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Daniel Tarr

H. P. Lovecraft's Novels

The Cthulhu Myth


I. Introduction

We should all be aware, that the subject before us is of unparalleled scope and complexity. Despite all the care and thought devoted to its preparation, this paper may still fall short of some readers' expectations for a number of different reasons: The first stems from the enormity and the complexity of the subject, the controversy it engenders and the emotional impact it has on us. The second is that such general review may appear too concise, too superficial, incurring the dual risk of making seemingly simplistic and distorted statements while leaving aside historical or cultural factors that some feel should be included. The third, and probably most important factor, is that each of us lives in a "religio-cultural world" of his own. Each of us has been brought up by different cultural and religious backgrounds, and therefore developed a vision of the world coloured by the intellectual influences of his own formative years, which in this case can cause different ideas of how such a question should be approached...

Despite the work of such writers as Edgar Alan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthrone, and Ambrose Bierce, America has no macabre tradition in its literature. Poe and Bierce almost alone produced a considerable body of writing in the genre; Edith Wharton, Henry James, Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman, Robert W. Chambers and a handful of others who wrote in the domain of fantasy are associated primarily with writing that is not macabre. There is not in America a collection of prose in the genre of the fantastic comparable to that produced in England by such masters as Arthur Machen, Walter de la Mare, Algernon Blackwood, Lord Dunsany, M.R. James, E.F. Benson, May Sinclair, Marjoire Bowen, A.E. Coppard, John Collier, H.R. Wakefield, Lady Cynthia Asquith, Thomas Burke, L.P. Hartley, John Metcafle, Margery Lawrence, and others.

It is therefore all the more interesting to note that a new generation of writers in America has turned consistently towards fantasy as a medium of creative expression. Perhaps it as the lack of any adequate outlet which dampened the ardor of prospective writers before our own time; certainly American magazines and book publishers have long been aloofy cool towards prose and poetry of the supernatural or bizarre. But with the establishment in 1923 of the magazine Weird Tales, interest in fantasy received a new impetus, and there came into modest prominence a group of writers including Clark Asthon Smith, the reverend Henry S. Whitehead, Frank Belknap Long, Carl Jacobi, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, and, surely at the head of the list, the late H.P. Lovecraft. (1)

» Howard Phillips Lovecraft was born in 1890 and lived most of his life in Providence, Rhode Island, where he was a devoted student of the antiques of that city, and perhaps by natural inclination grown from his ancestry, throughout his life a pronounced Anglophile. He lead a sheltered early life, since his health was uncertain, and his semi-individualism enabled him to read omnivorously, as a result of which the sensitive, dreamy child he was early created a strange world of his own, peopled by the creatures of his fancy. Out of this world subsequently grew much of his fiction in the realm of the 'supernatural'.

Lovecraft was a shy child; he was a retiring, almost reclusive adult much given to haunting the hours of the night. He was tall and thin, and usually almost spectrally pale, though his eyes were bright and very much alive. His jaw protruded, but his character was gentle. In his conversation, his vocabulary was revealed to be of astonishing range and instant application; his fiction, too, gives evidence of his range.

In the scarcely two decades of his writing life, Lovecraft became the master of the macabre who had no contemporary peer in America. He began to write early in life, but did not achieve publications in any national magazine until he was in his twenties. Of British ancestry, his literary influences, too, were British - Arthur Machen and Lord Dunsany particularly - rather than American in the Gothic tradition of Poe, though at least one of his stories, The Outsider, might very well have been written by Poe.

Lovecraft was never widely published, and during his lifetime only a slender book appeared, a novelette printed and bound by an amateur but enthusiastic publisher. Some fifty of his stories appeared in magazines, principally Weird Tales, Amazing stories, and Astounding Science-Fiction. He was anthologized in his native country and in England, but it was not until two years after his death that an omnibus volume containing his best was published by Arkham House under the title of The Outsider and Others, a book which has since become one of the most prized collector's items in America. This volume was followed by Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Marginalia, The Lurker at the Threshold, and Something About Cats and Other Pieces, all containing lesser work.

Though his early work was more especially fantastic, influenced by Lord Dunsany, Lovecraft soon turned to themes of 'cosmic terror' and spiritual horror in such remarkable tales as The Colour Out of Space, The Dunwich Horror, The Whisperers in Darkness, and others, among them that unique and memorable horror-tale, The Rats in the Walls, quite possibly the best of its kind written in America since 1900. Soon after his stories began to appear in the magazines, the pattern which became known as the » Cthulhu Mythology became evident in his work, deriving its name from The Call of Cthulhu, the first story clearly revealing Lovecraft's design. That the theme of the Cthulhu Mythology had always been in Lovecraft's mind was manifest when he wrote of his work:

"All my stories, unconnected as they may be, are based on the fundamental lore or legend that this world was inhabited at one time by another race who, in practicing black magic, lost their foothold and were expelled, yet live on outside ever ready to take possession of this earth again."

H.P. Lovecraft wrote only three novels among his many short stories and novelettes, and each of them is properly viewed as a short novel. The most ambitious of these is undoubtedly The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, originally written in 1927-28, but not published until 1941, when an abridged version appeared in Weird Tales. The first full-length version was published in 1943 in Beyond the Wall of Sleep, since which time it has been separately published in England, and in America has turned into a typical horror movie with Vincent Price in the leading role - titled, hilariously enough, with typical Hollywood vagary, Edgar Allan Poe's Haunted Palace! Also indicating the popularity of the novel, is that the story was also used in the making of a PC computer game titled Alone in the Dark 1-2, which is becoming one of the classics. Second in length is At the Mountains of Madness written in 1931, and preceding the longer novel in date of publication, in Astounding Stories, where it, too, was somewhat abridged. These two novels undoubtedly stand among the best fiction of Lovecraft. The third, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, was very probably conceived and written well in advance of the other novels, sometime in the early or mid-1920's, but, unlike those novels, it was evidently never extensively revised and remains the least satisfactory of them. It is properly not a part of the Cthulhu Myth - to which both The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and At the Mountains of Madness belong - but, despite certain facets borrowed from the Myth, it belongs rather to an earlier period of Lovecraft's work, when he was more obviously under the influence of Lord Dunsany's fantastic tales. (2)

He died at fourty-seven in 1937. Since his death, publication of Lovecraft's stories in America and England has been widespread. The majority of the stories have been published in cloth-and paper-bound collections, and millions of readers are now aware that in his untimely death America lost a singularly gifted writer in the genre of the macabre at the time when he had clearly not yet reached the fullest development of his powers. Moreover, editors of anthologies have drawn generously upon the relatively small number of stories left by Lovecraft, and the literary critics have readily acknowledged the merits of his work, although not understanding the true meaning of his works. Although he died, his work survives in two major trends:

First as a literary genre, known as the lovecraftian novel carried on by 'deciples', the cthulhuians very well presented in an anthology put together by Edward P. Berglund - himself a cthulhuian. He collects all those, who he calls the deciples of Cthulhu: August Derleth, Bob Van Laerhoven, Ramsey Campbell, James Wade, Brian Lumley, Joseph Payne Brennan, Robert Bloch, and jun.Walter C. DeBill.

[ See: » Cthulhu's Dark Cults ]

Secondly in a cult of insane, morally malformed madmen, known as Lovecraftian Covens... (3)

II. Cthulhu Mythos cults

A number of fictional cults appear in the Cthulhu Mythos. Many of these cults serve the Outer God Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, a protean deity that appears in a myriad of guises. Other cults are dedicated to the cause of the Great Old Ones, a group of powerful alien beings currently imprisoned or otherwise resting in death-like sleep.

Black Brotherhood

The Black Brotherhood is a group of international terrorists dedicated to hastening the return of the Great Old Ones. The Brotherhood is made up of people from all ethnicities and walks of life, and, believing that the Old Ones will awaken soon, conduct covert operations, such as attempted political assassinations. Few of its members are taken alive for interrogation, however, as most die shortly after carrying out their operations. [1]

Brotherhood of the Beast

The Brotherhood of the Beast is a cult that worships Nyarlathotep in his aspect as The Beast. [3] an Egyptian high priest of Nyarlathotep in the 14th Dynasty.

Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh

The Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh serves Nyarlathotep in his aspect as the Black Pharaoh. Its leadership is primarily of Egyptian descent, though in modern times it has become more inclusive of other nationalities. The cult has connections to the Church of Starry Wisdom, the Cult of the Bloody Tongue, and the Brotherhood of the Beast. It includes a subgroup known as the Children of the Sphinx that specializes in embalming mummies with the heads of animals. [4]

(This cult appears in the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game scenario Masks of Nyarlathotep.)

Brothers of the Yellow Sign

The Brothers of the Yellow Sign (or Cult of the Yellow Sign) worship Hastur in his aspect as the King in Yellow. The cult is led by a group of human immortals from the technologically and physically advanced realm of K'n-yan (the cult probably originated in this subterranean land, though others trace it to the serpent people of Valusia). [5]

(The "Yellow Sign" is a motif Lovecraft adopted from a story in Robert W. ChambersThe King in Yellow collection.)

Chesuncook Witch Coven

The Chesuncook Witch Coven, or the Cult of the Skull, worships the Outer God Shub-Niggurath. They hold their ceremonies in the deep woods near the fictional location Chesuncook, Maine. Their rites supposedly include entering a subterranean cavern and descending six thousand steps to a pit filled with hungry shoggoths. [6]

Chorazos Cult

The Chorazos Cult is a sect dedicated to the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. The cult was founded in the mountains of Romania in the late 16th century, but later moved to England and then Scotland. The cult developed an unwholesome reputation and was eventually disbanded by locals. [7] The cult returned in modern times, at least superficially based in the United States and attempting to awaken Yog-Sothoth. [8] Its name suggests an allusion to Choronzon.

Church of Starry Wisdom

The Church of Starry Wisdom, or Starry Wisdom Cult, is a cult that worships Nyarlathotep in his aspect as the Haunter of the Dark, as described in the story of the same name. The cult was founded in Providence, Rhode Island circa 1844 by the archaeologist and occultist Professor Enoch Bowen. The cult used a sacred relic known as the Shining Trapezohedron to summon the Haunter of the Dark, who demanded outrageous sacrifices in return for limitless knowledge of the universe.

Although the cult was publicly denounced by the other local churches, it nonetheless grew to have a membership of around 200 members. Mysterious disappearances in the area brought the cult under public scrutiny. After run-ins with both local citizens and the municipal government, the church closed and 181 people left Providence for unknown reasons. However, there is veiled evidence that they were dealt a more summary kind of justice than banishment.

The church held an extensive library of occult literature. The majority of these books was removed by one Doctor Dexter after the church was raided following the mysterious death of Robert Blake.

Though the Providence sect was officially disbanded in 1877, the Church of Starry Wisdom has appeared in other places including Yorkshire, England (1880 to 1890), Chicago, Illinois (where it was known as the Celestial Providence sect, but was later disbanded by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871), ArkhamMassachusetts (during the 1920s), and more recently in San Francisco (though the group was reputedly destroyed by arson). A few contemporary sects may still exist in Canada. [9] As recently as the 1970s the cult was present on Bioko (Fernando Po) in Equatorial Guinea. [10]

Cult of the Bloody Tongue

The Cult of the Bloody Tongue is a cult in Kenya devoted to Nyarlathotep. The group has branches in other parts of the world, but the original sect is by far the most powerful. [11]

[ Source : » Cthulhu Mythos cults (This section was updated 13-03-2013) ]

Esoteric Order of Dagon

The » Esoteric Order of Dagon was the primary religion of the town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts in the early 20th century. Its members were dedicated to the worship of Dagon, Mother Hydra, and Cthulhu. [12] ( Main article: Esoteric Order of Dagon )

The Esoteric Order of Dagon (E.'.O.'.D.'.) is a serious occult Order which has been working Lovecraftian magick for nearly 30 years. The E.'.O.'.D.'. utilizes the so-called Cthulhu Mythos of the horror and fantasy writer H. P. Lovecraft as a magickal method of exploring the Collective Unconscious. The Order claims descent from the traditions of the Sirius mystery cults of ancient Egypt and Sumeria. Other influences include Kenneth Grant, the British occultist, disciple of Aleister Crowley, and head of the Typhonian Order, who also attaches great occult significance to the writings of Lovecraft. The excellent H.P. Lovecraft Amateur Press Association of the same name has no connection or relationship with us.

Many people have an incomplete or distorted history of our organization, mostly due to the difficulty in getting accurate information about it. Other supposed esoteric groups using the same name are obviously bogus upon careful inspection and can be dismissed as fraudulent and sources of misleading disinformation. 

The name of our Order is derived from the story The Shadow Over Innsmouth by the New England horror and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft, (1890-1937). Written in November/December, 1931 and published in 1936, it was the only book of HPL’s fiction to be published and distributed in his lifetime. Lovecraft’s fiction, first published in the American pulp magazines such as Weird Tales, presents an internally consistent cosmology, constructed through the literary realizations of the author’s dreams and intuitive impulses. This cosmology came to be known as the “Cthulhu Mythos”, after its central deity. These stories and novels contain hidden meanings and magickal formulae unknown even to their creator.

Lovecraft suffered from an acute inferiority complex, which prevented him from personally crossing the Abyss in his lifetime. He remained a withdrawn and lonely writer who retained a rational, skeptical view of the universe, despite the glimpses of places and entities beyond the world of mundane reality, which his dream experiences allowed him. He never learned the true origin of the tremendous vistas of cosmic strangeness that haunted his dreams. He never realized that he was himself the High Priest ‘Ech-Pi-El’, the Prophet of the dawning Aeon of Cthulhu.

Before he died, Lovecraft left behind the “Silver Key to the Ultimate Gate” in the form of Randolph Carter, his most developed character who appears in no less than four tales. This character assumed an independent existence during and after Lovecraft’s life, a created being called a thoughtform, and known in Tibet as a Tulpa. For many years Randolph Carter waited in the parallel world that men and women of this world can sometimes visit in dreams for someone to discover the clues to the Mythos that Lovecraft had unconsciously revealed in his stories.

In 1981 'Randolph Carter', (also known as Steven Greenwood) publicly issued the Manifesto of the Aeon of Cthulhu and announced the reemergence of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Randolph Carter originated the term the 23 Current to describe the informing magickal current of the Order, which emanates from the archetype of Chaos (or Kaos) called by Lovecraft 'Azathoth'. A yet unpublished work by Randolph Carter entitled Liber 23 is presently being incorporated in a novel under preparation, Tales of the Club of the Seven Dreamers. The definitive history and collection of writings of the E.'.O.'.D.'. is in preparation, written by the founder, Randolph Carter and Peter Smith, the second Director of the Order and long time member.

Former and current members of this organization include:

  • Peter Smith, Occult Artist and author of Cults of Cthulhu, Disciple of Dagon, and Nameless Aeons.
  • Kenneth Grant, author of The Typhonian Trilogies and other significant works. Mr. Grant was an important early influence on the establishiment of the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and graciously acknowledged his Honorary Membership.
  • Michael Staley, spokesman for the Typhonian OTO and publisher of Starfire Publishing.
  • Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold, of Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
  • Paul Rydeen, author (as "John Carter") of Sex and Rockets, a biography of Jack Parsons.
  • Stephen Sennitt, author of Infernal Texts:Nox and Liber Koth
  • Stephen Dziklewicz, author of Dagon Rising.
  • Ian Blake, co-author, Eight Arms to Hold You.
  • Phil Hine, author of the books The Pseudonomicon, Condensed Chaos,and Prime Chaos.
  • John Beal, author of the article "Fractals in Weird Fiction".
  • Linda Falorio, author of the Shadow Tarot
  • Mishlen Linden, creator of Black Moon Archives.
  • John (Jhonn) Balance, of the British band, Coil.
  • Nema, author of Maat Magick: A Guide to Self-Initiation
  • Dan Clore, author of Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon.
  • Michael Aquino, author of the article on Ponape, "Expedition to R'lyeh"
  • Bill Siebert, leader of the Miskatonic Alchemical Expedition.
  • And many others.

Publications issued by the E.'.O.'.D.'. have included:

  • Cults of Cthulhu Peter Smith
  • Disciple of Dagon Peter Smith
  • Dagon Rising Stephen Dziklewicz
  • Eight Arms to Hold You Ian Blake and Nina Crummett
  • Fragments various contributors
  • R'lyeh Rising various contributors
  • Emanations various contributors

Some of these, rarely, appear on the secondhand market, as at Caduceus Books

References to the E.'.O.'.D.'. can be found in the books:

  • Pilgrims of the Night: Pathfinders of the Magical Way (by Lars B. Lindholm)
  • The History of British Magic After Crowley (by Dave Evans)
  • Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship and Rock 'n' Roll (by Gavin Baddeley)
  • The Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind The Legend (by Daniel Harms)

Many of the contributors to the anthology Starry Wisdom by Creation Press are/were members of the E.'.O.'.D.'., and the cover artwork of the first edition is the work of Peter Smith.

The official journal of the E.'.O.'.D.'., entitled "Emanations", is available for members only.

The E.'.O.'.D.'. is not intended for adolescents incapable of distinguishing fact from fiction. Members are well adjusted and knowledgeable writers, artists, film makers, musicians, and other creatives successfully manifesting Lovecrafian themes in their creative and magickal works, and sharing their interests with other members. There are presently Lodges in the United States, Brazil, England, Italy, and Spain.

Those interesting in applying for membership should first read the booklet in pdf format, » An Introduction to the Esoteric Order of Dragon.

[ Source : » Esoteric Order of Dagon ]

At this point we can summarize that Lovecraft's art should be considered as a complex whole, built round one general "idea" which can be summarized as » The Cthulhu Myth, and not as a series of separate novels. All the later pieces of his work tend to express the various aspects of this myth. So what is this myth?

Before we can investigate into that question, there are some general points we have to consider in order to save ourselves from making far-reaching statements. To fully understand Lovecraft's importance without overestimating his personal capabilities, we have to accept the expressive theory as a general point of view. I wish to point out by this, the possibility of gaining unconscious knowledge of general truths. Lovecraft being a very sensitive person from his early age, could have been precisely the kind of man to have gained such knowledge. For what we find in his work is one of the most superior literary expression of a certain "psychological idea", which he calls The Cthulhu Myth. So now we can put the question forward again: What is Cthulhu?

III. The Cthulhu Myth

Given, that this is a literary paper, I will try not to go into the philosophical and psychological aspects of the matter, but rather concentrate on the historical-cultural images of the same idea. In order to understand we have to investigate into the system of Hermetics [13] - that religio-philosophical system, which deals with the mystical-magical tradition of mankind. According to hermetic ideas we can identify Lovecraft's Cthulhu with a well-known character of the system called Hermes or Pan.

Before all, » Hermes is everything. In hermetics, as in any other tradition, he is the omnipotent, divine, one-god aspect of everything. There is nothing else, but Hermes - every movement is happening within himself. He changes face, appearing in countless figures: In Alchemy he is Alchemy. Not only is he the planet » Mercurius, but also the Venus, the Sun and the Saturn. » Saturn is called "Sol Niger" in alchemy, therefore he is also the black sun. (The planetic aspects of Hermes should of course not be understood by physical terms, but as an allegory of different phases of the mind and of the world.) He is the one appearing in different 'disguises' changing from one to the other - he was Hermes Trismegistos of Egypt, he was Asklepios, was Imhotep, was himself » Toth, and the deciple of Toth, but also father and sometimes son of Toth. At places he was Agathodaimon or the master of Agathodaimon. It is not the importance of the exact figure, but the interaction and the undivideable complexity of these symbols.

Therefore Hermes is also » Pan, who according to the Greek cosmology and works trying to describe the origin of the cosmos and mind - like Hesiod's -, belongs to the very first generation of Gods, who precede the existence of the cosmos. He is a progenitor-existent in the micro-cosmos just the same as in the macro-cosmos. Sometimes he is vulgarized, appearing as a triarchic system of micro-, macro-, and mezzo-cosmos, but really there's a hiding fourth; the uniting-all divine aspect. The aspect above existence and non-existence. There are versions where he appears as Asklepios Imhotes deriving from Imhotep who was a real character, the high-priest and architecture of Heliopoli, uniting with Asklepios. Similarly to Hermes who became son of Agathodaimon.

Hermes therefore is a very early figure, the progenitor-existent of Chaos in the aspect of Pan. We might understand this better by looking at what Pan means. The word pan, means everything. Therefore he represents the all-aspect of the universe; the physical world, the psychic world, the idea world and the one above all, the divine sphere of One. In this respect he is called Gnosis, which is rather a state of "existence" (we are talking high out of existence) than a termable existent. As the primarily, divine, ancient and creating idea, he is called Pan pangenitor, "the creator of all", but is also called Pan panfager, "the destroyer of all". In Latin tradition the dark aspect of Pan will be called » Dispater, the Father of the Underworld, the ruler of Dis. So we see that Pan is an ambivalent figure like Merkurius-Hermes-Toth; he has a satanic face, the Saturnic, the Sol Niger face, the face of the chaos of the under-waters, the face of the underworld, the nearly-nothing-aspect, and he has the face of the spiritual sun, the universality of above existence.

Pan's dark aspect can be traced through the centuries, and was always placed in very central position like the city of Dis in Dante's Divina Comedia, but centuries before that in the book of Enoch, giving same layers of the underworld. Therefore Pan is the Master of the Universe, not only Dispater, the lord of the chaotic under-waters and the equivalent of all dark aspects of things.

This "underworldness" was called khthonicity by the Greeks - the absolute darkness and abyss of all evil. In this chthonic under-water realm is where Dispater rules; this is where the women aspect of Nature (Physis), the Sophia, the daughter of the world is cast. By hermetics she is called Kore Kosmou ("Virgin of the World") and by the sumerian tradition Ereshkigal. She becomes the mistress of the underworld, the 'sacred whore' aspect, in contradiction to Innana, the virgin aspect.

As we see this is the lunar tradition in opposition to the solar one, where the men is the ruler of the underworld, and enters beyond to bring back the outcast woman. We find such examples in Orpheus and Euridike or the hymns of the gnosticists.

In order to all these Pan is this aspect of Nature too, the sabbathic goat, known as Sub Isniggarad for the 'goat-aspect' by the sumerians - called » Shub-Niggurath by Lovecraft -, and » Cernunnos for the 'deer-aspect' by the Celts.

This pan-face of Hermes can be found in the proto-Indian early states like Mohanjodaro as proto-Siva. The same idea is there: the high-aspect of Siva sitting on the top of the mountain of life, as the representative of the mind, as shakta - the lord of the world, as mayavin - world magician, and his female aspect (shakti) is there in the beginning too, later descending to the bottom of the world, kept prisoner by the snake or becoming a snake-goddess. (This tradition reflects nicely in the Kundalini-yoga praxis.) She is there in many other traditions as well; what is prajna in the East is Kore Kosmou in the Kabbalah and Hermetics, Shekhinah in the Jewish tradition, Shakina in the Sufi, and so on...

We could go on and on showing the immense variety of ideas trying to formulate the meaning of Pan through the various traditions, but it is more worthy to narrow our subject down to the actual representation in the relation of Lovecraft. Of course we are now reaching into the latest times of Hermetics, the 20th century, where tradition seems rather chaotic, and therefore presenting us with a very rich variety of ontologies.

We have to introduce a new line; the » Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Founded by the most important members of the Rosicrucians (who were the best of the Freemasons), at the end of the 1880's, they produced a new approach towards tradition, specially after Mac Gregor Mathers, when Aleister Crowley became the head of the order. This line can be well understood by looking at the writings of Arthur Machen, one of the members of the order, who's probably most famous book is The Great God of Pan. So it can be clearly understood that the inner circle of the Golden Dawn, the Silver Star (» Argentinum Astrum (A.:A.:)) certainly followed the dark aspect of tradition, devoting to the sabbathic aspect of Hermes, to Pan.

This is where we meet up with Lovecraft, who also presents us with a new expression of the same idea, closely similar to the sumerian pan-aspect, which they called Sub Isniggarab. What makes the problem more interesting, that no historical evidence can be shown that Lovecraft would have had any relations with any kind of mystic order, moreover, it can be proved, that he had no relationship with the Golden Dawn or Argentinum Astrum. All the same, he outlines a very dark mythology of the "Great Old Ones", a group of gods from the times of chaos, who dwell in the inter dimensional spheres or the deep oceans, representing the chaotic under-waters. He calls his main god » Yog-Sothoth, as well as » Shub Niggurath, the " black goat of the woods with a thousand progeny", the principle which the Greeks called panfager. This god lies deep below the realms of time and space ready to emerge from the chaotic abyss, kept alive by ritual sacrifices condemned by his secret followers.

Now we will be happy to notice that such followers do exist - the "worshipers" of Chaos.

But what is chaotic? Chaos appears when it is believed to have emerged; than it is the time of Chaos, the Lead Age, the age of Saturn, the time of 'chaos-magic', when this disintegrated chaotic appears in magic, for everything is allowed. We can dearly say it is a postmodern hermetics and magic. Now, they have retroactively noticed Lovecraft, and formulated 'magical covens', later known as lovecraftian covens, where they have developed a strict ritual system, according to the lovecraftian world. Their main concern is to free all the dark aspects of tradition; to emerge this dark panfager aspect of Pan.

It is interesting to draw a parallel to Aleister Crowley, who chooses Pan as the main principle of his magical system. It is not by coincidence that he does that; the sabbathic goat is the strongest satanic aspect, for Sabbath is the resting sun, the last sphere, and the time which is the most important - the time where one falls or transcends. We can identify the lovecraftian covens as the most central figures of chaos magic, where Cthulhu is the most clear manifestation of chaos. This is what Crowley - although had no kind of relationship with Lovecraft - calls CTHLH666. This is the sumerian kaprunuja, known in the Islam too as the satanic principle, the vitiating, the disrupting force, as well as known by the Indian tradition as a sea-monster called Khatala. The Chinese know it too as Hui Tai Lao "the monster in the sea". The important is that they are all the same representatives of the same idea, the same principle.

Crowley was a very spectacular man of immense will-power, and was searching for this panic force, which he wished to reach through a magical system started by John Dee and Edward Kelly becoming known as 'enochian magic'. He performed magical rituals to evoke this power in Mexico, Marocco, in the Sahara at Algir, and South China, stupefyingly at the same places, where Lovecraft places the remaining centers of the Cthulhu cult. In some descendent Taoist monasteries in south China, this kind of tradition still survives, as well as Mexico being the constant place of bloody rites, and we also know of a cult in the Atlas mountain of the Sahara, the cult of the egipans, the "goat men", where under the veil of Islam they worship the Father of Terror, panic, Pan.

We could go on showing the exact references in Lovecraft's works and the way it appears in certain mytho-magical systems, the way his intuitive descriptions influence and interact with other mystic circles, but at this point I wish to summarize.

All mythological representations are symbols of this chaotic condition preceding the emergence of the human psyche, consciousness. This certain psychological condition is still there in every human, far beyond the deepest domain of the mind. The fear of the unrecognizable, inconceivable, inexplicable non-consciousness.

Therefore Cthulhu is not a horror character like Frankenstein or Drakula; he is not an outer force, but the symbolical representation of the Pan principle, more ancient than anything else in the world, for it is the progenitor-existent preceding consciousness. Lovecraft's importance lies in the perfect representation of this inner force. He is the first, who by means of unparalleled talent of literary capabilities, goes far beyond fantasy and horror as a genre, and is able to express this pre-conscious principle. All those who see Lovecraft as a simple writer of dark horror and fantasy, not only underestimate his work, but fall short of understanding their own inner depths.

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle wherein our world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survival in terms which would freeze blood if not masked by a bland optimism. /.../ Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come..." (4)


1. August Derleth , H.P. Lovecraft's Novels . in The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 1. : At the Mountains of Madness; and Other Novels of Terror, [ London, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1993 ].

2. August Derleth , An Introduction to H.P. Lovecraft . in The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 3. : The Haunter of the Dark; and Other Tales, [ London, HarperCollinsPublishers, 1985 ].

3. Robert Bloch , Előszó . in "Cthulhu hívása", [ Galaktika Baráti Kör Könyvklub magánkiadás, Móra Könyvkiadó, (könyvárusi forgalomba nem került), 1992 ].

4. H.P. Lovecraft , The Call of Cthulhu. in The H.P. Lovecraft Omnibus 3.

Other sources (in Hungarian) :

  • Bakos József - Hermetikai előadások 1993-1994
  • H. P. Lovecraft : Cthulhu hívása . [ Budapest, Valhalla Páholy, 1993 ].
  • H. P. Lovecraft : Cthulhu hívása . [Galaktika Baráti Kör Könyvklub magánkiadás, Móra Könyvkiadó, (könyvárusi forgalomba nem került), 1992 ].
  • H. P. Lovecraft , Charles Dexter Ward különös esete . in 'Atlantis' I. évf./ 6.-10., 1990 [ Budapest, Móra Könyvkiadó-Jókai Egyesület, 1990 ].


[1] Harms, "Black Brotherhood", p. 23.
[2] Harms, "Brotherhood of the Beast", pp. 38–9.
[3] Harms says that Keith Herber originally cited "Nophru-Ka" — probably a misreading of "Nephren-Ka" — as the leader of the group in his role-playing game supplement The Fungi from Yuggoth (which introduced the Brotherhood). In later works, Herber cites "Nephren-Ka" as the former leader of the group. (Harms, "Nophru-Ka", pp. 214–5.)
[4] Harms, "Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh", p. 39.
[5] Harms, "Brothers of the Yellow Sign", pp. 39–40.
[6] Harms, "Cult of the Skull", p. 68.
[7] Harms, "Chorazos Cult", p. 53.
[8] See the ARG "Eldritch Errors"
[9] Harms, "Starry Wisdom Cult", pp. 285–6; "Dexter, (Doctor) Ambrose", p. 86.
[10] Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea, The Illuminatus! Trilogy
[11] Harms, "Cult of the Bloody Tongue", p. 68.
[12] Harms, "Esoteric Order of Dagon", pp. 103–4.
[13] Hermetics : In a narrow sense, from historical and philological point of view, Hermetics refers to a well distinguishable cultural phenomenon, starting from Egypt around the II-III. century BC. In general terms it is a philosophical system organizing all religious, mystical, magical, philosophical traditions and ideas ever known to mankind. Of course it is a tradition itself, more ancient than any other systems known...

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