress and the Teacher of all truth, that judgement, I say,
which has been expressed in the Bull of our Holy Father the Pope, assures us and makes us aware
that amongst us, and we dare not refrain from inquiring into them lest we imperil our own
salvation. And therefore we must discuss at length the origin and the increase of these
abominations; it has been a work of much labour indeed, and we trust that every detail will most
exactly and carefully be weighed by those who read this book, for herein will be found nothing
contrary to sound reason, nothing which differs from the words of Scripture and the tradition of the
Now there are two circumstances which are certainly very common at the present day, that is
to say, the connexion of witches with familiars, Incubi and Succubi, and the horrible sacrifices of
small children. Therefore we shall particularly deal with these matters, so that in the first place we
shall discuss these demons themselves, secondly, the witches and their works, and thirdly, we will
inquire wherefore such things are suffered to be. Now these demons work owing to their influence
upon man's mind and upon his free will, and they choose to copulate under the influence of certain
stars rather than under the influence of others, for it would seem that at certain times their semen
can more easily generate and beget children. Accordingly, we must inquire why the demons
should act at the conjunction of certain stars, and what times these are.
There are three chief points to discuss. First, whether the abominable heresies can be
multiplied throughout the world by those who give themselves to Incubi and Succubi. Secondly,
whether their actions have not a certain extraordinary power when performed under the influence
of certain stars. Thirdly, whether this abominable heresy is not widely spread by those who
profanely sacrifice children to Satan. Moreover, when we have discussed the second point, before
we proceed to the third, we must consider the influence of the stars, and what power they have in
acts of witchcraft.
With regard to the first question there are three difficulties which need elucidation.
The first is a general consideration of these demons, which are called Incubi.
The second question is more particular, for we must inquire, How can these Incubi perform
the human act of copulation?
The third question is also a special one, How do witches bind themselves to and copulate with
Whether children can be generated by Incubi and Succubi.
At first it may truly seem that it is not in accordance with the Catholic Faith to maintain that
children can be begotten by devils, that is to say, by Incubi and Succubi: for God Himself, before
sin came into the world, instituted human procreation, since He created woman from the rib of
man to be a helpmeet unto man: And to them He said: Increase, and multiply, Genesis ii, 24.
Likewise after sin had come into the world, it was said to Noe: Increase, and multiply, Genesis ix,
1. In the time of the new law also, Christ confirmed this union: Have ye not read, that he who
made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? S. Matthew xix, 4. Therefore, men
cannot be begotten in any other way than this.
But it may be argued that devils take their part in this generation not as the essential cause,
but as a secondary and artificial cause, since they busy themselves by interfering with the process
of normal copulation and conception, by obtaining human semen, and themselves transferring it.
Objection. The devil can perform this act in every state of life, that is to say, in the
matrimonial state, or not in the matrimonial state. Now he cannot perform it in the first state,
because then the act of the devil would be more powerful than the act of God, Who instituted and
confirmed this holy estate, since it is a state of continence and wedlock. Nor can he effect this in
any other estate: since we never read in Scripture that children can be begotten in one state and not
Moreover, to beget a child is the act of a living body, but devils cannot bestow life upon the
bodies which they assume; because life formally only proceeds from the soul, and the act of
generation is the act of the physical organs which have bodily life. Therefore bodies which are
assumed in this way cannot either beget or bear.
Yet it may be said that these devils assume a body not in order that they may bestow life upon
it, but that they may by the means of this body preserve human semen, and pass the semen on to
Objection. As in the action of angels, whether they be good or bad, there is nothing
superfluous and useless, nor is there anything superfluous and useless in nature. But the devil by
his natural power, which is far greater than any human bodily power, can perform any spiritual
action, and perform it again and again although man may not be able to discern it. Therefore he is
able to perform this action, although man may not be able to discern when the devil is concerned
therewith. For all bodily and material things are on a lower scale than pure and spiritual
intelligences. But the angels, whether they be good or whether they be evil, are pure and spiritual
intelligences. Therefore they can control what is below them. Therefore the devil can collect and
make use as he will of human semen which belongs to the body.
However, to collect human semen from one person and to transfer it to another implies
certain local actions. But devils cannot locally move bodies from place to place. And this is the
argument they put forward. The soul is purely a spiritual essence, so is the devil: but the soul
cannot move a body from place to place except it be that body in which it lives and to which it
gives life: whence if any member of the body perishes it becomes dead and immovable. Therefore
devils cannot move a body from place to place, except it be a body to which they give life. It has
been shown, however, and is acknowledged that devils do not bestow life on anybody, therefore
they cannot move human semen locally, that is, from place to place, from body to body.
Moreover, every action is performed by contact, and especially the act of generation. But it
does not seem possible that there can be any contact between the demon and human bodies, since
he has not actual point of contact with them. Therefore he cannot inject semen into a human body,
and therefore since this needs a certain bodily action, it would seem that the devil cannot
Besides, devils have no power to move those bodies which in a natural order are more closely
related to them, for example the heavenly bodies, therefore they have no power to move those
bodies which are more distant and distinct from them. The major is proved, since the power that
moves and the movement are one and the same thing according to Aristotle in his Physics. It
follows, therefore, that devils who move heavenly bodies must be in heaven, which is wholly
untrue, both in our opinion, and in the opinion of the Platonists.
Moreover, S. Augustine, On the Trinity, III, says that 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 demons can transfer semen which they have collected and inject it into
the bodies of others. But, as Walafrid Strabo says in his commentary upon Exodus vii, II: And
Pharao called the wise men and the magicians: Devils go about the earth collecting every sort of
seed, and can by working upon them broadcast various species. See also the gloss on those words
(Pharao called). And again in Genesis vi the gloss makes two comments on the words: And the
sons of God saw the daughters of men. First, that by the sons of God are meant the sons of Seth,
and by the daughters of men, the daughters of Cain. Second, that Giants were created not by some
incredibly act of men, but by certain devils, which are shameless towards women. For the Bible
says, Giants were upon the earth. Moreover, even after the Flood the bodies not only of men, but
also of women, were pre-eminently and incredibly beautiful.
Answer. For the sake of brevity much concerning the power of the devil and his works in the
matter of the effects of witchcraft is left out; for the pious reader either accepts it as proved, or he
may, if he wish to inquire, find every point clearly elucidated in the second Book of Sentences, 5.
For hw will see that the devils perform all their works consciously and voluntarily; for the nature
that was given them has not been changed. See Dionysius in his fourth chapter on the subject; their
nature remained intact and very splendid, although they cannot use it for any good purpose.
And as to their intelligence, he will find that they excel in three points of understanding, in
their age-long experience, and in the revelation of the higher spirits. He will find also how, through
the influence of the stars, they learn the dominating characteristics of men, and so discover that
some are more disposed to work witchcraft that others, and that they molest these chiefly for the
purpose of such works.
And as to their will, the reader will find that it cleaves unchangeably to evil, and that they
continuously sin in pride, envy, and gross covetousness; and that God, for his own glory, permits
them to work against His will. He will also understand how with these two qualities of intellect and will devils do marvels, so that there is no power in earth which can be compared to them: Job Xli. There is no power on the earth which can be compared with him, who was created that he
should fear no one. But here the gloss says, Although he fears no one he is yet subject to the merits
of the Saints.
He will find also how the devil knows the thoughts of our hearts; how he can substantially
and disastrously metamorphose bodies with the help of an agent; how he can move bodies locally,
and alter the outward and inner feelings to every conceivable extent; and how he can change the
intellect and will of a man, however indirectly.
For although all this is pertinent to our present inquiry, we wish only to draw some
conclusion therefrom as to that nature of devils, and so proceed to the discussion of our question.
Now the Theologians have ascribed to them certain qualities, as that they are unclean spirits,
yet not by very nature unclean. For according to Dionysius there is in them a natural madness, a
rabid concupiscence, a wanton fancy, as is seen from their spiritual sins of pride, envy, and wrath.
For this reason they are the enemies of the human race: rational in mind, but reasoning without
words; subtle in wickedness, eager to hurt; ever fertile in fresh deceptions, they change the
perceptions and befoul the emotions of men, they confound the watchful, and in dreams disturb the
sleeping; they bring diseases, stir up tempests, disguise themselves as angels of light, bear Hell
always about them; from witches they usurp to themselves the worship of God, and by this means
magic spells are made; they seek to get a mastery over the good, and molest them to the most of
their power; to the elect they are given as a temptation, and always they lie in wait for the
destruction of men.
And although they have a thousand ways of doing harm, and have tried ever since their
downfall to bring about schisms in the Church, to disable charity, to infect with the gall of envy
the sweetness of the acts of the Saints, and in every way to subvert and perturb the human race; yet
their power remains confined to the privy parts and the navel. See Job xli. For through the
wantonness of the flesh they have much power over men; and in men the source of wantonness lies
in the privy parts, since it is from them that the semen falls, just as in women it falls from the
These things, then, being granted for a proper understanding of the question of Incubi and
Succubi, it must be said that it is just as Catholic a view to hold that men may at times be begotten
by means of Incubi and Succubi, as it is contrary to the words of the Saints and even to the
tradition of Holy Scripture to maintain the opposite opinion. And this is proved as follows. S.
Augustine in one place raises this question, not indeed as regards witches, but with reference to the
very works of devils, and to the fables of the poets, and leave the matter in some doubt; though
later on he is definite in the matter of Holy Scripture. For in his De Ciuitate Dei, Book 3, chapter
2, he says: We leave open the question whether it was possible for Venus to give birth to Aeneas
through coition with Anchises. For a similar question arises in the Scriptures, where it is asked
whether evil angels lay with the daughters of men, and thereby the earth was then filled with
giants, that is to say, preternaturally big and strong men. But he settles the question in Book 5,
chapter 23, in these words: It is a very general belief, the truth of which is vouched for by many
from their own experience, or at least from heresay as having been experienced by men of
undoubted trustworthiness, that Satyrs and Fauns (which are commonly called Incubi) have
appeared to wanton women and have sought and obtained coition with them. And that certain
devils (which the Gauls call Dusii) assiduously attempt and achieve this filthiness is vouched for
by so many credible witness that it would seem impudent to deny it.
Later in the same book he settles the second contention, namely, that the passage in Genesis about the sons of God (that is Seth) and the daughters of men (that is Cain) does not speak only of
Incubi, since the existence of such is not credible. In this connexion there is the gloss which we
have touched upon before. He says that it is not outside belief that the Giants of whom the
Scripture speaks were begotten not by men, but by Angels or certain devils who lust after women.
To the same effect is the gloss in Esaias xiii, where the prophet foretells the desolation of Babylon,
and the monsters that should inhabit it. He says: Owls shall dwell there, and Satyrs shall dance
there. By Satyrs here devils are meant; as the gloss says, Satyrs are wild shaggy creatures of the
woods, which are a certain kind of devils called Incubi. And again in Esaias xxxiv, where he
prophesies the desolation of the land of the Idumeans because they persecuted the Jews, he says:
And it shall be an habitation of dragons, and a court for owls. The wild beasts also of the desert
shall meet . . . The interlinear gloss interprets this as monsters and devils. And in the same place
Blessed Gregory explains these to be woodland gods under another name, not those which the
Greeks called Pans, and the Latins Incubi.
Similarly Blessed Isidore, in the last chapter of his 8th book, says: Satyrs are they who are
called Pans in Greek and Incubi in Latin. And they are called Incubi from their practice of
overlaying, that is debauching. For they often lust lecherously after women, and copulate with
them; and the Gauls name them Dusii, because they are diligent in this beastliness. But the devil
which the common people call an Incubus, the Romans called a fig Faun; to which Horace said,
“O Faunus, love of fleeing nymphs, go gently over my lands and smiling fields.”
As to that of S. Paul in I. Corinthians xi, A woman ought to have a covering on her head,
because of the angels, many Catholics believe that “because of the angels” refers to Incubi. Of the
same opinion is the Venerable Bede in his History of the English; also William of Paris in his book
De Uniuerso, the last part of the 6th treatise. Moreover, S. Thomas speaks of this (I. 25 and II. 8,
and elsewhere; also on Esaias xii and xiv). Therefore he says that it is rash to deny such things.
For that which appears true to many cannot be altogether false, according to Aristotle (at the end of
the De somno et uigilia, and in the 2nd Ethics). I say nothing of the many authentic histories, both
Catholic and heathen, which openly affirm the existence of Incubi.
But the reason the devils turn themselves into Incubi or Succubi is not for the cause of
pleasure, since a spirit has not flesh and blood; but chiefly it is with this intention, that through the
vice of luxury they may work a twofold harm against men, that is, in body and in soul, that so men
may be more given to all vices. And there is no doubt that they know under which stars the semen
is most vigorous, and that men so conceived will be always perverted by witchcraft.
When Almighty God had enumerated many vice of luxury rife among the unbelievers and
heretics, from which He wished His people to be clean, He says in Leviticus xviii: Defile not ye
yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before
you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it. The gloss explains the
word “nations” as meaning devils who, on account of their multitude, are call the nations of the
world, and rejoice in all sin, especially in fornication and idolatry, because by these are defiled the
body and the soul, and the whole man, which is called “the land.” For every sin that a man
commits is outside his body, but the man who commits fornication sins in his body. If anyone
wishes to study further the histories concerning Incubi and Succubi, let him read (as has been said)
Bede in his History of the English, and William, and finally Thomas of Brabant in his book About
To return to the matter in hand. And first for the natural act of propagation instituted by God,
that is, between male and female; that as though by the permission of God the Sacrament of
Matrimony can be made void by the work of the devil through witchcraft, as has been shown
above. And the same is much more strongly true of any other venereal act between man and
But if it is asked why the devil is allowed to case spells upon the venereal act, rather than
upon any other human act, it is answered that many reasons are assigned by the Doctors, which
will be discussed later in the part concerning the divine permission. For the present that reason that
has been mentioned before must suffice, namely, that the power of the devil lies in the privy parts
of men. For of all struggles those are the harder where the fight is continuous and victory rare. And
it is unsound to argue that in that case the work of the devil is stronger than the work of God, since
the matrimonial act instituted by God can be made void: for the devil does not make it void by violence, since he has no power at all in the matter except as he is permitted by God. Therefore it would be better to argue from this that he is powerless.
Secondly, it is true that to procreate a man is the act of a living body. But when it is said that
devils cannot give life, because that flows formally from the soul, it is true; but materially life
springs from the semen, and an Incubus devil can, with God's permission, accomplish this by
coition. And the semen does not so much spring from him, as it is another man's semen received
by him for this purpose (see S. Thomas, I. 51, art. 3). For the devil is Succubus to a man, and
becomes Incubus to a woman. In just the same way they absorb the seeds of other things for the
generating of various thing, as S. Augustine says, de Trinitate 3.
Now it may be asked, of whom is a child born the son? It is clear that he is not the son of the
devil, but of the man whose semen was received. But when it is urged that, just as in the works of
Nature, so there is no superfluity in the works of angels, that is granted; but when it is inferred that
the devil can receive and inject semen invisibly, this also is true; but he prefers to perform this
visibly as a Succubus and an Incubus, that by such filthiness he may infect body and soul of all
humanity, that is, of both woman and man, there being, as it were, actual bodily contact.
Moreover, devils can do invisibly more things which they are not permitted to do visibly,
even if the so wished; but they are allowed to do them invisibly, either as a trial for the good, or as
a punishment for the wicked. Finally, it may happen that another devil may take the place of the
Succubus, receive the semen from him, and become and Incubus in the place of the other devil;
and this for a threefold reason. Perhaps because one devil, allotted to a woman, should receive
semen from another devil, allotted to a man, that in this way each of them should be commissioned
by the prince of devils to work some witchcraft; since, to each one is allotted his own angel, even
from among the evil ones; or because of the filthiness of the deed, which one devil would abhor to
commit. For in many inquiries it is clearly shown that certain devils, out of some nobility in their
natures, would shrink from a filthy action. Or it may be in order that the Incubus may, instead of a
man's semen, but interposing himself on to a woman, invisibly inject his own semen, that is, that
which he has invisibly received. And it is not foreign to his nature or power to effect such an
interposition; since even in bodily form he can interpose himself invisibly and without physical
contact, as was shown in the case of young man who has betrothed to an idol.
Thirdly, it is said that the power of an angel belongs in an infinite degree to the higher things;
that is to say, that his power cannot be comprehended by the lower orders, but is always superior
to them, so that it is not limited to one effect only. For the highest powers have most unbounded
influence over creation. But because he is said to be infinitely superior, that is not to say that he is
indifferently powerful for any work that is propounded for him; for then he might just as well be
said to be infinitely inferior, as superior.
But there must be some proportion between the agent and the patient, and there can be no
proportion between a purely spiritual substance and a corporeal one. Therefore not even the devils
have any power to cause an effect, except through some other active medium. And this is why they
use the seeds of things to produce their effects; see S. Augustine, de Trinitate, 3. Wherefore this
argument goes back to the preceding one, and is not strengthened by it, unless anyone wishes for
S. Augustine's explanation why the Intelligences are said to have infinite powers of the higher and
not of the lower degree, given to them in the order of things corporeal and of the celestial bodies,
which can influence many and infinite effects. But this is not because of the weakness of the
inferior powers. And the conclusion is that devils, even without assuming bodies, can work
transmutations in semen; although this is no argument against the present proposition, concerning
Incubi and Succubi, whose actions they cannot perform except by assuming bodily shape, as has
been considered above.
For the fourth argument, that devils cannot move bodies or semen locally, which is
substantiated by the analogy of the soul. It must be said that it is one thing to speak of the spiritual
substance of the actual angel or devil, and another thing to speak of the actual soul. For the reason
why the soul cannot locally move a body unless it has given life to it, or else by contact of a living
body with one that is not living, is this: that the soul occupies by far the lowest grade in the order
of spiritual beings, and therefore it follows that there must be some proportionate relation between
it and the body which it is able to move by contact. But it is not so with devils, whose power
altogether exceeds corporeal power.
And fifthly, it must be said that the contact of a devil with a body, either in the way of semen
or in any other way, is not a corporeal but a virtual contact, and takes place in accordance with the
suitable proportion of the devil's power. And such bodies are the celestial bodies, and even the
whole earth or the elements of the world, the power of which we may call superior on the authority
of S. Thomas in his questions concerning Sin (quest. 10, de Daemonibus). For this is either
because of the essence of nature, or because of condemnation for sin. For there is a due order in
things, in accordance both with their very nature and with their motion. And just as the higher
heavenly bodies are moved by the higher spiritual substances, as are the good Angels, so are the
lower bodies moved by the lower spiritual substances, as are the devils. And if this limitation of
the devils' power is due to the essence of nature, it is held by some that the devils are not of the
order of those higher angels, but are part of this terrestrial order created by God; and this was the
opinion of the Philosophers. And if it is due to condemnation for sin, as is held by the Theologians,
then they were thrust from the regions of heaven into this lower atmosphere for a punishment, and
therefore are not able to move either it or the earth.
This has been said on account of two easily dispelled arguments: - One, regarding the
heavenly bodies, that the devils could also move these, if they were able to move bodies locally,
since the stars are neared to them in nature, as also the last argument alleges. The answer is that
this is not valid; for if the former opinion holds good, those bodies exceed the proportion of the
devils' power: and if the second is true, then again they cannot move them, because of their
punishment for sin.
Also there is the argument that objects that the motion of the whole and of the part is the same
thing, just as Aristotle in his 4th Physics instances the case of the whole earth and a clod of soil;
and that therefore if the devils could move a part of the earth, they could also move the whole
earth. But this is not valid, as is clear to anyone who examines the distinction. But to collect the
semen of things and apply it to certain effects dos not exceed their natural power, with the
permission of God, as is self-evident.
In conclusion, in spite of the contention of some that devils in bodily shape can in no way
generate children, and that by the “sons of God” is meant the descendants of Cain; nevertheless the
contrary is clearly affirmed by many. And that which seems true to many cannot be altogether
false, according to Aristotle in his 6th Ethics and at the end of the de Somno et Uigilia. And now
also in modern times we have the well-attested deeds and words of witches who truly and actually
perform such things.
Therefore we make three propositions. First, that the foulest venereal acts are performed by
such devils, not for the sake of delectation, but for the pollution of the souls and bodies of those to
whom they act as Succubi and Incubi. Second, that through such action complete contraception
and generation by women can take place, inasmuch as they can deposit human semen in the
suitable place of a woman's womb where there is already a corresponding substance. In the same way they can also collect the seeds of other things for the working of their effects. Third, that in
the begetting of such children only the local motion is to be attributed to devils, and not the actual
begetting, which arises not from the power of the devil or of the body which he assumes, but from
the virtue of him whose semen it was; wherefore the child is the son not of the devil, but of some
And here there is a clear answer to those who would contend that there are two reasons why
devils cannot generate children: - First, that generation is effected by the formative virtue which
exists in semen released from a living body; and that because the body assumed by devils is not of
such a sort, therefore, etc. The answer is clear, that the devil deposits naturally formative semen in
its proper place, etc. Secondly, it may be argued that semen has no power of generation except as
long as the heat of life is retained in it, and that this must be lost when it is carried great distances.
The answer is that devils are able to store the semen safely, so that its vital heat is not lost; or even
that it cannot evaporate so easily on account of the great speed at which they move by reason of
the superiority of the move over the thing moved.
From Question Four
By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Succubus Practised?
Is it Catholic to affirm that the functions of Incubi and Succubi belong indifferently and
equally to all unclean spirits? And it seems that it is so; for to affirm the opposite would be to
maintain that there is some good order among them. It is argued that just as in the computation of
the Good there are degrees and orders (see S. Augustine in his book on the nature of the Good), so
also the computation of the Evil is based upon confusion. But as among the good Angels nothing
can be without order, so among the bad all is disorder, and therefore they all indifferently follows
these practices. See Job x.: A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death,
without any order, and where the light is as darkness.
Again, if they do not all indifferently follow these practices, this quality in them comes either
from their nature, or from sin, or from punishment. But it does not come from their nature, since
they are all without distinction given to sin, as was set out in the preceding question. For they are
by nature impure spirits, yet not so unclean as to pejorate their good parts; subtle in wickedness,
eager to do harm, swollen with pride, etc. Therefore these practices in them are due either to sin or
to punishment. Then again, where the sin is greater, there is the punishment greater; and the higher
angels sinned more greatly, therefore their punishment they have the more to follow these filthy
practices. If this is not so, another reason will be given why they do not indifferently practise these
And again, it is argued that where there is no discipline or obedience, there all work without
distinction; and it is submitted that there is no discipline or obedience among devils, and no
agreement. Proverbs xiii.: Among the proud there is always contention.
Again, just as because of sin they will all equally be case into Hell after the Day of
Judgement, so before that time they are detained in the lower mists on account of the duties
assigned to them. We do not read that there is equality on account of emancipation, therefore
neither is there equality in the matter of duty and temptation.
But against this there is the first gloss on I Corinthians xv: As long as the world endures
Angels are set over Angels, men over men, and devils over devils. Also in Job xl it speaks of the
scales of Leviathan, which signify the members of the devil, how one cleaves to another. Therefore
there is among them diversity both of order and of action.
Another question arises, whether or not the devils can be restrained by the good Angels from
pursuing these foul practices. It must be said that the Angels to whose command the adverse
Influences are subject are called Powers, as S. Gregory says, and S. Augustine (de Trinitate, 3). A
rebellious and sinful spirit of life is subject to an obedient, pious and just spirit of life. And those
Creatures which are more perfect and nearer to God have authority over the others: for the whole
order of preference is originally and in the first place in God, and is shared by His creatures according as they approach more nearly to Him. Therefore the good Angels, who are nearest to
God on account of their fruition in Him, which the devils lack, have preference over the devils, and
rule over them.
And when it is urged that devils work much harm without any medium, or that they are not
hindered because they are not subject to good Angels who might prevent them; or that if they are
so subject, then the evil that is done by the subject is due to negligence on the part of the master,
and there seems to be some negligence among the good Angels: the answer is that the Angels are
ministers of the Divine wisdom. It follows then that, as the Divine wisdom permits certain evil to
be done by bad Angels or men, for the sake of the good that He draws therefrom, so also the good
Angels do not altogether prevent wicked men or devils from doing evil.
Answer. It is Catholic to maintain that there is a certain order of interior and exterior actions,
and a degree of preference among devils. Whence it follows that certain abominations are
committed by the lowest orders, from which the higher orders are precluded on account of the
nobility of their natures. And this is generally said to arise from a threefold congruity, in that such
things harmonize with their nature, with the Divine wisdom, and with their own wickedness.
But more particularly as touching their nature. It is agreed that from the beginning of Creation
some were always by nature superior, since they differ among themselves as to form; and no two
Angels are alike in form. This follows the more general opinion, which also agrees with the words
of the Philosophers. Dionysus also lays it down in his tenth chapter On the Celestial Hierarchy
that in the same order there are three separate degrees; and we must agree with this, since they are
both immaterial and incorporeal. See also S. Thomas (ii. 2). For sin does not take away their
nature, and the devils after the Fall did not lose their natural gifts, as has been said before; and the
operations of things follow their natural conditions. Therefore both in nature and in operation they
are various and multiple.
This harmonizes also with the Divine wisdom; for that which is ordained is ordained by God
(Romans xiii). And since devils were deputed by God for the temptation of men and the
punishment of the damned, therefore they work upon men from without by many and various
It harmonizes also with their own wickedness. For since they are at war with the human race,
they fight in an orderly manner; for so they think to do greater harm to men, and so they do.
Whence it follows that they do not share in an equal manner in their most unspeakable
And this is more specifically proved as follows. For since, as has been said, the operation
follows the nature of the thing, it follows also that those whose natures are subordinate must in
turn be subordinate to themselves in operation, just as is the case in corporeal matters. For since
the lower bodies are by natural ordination below the celestial bodies, and their actions and motions
are subject to the actions and motions of the celestial bodies; and since the devils, as has been said,
differ among themselves in natural order; therefore they also differ among themselves in their
natural actions, both extrinsic and instrinsic, and especially in the performance of the abominations
From which it is concluded that since the practice of these abominations is for the most part
foreign to the nobility of the angelic nature, so also in human actions the foulest and beastliest acts
are to be considered by themselves, and not in relation to the duty of human nature and
Finally, since some are believed to have fallen from every order, it is not unsuitable to
maintain that those devils who fell from the lowest choir, and even in that held the lowest rank, are deputed to and perform these and other abominations.
Also it must be carefully noted that, though the Scripture speaks of Incubi and Succubi
lusting after women, yet nowhere do we read that Incubi and Succubi fell into vices against nature.
We do not speak only of sodomy, but of any other sin whereby the act is wrongfully performed
outside the rightful channel. And the very great enormity of such as sin in this way is shown by the
fact that all devils equally, of whatsoever order, abominate and think shame to commit such
actions. And it seems that the gloss on Ezekiel xix means this, where it says: I will give thee into
the hands of the dwellers in Palestine, that is devils, who shall blush at your iniquities, meaning
vices against nature. And the student will see what should be authoritatively understood
concerning devils. For no sin has God so often punished by the shameful death of multitudes.
Indeed many say, and it is truly believed, that no one can unimperilled persevere in the
practice of such vices beyond the period of the mortal life of Christ, which lasted for thirty-three
years, unless he should be saved by some special grace of the Redeemer. And this is proved by the
fact that there have often been ensnared by this vice octogenarians and centenarians, who had up to
that time ruled their lives according to the discipline of Christ; and, having forsaken Him, they
have found the very greatest difficulty in obtaining deliverance, and in abandoning themselves to
Moreover, the names of the devils indicate what order there is among them, and what office is
assigned to each. For though one and the same name, that of devil, is generally used in Scripture
because of their various qualities, yet the Scriptures teach that One is set over these filthy actions,
just as certain other vices are subject to Another. For it is the practice of Scripture and of speech to
name every unclean spirit Diabolus, from Dia, that is Two, and Bolus, that is Morsel; for he kills
two thing, the body and the soul. And this is in accordance with etymology, although in Greek
Diabolus means shut in Prison, which also is apt, since he is not permitted to do as much harm as
he wishes. Or Diabolus may mean Downflowing, since he flowed down, that is, fell down, both
specifically and locally. He is also named Demon, that is, Cunning over Blood, since he thirsts for
and procures sin with a threefold knowledge, being powerful in the subtlety of his nature, in his
age-long experience, and in the revelation of the good spirits. He is called also Belial, which
means Without Yoke or Master; for he can fight against him to whom he should be subject. He is
called also Beelzebub, which means Lord of Flies, that is, of the souls of sinners who have left the
true faith of Christ. Also Satan, that is, the Adversary; see I S. Peter ii: For your adversary the
devil goeth about, etc. Also Behemoth, that is, Beast, because he makes men bestial.
But the very devil of Fornication, and the chief of that abomination, is called Asmodeus,
which means the Creature of Judgement: for because of this kind of sin a terrible judgement was
executed upon Sodom and the four other cities. Similarly the devil of Pride is called Leviathan,
which means Their Addition; because when Lucifer tempted our first parents he promised them,
out of his pride, the addition of Divinity. Concerning him the Lord said through Esaias: I shall visit
it upon Leviathan, that old and tortuous serpent. And the devil of Avarice and Riches is called
Mammon, whom also Christ mentions in the Gospel (S. Matthew vi): Ye cannot serve God, etc.
To the arguments. First, that good can be found without evil, but evil cannot be found without
good; for it is poured upon a creature that is good in itself. And therefore the devils, in so far as
they have a good nature, were ordained in the course of nature; and for their actions see Job x.
Secondly, it can be said that the devils deputed to work are not in Hell, but in the lower mists.
And they have here an order among themselves, which they will not have in Hell. From which it
may be said that all order ceased among them, as touching the attainment of blessedness, at that
time when they fell irrecoverably from such rank. And it may be said that even in Hell there will
be among them a gradation of power, and of the affliction of punishments, inasmuch as some, and
not others, will be deputed to torment the souls. But this gradation will come rather from God than
from themselves, as will also their torments.
Thirdly, when it is said that the higher devils, because they sinned the more, are the more
punished, and must therefore be the more bound to the commission of these filthy acts, it is
answered that sin bears relation to punishment, and not to the act or operation of nature; and
therefore it is by reason of their nobility of nature that these are not given to such filthiness, and it
has nothing to do with their sin or punishment. And though they are all impure spirits, and eager to
do harm, yet one is more so than another, in proportion as their natures are the further thrust into
Fourthly, it is said that there is agreement among devils, but of wickedness rather than
friendship, in that they hate mankind, and strive their utmost against justice. For such agreement is
found among the wicked, that they band themselves together, and depute those whose talents seem
suitable to the pursuit of particular iniquities.
Fifthly, although imprisonment is equally decreed for all, now in the lower atmosphere and
afterwards in Hell, yet not therefore are equal penalties and duties equally ordained for them: for
the nobler they are in nature and the more potent in office, the heavier is the torment to which they
are subjected. See Wisdom vi: “The powerful shall powerfully suffer torments.”
From Question Six
Whether Incubi and Succubi Commit this Act Visibly on the part of the Witch, or on the part of
As to whether they commit these abominations together visibly or invisibly, it is to be said
that, in all the cases of which we have had knowledge, the devil has always operated in a form
visible to the witch; for there is no need for him to approach her invisibly, because of the pact of
federation with him that has been expressed. But with regard to any bystanders, the witches
themselves have often been seen lying on their backs in the fields or the woods, naked up to the
very navel, and it has been apparent from the disposition of those limbs and members which
pertain to the venereal act and orgasm, as also from the agitation of their legs and thighs, that, all
invisibly to the bystanders, they have been copulating with Incubus devils; yet sometimes, howbeit
this is rare, at the end of the act a very black vapour, of about the stature of a man, rises up into the
air from the witch. And the reason is that that Schemer knows that he can in this way seduce or
pervert the minds of girls or other men who are standing by. But of these matters, and how they
have been performed in many places, in the town of Ratisbon, and on the estate of the nobles of
Rappolstein, and in certain other countries, we will treat in the Second Part.
It is certain also that the following has happened. Husbands have actually seen Incubus devils
swiving their wives, although they have thought that they were not devils but men. And when they
have taken up a weapon and tried to run them through, the devil has suddenly disappeared, making
himself invisible. And then their wives have thrown their arms around them, although they have
sometimes been hurt, and railed at their husbands, mocking them, and asking them if they had
eyes, or whether they were possessed of devils.
That Incubus Devils do not Infest only those Women who have been Begotten by their Filthy Deeds
or those who have been Offered to them by Midwives, but All Indifferently with Greater or Less
In conclusion, finally, it can be said that these Incubus devils will not only infest those
women who have been generated by means of such abominations, or those who have been offered
to them by midwives, but that they try with all their might, by means of witches who are bawds or
hot whores, to seduce all the devout and chaste maidens in that whole district or town. For this is
well known by the constant experience of Magistrates; and in the town of Ratisbon, when certain
witches were burned, these wretches affirmed, before their final sentence, that they had been
commanded by their Masters to use ever endeavour to effect the subversion of pious maids and
If it be asked: Whether the venereal delectation is greater or less with the Incubus devils in
assumed bodies than it is in like circumstances with men in a true physical body, we may say this:
It seems that, although the pleasure should naturally be greater when like disports with like, yet
that cunning Enemy can so bring together the active and passive elements, not indeed naturally,
but in such qualities of warmth and temperament, that he seems to excite no less degree of
concupiscence. But this matter will be discussed more fully later with reference to the qualities of
the feminine sex
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