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Cthulhu Thursday: That Most Ancient Tome of Evil, The Necronomicon

February 3, 2011

I think that lots of the power of the Cthulhu Mythos stems from the palpable sense of mystery Lovecraft and others created.  From the names of dark Gods being deliberately unpronounceable. (Try rapping R’lyeh?)  But also the sense that at various points in human history we have uncovered insights into the true formless horror of the universe, but it does not exist as a coherent body of work but as fragments of text, often by half-mad authors.  Nothing captures that sense more than the Necronomicon!  The quote below is from Lovecraft’s own biography of the book that has become central to his unholy canon of the darkness..

Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaá, in Yemen, who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A.D. He visited the ruins of Babylon and the subterranean secrets of Memphis and spent ten years alone in the great southern desert of Arabia — the Roba el Khaliyeh or “Empty Space” of the ancients — and “Dahna” or “Crimson” desert of the modern Arabs, which is held to be inhabited by protective evil spirits and monsters of death. Of this desert many strange and unbelievable marvels are told by those who pretend to have penetrated it. In his last years Alhazred dwelt in Damascus, where the Necronomicon (Al Azif) was written, and of his final death or disappearance (738 A.D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told. …

So powerful is the idea, that it has become a meme in it’s own right – weaving into and out of history. We see the real figure of Doctor John Dee translating it into English, we have published versions of the text that could unleash the end-times in paperback, Tarrot cards, films, games and so on. The Necronomicon has taken a life of it’s own so much so that I have met people who think it is a real book, hidden under lock and key in certain national libraries… but then perhaps that is it’s joy (and horror) that we kind of want to think it is real…

Necronomicon Tarot Card (from

(Cthulhu Thursday is a dose of Mythos to brighten darken your week. More on the idea can be found here and a list of posts thus far, here. Also for more Cthulhu news, sign up to the cthulhuHQ twitter feed. Enjoy!)

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