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General
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This portion of the alt.horror.cthulhu FAQ was brought to you by Donovan K. Loucks (webmaster@hplovecraft.com).


  • Q: What is this newsgroup about?

    A: The group is specifically about the creatures, people, places and legends of the Cthulhu Mythos (or Cthulhu Cycle) as reported in the fiction of Howard Phillips Lovecraft and numerous other authors. More generally, the newsgroup also covers other aspects of H.P. Lovecraft’s life and work, works by other authors of related style and content, and Mythos-related organizations and products (real or fictional) such as Miskatonic University, music, games, tee shirts, and posters.

  • Q: What is Cthulhu?

    A: The best answer to this question is found in Lovecraft’s tale “The Call of Cthulhu”. Cthulhu is a monstrous entity who lies “dead but dreaming” in the city of R’lyeh, a place of non-Euclidean madness presently (and mercifully) sunken below the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Cthulhu appears in various monstrous and demonic forms in early myths of the human race. Racial memory preserves Him as humanity’s most basic nightmare. Cthulhu is the high priest of the Great Old Ones, unnatural alien beings who ruled the Earth before humanity formed, worshipped as gods by some misguided people. It is said that They will return, causing worldwide insanity and mindless violence before finally displacing humanity forever.

  • Q: How is “Cthulhu” pronounced?

    A: There are basically three different pronunciations that I have heard, other pronunciations being slight modifications on these.

    The most commonly heard pronunciation is that suggested by Chaosium, makers of the “Call of Cthulhu” roleplaying game. On the back of many of their gaming products is printed the phrase, “Can you say kuh-THOOL-hoo?.”

    Another pronunciation is that used by several Lovecraftian scholars. This form is based on Lovecraft’s revision tales where Cthulhu is often referred to as “Clooloo” or “Clulu.” Unfortunately, this form does not have a sound representing the “th” combination.

    The pronunciation that I prefer is a compromise between these two. The “h” sounds are aspirated, thus the “th” is not as in “them” or “thin,” but two separate sounds. The first four letters of the word are run together in something like a sneezing sound, “K’t’hoo-lhoo.”

    According to H.P. Lovecraft:

    “The actual sound - as nearly as human organs could imitate it or human letters record it - may be taken as something like Khlul’-hloo, with the first syllable pronounced gutturally and very thickly.”

    “The best approximation one can make is to grunt, bark, or cough the imperfectly formed syllables Cluh-Luh with the tip of the tongue firmly affixed to the roof of the mouth. That is, if one is a human being. Directions for other entities are naturally different.”

    From these quotes (taken from Lovecraft’s letters), one might conclude that the second pronunciation mentioned above is the most correct of the three.

  • Q: Who is H.P. Lovecraft?

    A: Howard Phillips Lovecraft was a writer of weird fiction who wrote most of his tales during the 1920s and 1930s. He was born on August 20, 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his life. He was briefly married and lived in Brooklyn for two years. After this he returned to Providence where he died on March 15, 1937.

  • Q: Where is H.P. Lovecraft buried?

    A: Lovecraft is buried in Swan Point Cemetery, Providence, R.I., which is just northeast of the Brown University and College Hill area. He and his parents are in the plot belonging to his maternal grandfather, Whipple Van Buren Phillips. Once you enter the cemetery, follow Holly Avenue straight back to Junction Avenue, where you make a left. Soon after this, Pond Avenue curves off to the right. Follow Pond until it intersects Avenue B. The family plot is on the east side of the intersection of these two avenues.

    Lovecraft’s grave was unmarked until the mid-1970s when fans raised funds for a tombstone. Prior to that, the only indication that he was buried there was his name inscribed on the back of the large family monument. On his tombstone is inscribed:

    HOWARD PHILLIPS
    LOVECRAFT
    AUGUST 20, 1890
    MARCH 15, 1937
    –––––
    ‘I AM PROVIDENCE’

    The “I am Providence” quote is from a letter he wrote to James F. Morton dated May 16, 1926.

  • Q: Where does August Derleth stand in all this?

    A: August Derleth was one of H.P. Lovecraft’s friends and fans. He was directly responsible for preventing Lovecraft’s works from falling into oblivion, and co-founded Arkham House for that purpose; for this we owe him a zillion kudos. He wrote many tales within the Cthulhu Mythos; some of these are based on outlines or fragments by Lovecraft, such as “The Lurker at the Threshold.”

    The controversy over Derleth is that in his tales he adds a number of concepts to the Cthulhu Mythos which appear to be at odds with Lovecraft’s conception. He introduced the Elder Gods, ultra-powerful beings who had imprisoned the Great Old Ones and who protect the human race from their machinations. He also turned the Great Old Ones into elemental beings, contrary to Lovecraft’s concept of them as unnatural alien invaders, and raising awkward questions such as “If Cthulhu is a water elemental, why is he imprisoned by the sea?” Whereas Lovecraft depicted the Mythos creatures as horrible, alien, and incomprehensible, Derleth sometimes made them understandable and almost likeable – contrast Lovecraft’s “The Shadow over Innsmouth” with Derleth’s “The Seal of R’lyeh.”

    While Derleth deserves praise for his promotion of Lovecraft, his guardianship of the Lovecraft canon was not without its problems. Derleth set out to control not only the publication of Lovecraft’s work (a move of dubious legality), but also the printing of Cthulhu Mythos stories, Lovecraft criticism, and other articles about HPL. For this reason, many Lovecraft scholars have become vocal opponents of August Derleth and his policies toward Lovecraft. Although Derleth’s ideas are anathema to many Lovecraft purists, his contribution to and influence over the development of the Cthulhu Mythos has been immense and ongoing.

  • Q: Does anyone actually take Lovecraft or Mythos fiction as fact?

    A: This is a loaded question. To answer it, I will assume that Lovecraft (et al) created the core of the Mythos, as well as numerous tomes, but mixed in a generous helping of real-life people, places, and things. As an example, “The Golden Bough” is a real book (in fact I own a copy of this, IMHO, boring text), but the Necronomicon is not. So, though Lovecraft (et al) used “The Golden Bough” in their stories, this answer has nothing to do with whether or not anyone believes that the book exists. It does deal with those who believe that things like the Necronomicon exist, (as well as any ficticious race, place, tome, etc).

    To move on to the answer: Yes. Some folks take this fiction as ‘fact’. Here are the examples we have thus far:

    • The Church of Satan – Although they don’t proclaim to believe in “The Old Ones” (per se), they do believe in the symbology of “Cthulhu” as something worth basing two of their rituals upon. Said rituals are found in The Satanic Rituals, by Anton Szandor LaVey (Avon Books).

    • The Necronomicon Anti-FAQ by Colin Low – Written in the same spirit as Lovecraft’s own “History of the Necronomicon,” but in much greater detail, this document has caused a considerable amount of confusion amongst those not “in the know.” Colin Low refers to this as an Anti-FAQ, does not claim that it is someting to be believed, and openly admits that it is a hoax. It’s at least worth a read-through for its application to the game “Call of Cthulhu” (see the “Games” part of this FAQ). It may be found at:

      http://www.digital-brilliance.com/necron/necron.htm

    • “The Oldest History of the World” by Benny Evangelist (1936) – “The author of this book was found decapitated in his Detroit home on July 3, 1929, near the murdered remains of his family. Investigation revealed that Benny was the leader of a secretive cult, and had left behind a manuscript which he claimed to have been divinely inspired. The first part of this manuscript was later published. Yes, it sounds like your standard Mythos story, but this one really happened.

      “Anyway, the book above actually has little to do with the Mythos. I am noting it because at three points in the text, a book of black magic which is titled ‘Necromicon’ or ‘Necronemicon’ turns up. I haven’t read it, so I can’t say whether it’s any good. I got that last bit of information from Colin Wilson’s novel The Philosopher’s Stone. Since Wilson claims not to make anything up, and since History wasn’t his invention, I don’t think it would hurt to tell you about this one, too.” - Daniel Harms (harmsdm@ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu)

    • “Secrets of Atlantis” by Gabriel Guenon (1941) – “Secrets was written shortly before its author’s death. According to Wilson, it attempts to prove that Lovecraft was writing about things which really existed. Unfortunately, a brief check down at the ol’ library has turned up the following information:

      1. It’s not in print.
      2. It’s not available through inter-library loan.
      3. The British Museum Library doesn’t have it.

    My guess is that it was published in a limited edition in England, and never reached our shores. Or maybe all copies were destroyed by an evil cult. Take your choice.” - Daniel Harms (harmsdm@ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu)

  • “The Satanic Lays” – Contain 2 ceremonies to raise the Great Old Ones. The German ritual on electricity seems to allude to Lovecraft’s quotes about the Old Ones, as well as to the Hounds of Tindalos.

  • Kenneth Grant:
    • “Aleister Crowley and the Hidden God” by Kenneth Grant
    • “Man, Myth and Magic.” Kenneth Grant has a 2 page article in the appendices. “Grant believes that Lovecraft was in touch with Cthulhu & Co., who prompted him to write his stories. He then cites other cross-cultural influences which seem to point toward this conclusion. Unfortunately, the man’s an awful Lovecraftian scholar, and his stuff’s filled with mistakes” - Daniel Harms (harmsdm@ctrvax.vanderbilt.edu)

  • The Esoteric Order of Dagon – The following is the last public announcement I am aware of by the Esoteric Order of Dagon. It is posted with the permission of Ms. Crummett:

    STATEMENT OF THE YADDITH LODGE
    The Yaddith Lodge is at this time the only genuine and active Lodge of the Esoteric Order of Dagon (E.’.O.’.D.’.) and is entrusted to protect the reputation and integrity of the EOD during its present Period of Silence.
    The only members of the Yaddith Lodge are the three former Directors of the EOD.
    Any person not a member of the Yaddith Lodge claiming to be a member, to represent a Lodge, or to be the Director of the EOD is either self-deluded or consciously misleading and manipulating the uninformed.
    When the Period of Silence has ended the Yaddith Lodge will appoint a new Director and this person will then be authorized to open other authentic Lodges and confirm membership in the EOD.

    - Issued by the Yaddith Lodge, Vernal Equinox, 1993 e.v. (Signed) Steven Greenwood, Nina Crummett, Peter Smith

    The Esoteric Order of Dagon is therefore inactive at this time. I must stress that this organization is not to be confused with the amateur press association of the same name. [Contributed by: David Smith (EsoOrDagon@aol.com)]

  • The Miskatonick Society – There is another group called the Miskatonick (sic) Society which has some overlap with the above group but is not a “magick” group. They publish a journal called ‘The Silver Key’ which is free to members. There are no dues or fees to belong to the Miskatonick Society but membership is by invitation only and limited. There is a branch in England as well as the U.S. I am not a member of this group but know many of the American members. They do not engage in graverobbing or acts of violence and only want to correspond with sane, rational, literate scholars of Lovecraftian/fringe subjects.
    These include Lovecraft, Machen, Kenneth Grant’s books and theories, UFO cults and cranks, especially in relationship to Lovecraftian themes, the Jungian transpersonal forces of the unconscious as the “Great Old Ones,” etc.
    Writers and artists interested in joining should enquire and perhaps include an example of their work (with SASE if they want it returned.) [Contributed by: David Smith (EsoOrDagon@aol.com)]

  • Q: What are the addresses of the various companies or organizations which are mentioned throughout this FAQ?

    A: The following address list is presented because folks have found it difficult to pick and choose addresses from within the FAQ. Also, due to repeated mentionings of various companies and organizations, this list will prevent having multiple postings of their addresses.

    • Arkham House Publishers, Inc.
      P.O. Box 546
      Sauk City, WI 53583 USA

    • BAKKA
      282 Queen St. West
      Toronto, Ontario Canada

    • Borgo Press
      P.O. Box 2845
      San Bernardino, CA 92406-2845 USA

    • Caliber Comics
      11904 Farmington Rd.
      Livonia, MI 48150 USA

    • Chaosium, Inc.
      900 Murmansk Street, Suite 5
      Oakland, CA 94607 USA
      E-mail: chaosium@chaosium.com
      WWW: http://www.chaosium.com
      Phone: (800)213-1493 or (510)547-7681
      Fax: (510)547-2651

    • Cinefex
      P.O. Box 20027
      Riverside, CA 92516 USA
      Phone: (909) 781-1917

    • Dark House
      RR1, Box 149
      Millville, MN 55957-9741 USA

    • The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets
      261 W. 22nd Ave.
      Vancouver, BC, V5Y 2G3, Canada

      WWW: http://www.holycow.com/thickets

    • Deadline Press
      P.O. Box 2808
      Apache Junction, AZ 85220 USA

    • Fedogan & Bremer
      3721 Minneahaha Avenue South
      Minneapolis, MN 55406 USA
      Phone: (612) 721-8848
      Fax: (612) 721-9491
      E-mail: fedbrem@visi.com

    • Jay Gregory
      5643 Mosholu Ave.
      Riverdale, NY 10471 USA

    • Landfall Productions
      120 Bentworth Road
      London
      W12 7AH U.K.

      or

      19 Nascot Street
      London
      W12 0HE U.K.

    • The Magickal Childe Bookstore
      35 West 19th Street
      New York, NY 10011 USA
      Phone: (212) 242-7182

    • The Miskatonick Society
      P.O. Box 5301
      Eugene, Oregon 97405 USA

    • Miskatonic Univeristy Press
      P.O. Box 796
      Rockport, MA 01966-0996 USA

    • Mythos Books
      19057 First Street
      Eagle River, AK 99577-8352 USA

    • Necronomicon Press
      P.O. Box 1304
      West Warwick, RI 02893 USA
      E-mail: necropress@ids.net
      WWW: http://www.necropress.com
      Phone: (401) 828-7161
      Fax: (401) 826-1151

    • Pagan Publishing
      5536 25th Ave. NE
      Seattle, WA 98105-2415 USA
      Phone: (206) 528-7665
      Fax: (206) 528-0199
      E-mail: rev@tccorp.com
      WWW: http://www.tccorp.com/pagan

    • Pharaoh Audiobooks
      P.O. Box 10393
      Sedona, AZ 86339 USA

    • RAFM Co., Inc.
      20 Parkhill Rd. East
      Cambridge, Ontario, N1R 1P2 Canada

    • Starlog Press
      475 Park Avenue South
      New York, NY 10016 USA

    • Starry Wisdom
      1903 Harmon St.
      Berkeley, CA 94703 USA

    • Sunset Productions
      369 Montezuma, Suite 416
      Santa Fe, NM 87501 USA
      Phone: 1-800-829-5723

    • Tsathoggua Press
      6442 Pat Ave.
      West Hills, CA 91307 USA
      E-mail: Perry Grayson (am119@lafn.org)
      WWW: http://www.creative.net/~alang/lit/horror/tsathoggua_press.sht

    • Wizard’s Attic
      P.O. Box 718
      Hayward, CA 94543-0718 USA
      Phone: 1-800-213-1493 (USA)
      Phone: 510-547-2158 (Europe)

    • Yith Press
      1051 Wellington Road
      Lawrence, KS 66049 USA


    End of Part 2 of the alt.horror.cthulhu FAQ, “General.”

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