QUESTION III CONTINUED . . . .
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 Bees.
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 woman.
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
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 man.
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.
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This chapter was transcribed by Wicasta Lovelace.
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