Episode 69: Succubus Roundup

We know how numbers work - we embrace the sex number, talk about succu-kisses, sleep paralysis, demon chinchillas, and where to draw the line when it comes to bird claws. Amanda gives in to the demon offering her shrimp, while Julia plans on how her demon form would trap men in her web.



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Amanda Welcome to Spirits Podcast, Episode 69.

Julia Nice.

Amanda Succubus.

Julia I hate you.

Amanda Not gonna lie, y'all, we knew this was coming. We know how numbers work. We saw it coming down the line, and we were like, "Hey, you know what's better than a Valentines Day special? 69-nice, succubus. Why not? Let's do it."

Julia I'm gonna part the kimono for a minute.

Amanda No.

Julia In our work slack, you and Eric both were like, "69, we're doing succubus." I'm like, "I had something else planned!" You're like, "Nope, nope, we're doing succubus. We have to lean in."

Amanda What are we gonna be, like, 69, a really important culturally significant myth from the past?

Julia Yes.

Amanda No. Succubus.

Julia Fine. Fine.

Amanda Because everything's topsy-turvy and I'm suggesting episodes, why don't you try reading the patron names, Jules?

Julia I'm so scared. Welcome this week to our new patrons, Tyler, Frank M, Ryan, Hector, and Fireside Radio Productions. You guys never leave your partners extracted of their sexual chi in bed.

Amanda We talked about this. Waystation and Lost Girl are not accurate to what succubi are.

Julia Present me hasn't listened to past me do this episode yet, so I don't know anything.

Amanda That's fair, okay.

Julia Do you know who know lots of things though? That would be our supporting producer patrons.

Amanda That's right! Thank you so much to Neal, Phillip, Julie, Sarah, Christina, Josh, Eeyore, Maria, Cammie, Lindsey, Ryan, Shelly, Lynn, Mercedes, Phil, Catherine, and Debra, and of course, our legend-level patrons, Sandra, Ashley Marie, Buggy, Liam, Ashley, Shannon, and Cassie.

Julia You all are amazing, and anyone looking at you would think you are the platonic ideal of a human being.

Amanda Oh Jules, that's so sweet of you.

Julia I do my best.

Amanda I'm super stoked about our sponsor this week.

Julia Oh me too.

Amanda Want to tell us about Talis Clothing?

Julia Talis Clothing is a clothing line based out of Los Angeles. Each garment is hand-printed on 100% cotton, and the images on the shirts reference psychic protection, astrology, divination, and are meant to impart a sense of mental or psychic protection to the wearer.

Amanda They are so beautiful. There are these wonderful anatomical drawings and tarot imagery. Oh my gosh, we're gonna tell you so much more about them later in the episode. You can go to bit.ly/spiritstalis. The link is also in the description of this podcast, and use code Spirits for 15% off your order. Trust me, if you listen to the show, you are gonna want these shirts!

Julia They're worth it! We will post a picture of us wearing the shirts, and they're very cool.

Amanda Check out our Instagram. That's a great plug, Jules.

Julia Thanks!

Amanda We are @SpiritsPodcast on Instagram and on Twitter and on Facebook and on all the places, but Instagram in particular. I like it a lot. I'll add to our stories sometimes throughout the day as I see creepy stuff or dogs on the sidewalk.

Julia Creepy stuff or dogs.

Amanda It's what I'm here for. If you don't yet follow @SpiritsPodcast on Instagram-

Julia Do it.

Amanda ... now's a great time to do it.

Julia Do it!

Amanda If we can ask one final favor of you, it is a wonderful time, Ides of March, I don't know, Spring Equinox, time zones are changing, it's a great time to recommend Spirits to someone. It just always is.

Julia It is.

Amanda You can help us grow the pie of podcast listeners and have more people to freak out about podcasts with. Find your friend or coworker or family member or pet-sitter or barista, if it's done in a respectful way that doesn't violate their boundaries because they're at work and you're just a person, but recommend podcasts to them! Tell them how to listen to a podcast. Subscribe to Spirits for them! It is great! You're gonna introduce podcasts into their lives!

Julia What kind of pie is a podcast pie?

Amanda Peaches, because we're all cute.

Julia That's adorable. I was thinking a chocolate peanut butter, savory and sweet.

Amanda Yeah. Put some Himalayan salt on top.

Julia Sea salt, oh yes. I hate you. I'm so hungry.

Amanda Oh Jules. Everybody, thank you for listening. Thank you for recommending the show. Enjoy Spirits Podcast Episode 69-

Julia Nice.

Amanda ... Succubus.

[Theme music]

Julia Amanda, I had a very nice, very thoughtful episode planned out this week, and then I saw what number episode this was going to be and everything went out the window, because I am a child.

Amanda Julia, Julia, what number is this episode?

Julia For Episode 69-nice-

Amanda Nice! Listen, we are thoughtful, feminist, educated women, and we are allowed to make stupid jokes about 69 and 420. Do you remember when you learned what those things were?

Julia No.

Amanda It was 7th or 8th grade for me.

Julia No, I don't recall learning about one.

Amanda You probably, like a normal person, picked it up over time, where I was like, "What does that mean?"

Julia That sounds like you.

Amanda Yeah. Middle school was hard.

Julia For Episode 69-nice, we are going to be talking about, you guessed it, succubuses.

Amanda Succubi?

Julia Succubi.

Amanda Succubi.

Julia It's succubi.

Amanda Love it.

Julia Amanda, tell me what you know about succubi.

Amanda Julia, I know a great deal about succubi.

Julia Do you want to plug our show, that it's all about a succubus?

Amanda It's because we have fancast about a succubus named Bo. Jones is her last name actually-

Julia I guess.

Amanda ... which we don't know. Our show is called Waystation: A Lost Girl Fancast, about the TV show Lost Girl, which is very queer, mainly because the protagonist is a bisexual succubus named Bo. She derives energy from what they call sexual chi-

Julia Not a thing.

Amanda ... which is not a thing and kind of appropriative, vaguely. She derives energy from having sex or just sexual relations with different people. In the show she also has a ability to influence or control others by making them desire her. That is the sum total of what I know about succubi.

Julia Mostly not accurate, but we'll get there.

Amanda Listen, you don't go to Lost Girl for the mythology.

Julia You do not.

Amanda You go for a paranormal procedural with a lot of sex.

Julia I got really mad during our last episode, because the mythology's almost never right.

Amanda Yeah, but we're going episode by episode, staring with Season One, so it's never a bad time to jump on that Waystation bandwagon.

Julia Yeah. It is a good, good show. Anyway, let's talk about succubi. First thing first, we'll talk about where the term "succubus" came from. "Succuba" in Latin means paramour, which derives from the term "succub," which means to lie beneath, describing both the sleeper's position to the supernatural being when it feeds on it, and we'll get to that point, and also to lie with in the biblical sense. This term-

Amanda Which I also had no idea what that meant until about 9th grade.

Julia Oh buddy. Oh buddy.

Amanda Theater was great because we had to explain all these body jokes in Shakespeare. I was like, "Oh, that's what that means."

Julia "Oh, okay, interesting."

Amanda It was great.

Julia As Amanda sips her rum out of her water bottle during a production of Romeo and Juliet.

Amanda Listen, one has to learn somehow.

Julia That is true. The term was first used during the late 14th century. First, the basics. The succubus is a type of demon that always takes the female form. That's because the male form is known as an incubus. They are said to appear in dreams in order to seduce men through sexual activity.

Amanda Is the same demon a succubus if they manifest female and an incubus if they manifest male, or different demons, and the succubus demon always manifests as a woman?

Julia Yeah, succubus demon always manifests as a woman, incubus always manifests as a man. That's really the only differentiating point.

Amanda They pop into dreams and make the men do sexual things?

Julia Yeah. Basically. They basically sleep with people in their dreams. This demon is tied to the Abrahamic traditions historically, mainly Christianity and Judaism.

Amanda Really?

Julia These traditions believe that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health and mental state and may even lead to death.

Amanda Your sanity gets chipped away as you engage with this demon.

Julia Fool around with this demon, yeah.

Amanda Can people say no in their dreams? I'm getting iffy vibes about consent here?

Julia Yeah, you can, because there's been arguments about how to ward off or resist a succubus. There is that option. It plays into weird concepts of lust and sinfulness and trying to have pure thoughts and whatnot.

Amanda We're diving right in there.

Julia Yeah, we're heading right in there. Going a bit more into the folklore, according to some Jewish texts dating back to about the 10th and 11th centuries, the first succubus was Lilith, who was the first wife of Adam, as in Adam and Eve. She was unsatisfied with Adam and left the Garden of Eden, refusing to return after she mated with the archangel Samael.

Amanda Interesting. Men wouldn't do it for her anymore.

Julia Yeah. She was like-

Amanda Wow.

Julia ... "I fucked an angel, so ... "

Amanda Wow. They're, oof, man, really just ... Let's put toxic masculinity up in there too, because-

Julia That was a lot of it.

Amanda ... this whole gross expectation of sexual satisfaction and men being quote unquote able to perform sexually in all these specific ways really just starts with the first man, doesn't it?

Julia Yep.

Amanda That's man's fault. It's society's fault. Everyone is raised in a sexist society, and dismantling toxic masculinity helps all of us.

Julia That is true.

Amanda This has been your PSA.

Julia I agree. Lilith, along with four other succubi that mated with Samael become the Queens of the Demons. The four are Lilith, Eisheth, Agrat bat Mahlat, and Naamah.

Amanda These are names that I haven't heard very often. We hear Lilith, as I think I mentioned a couple episodes ago, demon-related. That makes sense that we don't hear such beautiful names as Rachel and Sarah.

Julia Here's the thing. If we're gonna have this discussion, we should talk about the historical context of how demons are brought into Christianity and Judaism.

Amanda I would love to know.

Julia Basically it comes down to syncretism.

Amanda Which is, let me try to guess this, when an existing religion or a religion gets introduced to a place and it gloms existing traditions and explains it and rationalizes it under their framework.

Julia Right, exactly. In a situation like Christianity, you have one supreme god, so you can't have other gods from other traditions in there.

Amanda Either you have to push them out or you have to find a way to placate people and allow them to continue talking and quasi doing rituals that are familiar to them, but in a way that doesn't undermine their religious hierarchy.

Julia Traditionally with Christianity they would do that through either two routes, saintism, creating a saint out of a being.

Amanda Saint Patrick.

Julia Or Saint Bridget, yep. They did a lot of that in Ireland.

Amanda They did.

Julia Or demonization, where you take your god and you're like, "He's a demon now," or, "She's a demon now."

Amanda I wonder if that's racialized at all.

Julia Probably a little bit. That's what happened with Lilith. Lilith was a goddess in I want to say Mesopotamian, probably Assyrian, or actually Babylonian, Babylonian is correct, that once Judaism and Christianity both moved into the area, she became known as a demon instead of the goddess that she was.

Amanda Yeah, because I was going to say that the Bible that we grew up with is so clear as to Adam was the first man, Eve was the first woman, done. There must be some kind of reason why Lilith wasn't part of that foundational myth told from the top. There's a way to be like, "Oh yes, there was someone else, but we strike her from the records because she did X, Y, and Z."

Julia Yeah, which it works, but there are all problems with the Genesis section of the Bible that we will not get into. Getting back on the succubus page, according to the versions of folklore where Lilith is the first succubus, a succubus would take the form of a beautiful young woman, but upon closer inspection she would be revealed to have some sort of deformity such as bird claws or serpentine tails, which okay, just personally I can't imagine looking at someone who is just so beautiful and I don't notice their snake tail.

Amanda It's not disguised like Deer Woman, where looks like a person and then she either disguises the deer hooves or they come out later?

Julia No, because she's usually naked in dreams.

Amanda The succubus, yeah.

Julia It's hard to cover that up.

Amanda I was thinking of just meeting them in the market or something, but yeah, you're right. I don't know, maybe the idea is that you're so overcome by lust that you don't assess the situation rationally?

Julia Yeah, I guess. I don't know.

Amanda Listen, that's an anthropomorphizing, a mixing of creatures, which I'm usually pretty against, but this is endearing. I can take a lady with talons. That's fine. A little tail.

Julia I can do this tail. I don't think the bird claws on her fingers and toes would do it for me.

Amanda I was picturing just toes. That'd be a little bit different if it was the hands too.

Julia I think it's probably the hands too.

Amanda I'd draw the line, but point being it's not-

Julia The line is drawn!

Amanda Gotta draw a line somewhere.

Julia The folklore actually can get really explicit. I wrote down a lot of this stuff and then I deleted because I didn't want to say it on a show that my parents could listen to.

Amanda 69-nice episodes later, we are finally realizing that we have to talk about-

Julia It was really bad.

Amanda ... the stuff we talk about.

Julia It was really bad. Probably the most tame thing that I wrote down was in regards to having sex with a succubus, the fact that penetrating one is basically like entering a cavern of ice. Yikes. Yikes.

Amanda Huh. Sensation? I don't know. That is surprising to me, mostly because demons are associated with heat, hellfire, stuff like that.

Julia Not necessarily, because according to Dante, final ring of Hell is frozen over.

Amanda That's true. That's true. I guess when I think about all the ... We weren't raised fundamentalists, which often have more hellfire-

Julia Hellfire.

Amanda ... hellfire, brimstone, and fire and all this kind of stuff. The Catholics are more like, "Nope, you'll go to the bad place, and you don't want to be there."

Julia "We're not gonna give you any details, but you won't want to go there."

Amanda "Trust me, you don't want to go there." There's less of the explicit imagery of torture and fire and blah blah blah. In my head Hell has always been a red, barren magma, volcanic-looking place. I don't know, the idea of one of its creatures being icy-

Julia Maybe that's how they-

Amanda ... is just-

Julia ... survive.

Amanda ... just different. Maybe that is how they survive, yeah.

Julia Because their internal temperature is so low that it keeps them cool in that hot, hot tundra.

Amanda I don't know, or-

Julia Arctic tundra?

Amanda Tundras are just barren. Tundras can be hot, as one of our geology teachers taught us in high school. Anyway, that's why the conception of Hades being filled with precious metals was so interesting to me and why the musical Hadestown renders it as a mining town, and just that idea that, oh no, it doesn't have to be all on fire, it can just be barren in other ways or non-earthlike or hostile to life in different ways. If you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense that there could be an icy version as well-

Julia That's true.

Amanda ... or like Dante, various, all captured within that same umbrella.

Julia Yeah, sometimes it's windy.

Amanda Yeah, very humid sometimes, swampy. Annihilation, what up.

Julia Yo, Annihilation, what up.

Amanda We just put a review of Annihilation on our Patreon, by the way. Patrons can listen to that audio extra.

Julia Moving on, according to the Malleus Maleficarum, or-

Amanda Oh, good title.

Julia ... the Witches' Hammer, which-

Amanda I love it.

Julia ... I literally kept it in because that's how good the title is-

Amanda I love it so much.

Julia ... which was written in 1486, succubi collect semen from the men they seduce, which they then give to incubi, their male counterparts.

Amanda For what purpose?

Julia The incubi then use it to impregnate humans, effectively siring children, despite both the succubi and the incubi being said to be unable to reproduce.

Amanda What a brilliant way to explain pregnancy out of wedlock. Wow.

Julia Children that are birthed using this method are known as cambions, and they're usually just analogous to changelings.

Amanda Unearthly?

Julia Yeah. They're either born deformed or they're said to be more susceptible to supernatural influence.

Amanda Wow. That sort of idea of a liminal child, one foot in and one foot out of the world, is really interesting to me, a changeling that's ... I don't know, as a kid I was always like, "I want to be a changeling. I want to feel special. I want to have a place that I'm taken to when I'm old enough," the Hogwarts idea. That is very cool. Obviously, there must be so many examples where people had children when they were unmarried or if one of the partners wasn't fertile and then someone else suddenly was pregnant. There's lots of reasons that this myth would be extremely convenient.

Julia Yes, I agree. Why scientifically are succubi a thing, is a thing I'm gonna tell you about, apparently. I'm gonna call this science speculation quarter.

Amanda I love it.

Julia Amanda, are you familiar with sleep paralysis?

Amanda I am. Not personally firsthand, because it sounds freaking terrifying.

Julia It is.

Amanda I've heard of it.

Julia For those of our listeners who are not familiar with it, basically it's a condition where people, while either waking up or falling asleep are aware but unable to move. During an episode they can hear, feel, or see things that are not there. Actually, modern day scientists equate sleep paralysis with UFO sightings and abduction stories.

Amanda Which will often include the person saying something like, "I was aware of what was happening, but I couldn't control it," or, "I couldn't move, and there were things being done around or to me." That makes total sense that those things could be correlated.

Julia Right, which I just think it's really interesting. The argument is that succubi interactions were said to be some kind of sleep paralysis.

Amanda Do people also report hallucinations or visions during sleep paralysis?

Julia Yeah. That's 100% a thing. People can hear, see, and feel things that aren't there during sleep paralysis.

Amanda Wow, so like waking dream type situation?

Julia Yeah.

Amanda In that case it makes so much sense also why the demon would be on top of the prone human being, because those two theories sound pretty plausible.

Julia Yeah, absolutely. Also, King James the Sixth, who has a lot to say about succubi for some reason-

Amanda Ruh-roh.

Julia ... he correlated succubi with wet dreams. During this period sexual activities not purposefully for procreation were considered sinful, so the succubi were used as an explanation for nocturnal emissions for people who want to stay faithful to their society.

Amanda That does make absolute sense, because under this framework of sex only being for procreation, the sex that isn't for that is seen as wasted, especially for people that emit sperm. For the idea to be like, "A demon was there in my sleep, and it was either involuntary or I was under an influence," or whatever, that is again, makes me icky in terms of consent.

Julia Yeah, it is a little icky in terms of consent. It is a demon, so it's not-

Amanda It is, so there's always an explanation that, "Hey, it isn't a thing that I would consent to in my right mind, but I was sleeping, but the demon influenced my brain, but I was unable to move." That is such a plausible, I think, correlation to make.

Julia I completely agree. It's super interesting. I love when our mythology has a little bit of a scientific explanation behind it. That's always fun.

Amanda Another example of how we use stories to explain stuff-

Julia That's true.

Amanda ... to ourselves.

Julia Amanda, Christianity and Judaism weren't the only ones that has these types of seducing demons/evil spirits.

Amanda Before we get to that, Julia, can we grab a refill?

Julia You read my mind.

Amanda I'm going to need it.

Julia Yes, you really, really are.

[Theme music]

Julia This week's episode is brought to you by Talis Clothing. Talis Clothing is a cool supernatural, mythology-based clothing line that is based out of Los Angeles.

Amanda They are so incredible. The minute Julia sent me their website, I was like, "Oh, yes, yep, that's gonna work," because they make the most gorgeous shorts and other products with these beautiful images of bodies and tarot symbols and handwriting. When we reached out to the owner of the company, she actually told us that the handwriting that she puts on the shirts are taken from an actual medium, a spirit medium, in the 1800s-

Julia How cool is that?

Amanda ... who recorded the people he channeled in his own handwriting. There are sometimes legible names like Caesar or Augustus, which that's not creepy at all.

Julia Nope.

Amanda More often they were abstract symbols and drawings, scribbles, circles, stuff like that. There's Ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew talismans that signify protection, lucky, good memory, stuff like that. You look at these items and you know, like, oh man, that is so intentional. I don't know, just when I wear it, I feel like there's just a something extra helping me throughout my day.

Julia I'm holding my shirt right now because we got them in the mail and they're amazing and they're-

Amanda Hey.

Julia ... beautiful. They're also the softest thing! They're 100% cotton. Sometimes the quality of that is not great. Oh my god, these are so nice and soft and smooth feeling. I just know that I'm gonna be super comfortable when I wear it out of bed tomorrow or something like that.

Amanda They have blue, they have white, they have black. I really love black t-shirts, especially in the summer.

Julia They have a cool olive color now.

Amanda Yeah, olive-y taupe. I actually have to be careful that I don't wear my olive coat with my olive shirt, because I'm gonna clash. I'm getting excited for the spring weather. I love that I can wear these short-sleeved shirts with my, it's almost like dice drawings on the side, and show off my tattoos and have a, I don't know, wonderful day in my Venus short-sleeved shirt.

Julia The long-sleeved one has the talismans going down the arm, and it's really, really cool.

Amanda I know, there are some over your hip and there are some over your heart. Again, whether or not this is something that you think has a real significance in your daily life, feeling confident and stoked and loving what you're wearing, it's never gonna hurt. I really, really love Talis Clothing. They were kind enough to offer us a discount code. If you go to bit.ly/spiritstalis, that's also in the description of the podcast, you can use the code Spirits for 15% off your order.

Julia Talis is spelled T-A-L-I-S.

Amanda SpiritsTalis.

Julia SpiritsTalis.

Amanda If nothing else, go to the website, look at it, follow her on Insta. They're incredible.

Julia They're so pretty. I love all of them. They feel like when you look at those really old gorgeous tarot decks. That's what they remind me of.

Amanda It's amazing. It's such a sense of history. It's a modern designer in Los Angeles, supporting other small businesses. We love her a lot.

Julia Making cool stuff. What else could you want? Nothing.

Amanda I don't know, Venus protecting me during my day?

Julia Yeah.

Amanda I love it.

Julia You got it.

Amanda Now let's get back to the show.

[Theme music]

Julia Amanda, we are going to take a quick trip around the world to find out more about these sexy, sexy demons.

Amanda Let's do it. You ready?

Julia The first one is the qarinah, which is an Arabian mythology story. The spirit either has origins in Ancient Egyptian religion or pre-Islamic Arabia. The spirit is said to sleep with the person physically next to them, in the same bed as them, and then have sex with them, sexually-

Amanda Thanks.

Julia ... while they sleep.

Amanda It's really so inconvenient that we use sleep as a verb to indicate sex, because those are two different things. I want to talk about both of them. Come on.

Julia We're talking about both in this situation. The only indication that it was there and had sex with them is the dreams that the person has.

Amanda Wow.

Julia Very, very similar.

Amanda Being in the physical realm I think is another way this myth goes.

Julia Yeah, interestingly, so they're said to be invisible, but someone with second sight could see them. When they do see them, they're usually taking the form of some sort of household pet like a cat or a dog-

Amanda Yikes.

Julia ... or a chinchilla maybe, I don't know. Many of the stories also indicate that exhaustion upon waking is a sign that you've been visited by the spirit.

Amanda Wow, all things that are perfectly common, to see a common animal somewhere it shouldn't be in the middle of the night, to feel exhausted and wake up and feel uncanny, as if something's happened to you during sleep-

Julia To have a weird sex dream-

Amanda ... to have a weird sex dream.

Julia ... in the middle of the night. Happens to everyone.

Amanda It happens!

Julia Yes. We're going to go to India next. Specifically this is a story that crosses both Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology.

Amanda Wow.

Julia These are known as the yakshini.

Amanda Tell me about them.

Julia They are said to be the attendees of Kubera, who is the Hindu god of wealth. They are guardians of treasures hidden in the earth and depicted as beautiful with wide hips, narrow waists, broad shoulders, and large breasts. Interestingly, these are usually benevolent creatures, but there are a few stories in Indian folklore that have them with malevolent characteristics.

Amanda Are they gender-fluid, gender-neutral, women?

Julia They're usually portrayed as women.

Amanda Huh.

Julia Moving on to Greek mythology, because of course, why not, we have the shape-shifting empusa. It is said to be a category of phantom or specter, which is thought to seduce and feed on young men. The way of spotting a empusa is that they have only one, I wrote this down weird, they have only one flesh leg.

Amanda Julia, do they have another leg made of something else?

Julia The other is made of copper and was given to the creature by Hecate.

Amanda The flesh leg. You could also say ... I'm not gonna make the obvious joke. I'm not. I'm not going to do it.

Julia If you're going to make that joke, this is the episode to do it.

Amanda I'm not.

Julia You sure?

Amanda You could have said they have two legs, one is made of flesh, one is made of copper. Instead, you did not.

Julia I did not. I said one flesh leg. Whoops. According to the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a young philosophy student was seduced by an empusa, but also the story tells about how he was able to chase it off by hurling insults at the creature, which caused it to run and hide, uttering a high-pitched scream.

Amanda Oh my god, what a self-aggrandizing story, "Yes, I'm a student of philosophy, but I was visited by a sexy monster and I was so-"

Julia Scared it away.

Amanda "... cuttingly witty to it that it ran away yelling."

Julia Another version of the story says she would feast on the blood of young men while they slept, first drinking their blood and then eating their flesh.

Amanda Oh, a little flesh appetizer there.

Julia (sings)

Amanda We really do a light cannibalism stinger.

Julia We do. (sings) It's a little bit too long.

Amanda (sings) I'm picturing a '80s sitcom montage now.

Julia Of just people nomming on other people?

Amanda Yeah, and just a dad walking in and seeing the kids with no neck, and it's like, "Aw."

Julia "Aw, shucks, guys."

Amanda Yeah. Cannibalism isn't funny.

Julia Oh god. Moving on to Scandinavia, the seductive forest creature of Scandinavian folklore is known as the hulder or the huldra.

Amanda Tag yourself, I'm seductive forest creature.

Julia Cool. Her name means covered or secret, and she can be described as either seductively beautiful, while her male counterparts are hideous.

Amanda I like the little distribution there. It's very important.

Julia It's not what you think. According to the Christian versions of the folklore, the tale tells of how a woman had only washed half of her children when God came to her cottage.

Amanda Oh boy.

Julia Ashamed, she tried to hide the dirty children, but God found them, and decried that because she had hidden them from him, those children would be hidden from humanity and became the hulders.

Amanda That's sad. I'm sure that woman was fucking overworked. Come on, God. If you made perfect creatures, then why does it matter if they're dirty?

Julia That's true. Despite this, they actually don't have a super bad relationship with humans. Hulder and humans and get along if they're treated with respect. Hulders will be kind particularly to charcoal-burners, which they'll watch their kilns while they're resting.

Amanda Wow, which is actually very sweet.

Julia Kind of adorable.

Amanda It reminds me of how spirits and fay, which we talk about a lot, but if you are mutually respectful, if you keep them happy, then they'll keep you happy. This idea of just a little person living their life hidden from view but having a constructive relationship with the visible world is pretty sweet.

Julia Yeah. I like it. I like it a lot. Amanda, you know Japan's got a good version of this story.

Amanda Oh please.

Julia Japan actually has a lot of versions of this story, but I picked my favorite.

Amanda Thank you so much.

Julia My favorite is the jorogumo. She is a yokai, which is a kind of evil spirit, who can shape-shift into a beautiful woman. Her name means woman spider or entangling newlywed woman.

Amanda Uh-oh! Uh-oh!

Julia Where do you think this is going?

Amanda Oops!

Julia Oops-a-daisy. This, her name, comes from the fact that most of the stories feature her attempting to convince a man that she has birthed his child, which is secretly a bundle of spider silk filled with small fire-breathing spiders-

Amanda Terrifying.

Julia ... or she is a young woman who attempts to marry an already married man, only to wrap him up on their wedding night in spiderwebs and devour him.

Amanda That's a pretty bitching urban legend, not gonna lie.

Julia Yep, it's a good one.

Amanda It is very good.

Julia It's quality shit.

Amanda Oh man, both of those versions are just like baby filled with spiders.

Julia That's what happened.

Amanda New wife filled with spiders.

Julia Nope, it's just a big ole spider.

Amanda I don't want to dwell on this too much, because I know there are folks who are arachnophobic, but if you want to dwell on that image, there is so much there. There is so much there.

Julia There is. There's a lot. Oh.

Amanda Japan, you always come through. Thank you.

Julia You do. Thank you. Such quality. Next we are going to talk about La Siguanaba, which is a character from Central American folklore and is said to be a shape-changing spirit that takes the form of an attractive long-haired woman when seen from behind.

Amanda Uh-oh!

Julia She lures men away into danger before revealing her face is actually either that of a horse or a skull-

Amanda Ah!

Julia ... or a horse skull.

Amanda I don't like either one!

Julia She likes to lure lone men out late on dark moonless nights, and tempts them away from their planned routes, usually to lose them in deep canyons.

Amanda She doesn't even sleep with them? She just-

Julia No, she's just like, "I'm pretty, follow me!" and they do.

Amanda Oh no.

Julia They get lost.

Amanda Oh no.

Julia Now I want for every date I go on in the future to be like, "Let's stand in full light and just look at each other all the way around." Just walk around your date once. Walk around clockwise two times and just give yourself the satisfaction that she may end up being spiders all the way down, but she certainly is not going to be a horse, a literal horse face.

Amanda I wonder if in Spanish, horse-faced is a similar derogatory word for women.

Julia I don't know.

Amanda It's an insult about-

Julia Yeah.

Amanda I wonder…

Julia That's a really gendered insult. You never tell a dude he looks horse-faced.

Amanda You sure don't. There are lots of other ways in which men's bodies are policed and insulted, but being horse-faced is not one of them.

Julia That's true. There's also the Tunda, which is a myth from the Pacific Coastal region of Colombia and Ecuador. This is a shape-shifting entity usually resembling a human female, that is said to lure people into forests and keep them there. It will change its appearance into the form of a loved one, such as a child's mother or a spouse, then lure the person into the forest and keep them there by feeding them shrimp to keep them docile, which isn't that such a great fact? Same. I would be docile if you just kept feeding me shrimp.

Amanda If you looked like someone I loved and trusted and just kept feeding me shrimp, I'd be like-

Julia You would be like, "We're gonna live in the-"

Amanda ... "All right."

Julia "... forest now." I'd be like, "All right, cool."

Amanda I pretty much am always ready to go live in the forest. If the forest has books and antibacterial soap, I'm there.

Julia Her shape-shifting abilities are imperfect, and there is always some sort of wooden leg that she tries her best to hide. Yeah, always a wooden leg.

Amanda I really do love the supernatural slipping into the real. That's a thing that I really, really dig. Whether it's myths where if you look at the woman from behind and then the front is demonic or the Deer Woman where you have deer hooves under the beautiful human body, just a little bit of slippage or a shimmer and you see through an illusion into a fairy city or something, I don't know, that just never fails to really captivate me.

Julia I dig it. I'm into it. This is the last one. This is the story of the Xtabay, which literally means the female ensnarer in Mayan, and refers to a demon that seduces and kills. It tells the story of two women. One is a sex worker, and the other is, in quotes, "a good and decent woman," which means she's a virgin.

Amanda We are obviously going to acknowledge the fact that this is a problematic and sex-shaming dichotomy, which is not the way that we view the world now, but let's look at the framework in which this myth was given to us.

Julia There's also a very good twist that is somewhat redeeming at the end, and we will get there.

Amanda Let's do it.

Julia The sex worker was said to be a very good woman. She would help the poor and sick. She adopted abandoned animals. She gave up the jewelry and fine clothes that she was given to by her lovers, very pure and sweet person.

Amanda Aww, cute.

Julia Yeah, besides the view of society of her position. The quote unquote good woman was said to be cold, full of pride, and easily disgusted by the poor. One day our sex worker goes missing.

Amanda Oh no.

Julia A wonderful perfumed smell fills the village, and people find that it's coming from her house and that she has died, but she's being protected by all her animals, which is just a really adorable image. Her body doesn't smell of death. It smells beautiful.

Amanda Wow.

Julia The people of the village bury her, and her grave becomes overgrown with beautiful flowers that always give off this beautiful, fragrant smell.

Amanda That's so beautiful.

Julia The good and pure woman, mah mah mah mah-

Amanda Yeah, that's the sound of her air quotes, mah mah.

Julia That's my air quotes. Claims that if that is how the other woman smelled in death, that she will smell even better.

Amanda She, "Oh, I'm so morally superior in the one way and none others," that she must smell better after death. That's a very weird way to be vain, also.

Julia I know. She eventually dies as a virgin. The entire village attends her funeral. To the amazement of the village, an intolerable stench comes out of her grave, reminiscent of-

Amanda Oh no.

Julia ... the spiny cactus flower that has this disagreeable odor.

Amanda Yikes, so I'm assuming like rotten, putrid type smell.

Julia Yeah. In death she becomes even more jealous of her counterpart and becomes the Xtabay after making a deal with evil spirits.

Amanda Oh no.

Julia She comes back to life and seduces men with nefarious love, since her heart has no room for any other kind of love. She waits for men in the forest, combing her long, beautiful hair with the spiny needles of the cactus. She seduces these wayward men, then kills them in the infernal act of lovemaking.

Amanda That genuinely was a twist. I did not see that one coming.

Julia Yeah. It was a good one, right?

Amanda Also, when you said wonderful perfumed, I think scent, I thought you were going to say wonderful perfumed woman. I was like, "What an interesting way to describe a person, Julia."

Julia She's wonderfully perfumed.

Amanda "Her skin is very soft and her eyes are very beautiful and she's wonderfully perfumed, just smells delicious."

Julia That is all the succubus stories I've got for you this time around.

Amanda Wow. What a source of shame sex is, huh, that so many different religious systems, societal ideals, whether it's village politics in the one we just discussed or something as big as the first man and woman and the first two women I guess. It makes you wonder, right?

Julia Yeah, it does. It makes me wonder, who am I having sex with? Will they try and murder me in a forest? Will I be driven insane by the sex that we have? Maybe, if it's good.

Amanda I want a beautiful bower of perfumed flowers on my grave. That's sort of nice.

Julia Why don't we do that anymore? We're just so into the idea of headstone, grass.

Amanda We talked last week about the mortsafe, which is that cage over the grave to stop grave robbers from getting in and stuff from getting out. Anyway, more cool, creative graves. I'm sure there are lots of very neat ones out there. If you have your favorite tombstones or grave photos, please send them our way.

Julia (sings)

Amanda I don't know, we've covered the ways in which sex shaming and toxic masculinity and problematic cultures of consent can contribute to sex being a shameful thing, a weapon, a thing that's weaponized by religion, by politics, by society, by patriarchy, against people. At the end of the day, the more you talk about it, the less scary it is, and whether that's talking about the fact that, yes, weird things in your mind while you're sleeping are completely okay. It is your brain doing odd stuff. All of us, it happens, and it is not a weird thing. Your body doing involuntary things while you sleep is completely okay.

Amanda Having whatever the thoughts are that you think are particular to you are completely okay. If they disrupt your life, find help. That is a great thing to do. Otherwise, it is completely okay.

Amanda Anything that has this much power in myth, whether it's coveting someone else's stuff or position or society, that is a thing that comes up in myths so often, or fear of death. We don't talk about it and it comes up so often. Jealousy, around the covetousness, it's a thing that we just shamefully push down and it hibernates.

Amanda Brene Brown, the author, has this image of shame as a Petri dish, where the more you cover it up, the more it grows, like bacteria in a Petri dish just taking over the space, but if you talk about shame and ask for assistance and air it out with people and, I don't know, you don't cover it up, then the Petri dish shrinks and it doesn't have a chance to take root faster. Point being most of us now live in a culture where we don't have to be ashamed of sex or wanting it or not wanting it or who we want to have it with or how we want to have it. As much as, I don't know, I want to be able to laugh at these myths with a light heart, but right now it is complicated-

Julia It is.

Amanda ... because it does remind us of so many things that have a real effect on people today.

Julia I think you bring up a good point. Isolationism is very much the method in which a lot of these stories ended up taking place, because we felt like we couldn't talk about it, so we had to come up with these stories that made it weird. Don't make it weird. Just talk about it. It's fine.

Amanda I know, man. The minute that someone told me it's okay to say stuff, it was great! It was just so much better.

Julia I agree. Just say the stuff.

Amanda Just say the stuff.

Julia Hey, also, stay creepy.

Amanda Stay cool.

[Theme music]

Amanda Spirits was created by Amanda McLoughlin, Julia Schifini, and Eric Schneider. Music by Kevin MacLeod and visual design by Allison Wakeman.

Julia Keep up with all things creepy and cool by following us on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Instagram @SpiritsPodcast. We also have all our episodes, collaborations, and guest appearances, plus merch on our website, SpiritsPodcast.com.

Amanda Come on over to our Patreon page, Patreon.com/SpiritsPodcast, for all kinds of behind the scenes stuff. Throw us as little as $1 and get access to audio extras, recipe cards, director's commentaries, and patron-only live streams.

Julia Hey, if you like the show, please share us with your friends. That is the best way to help us keep on growing.

Amanda Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.