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Monday, August 9, 2010

Magical creatures - the tiny but powerful imp

Today I will begin a regular Monday feature about magical creatures and events. I find myself amassing many interesting research finds while I seek background for my novels. I’d like to share some of these fascinating tidbits and hope you become spellbound as well!

One curious demon is the imp.

It is very tiny, usually kept within a bottle or ring, much like a genie/djinn, and called upon for magical purposes, good or evil.

An imp is a type of familiar, a spirit that maintains regular contact with a person, usually in some service capacity. Like other familiars, imps can take the shape of animals which the magician may direct to travel out and complete a task.

It is said witch hunters during the time of the Inquisition believed witches employed imps to carry out evil deeds. The witches rewarded their tiny charges by allowing them to suck blood from their fingers, warts, breasts, or any protuberance on the skin.

Another example includes the Lincoln imp in England, a carved stone demon on a column in the Angel Choir at the cathedral of that town. The cathedral was built in the 12th century, with the grinning imp seated in a cross-legged position. According to legend, one day the Devil let his young demons out to play. One rode the wind to the cathedral and wrecked so much havoc, one of the angels turned him to stone.

The Lincoln Imp at the Medieval Cathedral of Lincoln, England.

Also in British history, the Prince of Wales (to later become King Edward VII) received a gift of a tie pin decorated with an imp, which he wore. The imp was attributed with his good fortune during the next year, when his horses won major races, The Grand National and the Epsom Derby.

Tiny, but powerful!

Reference: The Encycolpedia of Demons & Demonology, Rosemary Ellen Guiley


J.L. Stratton said...

What a great post! And a wonderful subject idea.
I've recently become interested in mythical creatures of all kinds. I suppose I've read fantasy all my life but concentrated on science fiction, mystery, and suspense.

I am currently working on an erotic paranormal fantasy romance (if that is, in fact, a subgenre) and you've just given me a new character that has, until now, had me stuck on some scenes.

Now, I know who my demon succubus will confide in to gain her freedom - the imp!

Can't wait to read more from you on this subject.

Marsha A. Moore said...

That sounds like a terrific evil duo -- succubus and imp! Hope I get a chance to read that one. :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Roseanne Dowell said...

Interesting little creatures. I never really knew that about them. I thought they were just playful little stinkers. Very enlightening

Marsha A. Moore said...

Yes, they are and I'm not sure I'd want to run into one. :)

Larion aka Larriane Wills said...

now i'll have to keep coming back for references. lol. I didn't know an imp was like a familiar or that they sucked their masters blood. ummmmm, what story can i work that into?

N. R. Williams said...

This gives new meaning to the times my mother would say to the four of us, "You little imps!" I'm pretty sure she didn't know what she was saying.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author