Necronomicon

[We begin with HPL's own article on the Necronomicon, and then proceed to present information gleaned from a variety of other sources.]

History of the Necronomicon, by H. P. Lovecraft
Versions, Copies, and Other Historical Data
Quotations

Other Contents

Other Readers and Would-Be Readers

Further Studies

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History of the Necronomicon, by H. P. Lovecraft

[A reprint of HPL History 52-53]

Original title Al Azifazif being the word used by the Arabs to designate that nocturnal sound (made by insects) suppos'd to be the howling of daemons.

Composed by Abdul Alhazred, a mad poet of Sanaa, in Yemen, who is said to have flourished during the period of the Ommiade caliphs, circa 700 A. D. 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 Khaliyeh 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 (Ai Azif) was written, and of his final death or disappearance (738 A. D.) many terrible and conflicting things are told. He is said by Ebn Khallikan (12th cent. biographer) to have been seized by an invisible monster in broad day-light and devoured horribly before a large number of fright-frozen witnesses. 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. He was only an indifferent Moslem, worshipping unknown entities whom he called Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu.

In A. D. 950 the Azif, which had gained a considerable tho' surreptitious circulation amongst the philosophers of the age, was secretly translated into Greek by Theodorus Philetas of Constantinople under the title Necronomicon. For a century it impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts, when it was suppressed and burnt by the patriarch Michael. After this it is only heard of furtively, but (1228) Olaus Wormius made a Latin translation later in the Middle Ages, and the Latin text was printed twice – once in the fifteenth century in black-letter (evidently in Germany) and once in the seventeenth (prob. Spanish) – both editions being without identifying marks, and located as to time and place by internal typographical evidence only. The work both Latin and Greek was banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, shortly after its Latin translation, which called attention to it. The Arabic original was lost as early as Wormius' time, as indicated by his prefatory note; and no sight of the Greek copy – which was printed in Italy between 1500 and 1550 – has been reported since the burning of a certain Salem man's library in 1692. An English translation made by Dr. Dee was never printed, and exists only in fragments recovered from the original manuscript. Of the Latin texts now existing one (15th cent.) is known to be in the British Museum under lock and key, while another (17th cent.) is in the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris. A seventeenth-century edition is in the Widener Library at Harvard, and in the library of Miskatonic University at Arkham. Also in the library of the University of Buenos Ayres. Numerous other copies probably exist in secret, and a fifteenth-century one is persistently rumoured to form part of the collection of a celebrated American millionaire. A still vaguer rumour credits the preservation of a sixteenth-century Greek text in the Salem family of Pickman; but if it was so preserved, it vanished with the artist R. U. Pickman, who disappeared early in 1926. The book is rigidly suppressed by the authorities of most countries, and by all branches of organised ecclesiasticism. Reading leads to terrible consequences. It was from rumours of this book (of which relatively few of the general public know) that R. W. Chambers is said to have derived the idea of his early novel The King in Yellow.

Chronology

Al Azif written circa 730 A. D. at Damascus by Abdul Alhazred Tr. to Greek 950 A. D. as Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas Burnt by Patriarch Michael 1050 (i.e., Greek text). Arabic text now lost. Olaus translates Gr. to Latin 1228

1232 Latin ed. (and Gr.) suppr. by Pope Gregory IX

14... Black-letter printed edition (Germany)

15... Gr. text printed in Italy

16... Spanish reprint of Latin text

[Note: Robert M. Price reports that in a letter of May 13, 1936, HPL specified that the Italian printing was in 1567, and the Spanish one in 1623. See Robert M. Price, ed., The Necronomicon: Selected Stories and Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab (Oakland, CA: Chaosium, 1996), p.239. ]

Versions, Copies, and Other Historical Data

Arabic Version
The Arabic original was lost as early as Wormius' time, as indicated by his prefatory note [HPL History 52-53]. The Arabic text is said to be lost, but Laban Shrewsbury thought that although Wormius' copy had vanished, Alhazred's own copy might survive [AWD Keeper 149-150]. John Carnby had a copy of the Arabic version, though it was said to be unprocurable [CAS Return 36]. An Arab asserted that Alhazred left many legacies among his own people, perhaps implying that copies of the Arabic original survive there [RB Fane 132]. In the forger Alastair White's spurious catalog of esoteric books for sale, he asserted that only two copies of the Arabic version are known to have existed [AWD Six 124].

Greek Versions
A 16th century Greek version may have been in the possession of the Pickman family of Salem, but if so, it was lost when Richard Upton Pickman disappeared in 1926 [HPL History 52-53; AWD Six 124]. Alonzo Typer found a Greek copy in a crumbling chest from Holland in the van der Heyl house [HPL Diary 312]. Von Junzt was one of the few men who could read the Necronomicon in the original Greek translation [REH Children 152]. The Thing on the Roof narrator mentions the rarity of the original Greek translation [REH Roof 3].  

Latin Versions
A copy of the 15th century edition resides at the British Museum, while copies of the 17th century edition reside at the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris, the Miskatonic University library, the Widener Library at Harvard, and the library of the University of Buenos Ayres. [HPL History 52-53]. The Misk. U. copy is worm-riddled [HPL Mountains 106].  Williams bought a Latin copy at an absurdly low price at a Jew's shop in the squalid precincts of Clare Market, London; the copy was leather-bound with a brass clasp [HPL Descendant 359-360]. The Festival narrator saw a Latin copy in the ancestral home of his people, during a visit to Kingsport (and apparently also back in time) [HPL Festival 210-211]. Robert Blake found a Latin copy in the former Starry Wisdom church on Federal Hill in Providence [HPL Haunter 100], but did not carry it away with him at that time [101] so it was probably destroyed later during the fire [112]. Professor Upton Gardner inquired about the availability of a photostatic copy of it from Miskatonic University library [AWD Dweller 122], and received copies of at least selected pages from Wormius' Latin version [AWD Dweller 126].  John Carnby suspected omissions and erroneous renderings in the Latin version of Olaus Wormius, and identified two specific omissions [CAS Return 36, 38-39]. 

In the forger Alastair White's catalog, he claimed to have a copy printed in Madrid in 1647 [AWD Six 124].

Spanish Version
Dr. Ambrose Dexter is said to have had a copy of the 1622 Spanish translation [RB Steeple 224]. As HPL's History doesn't mention such a translation, this may be a mistaken reference to the 1623 Spanish printing of Wormius' Latin version.  

English Versions
The Kester Library in Salem has a copy, probably of Dee's English version, since Michael Leigh says he "copied" the English quotation rather than "translated" it [HK Salem 261]. Wilbur Whateley had a priceless but imperfect copy of Dr. Dee's English version [HPL Dunwich 169]. Williams consulted an archaic English copy at Miskatonic University [AWD Witches 301]; this is surprising, as other sources credit Miskatonic with having only a Latin copy. An antique volume of hand-copied English translations of excerpts, labeled Al Azif  – Ye Book of Ye Arab, was found at Billington House [AWD Lurker 81].

Unspecified or Mixed Versions
Joseph Curwen had a copy mislabelled as the Qanoon-e-Islam [HPL Case 121]. Professor Jordan Holmes consulted a copy in the Field Museum library, Chicago [AWD Depths 235]. Wilbur Akeley had a photostat copy [AWD Gable 206]. Conrad found a copy in a deserted farmhouse in the Catskills [REH House 125]. 

Estimates of Availability
A bookseller in Chandos Street, London, told Williams that only five copies have survived the shocked edicts of priests and lawgivers, and are kept under lock and key by their custodians [HPL Descendant 359-360]. Captain Cartaret thought there were only six complete versions, of which the nearest to Egypt was in the British Museum [RB Fane 132].  Only a few copies of the Greek and Latin versions survive, all under lock and key at the Bibliotheque Nationale, British Museum, University of Buenos Aires, Widener Library, and Miskatonic University  [AWD Keeper 149]. Miskatonic's copy is one of two copies in North American and only five copies in the whole world [AWD Hastur 3].  The Billington excerpts from the Al Azif included annotations referring to the British Musem, Bibliotheque Nationale, Widener Library, University of Buenos Aires, and San Marcos (a university in Lima) [AWD Lurker 81]. Per Seneca Lapham, there are complete or partial copies only at the Widener, the British Museum, the Universities of Buenos Aires and Lima, the Bibliotheque Nationale, and Miskatonic University. Some say there is a hidden copy in Cairo and another in the archives of the Vatican, and there may be laboriously copied portions in various private collections [AWD Lurker 125].

In the forger Alastair White's spurious catalog of esoteric books, it was asserted that the only known copies are in the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Widener, and Miskatonic University [AWD Six 124].

Reception
It was condemned by all ecclesiatical authorities [AWD Keeper 149]. 

During an elder ritual beneath Kingsport, the cultists groveled obeisance whenever their leader held it above his head, perhaps suggesting that the book itself had become an object of worship [HPL Festival 214].

Quotations

The Immortal Couplet

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die. [HPL Call 141; Nameless 99, 109; AWD Curwen 20; Gorge 121].

[ According to Old Castro, the Necronomicon does not directly discuss the cult of the Great Old Ones; no book does. But the above couplet could be interpreted as a veiled reference to it [HPL Call 141].

According to the Nameless City narrator, Alhazred dreamed of the Nameless City the night before he sang the "unexplainable couplet" [HPL Nameless 99].

The couplet appears also in at least two longer passages quoted from the Necronomicon; see "The Five-Pointed Star from Mnar" and "Cthulhu But Seemeth Dead," later in this article.]

Yog-Sothoth the Gate

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, and 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 knows the gate. 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 one can behold Them as They tread. 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 man's 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 Rites howled through at their Seasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness. They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraven, but who hath seen the deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again. [HPL Dunwich 170]

[From the Latin version of Olaus Wormius in the Miskatonic University Library; a passage consulted by Wilbur Whately while Dr. Henry Armitage looked over his shoulder. An alternate version of this passage follows.]

Never is it to be thought that man is either oldest or last of the Masters of Earth; nay, nor that the great'r part of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not in the spaces known to us, but between them, They walk calm and primal, of no dimensions, and to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate, for Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and the guardian of the gate. Past, present, future – what has been, what is, what will be, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through in time to come until the Cycle is complete. He knows why no one can behold Them as They walk. Sometimes men can know Them near by Their smell, which is strange to the nostrills, and like unto a creature of great age; but of Their semblance no man can know, save seldom in features of those They have begotten on mankind, which are awful to behold, and thrice awful are Those who sired them; yet of those Offspring there are divers kinds, in likeness greatly differing from man's truest image and fairest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen, They walk foul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at Their Sea sons, which are in the blood and differ from the seasons of man. The winds gibber with Their voices; the Earth mutters with Their conscious ness. They bend the forest. They raise up the waves, They crush the city – yet not forest or ocean or city beholds the hand that smites. Kadath in the cold waste knows them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraven, but who has seen the deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. As a foulness shall They be known to the race of man. Their hands are at the throats of men forever, from beginning of known time to end of time known, yet none sees Them; and Their habitation is even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where once They ruled; soon They shall rule again where man rules now. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall They reign again, and at Their coming again none shall dispute Them and all shall be subject to Them. Those who know of the gates shall be impelled to open the way for Them and shall serve Them as They desire, but those who open the way unwitting shall know but a brief while thereafter. [AWD Lurker 81-82]

[First of the fragments read by Stephen Bates at Billington House, in an antique volume of hand-copied excerpts labeled Al Azif  – Ye Book of Ye Arab. Note that this version of the text has some additional text at the end, beginning at: "and at Their coming again...".]

The Nethermost Caverns

The nethermost caverns are not for the fathoming of eyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific. Cursed the ground where dead thoughts live new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl. [HPL Festival 216; passage referred to indirectly on 211]

[Read and translated by the Festival narrator; first from a copy at the cult house in Kingsport, and later from the Latin copy at Misktanic University.]

'UMR AT-TAWIL

And while there are those, who have dared to seek glimpses beyond the Veil, and to accept HIM as a Guide, they would have been more prudent had they avoided commerce with HIM; for it is written in the Book of Thoth how terrific is the price of a single glimpse. Nor may those who pass ever return, for in the Vastnesses transcending our world are Shapes of darkness that seize and bind. The Affair that shambleth about in the night, the Evil that defieth the Elder Sign, the Herd that stand watch at the secret portal each tomb is known to have, and that thrive on that which groweth out of the tenants within– all these Blacknesses are lesser than HE Who guardeth the Gateway; HE Who will guide the rash one beyond all the worlds into the Abyss of unnamable Devourers. For HE is 'UMR AT -TAWIL, the Most Ancient One, which the scribe rendereth as THE PROLONGED OF LIFE. [HPL Gates 430-431]

[A passage that Randolph Carter recalled reading in an unspecified edition.] 

The Dim Horrors of Earth

Many and multiform are the dim horrors of Earth, infesting her ways from the prime. They sleep beneath the unturned stone; they rise with the tree from its roots; they move beneath the sea and in subterranean places; they dwell in the inmost adyta; they emerge betimes from the shutten sepulcher of haughty bronze and the low grave that is sealed with clay. There be some that are long known to man, and others as yet unknown that abide the terrible latter days of their revealing. Those which are the most dreadful and the loathliest of all are haply still to be declared. But among those that have revealed themselves afore time and have made manifest their veritable presence, there is one which may not openly be named for its exceeding foulness. It is that spawn which the hidden dweller in the vaults has begotten upon mortality. [CAS Offspring 7]

[From an unspecified edition.]

The Will of a Dead Sorceror

It is verily known by few, but is nevertheless an attestable fact, that the will of a dead sorcerer hath power upon his own body and can raise it up from the tomb and perform therewith whatever action was unfulfilled in life. And such resurrections are invariably for the doing of malevolent deeds and for the detriment of others. Most readily can the corpse be animated if all its members have remained intact; and yet there are cases in which the excelling will of the wizard hath reared up from death the sundered pieces of a body hewn in many fragments, and hath caused them to serve his end, either separately or in a temporary reunion. But in every instance, after the action hath been com- pleted, the body lapseth into its former state. [CAS Return 37]

[Translated by Ogden from a copy of the Arabic original (long thought to be lost!), in the possession of John Carnby. The latter stated that the passage was not to be found in the Latin version of Olaus Wormius (CAS Return 38).]

The Power of the Cross

The cross is not a passive agent. It protects the pure of heart, and it has often appeared in the air above our sabbats, confusing and dispersing the powers of Darkness. —John Dee's Necronomicon  [FBL Eaters 88.]

[From an unspecified edition.]

For the Mightiest Powers There Can Be No Death

It must not be thought that the powers capable of the greatest wickedness appear to us in the form of repellent familiars, and other, closely related demons. They do not. Small, visible demons are merely the effluvia which those vast forms of destructiveness have left in Their wake – skin scrapings and even more tenuous shreds of evil that attach themselves to the living like leeches from some great slain leviathan of the deep that has wreaked havoc on a hundred coastal cities before plunging to its death with a thousand hurled harpoons quivering in its flesh.

For the mightiest powers there can be no death and the hurtled harpoons inflict, at most, surface injuries which heal quickly. I have said before and I shall say again until my tardily earned wisdom is accepted by my brethren as fact– in confronting that which has always been and always will be a master of magic can know only self-reproach and despair if he mistakes a temporary victory for one that he can never hope permanently to win. [FBL Dee 129] 

[From paragraphs seven and eight, page 30, Book Three of John Dee's Necronomicon. Per FBL, it is "retranslated into slightly more modern phrase patterns here and there, but without the slightest departure from the original text otherwise."]

The Dweller in Darkness

Men know him as the Dweller in Darkness, that brother of the Old Ones called Nyogtha, the Thing that should not be. He can be summoned to Earth's surface through certain secret caverns and fissures, and sorcerers have seen him in Syria and below the black tower of Leng; from the Thang Grotto of Tartary he has come ravening to bring terror and destruction among the pavilions of the great Khan. Only by the looped cross, by the Vach-Viraj incantation, and by the Tikkoun elixir may he be driven back to the nighted caverns of hidden foulness where he dwelleth. [HK Salem 261]

Ubbo-Sathla is the Source

[This fragment survives in two translations:]

Ubbo-Sathla is that unforgotten [sic; prob. "unbegotten"] source whence came those daring to oppose the Elder Gods who ruled from Betelgueze, the Great Old Ones who fought against the Elder Gods; and these Old Ones were instructed by Azathoth, who is the blind idiot god, and by Yog-Sothoth, who is the All-in-One and One-in-All, and upon whom are no strictures of time or space, and whose aspects on earth are 'Umr At-Tawil and the Ancient Ones. The Great Old Ones dream forever of that coming time when they shall once more rule Earth and all that Universe of which it is part. . . . Great Cthulhu shall rise from R'lyeh; Hastur, who is Him Who Is Not To Be Named, shall come again from the dark star which is near Aldebaran in the Hyades; Nyarlathotep shall howl forever in darkness where he abideth; Shub-Niggurath, who is the Black Goat With a Thousand Young, shall spawn and spawn again, and shall have dominion over all wood nymphs, satyrs, leprechauns, and the Little People; Lloigor, Zhar, and Ithaqua shall ride the spaces among the stars and shall ennoble those who are their followers, who are the Tcho-Tcho; Cthugha shall encompass his dominion from Fomalhaut; Tsathoggua shall come from N'kai. . . . They wait forever at the Gates, for the time draws near, the hour is soon at hand, while the Elder Gods sleep, dreaming, unknowing there are those who know the spells put upon the Great Old Ones by the Elder Gods, and shall learn how to break them, as already they can command the followers waiting beyond the doors from Outside. [AWD Lurker 133]

[Translated by Winfield Phillips from the Latin version of Olaus Wormius, borrowed from the Miskatonic University Library by Dr. Seneca Lapham. An alternate translation of the same passage follows:]

Ubbo-Sathla is the source, the unbegotten beginning from whom came those who dared set themselves against the Elder Gods who ruled from Betelgueze, those who warred upon the Elder Gods, the Great Old Ones led by the blind idiot god, Azathoth, and Yog-Sothoth, who is All-in-One and One-In-All, and upon whom are no strictures of time or space, and whose agents are 'Umr At-Tawil and the Ancient Ones, who dream forever of that time when once again they shall rule, to whom rightfully belong Earth and the entire universe of which it is a part. . . . Great Cthulhu shall rise from R'lyeh, Hastur the Unspeakable shall return from the dark star which is in the Hyades near Aldebaran, the red eye of the bull, Nyarlathotep shall howl forever in the darkness where he abideth, Shub-Niggurath shall spawn his thousand young, and they shall spawn in turn and shall take dominion over all wood nymphs, satyrs, leprechauns, and the Little People, Lloigor, Zhar, and Ithaqua shall ride the spaces among the stars, and those who serve them, the Tcho-Tcho, shall be ennobled, Cthugha shall encompass his dominion from Fomalhaut, and Tsathoggua shall come from N'kai. . . . They wait by the gates, for the time draws near, the hour is soon at hand, and the Elder Gods sleep, dreaming, and there are those who know the spells put upon the Great Old Ones by the Elder Gods, as there are those who shall learn how to break them, as already they know how to command the servants of those who wait beyond the door from Outside. [AWD Curwen 21]

[Transcribed by Andrew Phelan from a text provided by Laban Shrewsbury, from an unnamed ancient book. We can infer that the book was the Necronomicon, based on the nearly-identical wording to the previous text. However, the opening words of this fragment also resemble a Book of Eibon passage quoted in CAS Ubbo 48.]

The Five-Pointed Star from Mnar

Armor against witches and daemons, against the Deep Ones, the Dholes, the Voormis, the Tcho- Tcho, the Abominable Mi-Go, the Shoggoths, the Ghasts, the Valusians and all such peoples and beings who serve the Great Old Ones and their Spawn lies within the five-pointed star carven of grey stone from ancient Mnar, which is less strong against the Great Old Ones themselves. The possessor of the stone shall find himself able to command all beings which creep, swim, crawl, walk, or fly even to the source from which there is no returning. In Yhe as in great R'lyeh, in Y'ha-nthlei as in Yoth, in Yuggoth as in Zothique, in N'kai as in K'n-yan, in Kadath in the Cold Waste as at the Lake of Hali, in Carcosa as in Ib, it shall have power; yet, even as stars wane and grow cold, even as suns die and the spaces between stars grow more wide, so wanes the power of all things – of the five-pointed star-stone as of the spells put upon the Great Old Ones by the benign Elder Gods, and there cometh a time as once was a time, when it shall be shown that

That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange eons even death may die. [AWD Lurker 133-134]

[Translated by Winfield Phillips from the Latin version of Olaus Wormius, borrowed from the Miskatonic University Library by Dr. Seneca Lapham. An alternate translation follows:]

For within the five-pointed star carven of grey stone from ancient Mnar lies armor against witches and daemons, against the Deep Ones, the Dholes, the Voonnis, the Tcho- Tcho, the Abominable Mi-Go, the Shoggoths, the Valusians and all such peoples and beings who serve the Great Old Ones and their Spawn, but it is less potent against the Great Old Ones themselves. He who hath the five-pointed stone shall find himself able to command all beings who creep, swim, crawl, walk, or fly even to the source from which there is no returning.

In the land of Yhe as in great R'lyeh, in Y'ha-nthlei as in Yoth, in Yuggoth as in Zothique, in N'kai as in K'n-yan, in Kadath-in-the-Cold-Waste, as in the Lake of Hali, in Carcosa as in Ib, it shall have power; but even as the stars wane and grow cold, as the suns die, and the spaces between the stars grow more great, so wanes the power of all things -of the five-pointed star-stone as of the spells put upon the Great Old Ones by the benign Elder Gods, and there shall come a time as once there was a time, and it shall be shown that

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die. [AWD Curwen 22]

[Copied by Andrew Phelan from page 177 of the Latin version of Olaus Wormius at Miskatonic University Library. Note that Shrewsbury asked Phelan only to copy the page, but Phelan presumably also devised this translation, as he was conversant with Latin (AWD Curwen 6).]

He who hath the five-pointed stone shall find himself able to command all beings which creep, swim, crawl, walk, or fly even to the source from which there is no returning. . . . [AWD Keeper 150-151]

[ From  a typescript provided to Nayland Colum by Professor Shrewsbury. Note that this sentence is a fragment from the longer passage cited above, identically worded to the last sentence of the first paragraph of the Phelan version.]

To Summon Yog-Sothoth

To summon Yogge-Sothothe from the Outside, be wise to wait upon the Sun in the Fifth House, when Saturn is in trine; draw the pentagram of fire, and speak the Ninth Verse thrice, repeating which each Roodemas and Hallow's Eve causeth the Thing to breed in the Outside Spaces beyond the gate, of which Yogge-Sothothe is the Guardian. The once will not bring Him, but may bring Another Who is likewise desirous of growth, and if He have not the blood of Another, He may seek thine own. Therefore be not unwise in these things. [AWD Whippoorwills 47]

[From a very old manuscript found in the house of Abel Harrop, consisting of quotations in various languages, hand-copied from unnamed older works.  This portion is in English and might stem from the Necronomicon or other unknown grimoire. Abel Harrop appended a postscript to this quote: "Cf. page 77 in Text." This appears to be a reference to the R'lyeh Text, which formed part of his collection. It is not clear whether this means that the passage is originally from the R'lyeh Text or simply bears some interesting correspondence to it.]

Concerning the Old Ones

[This fragment exists in a couple of nearly identical copies.]

Concern'g ye Old Ones, 'tis writ, they wait ev'r at ye Gate, & ye Gate is all places at all times, for They know noth'g of time or place but are in all time & in all place together without appear'g to be, & there are those amongst Them which can assume divers Shapes & Featurs & any gi'n Shape & any giv'n Face & ye Gates are for Them ev'rywhere, but ye 1st. was that which I caus'd to be op'd, Namely, in Irem, ye City of Pillars, ye City under ye Desert, but wher'r men sayeth ye forbidd'n Words, they shall cause there a Gate to be establish'd & shall wait upon Them Who Come through ye Gate, ev'n as ye Dhols, & ye Abomin. Mi-Go, & ye Tcho- Tcho peop., & ye Deep Ones, & ye Gugs, & ye Gaunts of ye Night & ye Shoggoths & ye Voormis, & ye Shantaks which guard Kadath in ye Colde Waste & ye Plateau Leng. All are alike ye Children of ye Elders Gods, but ye Great Race of Yith & ye Gr. Old Ones fail'g to agree, one with another, & boath with ye Elder Gods, separat'd, leav'g ye Gr. Old Ones in possession of ye Earth, while ye Great Race, retum'g from Yith took up Their Abode forward in Time in Earth-Land not yet known to those who walk ye Earth today, & there wait till there shall come again ye winds & ye Voices which drove Them forth before & That which Walketh on ye Winds over ye Earth & in ye spaces that are among ye Stars forev'r. [AWD Whippoorwills 47]

[From the manuscript found in the house of Abel Harrop.  These portions are in English and might stem from the Necronomicon or other unknown grimoire. This passage can tentatively be attributed to the Necronomicon since Alhazred claimed to have seen Irem (HPL History 52).]

Concern'g ye Old Ones, 'tis writ, they wait ev'r at ye Gate, & ye Gate is all places at all times, for They know noth'g of time or place but are in all time & in all place togeth'r without appear'g to be, & there are those amongst Them which can assume divers Shapes & Featurs & any Giv'n Shape & any giv'n Face & ye Gates are for Them ev'ry where, but ye 1st. was that which I caused to be op'd, Namely, in Irem, ye City of Pillars, ye city under ye desert, but wher'r men sett up ye Stones and sayeth thrice ye forbidd' n Words, they shall cause there a Gate to be establish'd & shall wait upon Them Who Come through ye gate, ev'n as Dhols, & ye Abomin. Mi-Go, & ye Tcho-Tcho peop., & ye Deep Ones, & ye Gugs, & ye Gaunts of ye Night & ye Shoggoths, & ye Voormis, & ye Shantaks which guard Kadath in ye Colde Waste & ye Plateau Leng. All are alike ye Children of ye Elder Gods, but ye Great Race of Yith & ye Gr. Old Ones fail' g to agree, one with another, & boath with ye Elder Gods, separat'd, leav'g ye Gr. Old Ones in possession of ye Earth, while ye Great Race, return' g from Yith took up Their Abode forward in Time in Earth-Land not yet known to those who walk ye Earth today, & there wait till there shall come again ye winds & ye Voices which drove Them forth before & That which Walketh on ye Winds over ye Earth & in ye spaces that are among ye Stars for'r. [AWD Lurker 83-84]

[Third of the fragments read by Stephen Bates at Billington House, in an antique volume of hand-copied excerpts labeled Al Azif  – Ye Book of Ye Arab.]

The Defeat of the Old Ones

'Twas done then as it had been promis'd aforetime, that He was tak'n by Those Whom He Defy'd, and thrust into ye Neth'rmost Deeps und'r ye Sea, and placed within ye barnacl'd Tower that is said to rise amidst ye great ruin that is ye Sunken City (R'lyeh), and seal'd within by ye Elder Sign, and, rag'g at Those who had imprison'd Him, He furth'r incurr'd Their anger, and They, descend'g upon him for ye second time, did impose upon Him ye semblance of Death, but left Him dream' g in that place under ye great waters, and return' d to that place  from whence they had come, Namely, Glyu-Vho, which is among ye, stars, and looketh upon Earth from ye time when ye leaves fall to that time when ye ploughman becomes habit'd once again to his fields. And there shall He lie dream' g forever, in His House at R'lyeh, toward which at once all His minions swam and strove against all manner of obstacles, and arrang' d themselves to wait for His awaken' g powerless to touch ye Elder Sign and fearful of its great pow'r know'g that ye Cycle returneth, and He shall be freed to embrace ye Earth again and make of it His Kingdom and defy ye Elder Gods anew. And to His brothers it happen'd likewise, that They were tak'n by Those Whom They Defy'd and hurl'd into banishment, Him Who Is Not to Be Nam'd be'g sent into Outermost space, beyond ye Stars, and with ye others likewise, until ye Earth was free of Them, and Those Who Came in ye shape of Towers of Fire, return' d whence They had come, and were seen no more, and on all Earth then peace came and was unbrok'n while Their minions gather'd and sought means and ways with which to free ye Old Ones, and waited while man came to pry into secret, forbidd'n places and open ye gate. [AWD Lurker 82-83]

[Second of the fragments read by Stephen Bates at Billington House, in an antique volume of hand-copied excerpts labeled Al Azif  – Ye Book of Ye Arab.]

Cthulhu But Seemeth Dead

Whosoever speaketh of Cthulhu shall remember that he but seemeth dead; he sleeps, and yet he does not sleep; he has died, and yet he is not dead; asleep and dead though he is, he shall rise again. Again, it should be shown that

That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange eons even death may die. [AWD Keeper 150]

[From  a typescript provided to Nayland Colum by Professor Shrewsbury.]

Great Cthulhu shall rise from R'lyeh, Hastur the Unspeakable shall return from the dark star which is in the Hyades near Aldebaran, the red eye of the bull, Nyarlathotep shall howl forever in the darkness where he abideth, Shub-Niggurath.shall spawn its thousand young, and they shall spawn in turn and take dominion over all wood nymphs, satyrs, leprechauns, and the Little People, Lloigor, Zhar, and Ithaqua shall ride the spaces among the stars. . . . [AWD Keeper 150]

[From  a typescript provided to Nayland Colum by Professor Shrewsbury.]

The Return of the Old Ones

Then shal They return & on this great Return'g shal ye Great Cthulhu be fre'd from R'lyeh beneath ye Sea & Him Who Is Not To Be Nam'd shal come from His City which is Carcosa near ye Lake of Hali, & Shub-Niggurath shal come forth & mulitiply in his Hideousness, & Nyarlathotep shal carry ye word to all the Gr. Old Ones & their Minions, & Cthugha shal lay His Hand upon all that oppose Him & Destroy, & ye blind idiot, ye noxious Azathoth shal arise from ye middle of ye World where all is Chaos & Destruction where He hath bubbl'd & blasphem'd at Ye centre which is of All Things, which is to say Infinity, & Yog-Sothoth, who is ye All-in-One & One-in-All, shal bring his globes, & Ithaqua shal walk again, & from ye black-litt'n caverns within ye Earth shal come Tsathoggua, & togeth'r shal take possession of Earth and all things that live upon it, & shal prepare to do battle with ye Elder Gods when ye Lord of ye Great Abyss is apprised of their return'g & shal come with His Brothers to disperse ye Evill. [AWD Lurker 84]

[Fourth of the fragments read by Stephen Bates at Billington House, in an antique volume of hand-copied excerpts labeled Al Azif  – Ye Book of Ye Arab.]

Other Contents

Organization

It was divided into at least seven books, of which the seventh may have held information about the reanimation of the dead from their ashes [HPL Call 138].

Amulets

The Hound narrator and St. John read in it of an amulet with the soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of Leng, of the amulet's properties, and of the relation between the objects symbolized by the amulet and the souls of ghouls [HPL Hound 174-175]. 

Cosmology

The author of it guessed in only the vaguest way of certain worlds of elder, outer entity [HPL Whisperer 223].

Walter Gilman found hints in it of a multi-dimensional reality related to the non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics of his University studies [HPL WitchHouse 263]. 

A whole chapter took on signficance for Randolph Carter after he deciphered the designs on the Silver Key; apparently the chapter included extracts from the Book of Thoth, and discussed the extension of earth which is outside of time, the Guide 'UMR AT-TAWIL and the nature of the obeisances to be made to it, and the Ultimate Gate to the Last Void [HPL Gate 430-432].

Cults

It suggests the existence of a cult that gives aid to voyaging minds from the Great Race [HPL Time 389]. 

Discusses the return of the Ancient Ones and the devotion of their minions, both human and otherwise [AWD Keeper 151]. Discusses the survival of cults and servitors in isolated and remote places on our planet as well as other planets [AWD Witches 301].

Deities

Gilman read in it about Azathoth [HPL WitchHouse 273, 282] and Nyarlathotep [286]. 

Wilbur Whateley consulted the Miskatonic copy for a formula relating to Yog-Sothoth [HPL Dunwich 169].

The Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu myth cycles are hinted at in it [HPL Whisperer 219].

Tsathoggua, Cthulhu, and Chaugnar Faugn were among the figures from cycles of subterranean legend discussed in it and similar books [HPL Museum 216]. 

The being impersonating Henry Akeley stated that Tsathoggua was mentioned in it [HPL Whisperer 254]. 

It mercifully cloaks the nuclear chaos beyond space under the name Azathoth [HPL Whisperer 256]. 

Nyarlathotep's name is mentioned cryptically in it [RB Faceless 41].

Discusses Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth and all the Ancient Ones [AWD Keeper 149]. Discusses Ubbo-Sathla, Azathoth, 'Umr At-Tawil, Tsathoggua, Cthugha [AWD Keeper 151]. An incident involving Ithaqua was clearly related to the mythology discussed in it [AWD Beyond2 172]. It hints that the time for the resurgence of Cthulhu is growing near [AWD Curwen 20].  Discusses Cthulhu, Hastur, Shub-Niggurath, Azathoth, Dagon, Ithaqua, Wendigo, Cthugha [AWD Witches 301]. Discusses interplanetary battle between the Ancient Ones and elder Gods [AWD Witches 301]. Discusses the Great Old Ones and traffic with them [AWD Lurker 123]. 

Diagrams

Williams was stirred to disquieting recollections by the diagrams he saw in it [HPL Descendant 360].

Elder Races

The body of an Old One reminded Lake of descriptions of fabled Elder Things in it [HPL Mountains 20, 22]. Later, Dyer concluded that the Old Ones who lived there were the originals of the elder myths hinted about in it [59]. Dyer identified the viscous masses who served the Old Ones as the shoggoths hinted about in it [62, 95].

The crinoid Old Ones were mentioned insistently in it [RFS Warder 164].  

Existence of shoggoths on this earth was fervently denied in it [RFS Warder 164].

Discusses the Tcho-Tcho and the Deep Ones [AWD Witches 301].

Legendary Places

Antarctica reminded William Dyer of the descriptions of Leng in it [HPL Mountains 7, 70], a resemblance that later made him sorry that he had ever read the abhorred tome [30]. He was reminded again of the book on seeing the Antarctic city of the Old Ones [45]. 

It speaks of the City of Evil (Kara Shehr) [REH Fire 32].

Says that the region of the Nameless City is shunned by natives, and speaks of the spectral wind that emanates therefrom [AWD Keeper 155]. 

Medusa

The Medusa-like being that was Marceline Bedard was hinted at in it [HPL Medusa 187]. 

Pre-Atlantean Knowledge

Dr. Alfred Clarendon said there are things in Alhazred's Azif which weren't known in Atlantis [HPL Test 47].

Spells and Rituals

Includes a formula for transferring one's soul to another person's body [HPL Doorstep 289]. 

Gilman apparently read there of sacrificial rituals such as are practiced on Walpurgis Night and were intoned by Keziah Mason [HPL WitchHouse 290-291]. 

The Arabic original includes an incantation that is lacking from Wormius' Latin edition. It is for the exorcism of the dead, using rare Arabian spices and the names of at least a hundred ghouls and demons. [CAS Return 38]

Includes cabalistic lore and incantations [AWD Witches 301]. Alijah Billington used knowledge from it to close the "opening" he had made [AWD Lurker 127]. 

Symbols and Hieroglyphs

Stephen Jones once had access to the dreaded book, and recognized from it a peculiar symbol on a door in the crypt in Roger's Museum [HPL Museum 217]. 

Includes descriptions or citations of primal symbols resembling those found in the scroll of T'yog [HPL Aeons 268].

On viewing a photo of the black stone found in the Round Hill woods, Albert Wilmarth recognized hieroglyphs from it [HPL Whisperer 222].

Other Readers and Would-Be Readers

Stuart Reynolds hastened to Widener Library for a glimpse of it [HPL Aeons 270]. Jebediah Orne was confounded by the seventh book, which Joseph Curwen had hopes for understanding [HPL Case 138]. Edward Derby read it but later swore that he'd burn it if he were the Miskatonic librarian [HPL Doorstep 279, 295]. Nathaniel Wingate Peasley consulted it while possessed by a member of the Great Race [HPL Time 374]. Pabodie had read it [HPL Mountains 22]. Danforth was among the few who read completely through the copy in the Misk. U. library [HPL Mountains 106].

By examining the passages that Wilbur Whateley had consulted, Dr. Henry Armitage found terrible clues to the impending threat [HPL Dunwich 172]. Armitage later called out for the book in his delirium [185]. Dr. Henry Armitage first started studying the Necronomicon after the strange meteor struck Nahum Gardner's farm [FL Terror2 300].

Voices whispered the name of the Necronomicon to Georg Reuter Fischer [FL Terror2 285].

James Allington had a copy in his study of an unspecified edition; Allington felt the others at his club would shudder at it [RB Suicide 19-20]. Robert Harrison Blake was told of it by a correspondent, a mystic dreamer in New England; nobody in common bookstores had heard of it [RB Shambler 179, 180]. Professor Alexander Chaupin had made some studies of it [RB Grinning 54]. Gideon Godfrey had read blasphemous accounts in it [RB Satan 8]. Edgar Gordon had dreams that corresponded curiously with passages from it [RB Demon 64, 68]. Strange's father introduced him to it [RB Tomb 13].

John Carnby's experiences confirmed the terrible truth of the passage about the will of a dead sorceror [CAS Return 43], and he tried the exorcism of the dead from the Necronomicon [44]. Paul Tregardis had collated the Book of Eibon with it, and found many correspondences of the blackest and most appalling significance [CAS Ubbo 49].

Gordon Whitney spent shuddering, horror-ridden hours perusing the Latin version of it [RFS Warder 154]; Whitney's studies of the Eltdown Shards reminded him of frightful allusions in it [RFS Warder 159].

Rambeau and Baldwyn tried for years to find a copy, but never succeeded [DWR Music 294].

Captain Cartaret found emendations while inspecting the Necronomicon in London for information on Nephren-Ka [RB Fane 135].

Doctor Wycherly encountered a book said to be more terrible than it [HH Guardian 288, 289, 299, 304].

The Abyss narrator may have read it [RAL Abyss 284]; Graf Norden made references to obscure passages in it [RAL Abyss 285]. Graag's notes in the margins of his book mention it [RAL Graag 13]. After going mad, Jim Garlan spoke Latin passages that his doctors surmised he must have read in a forbidden book in the British Museum [RAL Settlers (26)]. Dave Fenner's notebook included a Latin quotation from a book identified as "AA" (presumably Abdul Alhazred or Al-Azif), an old book dealing with magic and spells and very strange lore [(31, 32)].  A fiction writer in Rhode Island (presumably HPL) knows a lot about it  [(32)].

Tony Alwyn knew of the weird knowledge hidden in it, the most shunned of all the forbidden texts at Miskatonic University [AWD Beyond2 164]. Asaph Gilman stumbled across a copy of it after his retirement from Harvard [AWD Gorge 120]. 

Laban Shrewsbury quoted the unexplainable couplet from it [AWD Curwen 19]. Shrewsbury sent Andrew Phelan to Miskatonic University to transcribe a page [AWD Curwen 21].  Andrew Phelan consulted the copy at Miskatonic on several occasions [AWD Sky 59]. Before fleeing Arkham, Shrewsbury gathered his notes about it [AWD Curwen 41]. Shrewsbury cited it as one of the sources of the Cthulhu Mythos [AWD Island 180]. Shrewsbury mentioned it to Nayland Colum [AWD Keeper 141]. Shrewsbury gave Nayland Colum transcriptions of portions of it to read [AWD Keeper 163]. Abel Keane found the book to be extremely ambiguous [AWD Sky 59].

Amos Tuttle stole the Miskatonic Library copy, but when on his deathbed, arranged for his attorney Haddon return it [AWD Hastur 2-3, 5]. Later the copy was again taken from the library by Paul Tuttle and once more returned by Haddon [AWD Hastur 7, 9, 15]. David had delved into the Necronomicon at Miskatonic [AWD Sandwin 105]. Sylvan Phillips wrote of it [AWD Seal 159]. Marius Phillips read from the copy at Miskatonic, under the watchful eye of a librarian's assistant [AWD Seal 168]. Soames Hemery stumbled on a book by a mad Arab [AWD OutThere]. Dr. Amos Piper consulted it while possessed by a member of the Great Race [AWD Space 234].

Dr. Seneca Lapham was allowed to borrow the Latin Necronomicon from Miskatonic University library, but planned to return it by the same evening [AWD Lurker (119), 125, 133]. Alijah Billington obtained more of the Necronomicon than Richard Billington had thought possible to find [AWD Lurker 141]. 

The forger Alastair White claimed to have a copy for sale, but in Solar Pon's estimation, it was only a hoax. White's spurious catalog quoted Von Junzt as writing of the Necronomicon: "es steht ausser Zweiful, dass dieses Buch ist die Grundlage der Okkulteliteratur." This appears to mean something like "it stands clear that this book is the basis of Occult literature." [AWD Six 124].

Further Studies...

See Also: Al-Azif
 

The Necronomicon Files: The Truth Behind Lovecraft's Legend
By Daniel Harms and John Wisdom Gonce III
Thoroughly researched study of the Necronomicon as H. P. Lovecraft originally conceived it, and as promoted subsequently both by mischievous hoaxers and serious occultists. Recommended. Click here for pricing and ordering information.

Harms and Gonce also maintain a related webpage with Necronomicon resources: The Necronomicon Files.

The Necronomicon : Selected Stories & Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab
Robert M. Price (Editor), et al . A fun selection of re-creations of the Necronomicon; stories about the book and its mad author, Abdul Alhazred; and playful scholarly essays, including Robert M. Price's application of the tools of Higher Criticism to the surviving fragments of the original text. Recommended. Click here for pricing and ordering information.
Al Azif: The Necronomicon
One of the earliest hoax Necronomicons, this one provides only the "look" of the mythical book, as it consists of many pages of meaningless calligraphy in a nonexistant language,  with no translation. Click here for pricing and ordering information.
The Necronomicon: The Book of Dead Names
Edited by George Hay; Introduction by Colin Wilson. A more plausible looking attempt than you might expect, this purports to be the recently deciphered text of an encrypted manuscript by the very real 17th Century magician, John Dee. The text is full of invocations to Lovecraftian deities, and the contributors supply speculation to the effect that HPL's father could have been a Freemason who passed this lore to his son. Actually, Wilson has since confessed that the volume is a prank, and Daniel Harms has shown that the Freemason link is not plausible anyway. Click here for pricing and ordering information
The Necronomicon
By Simon. Said by John Wisdom Gonce III to be the only one of the "Necronomicons" of much interest to practicing occultists. It's a modern book of magical rites that are very distantly inspired by Sumerian mythology and some trace elements of HPL's mythology. This has been a very popular book for some reason. It's hard to say whether HPL would be amused or distressed. Click here for pricing and ordering information.  
Necronomicon
By Donald Tyson. An attempt to create a Necronomicon more consistent with Lovecraft's Mythos. A nice looking book, but the bits that I've read of it seemed fairly tame. Click here for pricing and ordering information.



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