Sex with Demons Was Totally Chill Until the Church Ruined It
Throughout history, men and women have had sex with supernatural beings—but when did summoning Satan to fuck become an evil act?
Illustration by Lia Kantrowitz
One night, when I was 13 years old, I prepared myself to have sex for the first time. The crescent moon hung in my window, carving black shadows across my chest. A gift-shop obelisk was erect on my bedside table. "Dear Satan," I whispered, "please fuck me."
Growing up as a Christian child, I couldn't help but notice that my prayers to Jesus often went unanswered. I'd ask God for various things; when the Lord failed to deliver, I was told, "God works in mysterious ways," and chided that you can't use prayer like a credit card. Conversely, Satan seemed very transactional to me, and I was always told that he would tempt me and do anything to obtain my immortal soul through sins of the flesh. At the time, I was struggling with my sexuality and felt that I was probably going to Hell anyway, so I figured I might as well benefit from my depravity and get laid while I was still on the mortal plane.
After my invocation, tense minutes of expectation passed like centuries as I waited with a pounding heart. I trusted that Satan would send a demonic, muscular fireman demon to satisfy my sexual fantasies, or perhaps a blood red pentagram would appear under the covers and Lucifer himself would teleport to bed me. But nothing happened. Satan stood me up.
Back then, I genuinely believed in the Christian God, and my dark prayer weighed heavily on top of me. It seemed as if I was the first, worst person to attempt to summon demonic forces for sex. Today I know that I am not alone—people have sought sexual encounters with supernatural beings for centuries. In fact, some of the first known mentions of such wicked alliances can be found in Biblical scripture. One of the most compelling descriptions of demon sex comes in Genesis 6:4. The King James Version (KJV) states: "There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown."
In the New International Version (NIV), "giants" is translated as "Nephilim," which are generally regarded as the hybrid offspring between angels and human beings. It's a controversial passage. Many Biblical readers perform argumentative gymnastics to avoid the possibility that Genesis 6:4 describes supernatural fucking, casting doubt on the notion that the scripture is referring to demon sex ("sons of god" just refers to superior humans, they insist). But still: It goes without saying that there wouldn't be so many people arguing about the interpretation of this passage if it didn't sound so much like demon sex.
Accusations of demon sex proliferated wildly during the Christian-led witch hunts that "reached their grisly peak between the fourteenth and seventeeth centuries," as historian David M. Friedman puts it in his comphrensive Cultural History of the Penis. Indeed, one of the most common crimes "committed" by accused witches was fornication with the devil.
In Pagan Portals: Pan, Melusine Draco quotes Dr. Hope Robbins, an authority on witchcraft: "The curiosity of the judges [at witch trials] was insatiable to learn all the possible details as to sexual intercourse, and their industry in pushing the examinations was rewarded by an abundance of foul imaginations." This resulted in a situation, Draco writes, wherein "a combination of prurient inquisitors and hysterical women about to be burned or hanged produced most of the accounts, which are completely the product of erotic and neurotic imaginations."
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men."
Was the (alleged) sex with the devil even good? Accounts differ. In 1485, an inquisitor wrote that the devil's dick was "extremely fleshy" and many witches "for several days afterward remain worn out." Most other reviews were markedly less positive. A prominent witch named Temperance Floyd is said to have "made a free confession 'that the Devil assumeing [a] cold Body had frequent carnal knowledge of her." Another witch, Rebecca West, describes Satan's mouth to be "as cold as clay." Another said his ejaculate was "intolerably cold." In A Cultural History of the Penis, Friedman describes the account of Anna Pappenheimer, who claimed that Satan's cock is "as cold as a piece of ice." Others still described the penis as forked.
The aftermath of demon sex was also not very fun. According to The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-Century Representations, a woman named Goody Smith confessed to witchcraft and the killing of children. She claimed that demonic sexual imps fed off of her afterwards: "Her imps hang in her secret parts in a bag and her husband saw it, and that these imps sucked on her.'"
These devil-fucking confessions were extorted under torture, and were part of a centuries-long, brutal, and misogynistic crusade against women who didn't comply with patriarchal norms. But not all accounts of supernatural sex in the early modern period were so harmful and biased. The Book of Oberon, for instance, is a 16th century grimoire, a magical text that contains information about spells and incantations. It was written during the time period when witch hunting was active, and contains clear instructions on how to safely enjoy sex with a supernatural being. In The Book of Oberon, there's a spell to summon three spiritual entities in order to obtain a ring of invisibility. To the magicians using the text, this spell did not suggest the supernatural beings were demons—however, it is possible that they would have been interpreted as such by theologians of the time.
"The spell includes carefully preparing yourself, as well as the bed, table, and room, with a magic circle and wand," explains occult expert and grimoire translator Joseph Peterson. "Three fairies (named Micoll, Titam, and Burfex) are called forth, and entertained with food and drink, then one of them will agree to stay and fulfill your requests, including providing a ring of invisibility."
"Imps hang in her secret parts in a bag and her husband saw it, and that these imps sucked on her."
According to this passage, the magician can select whicever of the three fairies they desire, and the fairie will then "hasten to rest herself in this most sacred bed." But first, she "will try to cheat you, saying 'I cannot grant your petitions yet, but if you lie down with me, I believe I will satisfy you well enough.'" After the sex, however, "you will no longer be able to compel her, because you will then be impure." Fortunately, if you plan well and obtain the ring before lying with the fairy, "you can do whatever you wish with her" afterwards. (The grimoire author assures that the "creature" will be most gentle and sexual: "I have tried this many times," the magician wrote and added, in a footnote, "my associate has likewise.")
"The exact nature of the supernatural creatures is rarely made clear," Peterson tells Broadly. "Often they are thought of as fairies or folk creatures that are mortal, albeit magical; they can be killed."
In addition to being summoned by magicians, supernatural beings "are said to seek humans to cross-breed with because of our immortal souls," according to Peterson. There are many examples of this. "Stories abound in medieval literature, such as the well-known Melusina, who features in the Starbucks logo."
The specifics of the myth of Melusina vary; she is typically depicted as the half-fairy, half-human daughter of a fairy named Pressina, who had sex with a human. Melusina later pursues relationships with men in order to lift a curse she is under. Other myths throughout history offer similar accounts. One of the best-known is the entity Lilith, who appeared first in the Babylonian Talmud , which was written between the third and firth centuries. "She is said to have fertilized herself with male sperm to create demons," says historian Natalia Klimczak.
"She is said to have fertilized herself with male sperm to create demons."
"The liliths as a category of demons, along with the male lilis, have existed for several thousand years," writes Rebecca Lesses, a professor of Jewish studies at Ithaca College. She goes on to reference another work, which explains that the Lilith line of demons has long been thought to seek sexual partners. "One text describes the liliths 'who appear to human beings, to men in the likeness of women and to women in the likeness of men, and they lie with all human beings at night and during the day.'"
The beautiful, vampiric Yuki-Onna spirit of Japanese legend is said to have sex with men, "pleasuring them until they die." Another vampiric demon from Greece, Lamia, is a said to be a "hideously ugly demon" who enjoys killing children. However, she is able to shape shift "to become a beautiful woman again so that she [can] lure men into isolated places, have sex with them, and then drain them of their blood." Casual. Even the beloved wizard Merlin has been touched by this unsacred union—his dad was a demon.
When you begin to lift the veil of history, and peer back at the supernatural beings who have literally fucked us, they are seemingly innumerable. That a human-fucking spirit should be the logo of the largest coffee chain in the world, in and of itself, speaks to the great cultural prevalence of what I reductively generalize as demon sex.
Our new record of spirit sex may be most evident in the archives of pop culture. In recent years, many celebrities have come out and shared their experiences having sex with supernatural beings—primarily ghosts. In 2012, musician Ke$ha said she is "very open" to having sex with ghosts, which she claims to have done before. The late Anna Nicole Smith once said that "a ghost would crawl up my leg and have sex with me at an apartment a long time ago in Texas." Though she was freaked out at first, she ended up being grateful for the "amazing" sex.
Bobby Brown claimed he lived in a haunted house where, "one memorable night, one of the ghosts descended from the ceiling and had sex with me." Other celebrities include Dan Akroyd, who once felt a ghost in his bed; Coco Austin, the wife of Ice-T, who claims to have been pained by many perverted ghosts during her life; actor Paz de la Huerta, who said that the ghost of Elvis flew through her body and gave her an orgasm at Graceland; actor Natasha Blasick, who has enjoyably had sex with ghosts twice; and Lucy Liu, who had sex with a spirit, too. "It was sheer bliss. I felt everything. I climaxed. And then he floated away," she said.
If only I had been so lucky.