by Jason Colavito
Lovecraft's mythos bears a distinct similarity to
alternative history. We compare the texts to see just
how close they come. Newly updated with the latest
In a previous Lost
Civilizations Uncovered article, "From
Cthulhu to Cloning," we saw how authors of alternative
history unconsciously appropriated the fictional mythos 1920s pulp
fiction author H. P. Lovecraft created. Lovecraft's tales of alien
dieties bestowing the dubious gifts of extrastellar civilization on
a sleeping world went on to inspire the ancient astronaut frenzy of
the 1970s and eventually the lost civilization excitement of today.
Alternative authors seem
to accept many of Lovecraft's ideas as fact, even though he himself
admonished readers to remember they were merely fiction, their
verisimilitude the result of his ideas being shared with his friends
and fellow horror-authors:
"This pooling of
resources tends to build up quite a pseudo-convincing background
of dark mythology, legendry, & bibliography--though of course
none of us has the least wish to actually mislead readers."
Nearly seventy years
after his death, Lovecraft's brand of dark cosmic terror continues
to deceive readers who unsuspectingly pick up non-fiction books
without realizing the influence a fiction-writer's ideas have on
Of course, Lovecraft
also had his antecedents, the pseudo-science of the 19th century,
Atlantis: The Antediluvian World or
tales of the vanished continent of Mu. Lovecraft was the first to
add aliens into the equation, and so he is the one we turn to in
order to see a comparison between what is claimed as fact today and
Lovecraft's fiction of long ago.
For the comparison below, I drew upon the works of H. P. Lovecraft
and the books of ancient aliens proponents Erich von Däniken and
Robert Temple, and the alternative historian Graham Hancock.
UPDATE: ON THE
of various kinds tried their best to classify the frightful
object, though always without success. Theories of a bygone
Pacific civilization, of which the Easter Island images and the
megalithic masonry of Ponape and Nan-Matol are conceivable
vestiges, were freely circulated among students, and learned
journals carried varied and often conflicting speculations on a
possible former continent whose peaks survive as the myriad
islands of Melanesia and Polynesia.
The diversity in dates
assigned to the hypothetical vanished culture - or continent -
was at once bewildering and amusing; yet some surprisingly
relevant allusions were found in certain myths of Tahiti and
(Out of the Aeons
[with Hazel Heald] 1933)
It was the submerged
structures of Japan that first awakened me to the possibility
that an underworld in history, unrecognized by archaeologists,
could lie concealed and forgotten beneath the sea. Then, when I
learned to dive and started to look elsewhere, I began to
realize how vast this vanished underworld might be -- for its
traces seem to have been scattered around the continental
margins not only of the Pacific but also the Atlantic and the
Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea...
I have not spoken of
the work Santha and I did in the South Pacific around the
Tahitian islands of Taiatea and Huahine, or of the strange
things we saw underwater off the Tongan island of Haapai.
ON ANCIENT ALIENS
"I cannot think of
the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may
at this very moment be crawling and floundering on its slimy
bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own
detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks of water-soaked
I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows
to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny,
war-exhausted mankind -- of a day when the land shall sink, and
the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium."
"[A] group of alien
amphibious beings were credited by the Babylonians with having
founded their civilization. The main individual of the group of
amphibians is called Oannes... In somewhat later traditions than
the ones Berossus drew on, Oannes became the fish-god of the
Philistines known as Dagon and familiar to many readers of the
[T]he creatures credited with founding civilization in
the Middle East were frankly described by the Babylonians who
revered them and built huge statues of them as 'repulsive
ON ANCIENT CULTS
"They worshipped, so
they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were
any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those
Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but
their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams to the first
men, who formed a cult which had never died.
This was that cult,
and the prisoners said it had always existed and always would
exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the
world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his
dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should
rise and bring the earth again beneath his sway. Some day he
would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would
always be waiting to liberate him."
(Call of Cthulhu
"I claim that our
forefathers received visits from the universe in the remote
past, even though I do not yet know who these extraterrestrial
intelligences were or from which planet they came."
(Chariots of the
"We shall argue that
'serious and intelligent men' - and apparently women too - were
indeed at work behind the stage of the prehistory in Egypt and
propose that one of the many names by which they were known was
the 'Followers of Horus.'
We propose, too, that their purpose,
to which their generations adhered for thousands of years with
the rigor of a messianic cult, may have been to bring to
fruition a great cosmic blueprint."
(Mystery of the
ON ANCIENT ASTRONOMY
Castro, those first men formed the cult around tall idols which
the Great Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark
stars. That cult would never die till the stars came right
again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His
tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth."
constellations, but with everything flipped 180 degrees, are
present in these two skies [10,500 BC and today] separated by
Perhaps the prehistoric cult of immortality
which used vast monuments likened to constellations and
astronomical cycles as instruments of initiation is coming back
"I would even
venture that we may be under observation or surveillance at this
very moment, with an extraterrestrial civilization whose home
base is the Sirius system monitoring our development to see when
we will ready ourselves for their contacting us. In other words,
we may very possibly allowed to control the forthcoming contact
ON THE HOME PLANET
which appeared on earth, it was hinted, came from the dark
planet Yuggoth, at the rim of the solar system; but this was
itself merely the populous outpost of a frightful interstellar
race whose ultimate source must lie far outside even the
Einsteinian space-time continuum or greatest known cosmos."
(The Whisperer in
"If the view
supported by reputable scientists East and West that Mars once
had an advanced civilization is correct, the question arises:
Why does it no longer exists today? Did the intelligences on
Mars have to seek a new environment... Lastly, were some of the
inhabitants of Mars able to escape to a neighboring planet?"
(Chariots of the
"The Dogon [tribe]
and the Egyptians spoke of civilization coming from the Sirius
System, and the Babylonians spoke of it coming from the heavens;
the Dogon and
the Babylonians agreed on the amphibious nature of
the beings who did this."
ON THE AGE OF THE
"Near the edge of
the plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face
probably altered to form a colossal portrait of Khephren, its
royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx - mute, sardonic,
and wise beyond mankind and memory... The gate-chapel leading to
the Second Pyramid, nearly buried in the drifting sands, yawns
subterraneously south-east of the Sphinx.
dubs it the 'Temple of the Sphinx'; and it may perhaps be
rightly called such if the Sphinx indeed represents the Second
Pyramid's builder Khephren. There are unpleasant tales of the
Sphinx before Khephren -- but whatever its elder features were,
the monarch replaced them with his own that men might look at
the colossus without fear.
the Pharaohs 1924)
"There is a belief
Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned during the period of
history classified as the 'Old Kingdom' on the orders of the
Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh named Khafre whom the Greeks later knew
as Chephren [and it is] stated as fact that the features of the
Sphinx were carved to represent Khafre himself...
is consistent with the re-carving of a much older and heavily
eroded statue... Is it not possible that Khafre was a restorer
of the Sphinx? ... The geological evidence therefore suggests
that a very conservative estimate of the true construction date
of the Sphinx would be somewhere between '7000 to 5000 BC
(Message of the
ON THE "SPHINX
"It was then that
the smile of the Sphinx vaguely displeased us, and made us
wonder about the legends of subterranean passages beneath the
monstrous creature, leading down, down, to depths none might
dare hint at - depths connected with mysteries older than the
dynastic Egypt we excavate, and having a sinister relation to
the persistence of abnormal, animal-headed gods in the ancient
the Pharaohs 1924)
"It is a map, not
buried in the earth but cunningly concealed in time, where 'X'
almost literally 'marks a spot' directly under the rear paws of
the Great Sphinx of Egypt at a depth, we would guess, of about
100 feet. If we have read the message of the 'Followers of
[Hawk-Headed] Horus' right, then there is something of momentous
importance there, waiting to be found ... chambers of the
earthly 'Kingdom of Osiris.'"
(Message of the
"It seemed to be
half lost in a queer Antarctic haze... The effect of the
monstrous sight was indescribable, for some fiendish violation
of known natural law seemed certain at the outset. Here, on a
hellishly ancient table-land fully twenty thousand feet high,
and in a climate deadly to habitation since a pre-human age not
less than five hundred thousand years ago, there stretched
nearly to the vision's limit a tangle of orderly stone which
only the desperation of mental self-defense could possibly
attribute to any but conscious and artificial cause."
(At the Mountains
of Madness 1931)
"It was suddenly
clear to me how a continent-sized landmass, which had been the
home of a large and prosperous society for thousands of years,
could indeed get lost almost without a trace. As the Flem-Aths
'It is to icy
Antarctica that we look to find answers
to the very roots of civilization - answers which may yet be
preserved in the frozen depths of the forgotten island
the Gods 1995)*
* a position he has
von. Chariots of the Gods? Bantam. New York: 1969.
Fingerprints of the Gods. Crown. New York: 1995.
---------- and Robert Bauval. Mystery of the Sphinx. Crown.
New York: 1998.
----------. Heaven's Mirror. Crown. New York: 1998.
----------. Underworld. Michael Joseph. London: 2002.
Howard Phillips. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling
Tales of Horror and the Macabre. Del Rey Books. New York:
----------. The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of
Terror and Death. Del Rey/Ballantine Books. New York: 1995.
---------. The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to
Madness. Del Rey/Ballantine Books. New York: 1996
The Sirius Mystery. Destiny Books. Rochester, Vermont: 1998