by Parker Ryan
This section is a short
summary of some of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s major ideas
relating to the Necronomicon and its associated Myths. The
Necronomicon is perhaps the most infamous book related to the magick
(whether real or fictional). Please note that I am not claiming that
the information presented in part is historical fact. Rather I am
simply summarizing what HPL had to say in his fiction and other
sources about the Necronomicon. After reading ALL parts of this post
AND doing your own research, you will be the judge about what may or
may not be historical fact. Perhaps the best way to start is by
quoting HPL from The History and Chronology of the Necronomicon.
“Original title Al Azif-Azif being the word used by the Arabs to designate that
nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of
“Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa, in Yemen, who
is said to have flourished in the time of the Ommiade Caliphs,
circa A.D. 700. 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 Khaliye 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... Of his madness
many things are told. He claimed to have seen the fabulous Irem
or city of Pillars, and to have found beneath the ruins of a
certain nameless desert town the shocking annals and secrets of
a race older than mankind.”
Later the Al Azif was
translated into Greek under the Greek title Necronomicon (the title
is definitely not in Latin as is often claimed). This title is
translated as “the Book (or image) of the Practices of the Dead”;
Necro being Greek for “Dead” and Nomos meaning “practices”,
“customs” or “rules” (as in astronomy). The title Necronomicon
absolutely does not translate as Book of Dead Names (as Colin Wilson
has mistakenly and repeatedly stated). In order for it to mean Dead
Names it would have to be Latin/Greek hybrid (besides HPL flatly
indicated the first translation is the correct one). Still later
(possibly in the 1200’s) it was translated into Latin but retained
it’s Greek title. The Latin text came into the possession of
John Dee in the sixteenth century. Dr. Dee made the only English
translation of the Necronomicon known.
The Necronomicon contains dark secrets about the real nature of the
Earth and the universe. According to the Necronomicon the Earth was
once ruled by the Old Ones, powerful beings from other worlds or
other dimensions. HPL in The Dunwich Horror attributes this quote to
“Nor is it to be thought, that man is either the
oldest or the last of Earth’s masters, or that the common bulk of
life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are,
the Old Ones shall be not in the spaces we know but between them,
They walk serene and primal undimensioned and to us unseen.
Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the
gate. Past, present, future all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He Knows
where the Old Ones broke Through of old, and Where They shall break
through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and
where They still tread them, and why no man can behold Them as They
By their smell can men
sometimes know them near, but of their semblance can no man know,
saving only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind;
and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from mans
truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is
Them. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words
have been spoken and the Rights howled through at their seasons...Yog-Sothoth
is the key to the gate whereby the spheres meet. Man rule now where
They rule once; They shall soon rule where man rule now. After
summer is winter, after winter summer. They wait patient and potent,
for here they shall reign again.”
The Necronomicon STRONGLY hints that there is a cult or group of
cults that worships the Old Ones and seeks to aid them gain control
of this planet. One of the tactics attempted by this cult is to
breed human and Old One offspring that will then multiply and
ingress into terrestrial life until the Old Ones return to their
Some branches of the cult venerate a deity called
is a dragon-like “god” with a face that is a mass of tentacles.
Cthulhu is dead (dormant) but dreaming in the abyss (the Pacific
Ocean). It is not certain whether or not Cthulhu is an Old One. At
one point Cthulhu is referred to as Cousin of the Old Ones. At
another the deity is called the high priest of the Old Ones; both of
these labels might imply that Cthulhu may not be exactly like the
Old Ones. The cult seeks to raise Cthulhu in order to usher in the
day when the Old Ones will control the world.
When Cthulhu rises men
will be wild and free beyond good and evil. If Cthulhu rises partly
from the ocean but it is not yet the correct time there are terrible
bouts of madness. The center of the Cthulhu cult “lay amid the
pathless deserts of Arabia, where Irem, City of Pillars dreams
hidden and untouched.” The cult places special emphasis on dreams,
which they say can sometimes contain the thoughts of the “deity.”
There are many other important gods mentioned in the Necronomicon.
One group of these deities, the Other Gods seem to be true Gods
(unlike the Old Ones and Cthulhu who seem simply to be very powerful
Most important among the Other Gods are Yog-Sothoth and
Yog-Sothoth is coterminous with ALL time and space. In Through the
Gates of the Silver Key Lovecraft (who, despite the fact that E.
Hoffman Price appears as co-author, wrote nearly every word of this
story) describes Yog-Sothoth thus:
”an All in One and One in All of
limitless being and self-the last, utter sweep which has no confines
and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. “
future all are one in Yog-Sothoth. Of equal or greater importance is
Azathoth. Evidence that Azathoth is at least equal with
is that Azathoth is “Lord of All” while Yog-Sothoth is “All in One,
One in All” Azathoth is the “ultimate nuclear chaos,” at “the center
It is from the Throne of Azathoth that the aimless waves, “whose chance combining gives each
frail cosmos its eternal law,” originate from. It is Extremely
noteworthy that Azathoth is very closely related to the latest
models in Quantum Physics. There are also some notable parallels
between HPL’s ideas about Chaos and the new Chaos Mathematics.
Azathoth the ultimate nuclear chaos that emits the random waves that
govern the universe seems to be the principle opposite of Yog-Sothoth who embraces the expanses of infinity. Whereas
Yog-Sothoth is infinitely large, Azathoth seems to be infinitely
compact (e.g., the quantum center). HPL researcher Philip A. Shreffler states in
The H.P. Lovecraft Companion that the acting
principles of Yog-Sothoth and Azathoth are “infinite expansion and
infinite contraction” respectively.
The heart and soul of the Other Gods is Nyarlathotep the
messenger. It is as their messenger that Nyarlathotep makes the will
of the Other Gods known on Earth. It is through Him that all traffic
with Azathoth must go. Nyarlathotep has a thousand forms. He is
called the Crawling Chaos.
Shub-Niggurath the Black Goat of the Woods is a type of “perverse
fertility deity.” Shub-Niggurath also is called the Goat with a
thousand young. It is apparently a very important deity in the
Necronomicon mythos, judging by how frequently It is mentioned.
There is obviously a connection between the cult of Shub-Niggurath
and the many Goat cults of antiquity.
Besides Cthulhu, the Old Ones and the Other Gods there are numerous
minor races of creatures in the Necronomicon such as the shoggoths.
A shoggoth is a shapeless congerie of “protoplasmic bubbles.” The
shoggoths were created by the Old Ones as servitors. They can assume
any form they need to accomplish their assigned task. They are
unruly servants, becoming more intelligent with time eventually
gaining a will of their own. Shoggoth are sometimes, according to
HPL, seen in drug-induced visions.
Another race is the Deep Ones who are a type of amphibious creature
resembling a mixture of a fish, a frog and man. The Deep Ones
worship a god called Dagon. Dagon is a deity resembling a
One. Dagon and the Deep Ones seem to be Allied in some way with
Another minor race is ghoul. Ghouls are corpse eating monsters that
are very manlike except for their canine or monstrous facial
features. It is possible for a man to be transformed into a ghoul
under the right circumstances.
This concludes my short summary of HPL’s major ideas on the
Necronomicon and it’s Associated myths. This is by no means
exhaustive but it should give you enough general information to
address the rest of this post with a good point of references.
NECRONOMICON AND ANCIENT ARAB MAGICK
HPL’s accounts of the Necronomicon provide a number of dramatic
parallels with actual Arab myths and magickal techniques. These
parallels are too specific and detailed for it to be a case of
coincidence. Much of the material in this section was NOT available
in the books printed in English before 1930. This would seem to mean
that Lovecraft either was given the information in his stories by
someone initiated in Arab magickal traditions (which is VERY
unlikely) or that Lovecraft had a written source of information on
Arab myths and magick not publicly available. The second option is
rather plausible as Lovecraft was an extraordinarily erudite
bibliophile who loved Arab mythology when young.
certainly had an unprinted, probably rare, book (or some other form
of manuscript), on Arab myths or magick. This is the most economical
explanation as to how VERY OBSCURE information on Arab magick could
appear in his stories. Lovecraft probably owned a book much like
Al Azif (Necronomicon) in content if not in title. To some people this
may sound like a difficult assertion to accept without support. I am
just that type of person. The reason I am making this assertion is
that I feel it is very well supported. I hope you will share this
feeling when you are done reading this post.
I will now detail some of the rare information, referred to above,
that connects HPL’s accounts of the Necronomicon and its myths with
real Arab mystical and magickal traditions.
HPL wrote that the Necronomicon was written Abdul Alhazred, who was
called the “Mad Poet.” Alhazred visited the lost city “Irem of the
Pillars” (the center or the cult of Cthulhu) and encountered many
strange and magickal things there. Lovecraft placed Irem in
al Khali. When he was very old, Alhazred recorded what he had
learned in his book of poetry Al Azif (later retitled Necronomicon).
Irem is very important to Arab magick.
“Irem Zhat al Imad” (Irem of
the Pillars) is the cities name in Arabic. It is popularly believed
by the Arabs that Irem was built by the Jinn under the direction of
Shaddad, Lord of the tribe of Ad. The tribe of Ad, according to
legend, was a race roughly equivalent to the Hebrew “Nephlim”
(giants). In some version of this myth Shaddad and the Jinn built
Irem before the time of Adam. The Muqarribun (Arab magicians) have
important beliefs about Irem and it’s significance.
The Muqarribun, whose
traditions predate Islam, believe that Irem is a locale on another
level of reality, rather than a physical city like NY or Tokyo. (Why
Irem is important to the Muqarribun and how they use it will be more
fully explained shortly.) The “Pillars” in “Irem of the Pillars" has
a hidden meaning. Among Arab mystics pillar is a code name for
“elder” or “old one.” Thus “Irem of the Pillars” is really “Irem of
the Old Ones.”
(It is noteworthy that several Lovecraft “scholars”
erroneously claim that HPL created Irem, just as they claim he
created the Necronomicon, as part of his fiction.)
In Arab legend Irem is
located in the Rub al Khali just as HPL said it was. To the
Muqarribun the Rub al Khali also has a “hidden” meaning
(incidentally the art of encoding and decoding “hidden” meanings in
Arab mystical or magickal writing is called Tawil). Rub al Khali
translates as “the EMPTY Quarter.” In this case Empty refers to
VOID and is the same as AIN in the Cabbalistic traditions.
Rub al Khali is the “secret” door to the Void in Arab magickal traditions.
It is the Exact Arab equivalent to DAATH in the Cabbala. To the
Muqarribun the Rub al Khali is the secret gate (Daath) to the Void (Ain)
in which is the “city of the Old Ones.” This is Incredibly close to
Lovecraft, who made many references to a gate connected with the
claimed that the Old Ones were from Outside (another dimension of
reality) and linked them with the “infinite void.” By making these
claims about the “Old Ones” and connecting them to Irem and the
al Khali Lovecraft tapped into the very core of an almost unknown
(but important) area of ancient Arab magick. What makes this even
more interesting is that there is no way to know about the “hidden”
meaning of Irem unless you have done some serious research into Arab
magickal and mystical traditions. Thus Lovecraft either made one of
the luckiest guesses in history or actually did some research into
the deeper aspects of the Muqarribun magickal traditions (to my
knowledge there were no publicly available books with this
information in Lovecraft’s time).
The “Rub al Khali” (not the physical desert, but the
of Daath) was entered in an altered state of consciousness (some
where between dreams and the complete absence of thought) by the
Muqarribun. Irem represents that part of the “Empty Quarter” that
acts as the connection to the Void. It is from this place (Irem)
that the communion with the Void and that which inhabits it can
happen. The “monsters of death” and protective spirits Lovecraft
mentions are the Jinn (see below). The Muqarribun can interact with
these entities when he is in the “Rub al Khali” or “Irem.” When the
Muqarribun passes through Irem to the Void he achieves Annihilation
(fana). Annihilation is the supreme attainment in Sufi and
During Annihilation the
magicians entire being is devoured and absorbed into the Void. The
self or “soul” (nafs i ammara) is utterly and completely destroyed
by this process. This is probably the sources of stories regarding
the soul eating demons (associated with Irem) in Arab legend. This
should be compared to Lovecraft in Through the Gates of the Silver
Key in which Irem is a type of portal to the Outside. A close
comparison of this story with the Muqarribun ideas, discussed above,
will again show that HPL had a knowledge of Arab magick that was not
Next let’s look at Alhazred’s title. HPL wrote that Alhazred’s title
was “Mad Poet.” “Mad” is usually written “majnun” in Arabic.
means “mad” today. However, in the eighth century (Alhazred’s time)
it meant “Possessed by Jinn.” To be called Mad or Possessed by
Demons would be highly insulting to orthodox Muslims. The Sufis and
Muqarribun regard Majnun as complimentary title. They even go so far
as to call certain Sufi heroes Majnun.
Jinn were powerful creatures of Arab myth. The Jinn, according to
legend, came down from heaven (the sky) in the time before Adam.
Therefore, they pre-exist mankind and thus called “Preadamites.”
“Infidel pagans” worship these incredibly powerful beings. The Jinn
can “beget young on mankind.” The Jinn are usually invisible to
normal men. They apparently want great influence on Earth. Much of
the magick used in Arab countries concerns the Jinn (protection
spells against, or spells to call them up). The Jinn are thus
virtually identical with Lovecraft’s Old Ones.
Let’s look at the title “Mad Poet” some more. Jinn inspire poets in
popular Arab myth. This is why Mohammad was so vehement in denying
that he was a poet. He wanted it known that his revelation came from
“God” and not the Jinn. So the title “the Mad Poet” indicates that
Alhazred had made “Contact” with the Jinn (the Old Ones). It also
Implies that his writings were directly inspired by them. This is
entirely consistent with what Lovecraft wrote about Alhazred. Anyone
unfamiliar with Arab magick and mysticism could not know the
significance of “the Mad Poet” in Arabic. This again seems to
indicate that Lovecraft probably had a source of rare information on
Lovecraft wrote that Alhazred’s Necronomicon was a book of poetry
originally titled Al Azif. This also shows a deep connection to Arab magick and mysticism that would not be apparent to someone
unfamiliar with these subjects. Al Azif is translated as “the book
of the howling of the Jinn.” This title is remarkably consistent
with the meaning of “the Mad Poet” in Arabic (The One Possessed by
Jinn and Whose Writings Are Inspired by the Jinn). It is Also
important that the Al Azif was said to be written in poetic verse.
The Necronomicon (Al Azif) was concerned with many religiomagickal
and mystical subjects. Nearly all Arabic Books on religion or
mysticism were written as poems. This includes orthodox works (such
as the Quran) as well as Sufi and Muqarribun writings.
The name Cthulhu provides an Important and fascinating parallel with
Arab magickal practice. Cthulhu is very close to the Arabic word
Khadhulu (also spelled al qhadhulu). Khadhulu (al qhadhulu) is
translated as “Forsaker” or Abandoner.” Many
Sufis and Muqarribun writings make use of this term (Abandoner). In
Sufi and Muqarribun writings “abandoner” refers to the power that
fuels the practices of Tajrid “outward detachment” and Tafrid
“interior solitude.” Tajrid and Tafrid are forms of mental “yoga,”
used in Arab systems of magick, to help the magician free himself
from (abandon) cultural programming. In Muqarribun texts Khadhulu is
the power that makes the practices of Tafrid and Tajrid possible for
the magician. Although I was familiar with the use of “abandoner” in
Arab mystical and magickal writings I was unaware (until about two
years ago) that Khadhulu appears in the Quran. I owe the knowledge
Khadhulu shows up in the Quran (in a very significant way) to
In the Quran chaper 25 verse 29 it is written,
“Mankind, Shaitan is Khadhulu.”
This verse has two
orthodox interpretations. The first is that Shaitan will forsake
man. The other orthodox interpretation is that Shaitan causes men to
forsake the “straight path of Islam” and the “good” ways of their
forebears. The orthodox Muslim would view forsaking Islamic culture
as sinful and ungodly. However, Muqarribun and
Sufis, as already
discussed feel abandoning culture is vital to spiritual growth. The
identification of Shaitan of the Islamic tradition is very
important. By the time Mohammad was writing Shaitan was being called
“the Old Serpent (dragon)” and “the Lord of the Abyss.” The
Serpent or Old Dragon is, according to experts such as E.A. Budge
and S.N. Kramer, Leviathan. Leviathan is Lotan. Lotan traces to
Tietan. Tietan, we are told by the authorities on Near Easern
mythology is a Later form of Tiamat. According to the experts the
Dragon of the Abyss called Shaitan is the same Dragon of the Abyss
Scholars specializing in
Near Eastern mythology have stated this time and again. Why is this
important? Its importance lies in the fact that HPL described
Cthulhu as dragon-like and sleeping in the abyss (ocean).
is also said to be sleeping or dormant. The identification of
Shaitan the Old Dragon Lord of the Abyss with Khadhulu in the Quran
is thus a very fascinating parallel with Lovecraft. The connection
of the “Abandoner” with the Dragon is strengthened somewhat by a
line from “The Book of Annihilation” an Arabic text on magick.
This line translates as,
“the dragon is an abandoner for he leaves all that is sacred. The
dragon goes here and there without pause.”
While this line is
obviously symbolic (most likely referring to the practice of Tafrid)
it does serve to establish a connection between the Dragon of Near
Eastern myth with Khadhulu in Arab magick. The ancient dragon of the
abyss (Tiamat) traces back to Sumeria.
Sumeria was the oldest
civilization known to have existed. If Khadhulu of Arab mysticism is
synonymous with the Dragon of mythology (which the evidence suggests
it might be) then Khadhulu has been “worshipped” for a very long
time. The numerous parallels between Cthulhu and the Muqarribun’s
Khadhulu are strong enough to suggest that Lovecraft expanded on
Arab myth to create his deity Cthulhu.
There is another
interesting bit of information related to the Dragon of the Abyss
(which originated in Sumeria) and Khadhulu. This data quite possibly
is simple coincidence. On the other hand, it may not be coincidence;
there is simply no way to tell yet. It concerns one of the titles of
the Dragon, namely the Lord of the Abyss. The title Lord of the
Abyss translated into Sumerian is “Kutulu.” Kutu means “Underworld”
or “Abyss” and Lu is Sumerian for “Lord” or “Person of importance.”
Let’s consider this for a moment: the Sumerian Kutulu is quite
similar to Khadhulu in Arabic. Khadhulu is associated with the
Dragon in Arab magickal texts. Khadhulu is also Identified with the
Old Dragon (Shaitan) in the Quran.
One of the titles of
this Dragon (Lord of the Abyss) is Kutulu in Sumerian. The word Kutu
(abyss) is connected with the dragon Sumerian mythology. Indeed the
ruler of the Abyss (kutu) in Sumeria was the Old Dragon Mumu-Tiamat.
There is, it would seem, quite a bit of connection here and it may
indicate that Kutulu and Khadhulu are on in the same. I first became
aware of the similarity of Cthulhu and “Kutulu” reading a
publication of L.K. Barnes. I was quite skeptical at first but I did
not make a knee-jerk dismissal of the information.
Instead I researched until I was able to confirm all the above
information, related to the word Kutulu. The fact that the above
information on Kutulu is accurate and very suggestive does not PROVE
anything. It does, however, generally SUPPORT the idea that Kutulu/Khadhulu
has been a part of the magickal traditions of the Near East for a
very long time. The only thing that can be accepted as proof will be
the discovery, in a Sumerian text, of the direct mention of the name
or word Kutulu in the context discussed. To my knowledge this has
not yet happened. Until it does (if it does) the Kutulu/Khadhulu
equivalence will have to remain tentative.
Let’s closely examine the material on Arab magick. I believe it
leads to one conclusion. Lovecraft had access to rare material on
Arab magick and myths. Ignoring the possible coincidental
equivalence of Kutulu and Khadhulu there is still overwhelming
evidence supporting this proposal. Lovecraft used Irem in a manner
that Parallels the Muqarribun use before this information was
generally available. The Rub al Khali (Roba el Khaliye) is in truth
important to the Muqarribun. The Jinn are exact counter parts of the
“Old Ones.” Lovecraft’s description of Alhazred is VERY consistent
with the Arabic Meaning of the “Mad Poet” even though this also was
generally unknown in the 1930’s. The Al Azif (the howling of the
Jinn) is obviously related to Alazred’s title:
“The One Who is
Possessed by Jinn and Whose Writings Are Inspired by Jinn.”
Al Azif being a book of
poetry is consistent with the fact that almost all mystical or
prophetic writings in Arabic are poems. Khadhulu’s association with
the sleeping Dragon of the Abyss is VERY close to Lovecraft’s
Cthulhu who lays Dreaming in the Abyss (ocean). To my knowledge
there was nothing available (in print) about Khdhulu in English in
the 1930’s. All this seems to indicate that Lovecraft had a source
of information of Arabic magick and myths not commonly accessible.
It appears HPL expanded on some of the material, in this source, in
his fiction. Please note that this in no way detracts from his
considerable creativity. HPL’s stories are great not because of few
isolated elements but rather because of the way Lovecraft could
blend the individual pieces into a whole.
In addition to the material above there are numerous other instances
in which Lovecraft borrowed from Arab and Near Eastern mythology.
Lovecraft probably expanded on Arab and other Near Eastern myth when
creating his Deep Ones and Dagon. Arab myth mentions mysterious
fish-men from the sea of Karkar. These fish-men are probably
derivative of the myths related to the actual Near Eastern god
Dagon. Dagon is a Philistine deity that appears as a giant fish-man.
Dagon is a later
version of the Babylonian Oannes. Oannes (Dagon) was the head of
group of semidivine fish-men. The Fish-man Zootype still plays an
important role in some systems of magick. Clearly Dagon and the
Ones are direct expansions on Arab and Near Eastern mythology
familiar to Lovecraft.
The Ghoul is another obvious example of Arab mythology that has
worked its way into Lovecraft’s fiction. The Ghoul is derived from
the Arabic Ghul. The Ghul is a man-like creature with monstrous
facial features. It inhabits desolate and lonely places especially
graveyards. The Ghuls which inhabit graveyards feast on the corpses
there. This obviously is the source of Lovecraft’s Ghouls. To this
day the corpse eating Ghul has a distinct role in the magickal
practices of Arabs and others.
The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young traces back to
ancient Egypt and Sumeria. While both Egypt and Sumeria had
cults it was probably the Egyptian version that was most
influential. The so called Goat of Mendes was a “black” incarnation
The cult was fertility
based. Aspects of these Goat cults were absorbed into Arab magickal
systems. For instance, the Aniz tribe is designated as the Goat Anz.
(Anz and Aniz are cognates.) The Aniz are called the Goat because
their founder practiced fertility based magick. The Symbol of this
cult is a torch between two Goats horns. This symbol has become
important in Western magickal traditions.
Alhazred is said (by HPL) to have journeyed to Egypt in search of
occult secrets. This is consistent with the time frame that it was
supposed to have occurred in. Between the fourth century and the tenth
century Near Eastern scholars interested in magickal matters viewed
Egypt as an invaluable source of information. During this time many
corrupt Egyptian words and phrases entered magical writings.
Gnostic, Coptic, and Greco-Egyptian word formulas were incorporated
in great number into existing Arab magickal systems. The barbarous
names often only vaguely resemble their Egyptian forefathers.
For instance, Asar Un
Nefer became Osorronophris. Although the name has been badly
corrupted the original can still be deciphered. Often Egyptian words
and their corrupt counter parts can have even less phonetic
similarity than this example. It has been suggested that some of the
Barbarous names used in Lovecraft’s fiction might indeed be corrupt
Egyptian word formulas. Particularly Yog Sothoth, Azathoth, and
Nyarlathotep are said to have an Egyptian origin. (Note the
obviously Egyptian endings “hotep” and “thoth.”)
I was given a privately printed document called The Rites of the
Gods. This document consists of seven short rituals and an
introduction. It is said to be a translation of an Arabic document.
I feel that this, however, is very unlikely. I will have to remain
skeptical of this booklet’s Arabic origin and its antiquity until I
have some solid evidence (such as an Arabic Original). It is more
probably a modern attempt to reconstruct “ancient rituals” dedicated
to the Other Gods. Although I regard this document as probably
apocryphal the introduction contains some very interesting and
possibly accurate speculation on the origin of the names Yog-Sothoth
and Azathoth. The Rites of the Gods suggests the following origins
for these names.
Azathoth is said to be derived from Asa-thoth. The Rites of
the Gods states that Asa translates as “source” from ancient
Egyptian and Thoth (Tehut) is of course the popular god name.
Asa is an alternate name of Thoth. A friend who knows much more
about Egyptian mythology than I do assures me that Asa the god
is indeed closely associated with the concept of “source” (he is
considered the “source” because of his association with the
beginning of time). Ausaa-Thoth or Aasaa-Thoth is translated as
the intelligence of Thoth.
According to The Rites of the Gods Yog-Sothoth is derived
from Yak Set Thoth. This is supposed to translate as follows Yak
means “one” or “union”. Yak, or perhaps more correctly Iak, and
Yog seem on the surface to be quite different. This is an
illusion the “og” in Yog is pronounced like dog. The vowel sound
“a” in Yak is pronounced “ah.” Thus the vowel sound in both
words is identical. K and G are based on the same root sound. K
and G are formed in exactly the same way by the tongue and
The only difference
is the way the air is released at the end. Yak and Yog are
phonetic equivalents. To prove this to yourself try saying Yog
(as in dog) then Yak (as in hawk) alternately. They sound quite
similar. Set is, of course, the deity Set and Thoth is again
the god Thoth. Thus Yak-Set Thoth translates as “Set and Thoth
are one” or “the union of Set and Thoth.” Set and Thoth are the
dark and light aspects of the moon respectively in Egyptian
mythology. According to The Rites of the Gods the magical
significance of the name Yak-Set Thoth is “the union of
opposites in lunar-vaginal context.”
No translation for Nyarlathotep was offered in the
introduction to The Rites of the Gods. I first realized, many
years ago, that Ny and Hotep were Egyptian words meaning “not”
and “peaceful” respectively. “Not peaceful” certainly seemed to
fit Lovecraft’s Nyarlathotep. I still didn’t know what “Arlat”
could mean. I am again indebted to William Hamblin for the
complete translation. Ny means “not” Har means “at” or “through”
Lut “gateway” or “place of judgment” and Hotep means “peace” or
translates as “there is no peace through the gateway” or “there
is no peace (rest) at the place of judgment.” The magickal
functions of Nyharluthotep are very close to those of Thoth (Teht).
In face, some people suggest that they may indeed represent the
same force. The Thoth-Nyharluthotep equivalence will probably
clarify the meaning of the name Asa-Thoth. (Please note that
just because I used information from William Hamblin’s writings
in this post does NOT mean that Mr. Hamblin shares any of the
views in this post.)
It is very interesting that the Barbarous names associated with
the Necronomicon do not only have an Egyptian word and obey
Egyptian sound but seem to made of actual Egyptian words and
obey Egyptian Grammar. Corrupt Egyptian words and phrases often
appear in Arab magickal texts. The appearance of what certainly
seems to be real barbarous names in Lovecraft’s fiction should
cause one serious thought. Did HPL derive these names from a
rare book on Arab magick? Could it be Coincidence?
I’ve been researching Arab magick (and it connection to
Lovecraft) for nearly 10 years so I won’t be able to list every
source I’ve used. However I should be able to give resource in
which people interested can verify ALL the claims I make.
But first let me say a word about what I didn’t use as sources.
I did NOT use ANY of A. Crowley’s ideas on Near Eastern
mythology or language as a source for the information on Arab magick and mysticism. Nor did I use any of Crowley’s ideas in my
suggestions on the Egyptian meaning of the barbarous names (I
did use W. Hamblin Ideas about Nyarlathotep though).
NOT a source. I did not use any of Colin Wilson’s “research” at
all. Nor did I use the Simon “Necronomicon” as a major resource.
I adapted ONE idea from that book only after I CAREFULLY
VERIFIED it in other more reputable sources
IREM OF THE PILLARS
Those of you looking for general sources should begin with
these. A Dictionary of mythical places by Robin Palmer.
Nights ed. by R.F. Burton (get the 10 Vol. set) For those who
want to research how Irem fits into Arab magick and Mysticism
should try to find this book The Muqarribun: Arab Magic and Myth
by Steve Lock and Jamal Khaldun. (It talks about the “hidden”
meaning of Irem etc.)
I believe Idries
Shaw also mentions how Irem fit into Sufi mysticism in one of
his books but I can’t remember which. Mr. Shaw briefly talks
about the double meaning of “Pillars” in Arabic (which means Old
Ones) in The Sufis. (the art of encoding/decoding “hidden”
meaning in Arab mystical writings is called Tawil).
RUB AL KHALI
The sources for the Rub al Khali are mostly the same as
You can also check out Kenneth Grant’s Hecate’s Fountain. Note
that I am NOT saying Grant should be read as a good historical
source, he is not. HOWEVER his ideas on the Rub al Khali are
nearly the same with those of the ancient Muqarribun.
If you want a short cut to verify that the Arabic word for
mad “majnun” also means “possessed by Jinn” and that poets are
said to be inspired by Jinn just look up Jinn in Man, Myth, and
Magic. If you’d like to go to the original source find Notes on
the Arabian Nights and The Modern Egyptians by Lane.
by Idries Shaw also briefly mentions Majnun
Again the short cut to check out the validity of what was
posted on the Jinn is to look up Jinn in Man, Myth, and Magic.
If you want a more detailed source look up Genii in A Dictionary
of Islam. This book has much information not covered in M.M.M.
In A Dictionary of Islam Jinn are said to have come the Earth
ages before man existed. They were the first of Earths masters.
They built huge cities whose ruins still stand in forgotten
places. Aeons later many Jinn were forced to flee Earth while
other were imprisoned.
Still other roam
desolate places to this day. The Jinn are said to be invisible
to normal men. They are, however able to interbreed with humans
but the human parent may suffer when the dark offspring is born
(shade of the Dunwich Horror.) The Jinn will, according to
legend survive mankind (the last of Earths masters?) I don’t
need to point out the parallels to Lovecraft’s Old Ones. If you
want more information than is provided in A Dictionary of Islam
try Notes on Arabian Nights by Lane also try using the term
search (Jinn) through ILL. There are whole books on the Jinn.
Khadhulu is the Arabic word meaning “abandoner” or “forsaker.”
The primary source to read to research the role of “the
Abandoner” in Arab magick is The Muqarribun: Arab Magic and myth
by Steve Lock and Jamal Khaldun. In this book the
transliteration of “the Abandoner” is “al qhadhulu.” (I use the
transliteration “Khadhulu” because I’ve been told it is more
In this book the authors state that al qhadhulu (Khadhulu) is a
type of spiritual force that powers the practices of Tafrid and
Tajrid. These are exercises that are used to transcend (abandon)
normal cultural programming. The idea is that by transcending
(abandoning) Dogma and fixed beliefs a person can see reality as
it is. Al qhadhulu is stimulated by the Nafs (breath or soul.)
The stimulated “abandoner” then causes the Hal or spiritual
state. the relationship between Nafs, al qhadhulu and
very intricate and this is very oversimplified. Lock and Khaldun
state that the abandoner is mentioned some Sufi poetry. Another
source that you may want to read is Further Notes On the Necronomicon by
Mr. Hamblin Compares Cthulhu with Khadhulu in this article. I
hate to admit it but I had owned The Muqarribun... for at least
three years before I read Mr. Hamblin’s article and I never
noticed how close al qhadhulu (Khadhulu) is to Cthulhu. I also
did not know that Khadhulu appears in the Quran (25:29) until I
read Mr. Hamblin’s article. I have since talked to several
Muslims about this verse.
The verse translates as “Mankind, Shaitan is al khadhulu.”
They have explained
two orthodox interpretations of this verse to me the first is
that Shaitan will abandon man. the other is that Shaitan causes
men to forsake Islam and its culture. You’ll note that this
second interpretation is fairly consistent with the spiritual
meaning the ancient Muqarribun give al qhadhulu. (Obviously an
orthodox Muslim would think Muqarribun practices Sinful.) This
verse in the Quran is important because it links the “abandoner” Khadhulu with
Shaitan the Old Dragon, Lord of the Abyss.
The Image of Shaitan as The Dragon was well established by
the writing of the Quran. The old Dragon is Leviathan. Leviathan
traces to Lotan. Lotan to Tietan. And Tietan is Tiamat. This can
be verified in MANY sources. One standard one is The Gods of the
Egyptian by E.A. Budge. S.N. Kramer is another. (see below)
Kutulu is a Sumerian translation of the title Lord of the
Abyss. KUTU means Abyss. LU means lord or person of importance.
L.K.Barnes was first to note the similarity of Cthulhu and
Kutulu in Simon’s “Necronomicon.” I was therefore quite
skeptical of it accuracy.
I carefully read
History Begins at Sumer and Sumerian Mythology by
well as several other books on Sumerian mythology/culture. I
discovered that the translation given to Kutulu is TOTALLY
ACCURATE. I also verified that KUTU is closely tied to the
Sleeping Dragon (Tiamat) in Sumerian myth.
ARAB MYSTICAL POETRY
Arabic mystical poetry is a complete field of study in itself. The
Pre-Islamic prophets used the Sadj style of verse. This is the same
style that the Quran is written in. The early Muqarribun poetry is
in the Ruba’I style which is fairly simple. Later Muqarribun and Sufi
poetry was written in the Mathnawi form of verse. Idries Shaw talks
about the role of poetry in Arab mysticism in The Way of the Sufi.
Lelah Bakhtiar has a short chapter on poetry in Sufi Expressions of
the Mystic Quest. Another more detailed source is Structural
Continuity in Poetry. A Linguistic study of five Pre-Islamic Odes by
Mary C. Bateson
I have to admit I haven’t done enough research into this area YET.
This is my next big project. I’ll post anything of interest I learn
in my research. The translations for Yak-Set Thoth and Asa-Thoth are
from The Rites of the Gods. The translation of Nyharluthotep is from
Further Notes on the Necronomicon by William Hamblin. If you want
more information on corrupt Egyptian word formulas in general try
using the term search through ILL (Gnostic Coptic or
Greco-Egyptian). The best books available on Egyptian mythology are
by E.A. Budge.
AND RESEARCH GUIDE
MYSTICISM AND MAGICK
The Book of a
Thousand Nights and a Night trans. by R.F. Burton
This is the huge 10
Vol. set. The Sufis and Muqarribun say these books contain many
mystical and magickal secrets. A. Crowley calls them a “valuable
storehouse of oriental magicklore. VERY GOOD. Much of the
material in this is very Lovecraftian.
The Secret Lore of
Magic by Idries Shaw
This is an
interesting and very useful book if you can read BETWEEN THE
LINES. Shaw almost never comes directly out and say anything of
importance. He does hint in the right directions though.
Contains some good general info. on Arab magick.
The Muqarribun: Arab
myth and Magic by Steve Lock and Jamal Khaldun
This is a nice
little source on Arab magick. Some of the material on Irem and
the “abandoner” is relevant to HPL. This books main drawback is
that it is too short.
Princes and Jinn from Arab Myth by Khiray Al Salem
Although this book
is also short and is for young readers it contains some
information that is hard to find elsewhere. It is most useful if
you keep your eyes open for double meanings.
Notes on Arabian
Night by Lane
This contains some
information on the Jinn that is quite good Sufi Expressions of
the Mythic Quest by Laleh Bakhtiar. this is an intriguing book
that touches on such subjects as mystic poetry, dreams, the
Dragon, the Jinn etc. The chapters are to short and it hints
more than it says.
The Sufis by Idries
This book contains
scattered gems of information. Not very detailed. Shaw’s attempt
to show that every western mystical group was influenced by the
Sufis is silly.
The Way of the Sufi
by Idries Shaw
This is a good book
if you are interested in Arab mysticism Per Se. Otherwise don’t
Tales of the
Prophets of al-Kisai by Muhhammad ibn abd Allah Kisai 11th
Good for its data on
preIslamic prophets. Interesting stuff if you have enough
background in Arab magickal studies.
The Book of
Annihilation author unknown.
This is a short
Arabic book on magick. It is not of much use if you don’t have a
friend to translate. It is in general not unlike HPL style
grimoire. No Yog-Sothoth or Azatoth here though.
Making of the Last
Prophet by Mohammad Ibn Ishaq
This book has some
interesting material on Pre-Islamic prophets Hajar bin Humeid by
Gus Willa VanBeek this is a good source on Pre-Islamic culture
SUMERIA AND RELATED
Mythology by S.N. Kramer
Begins at Sumer. by S.N. Kramer
Texts by Giorgio Buccellat
The Gods of
the Egyptians Vol .1+2 by E.A. Budge
Osiris Vol. 1+2 by E.A. Budge
Magic by E.A. Budge
Language by E.A. Budge
Hieroglyphic Dictionary by E.A. Budge