The growth on cable media of television shows dedicated to spirits and hauntings is also increasing awareness of spirits.  The similarity of activity shown in the media presents a limited view of spirit entities. Interaction between humans and spirits has a long and complex history.  From hunter/gathers’ Animism, the Spirits of Place of nomadic herdsman, the myths, legends and folk histories tell a long story.  Agricultural communities and cities have their own.  Animistic cultures see spirits in everything; Polytheistic cultures have hierarchies of spirits; many Monotheistic ones have hierarchies of angels and demons – or something similar.  Basically, there is little in the way of representation that hasn’t shown up in a story somewhere.

Don’t panic: this isn’t going to be an in-depth dissertation on spirit forms. I will describe some spirit categories and ways they were viewed because there are behaviors common to a type that can lead to an understanding of what they may want. Not all spirits are portrayed as evil.  Some spirits are messengers, teachers, and some are just irritating. The key to successfully coping with a spirit is to understand its motivation and spirit type speaks to that issue.

When you first feel that you have a spirit interested in your life there is a tendency to respond with: What is it? Where did it come from? How do I get rid of it?  These are good questions, all. The first two are near the top of my list, but the third – not always on top.  Some spirits are beneficial by nature and you may not want to chase them off. Hearth spirits, for example, as well as other spirits of the home (lodge spirits, etc.) are often protection spirits, as are guardian angels.  If a hearth spirit is acting badly, then there is something in the household that needs fixing: the spirit can’t be banished forever; it lives in the home, so fixing the issue is the easiest and more permanent solution.

At this point, I think the best way to continue is to split the spirits up into groups and tackle those individually.  The groups are based on the type of culture each category is most commonly associated with, but it should be noted that there is overlap. Cultural transitions are not exactly defined and many spirits of an agrarian society can be adaptations of a similar spirit from an early point in the culture’s history – from the hunter/gatherer days, for example. For the purpose of this discussion the spirit groups, and the societies they are most commonly associated with are:

Animism/Hunter-gatherer

Place Spirits/Nomadic herders and agrarian peoples

Field and Fey/Agrarian

Angels and Demons/Monotheism

My official disclaimer is that I am not trying to teach anyone methods of working with spirits, but only introduce them.  In the space of 500 or so words any grander goal would be impossible.  In each category there is a wide variety; so many, in fact, each can be a lifetime study by itself.  As a consequence of that all I can put here is a general outline of each group.  Thank you for reading this, and I hope it is helpful.

Animism/Hunter-gatherer Societies

Animism is the belief that all things each have their own spirit.  Every tree, every rock, every animal, every object in nature has its own spirit.  Additionally, there is an over-arcing spirit form of these spirits: the Spirit of Tree or of Eagle or of Wolf, for example.  Mankind is included in this, of course, with each individual possessing a spirit with humanity’s own archetypal spirit.  All spirits are woven together and are part of a world spirit.  In this a single spirit can be thought of like a finger on your hand: while a separate, identifiable element of the body, the finger is simply part of the whole.  Separate the finger from the whole and it no longer functions: separate an individual spirit from the whole and it continues to exist, but it is no longer working as part of the whole – it is isolated and alone and will eventually become disruptive to the whole, become diseased or die.  Think of it like a cancerous organ in the body.

What we consider shamanism today falls into the Animism belief structure.  For the most part an Animistic spirit is neutral toward us and other spirits.  (Your fingers don’t often argue between themselves.)  They were called on to help and educate those who could communicate with them.  Help included: providing the attributes of the object or animal; locating game and food or medicinal plants; providing safe crossings of rivers and protection from harm.  They could teach about this world, about the worlds of spirits, and the attributes of elements in the environment.  Those who are adept can ride with a spirit and see through the eyes of its physical host – a wolf or eagle, fish or even a plant or rock.  Today we call them shaman.

Animistic spirits are natural spirits: Once something is shaped by humans, such as wood furniture or stones stacked to form a house or wall, it no longer holds one of these.  As such, they are more likely found in sparsely inhabited regions.  If, however, you do encounter one, it will most likely be in a dream or when you are relaxed – usually outside.  The best thing to do is talk to it.  If the spirit is taking the time to try communicating with you, it probably wants to tell you something.  Ignore it and it will get persistent and, eventually, it might get down-right angry.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Animism puts all of nature on equal footing.  As part of the whole, humanity is no greater nor lesser than any other part of the world.  Any spirit would expect to be treated with respect, but not necessarily deference; a Great Form would be a different story, but unless you are truly in tune with nature this isn’t likely to happen.  Remember, hunter-gatherers would thank the spirit of an animal killed during a hunt for providing for the tribe.  My advice is: Be polite.

Look for clues to identifying an Animistic spirit in the way it appears.  Animal spirits are the most obvious; spirits of things we think inanimate, such as rocks, are a bit tougher.  These spirits, with a couple of exceptions, do not resort to trickery or deception, they are pretty much how they appear.  Spirits like Coyote or fox are considered tricksters and you need to consider what they tell you carefully.  Both, however, are also very clever and can help solve problems as long as you watch out for the tricky bits.  Crow and other members of the raven family of spirits collect things – shiny things in particular: they aren’t thieves really, just collectors of what is lying around…  But they might help you find your missing cars keys.

Place Spirits, Wandering Spirits and Elementals Nomadic Herders

Place spirits include spirits that inhabit the areas passed through by nomadic peoples.  The range of a nomadic group can cover a large area. Within that area in specific locations, such as river crossings, mountain passes, and desert oases are all locations where myth and legend have as settings for interaction with spirits; caves and lakes are also favorite locations.

Spirits in this group can manifest in a wide range of forms. One thing about these spirits: they are very protective of their domains. When traveling through a place spirit’s domain how you behave toward the area determines how the spirit responds. Place spirits will only be encountered within their domain. They appear in many forms, some may appear threatening, or be something seemingly innocuous. Do not be mislead by form, these are very powerful within their domain and should not be trifled with.

Often a gift is offered to the spirit to ensure safe passage or safety while staying in the spirit’s domain. These offerings, depending on culture, can simply be an acknowledgment or something personal to the individual. Attitude is the important thing. Take the spirit for granted and things can go terribly wrong: the river crossing gets mired; the camp is attacked by lions and tigers and bears – oh, my.

Then there are the wandering spirits. These spirits are not anchored to place or person, but travel the world freely in search of – well, no one knows what, exactly. Wandering spirits are encountered almost anywhere, and almost always deliver what was asked for, but always in a way the person deserves – not necessarily how they wanted it. As such, they appear to be instruments of cosmic justice enforcing the view that everyone gets what they deserve – eventually. The commonality is: those of moral character and modest ends get rewards; those who are greedy and lust for power are given all they want, just to make their inevitable loss that much more devastating. The Djinn (Genie) of Scheherazade’s Arabian Nights is a classic example of a wandering spirit. There are others, of course, and many have a specific purpose. These are the classic “be careful what you wish for” spirits. They are almost always willing to give you exactly what you wish for.

Elementals are a category all to themselves, and a pretty small one at that. There are four: earth, air, fire and water. If you are communicating with an elemental you are dealing with the core of the planet. They rule the planet.  Every natural event from wind and rain to earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and forest fires are the purview of the elementals. On the good side, they also rules controlled fires and other beneficial natural events.

On a more personal level elementals can teach you a lot. Many traditions place normal human interactions under the influence of one of the elements. Earth is about the material world; Air is all about ideas and communication; Fire relates to learning, knowledge and creativity; Water reflects emotional interactions. Each elemental can help or hinder the area of its influence: it can teach you to do it better, or make it more difficult. In general they always have a motive and if you can figure out why it is interfering with you, you can usually reason with it if you take it as a lesson learned.

Field and Fey/Agrarian Cultures

Growing crops and raising livestock means a settled population and permanent communities.  Spirits it seems, at least our perception of them, settled down as well.  Individual types explode in numbers: an example is the wide variety of creatures associated with wild lands.  We have spirits of groves and pools and river fords, faeries, sprites, trolls and the ever present nymphs.  Closer to home are gnomes, brownies and hearth spirits; there are those related to the fields, as well as herds and, of course, home and hearth.  As with all spirits, these can be incredibly friendly, incredibly dangerous, and every thing in between.

This is probably one of the more misunderstood of the spirit categories.  Faerie, in particular, are often considered fun, friendly and, well, cute – at least in many of the modern popular books.  They are capricious, love a good practical joke, and can heap benefits on those they “adopt.”  Faeries, however, like most spirits of nature, are not to be trifled with: they can be viscous; their practical jokes, according to myth, can be deadly; they have occasionally been described as stealing children.  The other side of that is if treated well they will respond by being friendly, protect children in your care, and keep the pranks on the lighter side.  If you have a section of yard or and area nearby left to nature you may encounter the Faerie.  They don’t really like tended gardens – that’s the domain of gnomes – who have similar personality traits, but are less flighty and more down to earth.  (One is associated with the element of Air, the other with Earth.)

This is key to this spirit group: there is one set for the wild and dark places and another set for tamed and tended places.  Both types can bring good or ill fortune, sweat dreams or sour, harmony or strife.  They don’t necessarily stay outside and if you are being hounded by one of the nature spirits in this group, you need to figure out why.  Often is as simple as not tending a yard or garden from gnomes, or doing something that the faerie think disrespected their domain.  Once you figure it out, just do something nice to appease them and you will most likely set things right.

Household spirits are in this group and the most powerful is the Hearth Spirit.  This is the soul of the home.  They protect you and those who visit without malice.  They will protect you from those who bring discord or would do harm to your home, but this protection may not seem all warm and safe.  A Hearth Spirit will fight to protect you using every weapon at its disposal – including pets and family members.  Disruption coming from family member through normal changes in family dynamics, for example, will get a reaction from the Hearth Spirit as well, but when the new dynamic sorts itself out, the spirit will settle down again.  You do not want to banish these – in fact, you can’t.  You can weaken its effects for a time, but a home always has a spirit.

Frankly, there are too many of these to do more than touch the surface in a short piece like this.  In general, other than the Hearth Spirit, be careful dealing with this group.  While not necessarily hostile, they can be.  They are always somewhat unpredictable.  If they have a mind to, they can lure or trick you at every turn, and anything offered should not be agreed to quickly.  Make dang sure you know exactly what the price for help will be – there is always a price.  Never offer more than you can do to appease them; they get really ornery if they feel you tried to deceive them.

Deities and Pantheons

This is where things get complicated.  Whether monotheistic or polytheistic, spirits are placed in a complex hierarchical structure.  Polytheistic cultures have entire families of gods, demigods, semi-gods and minions all working within the structure for both the benefit and/or detriment of mankind, but usually that is a side effect of their own infighting.

Polytheistic cultures from Ireland to India and beyond have a commonality: they have two factions which vie for dominance and the winning faction is the culture’s pantheon of deities.  The other faction continues to dwell in places where mankind is not or should not go.  Consider: Zeus, called the Father of the Gods by the Greeks, battled his father, a Titan (actual father of all the gods) to free his brothers and sisters and take power from the Titans – who were actually a diverse race of “monsters” who were representations of the challenges to humanity; Odin, the Norse All Father, and his wife (from a different family line) battled the Frost Giants, but didn’t vanquish them and so mankind was caught in the middle of an almost continual war.

Pantheons are made up of deities reflecting both the good and worse traits of humanity, forces of nature, or things beyond human understanding and, therefore, magical.  Vulcan, for example, was the God of smiths and ran the forge used to make the weapons of the gods; today, we could extend his influence to all technology.  Heimdhal guards the bridge between Asgard and Midgard (where humanity lives) and can be called on to guard your doors as well.  However, there are armies of lesser forms – spirits – available for this purpose.

The key here is that nothing is all good or all evil.  Much like people we know, polytheistic deities are a little of both with all the quirkiness of human extremes in each.  The higher up the hierarchy, the more erratic they seem.  Motive is everything: Loki did not release Fenris to bring about the end of the world, he was just curious to know if anything really could defeat Odin.  Figure out why one of these could be involved with you and you’re likely to not be bothered anymore.

However, there is a randomness that can only be explained by saying you just got in the way.  Remember that many polytheistic pantheons are involved in their own little dramas and wars.  For the most part the only reason they bother us is because we are needed by one side, faction, or spouse, to further the goals against the other side, faction or spouse.  All of Hercules’ trials, some of which killed any number of mortals, were the result of a spat between Hera and her husband, Zeus.

On the ground, these cultures all have spectacular groves, temples, forests and mountains where the deistic forms – the gods, themselves – visit and can be visited, in person, by us mortals.  There, and in lesser places, the lower orders of nature spirits who live here, but exist there, (in the other worlds, pick one) can be communicated with.  While many would think this a really good thing, there is a danger: all the lower orders are committed to one side or another on the grand scale, as well as conflicts inside the pantheon so they have an agenda to further that cause – what ever it is.  Get their attention and they may follow you out of curiosity, or worse, they may decide you are – useful.

The good news is that you can usually take them back where you got them.  Basically take them home and leave them there.  How depends of the type, and you can find that in a variety of books.

Attracting Spirits to You

Attracting spirits is both easier and harder than most people expect. All you need is energy, most spirits’ favorite meal, and you can have a spirit gathering the size of a rock concert. Fortunately, with a few exceptions, the energy needs coherency; it needs to be ordered to attract a spirit’s attention. The three main categories of energy for our discussion are: Physical, Emotional, and Metaphysical.

Physical energy, obviously, is raised and given coherency by doing stuff. Housework (notably spring cleaning activities), exercise routines, and other repetitive activities raise energy and because it has a purpose (cleaning your house, rearranging and redecorating, or improving your physical condition) it gains coherency. Emotional energy, also obviously, comes from emotional events whether happy or sad, anger or compassion, or any other emotion strongly felt. When directed emotional energy can be much stronger than physical energy.  And then there is Metaphysical energy…

Metaphysical energy, at least in the movies, is often raised by teen-aged girls at sleep overs – usually Ouija boards are involved.  In reality, anyone practicing a metaphysical tradition (a fancy term for magic) can easily raise enough energy to attract the attention of a spirit.  Novices often report spirit activity shortly after they begin practicing. The technical tern for these is Little Nasties. it’s usually the dabblers who inadvertently draw something bigger. The reason is that energy raised needs to go somewhere. If it isn’t used or grounded, it sits there, slowly dissipating, attracting anything wanting a meal.

Physical energy alone is the least likely to attract anything. Emotional and Metaphysical energies, on the other hand, are very tasty. Unresolved emotional issues, or those that keep repeating, will build over time.  Once a threshold is reached unfocused energies will attract something that feeds off the particular emotions has an opportunity to move in. Resolve the emotional issues and the spirit will leave on its own because the energy is gone or changes to something less palatable. Smaller spirit forms will just leach off the residuals, but a bigger one will try to influence you to increase the emotion it likes.

What we consider the destructive emotions such as anger or fear produce a lot of energy very quickly. The softer emotions, such as compassion, love, or just happiness, will raise a lot of energy, but it’s more gradual. That’s why you are more likely to be aware of a spirit that feeds off the bad ones; their influences cause negative actions or emotions. The other guys, the ones that feed off the good stuff are more laid back and simply soak up what they find. Nice emotions, however, don’t always attract the nice guy spirits. A spirit wanting more energy will try to direct even love over to the dark side – conflict raises energy really fast.

If you plan to call a spirit, a process known as summoning, keep in mind they expect something from you (in the form of energy, or a task). You can bind a spirit in-thrall (another fancy term which means it’s at your beck and call until you release it). Your attitude is a big part of successfully working with spirits. The way you treat a summoned spirit is just what you can expect if something goes wrong and it gets loose. Simply lighting a candle and think good things about you home and family is really all you need to get a hearth spirit working with you: be rude to it and it works against you.

If you call a big and bad something and lose control, it will be big and bad to you and yours. That’s usually where the movie slumber party starts to go wrong.

Attracting Spirits to You

Attracting spirits is both easier and harder than most people expect. All you need is energy, most spirits’ favorite meal, and you can have a spirit gathering the size of a rock concert. Fortunately, with a few exceptions, the energy needs coherency; it needs to be ordered to attract a spirit’s attention. The three main categories of energy for our discussion are: Physical, Emotional, and Metaphysical.

Physical energy, obviously, is raised and given coherency by doing stuff. Housework (notably spring cleaning activities), exercise routines, and other repetitive activities raise energy and because it has a purpose (cleaning your house, rearranging and redecorating, or improving your physical condition) it gains coherency. Emotional energy, also obviously, comes from emotional events whether happy or sad, anger or compassion, or any other emotion strongly felt. When directed emotional energy can be much stronger than physical energy.  And then there is Metaphysical energy…

Metaphysical energy, at least in the movies, is often raised by teen-aged girls at sleep overs – usually Ouija boards are involved.  In reality, anyone practicing a metaphysical tradition (a fancy term for magic) can easily raise enough energy to attract the attention of a spirit.  Novices often report spirit activity shortly after they begin practicing. The technical tern for these is Little Nasties. it’s usually the dabblers who inadvertently draw something bigger. The reason is that energy raised needs to go somewhere. If it isn’t used or grounded, it sits there, slowly dissipating, attracting anything wanting a meal.

Physical energy alone is the least likely to attract anything. Emotional and Metaphysical energies, on the other hand, are very tasty. Unresolved emotional issues, or those that keep repeating, will build over time.  Once a threshold is reached unfocused energies will attract something that feeds off the particular emotions has an opportunity to move in. Resolve the emotional issues and the spirit will leave on its own because the energy is gone or changes to something less palatable. Smaller spirit forms will just leach off the residuals, but a bigger one will try to influence you to increase the emotion it likes.

What we consider the destructive emotions such as anger or fear produce a lot of energy very quickly. The softer emotions, such as compassion, love, or just happiness, will raise a lot of energy, but it’s more gradual. That’s why you are more likely to be aware of a spirit that feeds off the bad ones; their influences cause negative actions or emotions. The other guys, the ones that feed off the good stuff are more laid back and simply soak up what they find. Nice emotions, however, don’t always attract the nice guy spirits. A spirit wanting more energy will try to direct even love over to the dark side – conflict raises energy really fast.

If you plan to call a spirit, a process known as summoning, keep in mind they expect something from you (in the form of energy, or a task). You can bind a spirit in-thrall (another fancy term which means it’s at your beck and call until you release it). Your attitude is a big part of successfully working with spirits. The way you treat a summoned spirit is just what you can expect if something goes wrong and it gets loose. Simply lighting a candle and think good things about you home and family is really all you need to get a hearth spirit working with you: be rude to it and it works against you.

If you call a big and bad something and lose control, it will be big and bad to you and yours. That’s usually where the movie slumber party starts to go wrong.

Sprites

Elves and fairies are often lumped into this category, but sprites are more appropriately put into the category of minor elemental spirits.  Sprites can be helpful, playful, capricious, and often, unintentionally dangerous.  Tick them off and they can be intentionally dangerous as well. While they may seem small in stature it isn’t a good idea to under estimate their capabilities.

Sprites appear as something related to the element associated with them.  Wind sprites, for example, can appear as dust devils; water sprites look like small water spouts, whirlpools, or as pockets of mist.  Sprites take on whatever appearance blends with their element, but the representation is always persistent. Sprites, because they are free spirits, can move wherever they want.  A small dust devil, for example can travel for miles,  But greet a sprite in a friendly way and it may just stop and visit those who can identify them.

Think of sprites as happy, energetic children who throw temper tantrums when angry.  They like to play.  Pushing things around is a favorite of wind and water sprites, earth sprites like to hide things, and fire sprites send smoke into peoples’ faces.  In a way, these are sprite’s version of a child asking “why”: how long does the adult play before getting annoyed?  If you direct them properly, in an attitude of fun, they’ll play the game you want.  Like most kids, they don’t like being told what to do, and if you’re acting like an irritated grown-up they’re likely to be even more annoying to you.  That is, after all, the purpose of the game.  There is some risk to playing with them: they don’t always know when to stop, and under the right circumstances their toys – the elements themselves – can be very dangerous.

On the other hand, sprites like to be useful.  They’ll help in any number of ways if they like you, just as they’ll annoy you if they don’t like you.  The easiest way to get them to like you is to consider their pranks as just that.  Getting annoyed makes you a target for their fun, although ignoring them will get them bored and they’ll go away – eventually.  Under most circumstances sprite don’t hang around long anyway.  And while they can’t be summoned like an elemental, they will occasionally move in if you set up an environment suitable to the individual type.

However, sprites are not children; they are child-like.  This is important to keep in mind if you have dealings with them.  If you are able to understand them, they have the same information about their element as a full-blown elemental – they’re just smaller.  Don’t talk down to them.

Because of their nature, you aren’t likely to be bothered much by a sprite.  Even then, since they are pretty much outdoors types, they rarely hassle people indoors.  There are exceptions, but not very often.  Just get more playful when they’re around and the sprite will be happy.  While it’s around it can alert you to the presence of things spiritual, or impart useful information. All in all, sprites are pretty safe to have around.  Just don’t make them throw a tantrum.

Nymphs

The favorite nature spirit of teen-aged boys, nymphs can be found almost everywhere in the wild, but do not like areas of “tame” nature.  They are everywhere:  They live in mountains, hills, woodlands, rivers, streams and lakes, just to name a few.  Individual trees and ponds are home to them as well.   They are always seen sensuously clad in the colors and materials of their homes: they are sexy, alluring and beautiful young women.  Which is why we use the word to refer to real-world pretty young ladies with flirty personalities.

Most legends surrounding nymphs do not portray them in a good way.  They lure the unwary into their domain and keep them around until they get bored with them, then release them and go looking for another.  They lure young and naive men  – through their own desire – into the nymph’s home.  Years later, decades in some tales, the men return, virtually the same age they were when they disappeared.  They tell of a joyous night spent with a very friendly maiden and seem quite surprised when told how long they were gone – if the town’s folk don’t completely dismiss them as crazy.

Nymphs are not very high on the list of potential spirit encounters for the average person, and even lower on the list for ladies.  One reason is they live only in the wild areas.  Although natural woods around farms are a possibility, areas around subdivisions or cities are usually not a home for them.  Hikers, on the other hand…  There have been some materials written on the subject of nymphs giving the possibility of locating them inside urban settings.  I never encountered a case of that happening, but there are areas in urban settings that could be considered natural, especially now that people are letting parts of their yards grow wild.  Of course some people may consider bars and dance clubs wild urban settings.

Before you go running out to the woods to look for a nymph however, you should know that such encounters are rare.  Even in legend there’s only a handful of tales.   In the stories nymphs show up singly or in small groups.  They appear in quiet groves and glades or at the places where river and trail meet – all long considered magical places.  Considering that few tales picture them as helpful, it’s a wonder that anyone would go hunting for nymphs.  Still, protectors of their domains are more likely to get help from them, while those spoiling and polluting their domains are going to make them very angry.  And an angry nymph is very much like a woman scorned – they can be vicious.

Stories and legends aside, nymphs aren’t always looking for long-term relationships.  Those who believe in them may encounter them when hiking alone in the woods.  Fall asleep against a tree that is home to a nymph (tree nymphs are called dryads, by the way) and one may just wake you up.  Maybe you get to have a nice weekend in the woods safely in her company and then go home.   In addition to changing the passage of time, anyone in their company is safe from the usual risks of being in the wilderness.  By the same token, they can just as easily lure you into the dangers of the wilderness.  They can be quite nice when they want to be, and when you’re nice back.  They can also be nasty, mean bi_____.  So be nice, have fun, don’t trust them.  Just remember: don’t agree to go home to meet her folks.

Succubi and Incubi

Female and male respectively, succubi and incubi are commonly put into the demon category of spirits.  This is true particularly true in monotheistic believe systems, but less so in polytheistic ones that don’t have the view that all things are either good or evil.  Cultures allowing shades of gray in their spirits consider them potentially dangerous or disruptive to relationships, but not necessarily evil.  Either way, anything that lives off sexual energy is probably something to be wary of.

In spirit form they come at night to inflict sleeping humans with erotic dreams and lie with them.  These dreams are not always the nice kind, and can often be disturbing variations of your own subconscious desires.  Your sleep under this influence is often not very restful and you can wake still feeling tired – even more tired than when you went to sleep.  This is because these spirits live by absorbing the energy brought about by those dreams.  Over time continued exposure can lead to lethargy and loss of interest in human partners.

Both variants are capable of complete physical manifestation.  In other words – they can take on human form and interact on a physical level.  According to the legend, King Arthur’s Merlin was the off-spring of his human mother and an incubus.  Once in human form, it’s very difficult to tell them from humans.  In this form they are seducers or opportunists, depending on your point of view.  In group settings they feed off the inherent sexual energy of the crowd, usually at parties or other social gatherings.  A group is like a buffet and they are attracted to the individuals with the highest libido since these people are like a banquet for them.

Having a low libido is not a defense.  Along with their ability to draw this particular form of energy goes the ability to direct your own energies into that direction.  They are amazing flirts and are always willing to play.  It’s the energy that counts, not your gender.  Although the stories usually place a succubus with a male human and an incubus with a female, some seem to be equal opportunity feeders.

Some of these are not very nice.  They feed without consideration for the subject’s well-being.  This group will drain you of everything they can.  Drained of energy, even the common, simple things become chores; a lack of focus toward normal activity develops; illness can seep in.  Overtime the little buggers can become bolder and you start feeling the sensations of lovemaking, even physical ones, while you are awake.  One documented case of a women being subjected to what can only be described as sexual abuse by a spirit could easily be a nasty incubus.  It followed her for years, even after multiple moves across the country.  The narrator of the television show documenting the story declared it to be a ghost, but this sort of spirit behavior is not typical of ghosts.

There are nicer ones, as well.  They stop by for a quick snack or dinner, and move on.  Even if they stay around, they never take more than is available, although it may take a while to find the balance between too little or too much.  Others give as good as they get, helping some people have a much better time than they ever had.  It’s a complicated group of spirits.  And as with most spirit types, each is an individual with a different personality.

Getting rid of a bad one is a serious concern and really should be undertaken only in extreme cases.  Most of the time, they leave on their own.  Most people like a variety of tastes in foods, and these spirits do as well.  Besides, humans have a limited capacity for producing the food of choice.