The lamiae are a monstrous female birth Demons found in Middle Eastern and Greek lore. The lamiae are named after Lamme, a destroyer deity in Babylonian and Assyrian lore, and Lamia, who was the mistress of Zeus. Lamia was the beautiful daughter of Belus, the king of Libya, who caught Zeus’ eye. In exchange for her sexual favors, Zeus gave her the power to pluck out the eyes of people and replace them. She had several children. Hera, the wife of Zeus, was so enraged by the liaison that she killed all the offspring who resulted from the union. She condemned Lamia to give birth only to stillborn infants. In revenge, Lamia became a Demon and swore to kill the children of others. She joined the EMPOUSAI, female Demons similar to the Succubus. Lamia bore a large family of children, all female Demons, who became known as the lamiae. They have deformed lower limbs (often depicted as Serpents) and the face and breasts of beautiful women. They prey upon newborns, drinking their Blood and consuming their flesh.
In Hebrew lore, lamiae are the lilim, the Demonic childrenkilling offspring of Lilith, Adam’s first wife. Johann Weyer used the term lamia to describe female witches who had entered into a deceptive or imaginary Pact with the Devil in order to perpetrate evil.
Also known as: Lamias
The name Lamia may be interpreted as meaning “single shark” but the plural, Lamiae are ominous spirits associated with snakes. (Each individual Lamiae is a Lamia.) These Lamias are perceived as threatening to men as well as children. They are succubus-like spirits who creep up on sleeping men, hold them spellbound with sexual fantasy while consuming their flesh and draining their blood.
Sometimes Lamiae manifest as women of easy virtue who solicit young men, especially those who are robust and well fed. Once alone however, the men are consumed, literally; theirbones picked clean. In the Middle Ages, the term Lamia became a synonym for witch; it is now sometimes used to indicate a female vampire. They thirst for blood. Like baby-killing Lamia, these Lamiae can remove and replace their eye balls at will; magically directing their movements to facilitate sight. (Their eyeballs can gaze behind their back; out the window; across the hall and so forth.)
Lamiae still haunt modern Greek folklore. They live with dragons in caverns and deserts but sometimes try to insinuate themselves into households possibly so that they can eventually attack. Their sneak attacks are more effective, however, than these long range plots. Lamiae tend to be inept, gluttonous, stupid, and not very clean. Well-fed Lamiae become lazy and corpulent.
The tip-off to their true identity is their absolute inability to do any sort of housework, especially cook. They literally cannot boil water and never seem to learn. They sometimes display gratitude towards those who help them out of their inevitable kitchen troubles.
They may be bloodthirsty vampires but the Lamiae bear a reputation for honesty (if only because they’re not smart enough to lie) and for keeping promises.
Manifestation: Lamiae many manifest as women or as beautiful women from the waist up but snakes below. John Keats in his poem, Lamia describes her as a snake disguised as a woman. Modern Greek folklore suggests that the clue to identifying the Lamiae lie in their feet. They may be mismatched or there may be more than two. One may be of bronze or there may be an animal foot: a donkey, goat or ox foot.
From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.