The Worst Familiar Ever: The Ilomba

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

Last month we discussed the symbolism of the snake, this month we will be talking about a very scary water snake known as the ilomba. Some sources say it’s an actual snake, others imply that it is a spirit that takes the form of a snake. Either way, in my opinion, just say no to the ilomba.

Since forever, in fantasy novels you’ll hear about sorcerers, wizards, or witches with their familiars. I even have met some Wiccans and Pagans that have pets that they have developed a special spiritual bond with, but I have never heard of anything like the ilomba before now.

It is most notably present in the folklore of the Lozi of Zambia, but certain texts discuss similar creatures in other parts of Africa. A witchdoctor will create or summon the ilomba. As time progresses it begins to appear as more than a normal snake as it takes on the features of its creator/owner. It’s mentioned that sometimes it appears to be a normal snake to people, but to its victim it looks like the magic user that controls it. Of course what the victim never suspects is that in truth, the ilomba controls its creator.

Once summoned or created, the ilomba begins to grow. Soon, it begins to crave blood and if you do not supply it with victims, it will get its fix from the one who summoned it. At first, it may be satisfied with babies, but eventually it craves more blood and only a full grown adult will do. Many say that at its full potency the ilomba doesn’t just feed on blood, but on the very soul of its victim.

Sounds like the perfect fix for noisy neighbors or annoying classmates, right? Well, don’t go getting an ilomba just yet. Not only will the ilomba turn on you if denied blood from other sources, but also the creator is so connected with it that if the ilomba is killed, its master will die soon after. In my personal risk verse reward scenario, the ilomba, although being wickedly cool, is just not worth the risk.