Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nightmare: A Story of Unrequited Love

NIGHTMARE: A Story of Unrequited Love

How many times have you found yourself wondering just what exactly are succubae and incubi? And what the heck do they do, anyway? Well, if you’re like me, quite often, that’s for sure.

So, dear Readers, with a bit of time on my hands (ha!) over here on the Dark Side of the Garden, I’ve taken it upon myself to do some research into the matter. It appears different theories exist regarding the creation of these infamous, highly-sexed creatures of the, uh, bedroom. Yet, according to the esteemed Sanctum #11: Inquisition, which I’m sure you are all familiar with, “the leading theory was that a warlock or warlocks were trying to create more of their kind the old-fashioned way: by breeding them.” The incubi and the succubae of medieval European folklore visited men and women during the dead of the night to engage in sex, ultimately to produce doers of great evil or powerful warlocks. It was believed that “the most famous child of such a union” was Merlin the Magician. Wow!

Now here’s the unrequited love story part. No HEA here…
A few years before he painted The Nightmare (1791), Johan Heinrich Fussli had fallen passionately in love with a woman named Anna Landholdt in Z├╝rich, the niece of his friend, Johann Kaspar Lavater. Fuseli wrote of his fantasies to Lavater:

Last night I had her in bed with me—tossed my bedclothes hugger-mugger—wound my hot and tight-clasped hands about her—fused her body and soul together with my own—poured into her my spirit, breath and strength. Anyone who touches her now commits adultery and incest! She is mine, and I am hers. And have her I will….

Fussli's marriage proposal didn’t meet with Dad’s approval and lovely Anna married a family friend soon after. It’s said that The Nightmare, (see art below) then, can be seen as a personal portrayal of the erotic aspects of love lost.

Well, if Johan is portraying himself crouching on the beautiful Anna’s midsection, no wonder Daddy didn’t approve!

Joelle Walker
Editor, The Black Rose Line

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