Cthulhu Mythos arcane literature

Cthulhu Mythos arcane literature

Many fictional works of arcane literature appear in the Cthulhu Mythos. The main literary purpose of these works is to explain how characters within the tales come by occult or esoteric knowledge that is unknown to the general populace. However, in some cases the works themselves serve as an important plot device. Thus, in Robert Bloch's tale "The Shambler from the Stars", a weird fiction writer seals his doom by casting a spell from the arcane book De Vermis Mysteriis.

Another purpose of these tomes was to give members of the Lovecraft Circle a means to pay homage to one another. Consequently, Clark Ashton Smith used Lovecraft's Necronomicon (his most prominent creation) in Smith's tale "Ubbo-Sathla". Likewise, Lovecraft used Robert E. Howard's Nameless Cults in his tale "Out of the Aeons". Thereafter, these texts and others appear in the works of numerous other Mythos authors (who themselves added their own grimoires to the literary arcana), including August Derleth, Lin Carter, Brian Lumley, and Ramsey Campbell.

Contents: B C D E G K N O P R S T U Z
See alsoReferencesNotesExternal links


Book of Eibon

. . . The Book of Eibon, that strangest and rarest of occult forgotten volumes ... is said to have come down through a series of manifold translations from a prehistoric original written in the lost language of Hyperborea.
—Clark Ashton Smith, "Ubbo-Sathla"

The Book of Eibon, or Liber Ivonis or Livre d'Eibon, is attributed to Clark Ashton Smith. It appears in a number of Lovecraft's stories, such as "The Haunter of the Dark" (Liber Ivonis), "The Dreams in the Witch House" (Book of Eibon) and "The Shadow Out of Time" (Book of Eibon).

The book was written by Eibon, a wizard in the land of Hyperborea. It was an immense text of arcane knowledge that contained, among other things, a detailed account of Eibon's exploits, including his journeys to the Vale of Pnath and the planet Shaggai, his veneration rituals of Zhothaqquah (Eibon's patron deity), and his magical formulae—such as for the slaying of certain otherworldly horrors. Unfortunately, only incomplete fragments of the original are thought to exist, though there are translations in English, French, and LatinLiber Ivonis is the title of the Latin translation.[1]

Smith presents his short story "The Coming of the White Worm" as Chapter IX of the Book of Eibon.[2]

 AG, AN, AX, BA, CW, DW, HA, HD, LE, RB, PW, S5, TN, UB, VP, XM, YL 

Book of Iod

The Book of Iod was created by Henry Kuttner and first appeared in his short story "Bells of Horror" (as Keith Hammond; 1939). The original Book of Iod, of which only one copy exists, is written in the "Ancient Tongue", possibly a combination of Greek and Coptic. Although its origin is unknown, the book may have been written by the mysterious author "Khut-Nah," which sounds remarkably like Kuttner. The Book of Iod contains details about Iod, the Shining Hunter, Vorvados, and Zuchequon. The Huntington Library of San Marino, California is said to hold an expurgated translation, possibly in Latin, by Johann Negus.[3]

The Book of Iod was also the title of a short-story collection published by Chaosium in 1995, containing ten Cthulhu Mythos stories by Kuttner along with three related stories by Kuttner and Robert Bloch, Lin Carter, and Robert M. Price.

 BH, BT 


Celaeno Fragments

The Celaeno Fragments is credited to August Derleth. In his novel The Trail of Cthulhu, "Celaeno" refers to a distant planet that contains a huge library of alien literature. Professor Laban Shrewsbury and his companions traveled to Celaeno several times to escape Cthulhu's minions. Shrewsbury later wrote the Celaeno Fragments, a transcript of what he remembered of his translations of the books in the Great Library of Celaeno. He submitted the transcript, which consisted of about fifty pages, to the Miskatonic University library in 1915.

 BK, GW, HC, XM 

Cthäat Aquadingen

The Cthäat Aquadingen, possibly meaning Things of the Water, was created by Brian Lumley for his short story "The Cyprus Shell" (1968). This text, by an unknown author, deals with Cthulhu and other sea-horrors, such as Inpesca. It also contains many so-called Sathlattae, rituals and spells related to Ubbo-Sathla. It is first mentioned as appearing in northern Germany around 400 AD. A Latin version was apparently written between the 11th and 12th century, as was an English translation that appeared sometime in the 14th century.

 BO, BU, KB, OK, RD, UT, YE 

Cultes des Goules

Cultes des Goules, or Cults of Ghouls, was created by Robert Bloch (August Derleth claimed to have invented the fictional text, but this was denied by both Lovecraft and Bloch himself).[4] It is a book of black magic written by Francois-Honore Balfour (Comte d'Erlette) in 1702. It was published in France and later denounced by the church. Only a handful of copies are in existence. One of the known copies was kept for 91 years in an arcane library of the Church of Starry Wisdom in Providence, Rhode Island. After Robert Blake’s mysterious death in 1935, Doctor Dexter removed the grimoire and added it to his library.

Cultes des Goules is mentioned numerous times in the works of Caitlin R. Kiernan and plays an especially important role in her 2003 novel Low Red Moon. The text is also prominently mentioned in her short story "Spindleshanks (New Orleans, 1956)" — collected in To Charles Fort, With Love (2005).

 AX, CB, DM, GG, HD, ST, SU, XM 

The book "Cultes des Goules" is also mentioned in passing as being part of a collection that was discovered in the titular castle in the 1981 novel 'The Keep' but does not appear in the 1983 movie of the same name that was based on the book. A German officer flips through it and goes pale at what he sees or reads.


De Vermis Mysteriis

De Vermis Mysteriis, or Mysteries of the Worm, is a grimoire created by Robert Bloch, first appearing in Bloch's short story "The Shambler from the Stars" (1935). It also appeared in Stephen King's short story Jerusalem's Lot.

Dhol Chants

The Dhol Chants was first mentioned in the short story "The Horror In The Museum" (1932) by Lovecraft and Hazel Heald. They are alluded to in passing as a semi-mythical collection of chants attributed to the almost-human people of Leng. The chants themselves are never described, nor do they appear in any other of Lovecraft's works. August Derleth later used the chants in his stories "The Gable Window" (1957), The Lurker at the Threshold (1945), and "The Shadow Out of Space" (1957).

Miskatonic University's library is said to hold a copy of the Dhol Chants.

 GH, GW, HM, LT, SO, XM, YK 


Eltdown Shards

The Eltdown Shards are mentioned in numerous mythos stories. They are mysterious pottery fragments found in 1882 and named after the place where they were discovered, Eltdown in southern England. The shards date to the Triassic period and are covered with strange symbols thought to be untranslatable. Nonetheless, several authors have penned their own interpretations of the markings, including Gordon Whitney and his The Eltdown Shards: A Partial Translation. Many of these works, as well as a number of non-academic versions, have circulated among secretive cults.

Whitney's translation is remarkably similar to the Pnakotic Manuscripts, a text produced by the Great Race of Yith. The translation describes Yith, the planet from which the Great Race came, and the Great Race's fateful encounter with the Yekubians. A magical formula from the nineteenth shard is for the summoning of the "Warder of Knowledge"; unfortunately, the dismissal portion of the ritual is garbled, so the summoning of this being could prove calamitous. Despite its connections to the Great Race, the Eltdown Shards were most likely inscribed by the Elder Things, who probably buried the ceramics in England when it was part of the great supercontinent Pangaea.[5]

 CF, EC, HG, RA, S5, ST, WK, XM, YT 


G'harne Fragments

The G'harne Fragments first appeared in the works of Brian Lumley. They are described as a set of miraculously preserved shards of obsidian or some other black stone that record the history of the pre-human African city of G'harne. The lost city is located somewhere in the southern Sahara Desert and is currently a frequent haunt of the chthonians.

The two primary translators of the fragments are Sir Amery Wendy-Smith and Gordon Walmsley. Both of these scholars died in Lumley's works: Sir Amery in "Cement Surroundings" (1969) and Walmsley in "In the Vaults Beneath" (1971).

 BU, CS, IV, NN, TC, XM 


The King in Yellow

The King in Yellow is a widely-censored play. Its author is unknown and is believed to have committed suicide after publishing it in 1889. The play is named after a mysterious supernatural figure featured in it, who is connected to a peculiar alien symbol, usually wrought in gold, called the Yellow Sign. Though the first act is said to be "innocent", all who read the play's second act either go mad or suffer another terrible fate. Its setting and events include mysterious places and entities such as Carcosa, Hastur, and the Lake of Hali, names that Chambers borrowed from the writings of Ambrose Bierce.

The play was first imagined in a collection of short stories by Robert W. Chambers also named The King in Yellow, published in 1895 and set in a hypothetical year 1920. Lovecraft was a fan of the book and included references to the Lake of Hali and The Yellow Sign in his short story "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1930). August Derleth later expanded on this connection in his own stories, rendering Hastur as an evil deity related to Cthulhu and the King In Yellow as one of his incarnations.

 MI, OD, RP, YS 



The Necronomicon is arguably the most famous (or infamous) of Lovecraft's grimoires. It appears in a number of Lovecraft's stories, as well as in the writings of other authors.

 AM, AR, BO, BU, CA, DH, DQ, DW, DY, ES, FE, FH, FS, HC, HD, HG, HO, IU, KB, KK, LT, NC, NG, NL, NM, NW, OA, OB, OK, OP, PE, PJ, PL, PM, PS, RB, RL, S2, S3, S4, SD, SH, ST, SX, TC, TD, TG, TN, UV, XM, YN 


On the Sending Out of the Soul

On the Sending Out of the Soul appears in Henry Kuttner's short story "Hydra" (1939). It is an eight page pamphlet on astral projection. The pamphlet appeared in Salem, Massachusetts in 1783 and circulated among occult groups. Most copies were destroyed in the wake of a series of grisly murders.

The first seven pages of the pamphlet contain vague mystic writing; however, the eighth page details a formula for effecting astral travel. Among the required ingredients are a brazier and the drug Cannabis indica. The formula is always successful but has an unforeseen side effect: it invokes the horrid Outer God the Hydra.[6]


Parchments of Pnom

The Parchments of Pnom is a manuscript written by Hyperborea's leading genealogist and soothsayer. It is written in the "Elder Script" of that land and contains a detailed account of the lineage of the Hyperborean gods, most notably Tsathoggua.

 BL, CW, FT, LE, MT 

Pnakotic Manuscripts

The Pnakotic Manuscripts is named after the place where it was kept, the city of Pnakotus, a primordial metropolis built by the Great Race of Yith. The Great Race is credited with authoring the Manuscripts, though other scribes would add to it over the ages.

F. Paul Wilson is among the authors who have referred to this collection in their own work; a collated version of the Manuscripts appears in Wilson's novel The Keep.

 AF, AM, BU, DQ, HD, HG, HM, OG, PO, S5, ST, TG, WD, WK, XI, XM, YT 

Ponape Scripture

The Ponape Scripture first appeared in Lin Carter's short story "Out of the Ages" (1975). The Scripture is a manuscript found in the Caroline Islands by Captain Abner Exekiel Hoag sometime around 1734. The book showed signs of great age—its pages were made of palm leaves and its binding was of an ancient, now-extinct cycadean wood. It was written in Naacal (the language of Mu) and appears to have been authored by Imash-Mo, high priest of Ghatanothoa, and his successors. The book contains details of Mu and of Zanthu, high priest of Ythogtha. With the help of his servant Yogash (hinted to be a Deep One hybrid[7]), Hoag managed to write a translation of the manuscript. But when he tried to have it published, his efforts were thwarted by religious leaders who strongly objected to the book's references to Dagon. Nonetheless, copies of the Scripture have circulated among secretive cults (such as the Esoteric Order of Dagon) and other occult groups. After Hoag's death, his granddaughter, Beverly Hoag Adams, published an expurgated version of the book.

In contemporary times, other versions of the Ponape Scripture have seen print. Harold Hadley Copeland, a leading authority on the Scripture, produced a translation of the book, published in 1907 by Miskatonic University Press. Copeland also cited the book in his work The Prehistoric Pacific in Light of the 'Ponape Scripture' (1911). The original version of the manuscript remains at the Kester Library in Salem, Massachusetts.[8]

 DT, FO, OA, XM 


Revelations of Glaaki

The Revelations of Glaaki first appeared in Ramsey Campbell's short story "The Inhabitant of the Lake" (1964). It was written by the undead cult worshipping the Great Old One Glaaki. Whenever Glaaki slept, the members of his cult had periods of free will, and, since they were part of Glaaki and shared his memories, they wrote down what they remembered of their master's thoughts. The cult's handwritten manuscripts later came to be known as the Revelations of Glaaki. The text originally contained nine volumes, but it may have had more at different times in the past.[9] Rumor has it that Mythos scholar Antonius Quine published a corrected edition of the Revelations of Glaaki bound in a single volume.[10]

 CP, IL, NK, PL 


Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan

The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan is a collection of writings mentioned by Lovecraft in "The Other Gods" (1921) and "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath" (1926). In both stories, the books are mentioned in conjunction with the Pnakotic Manuscripts. They are kept in the temple of the Elder Ones in the city of Ulthar; no other existing copies are mentioned in Lovecraft's works. Barzai the Wise studied the books before his journey to see the gods dancing on Mount Hatheg-Kla, while Randolph Carter consulted them during his quest to reach Kadath.

The collection can be considered to be an analogue to the I Ching, a Chinese text of cosmology and divination.

 DQ, EW, HG, HH, OG, PI, TY, XM 


Testament of Carnamagos

Now, as he sat there in a state half terror, half stupor, his eyes were drawn to the wizard volume before him: the writings of that evil sage and seer, Carnamagos, which had been recovered a thousand years agone from some Graeco-Bactrian tomb, and transcribed by an apostate monk in the original Greek, in the blood of an incubus-begotten monster. In that volume were the chronicles of great sorcerers of old, and the histories of demons earthly and ultra-cosmic, and the veritable spells by which the demons could be called up and controlled and dismissed.
—Clark Ashton Smith, "The Treader of the Dust"

The Testament of Carnamagos was created by Clark Ashton Smith and first appeared in his short story "Xeethra" (1934). The text is featured more prominently in Smith's "The Treader of the Dust" (1935).

The book gives a description of the Great Old One Quachil Uttaus, among others. Only two copies are known of, though one was destroyed during the Spanish Inquisition. The only remaining copy is bound in shagreen and fastened with hasps of human bone.

 RU, XE 


Unaussprechlichen Kulten

Unaussprechlichen Kulten was created by Robert E. Howard and was written by the fictional Friedrich von Junzt. Howard originally called the book Nameless Cults, but Lovecraft and Derleth gave it the German title which can translate to either Unspeakable Cults or Unpronouncable Cults (both meaning of the word are in common usage).

 BN, CN, HD, HG, NR, OE, WB, XM 


Zanthu Tablets

The Zanthu Tablets first appeared in "The Dweller in the Tomb" (1971), by Lin Carter. The centerpiece of the story is the discovery of the tablets, which are an important part of Carter's Xothic legend cycle.

The tablets themselves are twelve engraved pieces of black jade inscribed by Zanthu, a wizard and high priest of Ythogtha. They are written in a hieratic form of Naacal, the language of the sunken continent of Mu. The tablets reveal a partial history of Mu, describing Zanthu's struggle against the rising cult of Ghatanothoa and his own religion's lamented decline. He also describes his failed attempt to release the god Ythogtha from its prison. Upon witnessing three black, beaked, slimy heads, "vaster than any mountain", rising from a gorge, he flees in terror when he realizes that they are merely the god's fingertips. According to Zanthu, he and some of his people escaped the destruction of Mu, which was sunk by the wrath of the Elder Gods.

In 1913, guided by the Ponape Script, Harold Hadley Copeland led an expedition into Indochina to locate the plateau of Tsang and to find the tomb of Zanthu. After the other members of the expedition died or deserted him, Copeland pressed on, eventually reaching his goal. Opening the tomb, he was horrified to discover that the mummified face of Zanthu resembled his own. Later wandering into a Mongolian outpost, a starving and raving Copeland was the only survivor of the expedition.

Copeland published a brochure entitled The Zanthu Tablets: A Conjectural Translation in 1916. He made the rough translation using a key borrowed from the estate of Colonel Churchward, the last qualified translator of ancient Naacal, and heavily edited it out of a concern for "public sanity". The controversial brochure was later denounced by the academic community and was suppressed by the authorities. Copeland's later manuscripts were never published. Ten years after the publication of the brochure, Copeland died in an asylum.

 DT, OA, SV, TP 

See also


  • Harms, Daniel (1998). The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-119-0. 
  • Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon. ISBN 1-56184-129-3. 


  1. ^ Harms, "Book of Eibon", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 30–3.
  2. ^ The Coming of the White Worm
  3. ^ Harms, "Book of Iod", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, p. 33.
  4. ^ Robert M. Price (Hallowmas 1985). "H. P. Lovecraft and the Cthulhu Mythos". Crypt of Cthulhu #35: A Pulp Thriller and Theological Journal 5 (1): 11, footnote #11.  Robert M. Price (ed.), Mount Olive, NC: Cryptic Publications.
  5. ^ Harms, "Ponape Scripture", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 102–3.
  6. ^ Henry Kuttner selected and edited by Robert M. Price ; chapter decorations by Dreyfus. (1995) [1939]. "Hydra". In Robert M. Price (ed.). The Azathoth Cycle. Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-040-2. 
  7. ^ The servant in question is referred to as a "half-breed Polynesian or Oriental", though the character Professor Harold Hadley Copeland claimed that he was a "hybrid human/Deep One". (Lin Carter edited by Gerald W. Page. (1975) [1975]. "Out of the Ages". In Gerald W. Page (ed.). Nameless Places. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. p. 193. ISBN 0-87054-073-4. )
  8. ^ Harms, "Ponape Scripture", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 244–5.
  9. ^ Ramsey Campbell Ramsey Campbell. (1987) [1964]. "The Inhabitant of the Lake". Cold Print (1st ed.). New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 0-8125-1660-5. 
  10. ^ Notes on The Revelations of Glaaki

External links

  • Mythos Tomes, a web site dedicated to the forbidden tomes of the Cthulhu Mythos
  • The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page Everything You Never Wanted To Know About The Necronomicon (Al Azif) Of The Mad Arab Abdul Alhazred But Weren't Afraid Enough To Know Better Than To Ask!

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