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Dead But Dreaming: The Great Old Ones of Lovecraftian Legend Reinterpreted as Atlantean Kings

By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 2000
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)

The Secret Doctrine given to the elite castes of mankind by the Annunaki (the gods of ancient Sumeria and Atlantis), has been passed down through the ages, not only to the Masons, Templars, Rosicrucians, and other fraternal orders which perpetuate the tradition, but also to the teenage geeks and gamers of today. The Lovecraft/Necronomicon lore has given birth to a cornucopia of role-playing and computer games, in much the same way that Monty Python and the Society for Creative Anachronism have kept the Grail myth alive for these same teenagers. The fact that S.C.A.’s membership correlates strongly with participation in Lovecraftian role-playing games is no coincidence, for the “demons” of the “Cthulhu Mythos” as its called, are the same as the gods of ancient Sumer, and the fallen angels who spawned the Grail family. The “Grail Blood” and the “bloodline of the Great Old Ones” are the same thing. They also represent the same archetypes as legendary sea-monsters such as Leviathan or Dagon, the “Lords of the Deep” and gods of the “underworld,” or “Abyss” recorded in the legends of many ancient cultures.

It takes only a cursory examination of H.P. Lovecraft’s most quintessential work, The Call of Cthulhu to see that his entire system of mythology is based on The Book of Enoch, the Nephilim story in Genesis, and the universal tale of the fall of Atlantis. In this story, Lovecraft’s main character finds a strange carved idol in his late grand-uncle’s affects, its appearance described as that of, “an octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature … scaly body, rudimentary wings.” The discovery of this idol leads to his investigation and uncovering of a sinister, age-old “cult of Cthulhu“ (the name of the idol), who worshipped the creature represented by the idol, and the entire race of demons from which he had come. The description of the idol bears a striking resemblance to the descriptions of the Sumerian god-king Enki, also known as Dagon or Oannes, a half-human, half-fish combination who was known as the “Lord of the Flood,” and was said to rise out of the sea every day to teach his secret knowledge to those who followed him. He is mentioned in I Samuel:5, when the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant and place it in the Temple of Dagon. Two nights later, “Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the Ark of the Lord; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.” The physical description attributed to Dagon applied to an entire race of “gods,” or as they were described in the Bible, Nephilim, or fallen angels — the “Great Old Ones,” as Lovecraft calls them. The Watchers, “those who were cast down,” are described in The Book of Enoch literally as stars that descended to Earth. Cthulhu is also described with wings, another attribute of the Nephilim, who were real flesh-and-blood beings, and ruled as the antediluvian kings of the ancient world over a global kingdom whose capitol was Atlantis. As they were an expert sea-faring people — navigators — they were also depicted as sea gods, half-man and half-fish, with the horns of a goat.

Dagon

Another image of Dagon

Priests of Dagon performing rituals

Another priest of Dagon

More Dagon rituals

Manu, a Hindu version of Dagon

The fact that Lovecraft’s “Great Old Ones” ruled over Atlantis is quite clear, as their city, called “R’lyeh” in the story, is covered with what Lovecraft describes as “cyclopean” architecture, the same word used by author Ignatius Donnelly (Atlantis: The Antediluvian World) to describe the architecture of Atlantis. Lovecraft’s descriptions paint a picture of multi-dimensional, non-Euclidean angles, as if they existed in a space-time different than ours, perhaps in an “otherworld” somewhere in between the planes of Heaven and Earth. They are described as grand and mighty creatures, with a moral creed similar to that of Aleister Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt,” and they trounced on all those weaker than them, bringing destruction to the Earth, devouring every living thing. This is exactly the behavior that is ascribed to the sons of the Watchers, or Nephilim, the giants who wrought havoc upon the world, oppressed and devoured all of the gods’ living creation to feed their own voracious appetites. Because of the pride and destructive behavior of the Great Old Ones, their empire city, R’lyeh, sank beneath the ocean as part of a punishment by natural disaster mercifully imposed by God. This is exactly what is said to have happened to the island kingdom of Atlantis, which also sank because of the pride of its inhabitants. It is also what is said about the Nephilim in the Bible, who, along with their offspring, were destroyed by God via the Flood of Noah. The fact that the Great Old Ones are lead by a being called “Cthulhu” is significant, for “Thule” is another name for Atlantis, and the Nazis believed that it was literally located inside the Earth, in the “underworld,” the city of “Agartha” or “Agade,” the “abode of the Gods.”

An angel seducing a human female

The “Hollow Earth,” or underworld seems to be the place where R’lyeh ultimately sank to, where Cthulhu and the rest of the Great Old Ones now remain, sleeping in their watery tomb, “dead but dreaming,” as Lovecraft now describes it. There they are, waiting for the day when they will awaken, their city rise from the waves, and their empire once again hold dominion over the whole earth. This echoes the story of the Watchers or the Nephilim, who were said to be imprisoned by God inside the Earth, or in “the Abyss,” which was a word used by the ancients to describe the ocean. The theme of a subterranean Lord, imprisoned in the underworld, who will one day awaken from his death-like slumber to reclaim his kingdom is, as I have established in other articles, a very common archetype, most notable in the form of Kronos. Called “the Forgotten Father” and “the Hidden One,” Kronos was the leader of the Titans, and the King of Atlantis, whose kingdom was cast down into the Abyss, and who was imprisoned therein, to be thereafter known as “the Dark Lord” of the underworld. And there is clearly an etymological connection between “Titan” and “Teitan,” otherwise spelled “Satan.” The Titans, or Satans, and the Nephilim are clearly the same as the Great Old Ones, and Kronos, otherwise known as Saturn, or Satan, is clearly the same as Cthulhu. As I have established, he is also synonymous with Dagon or Oannes, who is referred to in the Bible as Leviathan, the beast who will rise from the sea at the Apocalypse. The return of Cthulhu, the Great Old Ones, and the city of R’lyeh would appear to be Lovecraft’s way of depicting the Apocalypse.

Map of Atlantis from Athanasius Kircher

Confirmation of the above conclusions can be found by examining quotations from Lovecraft’s manuscript, the implications of which, in light of what I have just said, will be self-explanatory. When the main character in The Call of Cthulhu manages to interview an actual member of the Cthulhu cult to determine their beliefs, the descriptions that follow parallel precisely the tales of the Nephilim, the Titans, and the war in Heaven between God and Lucifer, as well as the fall of the Atlantean empire:

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. These old ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets to the first man, 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 the 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 under his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be ready to liberate him.

Meanwhile, no more must be told. There was a secret which even torture could not extract. Mankind was not absolutely alone amongst the conscious things of the Earth, for shapes came out of the dark to visit the faithful few. But these were not the Great Old Ones. No man had ever seen the Old Ones. The carven symbol was great Cthulhu, but none might say whether or not the others were precisely like him. No one could read the old writing now, but things were told by word of mouth. The chanted ritual was not the secret — that was never spoken aloud, only whispered. The chant meant only this: ‘In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

This clearly describes the secret Luciferian doctrine of the gods being transmitted to their offspring, “the first man,” just as the serpent gave wisdom to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They created a covenant with that man, and a cult of magic, of ritual and sacrifice, in order to preserve their infernal secrets, one of which is so secret that it could not be talked about, only whispered. This is what has been done in the rites of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, the Knights Templar, the Greek and Egyptian mystery schools, the Sufis, the Assassins, and countless other secret occult orders, which Lovecraft was no doubt alluding to when he referred to the “cult which had never died… had always existed, and always would exist,” preserving the teachings of the “Forgotten Father” until such time as he should rise again from the sea to once more rule the Earth. The connections to Leviathan and the rise of the Antichrist do not even need to be elucidated. Lovecraft’s description goes on:

Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that pale the speculations of Theosophists and made man and the world seem recent and transient indeed. There had been eons when other things ruled on the Earth, and they had had great cities. Remains of them … were still to be found as Cyclopean stones on islands in the Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time before man came, but there were arts which could revive them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity. They had indeed come themselves from the stars, and brought their images with them.

Leviathan, from Gustave Dore

Lovecraft, like the prophet Enoch, and like ancient man himself, conceived of the Atlantean gods or Nephilim as possessing supernatural power, and, like Enoch, says that this power comes from the stars — that these beings in fact had come from the stars themselves, and seem to be metaphysically affected by the movement of the stars, being able to resurrect from the dead only when the stars were in a certain position. Likewise, the Atlantean god-kings purposely associated themselves with the stars and the planets, taking on the personifications of planets and constellations, each of which had a particular “energy” or plain of existence associated with it. This energy is further manipulated by the prayers and rituals of the cult members in Lovecraft’s stories, who are loyal to the Great Old Ones, and wish to see their kingdom rise again. In much the same way, Masons, Rosicrucians and other occultists today perform rituals in hope of bringing about the “Great Work” called the “New World Order,” a new Golden Age, just like the one that covered the antediluvian world when the Atlantean god-kings (whom they revere) ruled over the Earth directly. The Eye in the Pyramid on our dollar bill, which represents the New World Order, is clearly a symbol of this newly-risen kingdom of Atlantis, “watched over” by the All-Seeing Eye, which could just as easily be the eye of Dagon, or Leviathan, or Cthulhu. It even looks reptilian, like it belongs on the face of a dragon.

The rise of R’lyeh, the New World Order, the New Atlantis, the New Jerusalem, the Golden Age, and even the Apocalypse — these are all terms for the same resurrection of the ancient global kingdom of the gods. Such a resurrection is also described in Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law when he writes about the coming “Age of Horus” and the return of the rule of the gods, as well as their offspring, the human “kings”:

Ye shall see them at rule, at victorious armies, at all the joy… love one another with burning hearts, on the low men trample in the fierce lust of your pride, in the day of your wrath… Trample down the Heathen; be upon them, O warrior, I will give you of their flesh to eat.

Now read the following passage from The Call of Cthulhu and compare:

Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idols which the Great Old Ones showed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never die, ’til 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. The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and reveling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhile, the cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadow forth the prophecy of their return.

This age of the glorious rule of the Old Ones, and the land which they ruled over, is so similar to Atlantis, Thule, Lemuria, and all of the other mythical lost civilizations as to be blatantly obvious, and it is clear that it was the biblical Deluge that put an end to their kingdom. We read in Lovecraft:

In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams, but then something had happened. The great stone city R’lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchers, had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through which not even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, and the high priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out of the Earth the black spirits of the earth, moldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumors picked up in caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not speak much.

The climax of Lovecraft’s story comes when the main character reads an account of his uncle’s death in a fishing boat off the coast of Australia. He had come across a monolith sticking out of the ocean, which turned out to be resting on top of a mountain that was poking out of the water, upon which he and his shipmates landed their boat. There they discovered a strange sunken city built with “cyclopean,” non-Euclidean architecture. It was an earthquake that had brought the top of the city to the surface, where Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones were entombed. Their presence awakened Cthulhu, who oozed out of the mountain, dripping green slime, and presumably killed the whole crew.

Similar themes are touched upon in Lovecraft’s other work. In At the Mountains of Madness, he returns to the theme of discovering the lost city of the Old Ones, this time set in Antarctica, which, as the Nazis and many others believed, is rumored to be the location of one of the largest entrances to the hollow Earth. In The Nameless City, he delves explicitly into the hollow Earth, describing the discovery of a subterranean passage filled with the caskets of dead reptilian bodies, who had obviously, at one time, lived inside the Earth. And finally, in Dagon, Lovecraft tells the tale of a shipwrecked man who finds himself stuck in a “slimy expanse of hellish black mire,” which had been unearthed when “through some unprecedented volcanic upheaval, a portion of the ocean floor must have been thrown to the surface, exposing regions which for innumerable millions of years had lain hidden under unfathomable watery depths.” This is clearly another reference to the recurring theme in Lovecraft’s work of sunken Atlantis rising from the ocean, which as we have established, is also a common theme in world mythology. (1) There the character discovers a white monolith covered with hieroglyphs:

The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to me, and unlike anything I had even seen in books, consisting for the most part of conventional aquatic symbols, such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, mollusks, whales, and the like. Several characters obviously represented marine things which are unknown to the modern world, but whose decomposing forms I had observed on the ocean-risen plain.

Clearly, then, what this character has discovered are the remains of a high civilization of sea-faring, ocean-obsessed people, which is exactly what Atlantis is described as being, and why their kings, or “gods” were depicted as half-man, half-fish. Lovecraft continues:

Plainly visible across the intervening water on account of their enormous size was an array of bas-reliefs whose objects would have excited the envy of Dore. I think that these were supposed to depict men — at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatures were shown disporting like fishes in the waters of some marine grotto or paying homage at some monolithic shrine that appeared under the waves as well. They were damnably human in general outline, despite webbed hands and feet, shockingly wide and flabby lips, glossy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall.

It is at this point that our narrator espies with his own eyes one of these creatures — not a bas-relief, but the real thing:

Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome, it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmare to the monolith about which it flung its gigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds. I think I went mad then.

When the character awakes, he is in a hospital bed in San Francisco, safe and sound, but not of sound mind. Disturbed by his memories, he consults “a celebrated ethnologist, and [amuses] him with peculiar suggestions regarding the ancient Philistine legend of Dagon, the Fish-God.” Clearly, the character believes that it was Dagon himself, or one of his horde, whom he witnessed that faithful night. As I have previously established, Dagon, one of the kings of Atlantis, was symbolically the same as Kronos, Oannes, Enki, and therefore Satan. He was one of the Nephilim, Watchers, or fallen angels upon which Lovecraft’s “Great Old Ones” are based. In keeping with the theme, the character in this story believes that they will one day return to rule the Earth again:

I dream of a day when they may rise above the bellows 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.

Perhaps Lovecraft’s most pertinent story, however, is 1931′s The Shadow Over Innsmouth, about a half-deserted Massachusetts fishing town regarded with fear and suspicion by the surrounding New England populace. When the unnamed narrator, on an antiquarian tour through the area, expresses to the clerk at the Newburyport train station an interest in visiting the town, he gets an earful of reasons why he absolutely should not go under any circumstances, and if he must, he should certainly not stay the evening. It had once been a thriving seaport, but in 1846 there was an epidemic of some “foreign disease” that “carried off” over half the population. Since then, the main industry in town had been the Marsh Refining Company, founded by Captain Obed Marsh, whose descendants made up the majority of the town’s remaining population.

Captain Marsh was the son of a South Sea island woman, and had developed “some skin disease or deformity late in life that makes him keep out of sight.” The people of Innsmouth had strange physical features as well. “Some of ‘em have queer, narrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, starry eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin aint quite right,” the train station clerk told the narrator. “Rough and scabby, and the sides of the necks are all shriveled or creased up. Get bald too, very young. The older fellows look the worst - that is, I don’t believe I’ve seen a very old chap of that kind. Guess they must die off looking in the glass!” General Marsh’s family had been noted for the fact that, after they reached a certain age, they dropped out of public view, and spent the rest of their lives inside, out of sight.

The Innsmouth economy now revolved around the sale of gold ingots from the refinery, always in plenteous supply; “a queer kind of jewelry” made from strange little beads of unknown material; and fish. The fish swarmed to the ports of Innsmouth more so than any other nearby seaport town, for some reason, but the townspeople would chase off any outsider who tried to fish there. They were odd and very secretive, not appreciating visits from strangers, and for that matter, most of the outside populace held the people of Innsmouth with equal apprehension, even disgust. The fish at Innsmouth tended to congregate at a spot called “Devil’s Reef,” so called because Old Captain Marsh had been seen there many times, “driving bargains with the devil and bringing imps out of hell to live in Innsmouth … some kind of devil worship and awful sacrifice,” the clerk told him. “The story is that there’s a whole legion of devils seen sometimes on that reef — sprawled about, or darting in and out of some kind of caves near the top.”

The clerk tells the narrator that the only hotel in Innsmouth is the “Gilman House,” but the last man he knew who had stayed there had been frightened in the night by the most mysterious noises. “It was so unnatural — slopping like,” he said, and it went on all night. The clerk suggested that, if he must go, the narrator should stay the night at Newburyport and leave in the morning, taking the only mode of public transport that would even venture into Innsmouth — a rickety old bus filled with undesirable natives.

That evening, the narrator heads over to the Newburyport Historical Society to look at some of the strange jewelry that the people of Innsmouth had been trading throughout the area. The most magnificent piece on display was:

…a sort of tiara … with a very large and curiously irregular periphery, as if designed for a head of almost freakishly elliptical outline. The material seemed to be predominantly gold, though a weird lighter lustrousness hinted at some strange alloy with an equally beautiful and scarcely identifiable metal … (2) One could have spent hours in studying the striking and puzzlingly untraditional designs — some simply geometrical, and some plainly marine - chased or molded in high relief on its surface with a craftsmanship of incredible skill and grace … It clearly belonged to some settled technique of infinite maturity and perfection, yet that technique was utterly remote from any — Eastern of Western, ancient or modern — which I had even heard of or seen exemplified. It was as if the workmanship were that of another planet.

The curator of the museum agrees that the strange jewelry did not originate in Innsmouth, and was “of probable East-Indian or Indochinese provenance; although she admitted that no one was sure.” The narrator describes the designs on the tiara, and the seemingly racial memories that they conjured within him:

The patterns all hinted of remote secrets and unimaginable abysses in time and space, and the monstrously aquatic nature of the reliefs became almost sinister. Among these reliefs were fabulous monsters of abhorrent grotesqueness and malignity — half ichthyic and half bactracian in suggestion — which one could not dissociate from a certain haunting and uncomfortable sense of pseudomemory, as if they called up some image from deep cells and tissues whose retentive functions are wholly primal and awesomely ancestral.

From the curator, our narrator learns the origin of the rumors of devil-worship being practiced in Innsmouth. It is actually a “quasi-pagan” Eastern cult that had been imported 100 years previously, “at a time when the Innsmouth fisheries seemed to be going barren.” The cult was called, believe it or not, “The Esoteric Order of Dagon, “and as soon as it took root in the community, the fish returned in abundance. The cult “…soon came to be the greatest influence in the town, replacing Freemasonry altogether, and taking up headquarters in the old Masonic Hall on New Church Green.”

So there you have it — a Dagon cult practicing arcane sacrificial rites in a Masonic temple, and coveting age-old secrets. Lovecraft must have intended some sort of ironic comparison between Freemasonry and the Dagon cult, hinting that some of their traditions may in fact be the same, something that my research would tend to corroborate.

The story progresses, with the narrator taking the horrible little bus to Innsmouth the next morning, every grotesque sight and eerie occurrence stirring up his ancestral memory. He has a talk with a seventeen-year-old grocery boy who is not part of the cult and clearly an outsider at Innsmouth. The youth fills him in more on the Esoteric Order of Dagon, and the “blasphemous” rites that they conduct:

They seemed sullenly banded together in some sort of fellowship and understanding — despising the world as if they had access to other and preferable spheres of entity. … their voices were disgusting … It was awful to hear them chanting in their churches at night, and especially during their festivals or revivals, which fell twice a year on April 30 and October 31.(3)

The tiara that the narrator has seen at the Newburyport museum was, according to the youth, a headdress worn by the priests of the cult. Besides worship, their favorite activity was swimming, and they would often have swimming races out to Devil’s Reef. He confirmed that the natives looked normal early on in life, but as they grew older they began taking on that deformed “Innsmouth look,” and stayed out of sight altogether. The youth also said that Innsmouth was honeycombed with underground tunnels, in which these people were apt to hide.

After walking around a bit, and catching glimpses of creepy-looking people with lidless eyes peering through the dingy windows of dilapidated houses, the narrator strikes up a conversation with yet another Innsmouth outsider, an old wino named Zadok (the name given to the priests of ancient Israel) who, although he was not one of them, had been forced to join the Dagon cult at one point in his life. In exchange for a drop of liquor, Zadok rambles on with wild stories about all of the devils, monsters, and awful ritual sacrifices he had witnessed during his time at Innsmouth; about humans mating with “toad-lookin’ fishes,” and hybrid human/sea-monster offspring that looked human at first but grew into awful, grotesque creatures who eventually took to the sea, and who never died, unless, “they was kilt violent.” Zadok described the things he had seen in Biblical terms:

Dagon an’ Ashtoreth — Belial an’ Beelzebub — Golden Caff an’ the idols o’ Canaan an’ the Philistines — Babylonish abominations…

Zadok’s recollections eventually put him into a horrific trance, and he sinks into a bizarre garbled chant which the narrator attributes to drunkenness:

… an’ the children shud never die, but go back to the Mother Hydra an’ Father Dagon what we all come from… Ia! Ia! Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagh fhtagn.

Zadok mutters to the narrator that on festival days, horrible creatures called “shoggoths” are called up from Devil’s Reef with this chant, and they fill the streets between Water and Main Street, lumbering about, hollering with inhuman screams. The narrator decides to leave Zadok alone to finish his drink.

That night he stays at the dreaded Gilman House, clearly named “Gilman” as an allusion to the half-fish, half-human nature of the town’s inhabitants. He is unable to sleep, and in the middle of the night he hears someone — someone who emits alien grunting sounds — trying to unlock the door to his room with a key. Fortunately he had already thought to deadbolt the door, and as his pursuers attempt to batter down the door, he narrowly escapes through the adjacent room and out the window. Outside he finds the air permeated with a horrible fishy odor, and the streets teeming with half-human sea monsters. Full-blooded sea-monsters are pouring out of the sea at Devil’s Reef and onto the town’s streets. The entire horde pursues him through Innsmouth. The narrator describes them as “a band of uncouth, crouching shapes loping and shambling in the same direction.” He adds that he was, “horrified by the bestial abnormality of their faces and the dog-like subhumanness of their crouching gait.” One man moved in a positively simian way, with long arms frequently touching the ground, while another figure — robed and tiaraed — seemed to progress in an almost hopping fashion.” The narrator tries to blend in by adopting their “shambling gait,” and then hides in a pile of brush as they lurch past him, something he found unbearable. “The stench waxed overpowering, and the noises swelled to a bestial babel of croaking, baying and barking without the least suggestion of human speech.” He tries to keep his eyes closed during the ordeal, but finally is unable to do so any longer, and faints at the sight of whatever it is he sees.

The next day he wakes up alone in the same field, walks to the next train station, and takes the first train to Arkham, where he reports his experience to the local government officials. The result of this is that the federal government sponsors a police raid that year that in which all of the houses along the Innsmouth waterfront are burned to the ground, the raid being disguised as, “one of the major clashes in a spasmodic war on liquor.”

Although the narrator obviously does not continue with all of his intended plans for an “antiquarian” trip through New England, he does stop by the Arkham Historical Society to research his genealogy, where he discovers that his great great-grandfather had been Captain Obed Marsh, and his great-great grandmother that strange foreign woman, whom Zadok had described to him as actually being a sea monster. The curator tells him that he possesses the famous “Marsh family eyes,” and that he also resembles his Uncle Douglas, who had stopped by the Arkham Historical Society years before on a similar genealogical research study. The narrator had already heard of this study which his uncle conducted, for he had shot himself immediately afterward.

A year later, after completing his college studies, the narrator stops by the house of his late mother’s family in Cleaveland — the side of his family that was descended from the Marshes, and the side which he had never cared for. Both his uncle and grandmother on that side had always terrified him, and as he looks over photographs of them and their family, he begins to recognize the repulsive physical features that had always brought him such discomfort. It is, of course, the “Innsmouth look.” Worse yet, his uncle shows him some family heirlooms locked in a safe deposit box that he instantly recognizes as well: “two armlets, a tiara, and a kind of pectoral,” made in that distinct Order of Dagon style with that indescribably foreign material. For the second time, he faints.

From that moment on, the narrator spends his days in madness, haunted by horrible aquatic nightmares in which he:

… [wandered] through titanic sunken porticoes and labyrinths of weedy cyclopean walls with grotesque fishes as my companions. Then other shapes began to appear, filling me with nameless horror the moment I awoke. But during the dreams they did not horrify me at all — I was one of them, wearing their inhuman trappings, treading their aqueous ways, and praying monstrously at their evil sea-bottom temples.

As the days wear on, and the narrator becomes less and less sane, he begins to notice himself taking on the “Innsmouth look.” His dreams become even more bizarre. In them, he meets his grandmother in this undersea kingdom, still alive down there, and she tells him that his destiny is to live down there with, “those who had lived since before man ever walked the earth.” He also meets his great great grandmother, Captain Obed Marsh’s wife — a sea monster named “Pth’thya-’yi’, and learns of the plan of the “shoggoths” for world domination. “For the present they would rest,” she told him, “but some day, if they remembered, they would rise again for the tribute Great Cthulhu craved.” The story ends with the narrator resolving to break into the sanitarium where his cousin Laurence is being held (the narrator suspects he was put there because he had also begun to acquire the “Innsmouth look”) and run away with him to the sea beneath Devil’s Reef. He declares:

We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea, and dive down through black abysses to cyclopean and many columned Y’a-nthlei, and in that lair the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory forever!

The themes alluded to in Lovecraft’s work were taken to their utmost conclusion by the authors and editors of The Necronomicon , based on the imaginary grimoire that Lovecraft wrote of repeatedly in connection to Cthulhu and the Old Ones. This was supposedly a book of black magic with spells aimed at causing the sunken city of R’lyeh to rise again, and the “dead but dreaming” Old Ones to awaken from their slumber. The Necronomicon , published by Avon books, purports to be that very grimoire, “the most dangerous Black Book known to the Western World.” Although from reading it and the silly portentous warnings that fill the introduction (attempting to scare away the casual practitioner from meddling with forces so dangerous), it is hard to believe that this is, verbatim, an ancient text, it does appear to be based largely on genuine texts. As the Editor, L.K. Barnes explains:

The Necronomicon is, according to Lovecraft’s tales, a volume written in Damascus in the Eighth Century, A.D., by a person called the “Mad Arab,” Abdul Alhazred. It must run roughly 800 pages in length, as there is a reference in one of the stories concerning some lacunae on a page in the 700′s. It had been copied and reprinted in various languages — the story goes — among them Latin, Greek and English. Doctor Dee, the Magus of Elizabethan fame, was supposed to have possessed a copy and translated it. This book, according to the mythos, contains the formulae for evoking incredible things into visible appearance, beings and monsters which dwell in the Abyss, and Outer Space, of the human psyche.

The system of gods, legends, and rituals presented in the book are as old as civilization itself, having originated from the oldest civilization accepted by historians, one of the greatest states in the empire of the god-kings of Atlantis: ancient Sumeria.

There is a dualistic notion inserted into The Necronomicon that is completely absent in Lovecraft’s work. Lovecraft’s “Old Ones” were primordial beings, beyond good and evil. That was the essence of their power. In The Necronomicon , the “Great Old Ones” have been split into two factions: the “Elder Gods” and the “Ancient Ones” — the good guys and the bad guys. This is noted in the excellently-written introduction by the Editor, L.K. Barnes, which alone should be invaluable to the serious student of the occult, and Sumerian mythology. Writes Barnes:

Basically there are two ‘sets’ of gods in the mythos: the Elder Gods, about whom not much is written, save that they are a stellar race that occasionally comes to the rescue of man, and which corresponds to the Christian ‘light’; and the Ancient Ones, about whom much is told, sometimes in great detail, who correspond to Darkness. These latter are the Evil Gods who wish nothing but ill for the Race of Man, and who constantly strive to break into our world through a gate or door that leads from the Outside In. There are certain people among us, who are devotees of the Ancient Ones, and who try to open the Gate, so that this evidently repulsive organization may once again rule the Earth. Chief among this is Cthulhu, typified as a Sea Monster, dwelling in the Great Deep, a sort of primeval Ocean …

I have sincerely tried to figure out what the essential difference is between the Ancient Ones and the Elder Gods. The Elder Gods are lead by a great trinity: Anu, Enlil and Enki, three of the most well-known ancient god-kings of Sumeria, and perhaps, Atlantis. Anu held the seat of kingship, the inheritance of which was disputed by his sons, Enki and Enlil, leading to a catastrophic war that destroyed much of the Earth. This is recorded in the Sumerian Enuma Elish, as well as the biblical tale of the “war in Heaven.” In the Sumerian texts, there is a race of gods descended from this trinity called the “Annunaki,” analogous to the “sons of God” of the Bible, or the “Watchers” of The Book of Enoch. In The Necronomicon the strife between Enki and Enlil is completely ignored, and the Annunaki are considered to be a separate race, a faction of the Ancient Ones. They live in the Absu, or Abyss, a.k.a. “Nar Mattaru,” the great underworld ocean, which is also called “Cutha” or “Kutu.” This place is also described as “the Sea beneath the Seas,” and clearly indicates an ocean inside the Earth which coincides with descriptions of the hollow Earth being largely filled with water. “Nar Mattaru” is very similar to “Nar Mar,” one of the kings of the global empire of Atlantis, Sumeria, Egypt and India, whose name meant “Wild Bull,” but who was symbolized by a cuneiform character depicting a cuttlefish.

Enki in the Absu

Enki with fish and water flowing from his person

Enki depicted as Lord of the Flood


The Elder Gods of The Necronomicon seem most definitely to be associated with the planets. In the chapter entitled “Of the Zonei and Their Attributes” (“Zonei” referring to the “zones” or orbits in which the planets travel), we learn that beneath Enki, Enlil and Anu are seven planetary deities. It appears that it is not the planets themselves that were worshipped in the old days, but the gods that those planets represented. As I have previously discussed, the ancient god-kings of Atlantis associated themselves with the stars and the planets, taking on the attributes that these planets were supposed to represent. Interestingly, it is written of Nergal, the god of Mars, that, “He was sometimes thought to be an agent of the Ancient Ones, for he dwelt in Cutha for a time.” Clearly, whether a god is considered “Ancient” or “Elder” depends less on moral or physical attributes than it does on where spatially the “god” is believed to be located. Ancient man believed that the underworld was the land to the west, because that is where the sun went to “die” every night. So if there was a time when Mars rose in the West, it would explain this association between that planet and “Cutha.”

The Ancient Ones, for their part, seem to be associated both with the Abyss, or underground sea, and with the constellations as well. This is not a contradiction if one takes into account the fact that ancient man considered the sky itself to be a cosmic ocean, and it was often called “the Abyss” as well. There seem to be three star systems in particular that the Ancient Ones are associated with, which have given birth to what The Necronomicon describes as: “The Cult of the Dog, the Cult of the Dragon, and the Cult of the Goat” (all cults that would be perceived as pagan or “Satanic” today), corresponding to the stars Draconis (the Dragon), Sirius (the Dog-Star), and Capricorn, (the Goat). The Necronomicon ‘s narrator Abdul Alhazred explains that:

There shall forever be a war between us and the race of Draconis, for the race of Draconis was ever-powerful in ancient times, when the first temples were built in Magan, and they drew down their power from the stars …

Many would interpret this to means that the Ancient Ones, “the Race of Draconis,” are a lizard race of extraterrestrials from Draco, much like the concept promoted by conspiracy theorist David Icke. These beings are uncaring and unfeeling, yet the cause of all pain on this Earth, and they can be known by “their many unnatural sciences and arts, which cause wondrous things to happen, but which are unlawful to our people.”

Here again we comes across the roots of the ancient yet nonetheless false dichotomy between good and evil. The Ancient Ones are reviled for teaching man secret wisdom, arts and sciences that are “unnatural,” because they enable man to conquer nature, just as the Watchers did in The Book of Enoch. In that text, the forbidden knowledge consists of math, writing, astronomy, and the like. Here it seems to be associated mostly with the forbidden arts of ritual magic, which, if performed by the Elder Gods would be perfectly alright, but which “are unlawful to our people.”

And who exactly are “our people” in this schematism? The human race in general? Or something more specific? In “The Testimony of the Mad Arab,” Abdul Alhazred writes of his first encounter with the worshippers of the Ancient Ones, who were performing a sacrificial ritual around a large, floating, gray rock, upon which was carved three symbols. Of the first, the pentagram, he writes:

“The first is the Sign of Our Race from beyond the Stars, and is called ‘Arra’ in the tongue of the Scribe who taught it to me, an emissary of the Elder Ones. In the tongue of the eldest city of Babylon, it was Ur.’”

The pentagram was indeed called the “Ar,” or “Plough Sign” by the ancient Sumerians, and some have speculated that this is where the word “Aryan” comes from. The gods of ancient Sumeria were depicted with blue eyes, and their language is clearly the root of our “Indo-European,” or Aryan system of languages. Is it so much to assume that the Sumerians were in fact themselves “Sum-Aryans”? This would seem to confirm it. Even L.K. Barnes makes note of the “strange, non-Semitic language of the Sumerians; and language which has been closely allied to that of the Aryan race, having in fact many words identical to that of Sanskrit (and, it is said, to Chinese!)”

The Sumerian AR, or plough sign

But the blood of the Aryans has a special quality to it in this view, for it possesses the co-mingled powers of both the Ancient Ones and the Elder Gods. As L.K. Barnes writes: “Man was created from the blood of the slain commander of the Ancient Army, Kingu, thereby making man a descendant of the Blood of the Enemy, as well as the ‘breath’ of the Elder Gods; a close parallel to the ‘Sons of God and the daughters of men’ reference in the Old Testament.” Indeed it is a close parallel, for these Sumerian legends of the war in Heaven are the source of this later Biblical tale. A trace of these ancient versions can be found in what L.K. Barnes refers to as the “centerpiece” of The Necronomicon :”The Magan Text.”

This tells the story of the creation of our present Earth, and of the human species. It starts out much like Genesis, with the emergence of creation out of the formless void of chaos, which is referred to as “the Waters” in both texts. From “The Magan Text” we read:

When on High the Heavens had not been named,
The Earth had not been named,
And Naught existed but the Seas of Absu,
The Ancient One,
And Mummu Tiamat, the Ancient One
Who bore them all,
Their Waters as One Water.

Tiamat is the female version of Leviathan, the consort of Cthulhu in this book. From L.K. Barnes we read:

That Tiamat was undoubtedly female is to the point; and that the Chinese as well as the Sumerians perceived of two dragon currents, male and female, gives the researchers a more complex picture. The Green Dragon and the Red Dragon of the alchemists are thus identified, as the positive and negative energies that compromise the cosmos of our perception, as manifest in the famous Chinese yin-yang symbol.

Tiamat, therefore, would have, like Leviathan and Kutulu/Cthulhu, represented the ocean itself, as well as the Earth, or, at least, the larger planet that existed in Earth’s place prior to being rent in the manner that “The Magan Text” later describes.

The beginning of the poem describes a time “before the Elder Gods had been brought forth,” meaning before the planets had been formed. “Uncalled by name, their destinies unknown and undetermined,” it says — the word “destiny” referring to the gravitational orbits of the planet. “Then it was that the gods were formed within the Ancient Ones.” This means that the Ancient Ones represent forces that pre-existed the creation of matter itself — time, space, electromagnetic and nuclear forces — the primeval void that was the womb of creation. This is what L.K. Barnes means when he writes:

The method of The Necronomicon concerns deep, primeval forces that seem to pre-exist the normal archetypal images of the tarot trumps and the Golden Dawn telesmatic figures. These are forces that developed outside the Judeo-Christian mainstream, and were worshipped and summoned long before the creation of the Qabala as we know it today.

This is because Western magic is largely based on the worship of the Sun, the planets, and creation as it exists now. But these Ancient Ones are the forces of creation, of life, which is why Leviathan and Tiamat are synonymous with the “Kundalini power” of Tantric sex magic. In this sense, Tiamat plays the role of the Orobouros, the serpent eating its tail which encircles the cosmos, providing a “womb,” as it were, for the celestial ocean, the Abyss. Since the ancients conceived of the “cosmic abyss” of the sky as an extension of the Abyss on Earth known as the ocean, they also believed that the dragon Tiamat or Leviathan lived there as well, in the terrestrial sea. It was the sea, and it was the Earth itself. Says Barnes:

S.H. Hooke, in his excellent Middle Eastern Mythology, tells us that the Leviathan mentioned in Job, and elsewhere in the Old Testament, is the Hebrew name given to the Serpent Tiamat, and reveals that there was in existence either a cult, or scattered individuals who worshipped or called up the Serpent of the Sea, or Abyss. Indeed, the Hebrew word for Abyss that is found in Genesis 1:2 is, Hooke tells us, tehom, which the majority of scholars take to be a survival of the name of the chaos-dragon Tiamat or Leviathan that is identified closely with Kutulu or Cthulhu within the pages. They are mentioned independently of each other, indicating that somehow Kutulu is the male counterpart of Tiamat, similar to Absu.

This monster is well known to cult worship all over the world … The Chinese system of geomancy, feng shui (pronounced fung shway) is the science of understanding the ‘dragon currents’ which exist beneath the earth, these same telluric energies that are distilled in such places as Chartres Cathedral in France, Glastonbury Tor in England, and the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia. In both the European and Chinese cultures, the Dragon or Serpent is said to reside somewhere “below the earth”; it is a powerful force, a magickal force, which is identified with mastery over the created world; it is also a power that can be summoned by the few and not the many.

Since the Elder Gods were begotten of the womb of Tiamat, it makes sense that they would be made of the same material, the primordial energy, or “prima materia” that she represents. That is where they would ultimately get their planetary power from. That is, therefore, where the Earth would get its power too. One is reminded of the myth of the Black Sun, the ball of “prima materia” that supposedly exists in the center of the hollow Earth, providing the “dragon current” that resides beneath the Earth, and corresponding to the myth of Leviathan in the Abyss. The myth of the Black Sun comes from the ancient belief that the Sun died in the West every night, turned black, and descended into the underworld. It just so happens that this is exactly what “The Magan Text” refers to: To quote Barnes:

The word Magan may mean the Land of the Magan which was said to lie in the West of Sumer. For a time, it seems the name Magan was synonymous with the Place of Death — as the Sun “died” in the West. Hence, it is a bit confusing as to what Magan is really supposed to mean in this text, but in context the “Place of Death” explanation seems quite valid.

[PART 2 IS HERE]