Hastur ( "The Unspeakable One", "Him Who Is Not to be Named", "Assatur", "Xastur", or "Kaiwan" ) is a
fictional characterin the Cthulhu Mythos. Hastur first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story"Haïta the Shepherd" (1893) as a benign god of shepherds. Robert W. Chamberslater used Hastur in his own stories to represent both a person and a place associated with the names of several stars, including Aldebaran. [Harms, "The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana", p. 136.]
Hastur in the mythos
In Bierce's "Haita the Shepherd", which appeared in the collection "Can Such Things Be?", Hastur is more benevolent than he would later appear in
August Derleth's mythos stories. Another story in the same collection ("An Inhabitant of Carcosa") referred to the place ' Carcosa' and a person 'Hali', names which later authors were to associate with Hastur.
In Chambers' "
The King in Yellow" (1895), a fin-de-siècle collection of horror stories, Hastur is the name of a potentially supernatural character (in "The Demoiselle D'Ys"), a place (in "The Repairer of Reputations"), and mentioned without explanation in "The Yellow Sign". The latter two stories also mentioned Carcosa, Hali, Aldebaran, and the Hyades, along with a ' Yellow Sign' and a play called 'The King in Yellow'. H. P. Lovecraftread Chambers' book in early 1927 [Joshi & Schultz, "Chambers, Robert William", "An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia", p. 38] and was so enchanted by it that he added elements of it to his own creations [Pearsall, "Yellow Sign", "The Lovecraft Lexicon", p. 436.] . There is only one place in Lovecraft's own writings that mentions Hastur (italics added for emphasis):
I found myself faced by names and terms that I had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connections —
Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, "Hastur", Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L’mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum— and was drawn back through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder, outer entity at which the crazed author of the " Necronomicon" had only guessed in the vaguest way.... There is a whole secret cult of evil men (a man of your mystical erudition will understand me when I link them with "Hastur" and the Yellow Sign) devoted to the purpose of tracking them down and injuring them on behalf of the monstrous powers from other dimensions.
—H. P. Lovecraft, "
The Whisperer in Darkness"
It is unclear from this quote if Lovecraft's Hastur is a person, a place, an object (such as the Yellow Sign), or a deity. Derleth, however, developed Hastur into a
Great Old One[Derleth once entertained the notion of calling Lovecraft's mythos the "Mythology of Hastur"—an idea that Lovecraft summarily rejected when he heard it. (Robert M. Price, "The Mythology of Hastur", "The Hastur Cycle", p. i.)] , spawn of Yog-Sothoth, the half-brother of Cthulhu, and possibly the Magnum Innominandum. In this incarnation, Hastur has several avatars:
* The Feaster from Afar , a black, shriveled, flying monstrosity with tentacles tipped with razor-sharp talons that can pierce a victim's skull and siphon out the brain [Joseph Payne Brennan (1976), "The Feaster from Afar", "The Hastur Cycle" (2nd ed.), pp. 272–82.]
King in Yellow.
High Priest Not to Be Described, an entity that wears a yellow silken mask [In Lovecraft's " The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath" (1926), this character may be identified with Nyarlathotep.] )
Hastur's form is amorphous, but he is said to appear as a vast, vaguely octopoid being, similar to his half-niece
Hastur sometimes appears in literature outside of the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror.
* Hastur is a god with a royal family descended from him in
Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series.
Paul Edwin Zimmer's Dark Border series, the mysterious Hastur are guardians and protectors of the world.
* In "
Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Hastur is a Duke of Hell who becomes trapped in an answering machine. He later escapes when a telemarketer phones, and promptly devours the entire staff of the telemarketing office (unintentionally spreading a "wave of low-grade goodness" throughout the population).
* The "Doctor Who" novel "
All-Consuming Fire" equates Hastur with Fenric.
* In the
Stephen Kingshort story "Gramma", the titular Gramma invokes Hastur to impregnate her when she is found to be incapable of having a child, and can be made to sleep by being told to "Lie down in the name of Hastur."
* In the
Illuminatus Trilogyby Robert Anton Wilsonand Robert Shea, "Hatur" appears as the deity served by the Cult of the Yellow Sign when Mama Sutra describes "the battle for the freedom of the human mindwaged by the Illuminatiagainst the forces of slavery, superstitionand sorcery."
* In the first two editions (1980) of the
Dungeons and Dragonsbook " Deities & Demigods", Hastur was represented as a monstrous foe. The Cthulhu Mythos was removed from later editions of the book.
* The Lords of Dus by Lawrence Watt-Evans has a central character called The King in Yellow whose primary goal is to die (he was immortal and tired of life). His eventual actions to get to this goal resulted in the destruction of the elder gods.
* In Elizabeth Bear's story "Tiger! Tiger!" written for the anthology "Shadows Over Baker Street" Irene Adler and Col. Sebastian Moran face Hastur in the form of a tiger made of fire.
* In the Harry Potter series, the antagonist Voldemort is also known as He Who Must Not Be Named.
* The comic weekly '2000 AD' featured a story that centred on a vast cruise liner, "Leviathan" that was lost in a featureless sea for years. Hastur was a demon captured in the bowels of the ship, and was the reason for the misfortune.
* The webcomic "
User Friendly" has Hastur as a character. In the comic, Hastur appears as a pitch-black blob with a toothy grin. He had taken the form of "distilled Usenetbitterness", and frequently hangs out alongside Cthulhu.
* Hastur also features in the webcomic
Ugly Hillas a used car salesman in competition with his half-brother.
August Derleth's epithet for Hastur, "He Who Is Not to be Named", the " Dungeons & Dragons" role-playing gamesuggested in the "Deities and Demigods Cyclopedia" supplement (TSR, ISBN 0-935696-22-9) that merely speaking Hastur's name brings doom to those who do so. Players will sometimes jokingly doom their compatriots by stating "my dying words are 'hastur, hastur, hastur...'"
This idea was later picked up by the "Call of Cthulhu" role-playing game. [Harms, "The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana", p. 136.] It also appears in the
PlayStationgame , where Hastur is a usable persona that can be made using the special material card "King In Yellow".
Hastur is the main enemy in the
Sega Genesisgames " Earnest Evans" and " El Viento". In both games, he's an evil god worshipped by a crazed cultusing him to destroy New York Cityin the 1920s. The heroine of "El Viento", Annet Myer, is descended from Hastur's cursed bloodline.
role-playing game" Delta Green" treats Hastur and his counterpart, the King in Yellow, as manifestations of entropy.
An adventure featuring the
Yellow Signand the play " The King in Yellow", for edition 3.5 of the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons, was published in an issue of Dragon Magazine
board game" Arkham Horror" provides Hastur as one of several potential Great Old Onesthe investigators may struggle against.
trading card game" Call of Cthulhu LCG" has a faction called Hastur that features Hastur and his minions, human or otherwise.
trading card game"Hecatomb" features Hastur "The Unspeakable" as a God Card. It was released in Series Three, card #72.
board game" Cults Across America" features Hastur as one of several summonable monsters.
In Dungeons and Dragons Hastur is an Elder God that hates the sound of his own name when uttered on the mortal plane. If said three times in succession he will appear as if summoned and strike down any mortal (or immortal for that matter) in the area of the speaker.
Hastur (?) made an appearance at the end of the movie "
Cast a Deadly Spell".
*Cite book|last=Harms|first=Daniel|chapter=Hastur|pages=pp. 136–7|title=The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana|edition=2nd ed.|year=1998|publisher=Chaosium|location=Oakland, CA|id=ISBN 1-56882-119-0
*cite book | last=Joshi | first=S. T. | authorlink=S. T. Joshi | coauthors=David E. Schultz | title=An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia | location=Westport, CT | publisher=Greenwood Press | date=2001 | id=ISBN 0-313-31578-7
*Cite book|last=Pearsall|first=Anthony B.|title=The Lovecraft Lexicon|edition=1st ed.|year=2005|publisher=New Falcon|location=Tempe, AZ|id=ISBN 1-56184-129-3
*Cite book|last=Price|first=Robert M. (ed.)|title=The Hastur Cycle|edition=2nd ed.|year=1997|publisher=Chaosium|location=Oakland, CA|id=ISBN 1-56882-094-1
* [http://www.classicreader.com/read.php/sid.6/bookid.1937/ Haita the Shepherd]
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