Darrell J. Pursiful

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Lidércek: Three Hungarian Creatures that Share a Name

An incubus, from The Encyclopedia of Secret Knowledge (public domain)

I don’t speak a word of Hungarian. I am, however, intrigued that there are three distinct types of entities that Hungarians call lidérc (pl. lidércek) or “incubus.” In English, an incubus is a type of seductive demon that visits women in their sleep and inspires erotic dreams. The female counterpart is a succubus. Although there are aspects of this understanding in play here, especially with the “devil lover,” the term lidérc seems to cover a broader swath of supernatural territory.

The Földi Ördög

The first type of lidérc is also called földi ördög or “tiny devil” (pl. földi ördögök). Often in the form of a tiny man, this being serves as a kind of good luck charm—though at the price of a mortal’s soul. In exchange for the soul, the “tiny devil” bestows great riches and as well can make the recipient capable of performing extraordinary feats.

The Ördögszeretö

The second type of lidérc is is also known as the ördögszeretö or “devil lover” (pl. ördögszeretöek). It is sometimes called a ludvérc or a lucfir.

This being attaches itself to a mortal, but might then take one of two courses of action. First, it might decide to bring good luck and prosperity and even help with household chores. At night, however, the lidérc assails its “host” with wild, erotic dreams.

The second course of action is simply to drain the mortal “host” of life force. It appears every night to trouble the person with erotic dreams and sleep paralysis, eventually causing the victim to waste away.

Burning incense and birch branches keep the ördögszeretö from entering a house.

The Csodacsirke

The third type of lidérc is the csodacsirke (pl. csodacsirkék), literally the “miracle chicken.” This is the Hungarian equivalent of the firedrake or pisuhand, a fiery bird that sprinkles flames as it flies. This creature is said to hatch from the first black egg of a hen kept warm either under the arm of a human or in a heap of manure. Like the other lidércek described above, the csodacsirke attaches itself to a mortal and becomes his or her lover, but slowly drains the body of either blood or life force. (It can take the form of either a beautiful woman or a handsome man from the mortal’s past, as appropriate.)

The csodacsirke hoards gold, which it shares to make its owner rich. The only way to stop the lidérc is to make it do impossible chores such as bringing water from the well in a leaky bucket.


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