Great Old Ones
A Great Old One is a type of fictional deity in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. Collectively, the Great Old Ones (sometimes referred to as the Old Ones by some authors or the Cthulhu Cycle Deities by Brian Lumley in his Titus Crow stories) are not as powerful as the Outer Gods, nor do they have as much influence. Nonetheless, they are served by devoted congregations of worshipers, made up of both human and non-human cults.
Great Old Ones in the mythos
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons, even death may die.
—Abdul Alhazred, The Necronomicon
The Great Old Ones are ancient creatures of immense power. Most are also colossal in size. They are worshipped by deranged human cults, as well as by most of the non-human races of the mythos. The Great Old Ones are currently imprisoned—a few beneath the sea, some inside the Earth, and still others in distant planetary systems (and beyond). The reason for their captivity is not known, though there are two prevailing theories: (1) They were sequestered by the Elder Gods for committing past transgressions, or (2) they are sealed off somehow from the rest of the universe by their own volition.
According to the first theory, the Great Old Ones were once members or servants of the Elder Gods. When they committed some unknown blasphemy, they were cast out and imprisoned in various places in the universe. The Great Old Ones impatiently await the time of their release, eager to seek retribution against their jailors.
The second theory holds that the Great Old Ones are intentionally quiescent. To account for this, it is possible that the universe experiences cosmic cycles, similar to the seasons of the earth. Just as some animals hibernate during the winter, so too must the Great Old Ones rest in death-like sleep during the present cosmic cycle. If this is so, the Great Old Ones are currently trapped by powerful cosmic forces and must remain so until such time as "the stars are right"—the event whenupon they are released and can revel once more across the cosmos.
Another theory suggests that the Great Old Ones have fallen into hibernation due to unsuitable conditions. It is also possible that they are subject to some combination of the theories previously proposed.
Table of Great Old Ones
Also see: Category:Great Old Ones
This table is organized as follows:
- Name. This is the commonly accepted name of the Great Old One.
- Epithet(s), other name(s). This field lists any epithets or alternate names for the Great Old One. These are names that often appear in books of arcane literature, but may also be the names preferred by cults.
- Description. This entry gives a brief description of the Great Old One.
- References. This field lists the stories in which the Great Old One makes a significant appearance or otherwise receives important mention. Sources are denoted by a simple two-letter code—the key to the codes is found here. If a code appears in bold, it means that the story introduces the Great Old One.
|Aphoom-Zhah|| The Cold Flame, |
Lord of the Pole
|Appears as a vast, cold, grey flame.||AF, AT, HG, LP|
|Arwassa||The Silent Shouter on the Hill||A vast, wailing, floating monstrosity.||?|
|Atlach-Nacha|| The Spider God, |
Spinner in Darkness
|A giant spider with a human-like face.||PS, SG|
|Baoht Z'uqqa-Mogg||The Bringer of Pestilence||A huge, flying, scorpion-like beast.||n/a|
|Basatan||Master of the Crabs||?||MC|
|Bokrug|| The Great Water Lizard, |
The Doom of Sarnath
|Appears as a giant lizard.||DC, SC|
|Bugg-Shash|| The Black One,|
The Filler of Space,
He Who Comes in the Dark
|Appears as a slimy mass covered with eyes and mouths.||DI, EL, KB, RS|
|Byatis|| The Berkeley Toad, |
|Appears as a gigantic, spider-like crab with a proboscis.||BY, RC, SF|
|Chaugnar Faugn|| Horror from the Hills, |
|An elephant-headed humanoid.||HF|
|Cthugha|| The Living Flame, |
The Burning One
|Appears as a living ball of fire.||DD, EL, HC|
|Cthulhu|| The Sleeping God, |
Master of R'lyeh,
|A gigantic, octopus-headed humanoid.||AM, CC, FH, HC, HM, MO, PS, RH, SE, TU, YT?|
|Cthylla||Secret Seed of Cthulhu||Appears as a huge, octopus-like creature. Daughter of Cthulhu.||ID, TC|
|Cxaxukluth|| ||Probably appears similar to Azathoth.||FT, TA|
|Cyäegha|| The Destroying Eye, |
The Waiting Dark
|Appears as a gigantic eye covered with tentacles.||DM|
|Cynothoglys||The Mortician God||Appears as a shapeless, mutating entity with a single arm.||PR|
|The Dweller in the Gulf||Eidolon of the Blind||Appears as a huge, eyeless tortoise with whip-like tails.||WL|
|Eihort|| The Pale Beast, |
God of the Labyrinth
|Appears as a huge, pallid, gelatinous oval with a myriad legs and multiple eyes.||BS, FP|
|Father Dagon and Mother Hydra||<center>—||Both appear as abnormally large Deep Ones.||DA, DB, RD, SI|
|Ghadamon||A Seed of Azathoth||A shapeless, inky, protoplasmic mass.||?|
|Ghatanothoa|| The Usurper, |
God of the Volcano
|Amorphous with multifarious appendages and grotesque members; too horrid to behold, viewing causes petrification.||HT, OE, RL, SX, TP|
|Glaaki|| The Inhabitant of the Lake, |
Lord of Dead Dreams
|Appears as a giant slug with metallic spines.||GL, IB, IL|
|Gloon|| The Corrupter of Flesh, |
Master of the Temple
|Manifests through a Dionysian sculpture; resembles a monstrous sea slug.||TE|
| The Forgotten Old One, |
God of the Black Stone
|Appears as a gigantic, black, toad-like creature with an impossibly malevolent glare.||FO, FR, GB|
|Hastur|| The Unspeakable, |
He Who is Not to be Named,
Lord of Interstellar Spaces
|"True" form remains a mystery; said to be amorphous, possibly octopoid.||FA, HS, LT, RH, SS|
|Huitloxopetl|| Haunter of Dreams, |
The Nightmare Walker
|?||H1, H2, H3, H4|
|Hzioulquoigmnzhah||<center>—||Has spheroid body, elongated arms, short legs, and a pendulum-like head dangling underneath.||DS, FT, TA|
|Iod||The Shining Hunter||A levitating, sinuous, glowing creature.||HU, IN, SZ|
|Ithaqua|| The Wind Walker, |
God of the Cold White Silence
|A horrifying frozen giant.||BW, CD, IM, IQ, SW, TW, WE|
|Juk-Shabb||God of Yekub||Appears as a great ball of energy.||CF|
|Lloigor||See Zhar and Lloigor below.|
|M'nagalah|| The Great God Cancer, |
|A massive, tumorous thing.||TU|
|Mnomquah||Lord of the Black Lake||A very large and eyeless lizard-creature with a "crown" of feelers.||MD, MQ, SB|
|Mordiggian|| The Charnel God, |
The Great Ghoul,
Lord of Zul-Bha-Sair
|A horrifying giant with eyeless head and limbless body, much like a worm.||CG, IC, RE|
|Nug and Yeb||The Twin Blasphemies||Appear similar to Shub-Niggurath.||BF, EH, LA, OA, TO|
|Nyogtha|| The Thing which Should Not Be, |
Haunter of the Red Abyss
|Appears as an inky shadow.||AF, HG, SH, SR|
|Oorn||?||Appears as a huge, tentacled mollusc.||MD|
|Othuum|| Deep Slumberer in Green, |
Great Master of Those-Who-Wait-Without
|Black, cyclops-like demon with two pairs of legs.||OT, RS|
|Othuyeg||The Doom-Walker||Appears as a great, tentacled eye (similar to Cyäegha).||DF, VC, SP|
|Quachil Uttaus||Treader of the Dust||Appears as a miniature, wrinkled mummy with ankylosed, outstretched claws.||KU, RU|
|Q'yth-az||?||A crystalline entity.||EF|
|Rhan-Tegoth||He of the Ivory Throne||A tall humanoid with crab-like appendages; hard to describe in a few words.||HM, LT|
|Rlim Shaikorth||The White Worm||A gigantic, whitish worm with a huge maw and eyes made of dripping globules of blood.||CW, HG, LP|
|Saa'itii||The Hogge||A giant, spectral hog.||?|
|Shterot||?||Separate, living tentacles.||?|
|Shudde M'ell|| The Burrower Beneath, |
The Great Chthonian
|Appears as a colossal worm with anterior tentacles.||BU, CS, TC, WU|
|Summanus||?||A mouthless, grotesque human.||WG|
|Tsathoggua|| The Sleeper of N'kai, |
|Appears as a huge, furry, almost humanoid toad.||BC, DS, FT, IU, OL, RT, SG, TS|
|Vulthoom|| The Sleeper of Ravermos, |
|May appear as a monstrous plant with an enormous, elf-like blossom.||VU|
|The Worm that Gnaws in the Night||Doom of Shaggai||A massive, worm-like fiend.||AG|
|X'chll'at-aa|| Lord of the Great Old Ones, |
The Unborn God,
Enemy of All That Live
|Y'golonac||The Defiler||Appears as a naked, headless human with a mouth in the palm of each hand; other features are nebulous.||CP|
|Yhoundeh||The Elk Goddess||Perhaps an elk-like humanoid.||DS, LE|
|Yibb-Tstll|| The Patient One, |
The Watcher in the Glade
|Gigantic, bat-winged humanoid with detached eyes; truly horrible to behold.||CB, OK, SC|
|Yig||Father of Serpents||A scaly, serpent-like humanoid.||CY, SJ, VY|
|Ythogtha||The Thing in the Pit||Appears as a colossal, cyclops-like Deep One.||OA, PD, TC, TP|
|Zhar and Lloigor||The Twin Obscenities||Both appear as a colossal mass of tentacles (have a rumoured triplet).||SA, LS, SX|
|Zoth-Ommog||Dweller in the Deeps||A gigantic entity with a cone-shaped body, a reptilian head, and starfish-like arms.||HG, OA, TC|
|Zushakon|| Dark Silent One, |
|Appears as a swirling, black vortex.||BH, KD|
|Zvilpoggua|| Feaster from the Stars, |
|Winged, tentacle-faced, toad-like giant.||LT, RM, SV|
|Zstylzhemgni|| Matriarch of Swarms, |
- <cite id="endnote_Harms-228" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> In Lovecraft's fiction, the term "Old Ones" is used in different contexts. In his short story "The Call of Cthulhu" (the first mythos story to mention the "Great Old Ones"), Lovecraft alternately used "Old Ones" in place of "Great Old Ones"—although in this context, the name referred to Cthulhu's spawn (Harms, "Great Old Ones", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 128). In Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness, "Old Ones" referred to the Antarctic-based Elder Things. In "The Dunwich Horror", Lovecraft named the "Old Ones" as beings associated with Yog-Sothoth. In Lovecraft's revision story "The Mound", the term "Old Ones" referred to the denizens of K'n-yan. Nonetheless, despite its varied usages, "Old Ones" more commonly refers to the Great Old Ones or the Elder Things. (Harms, "Old Ones", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 228–9).
- <cite id="endnote_Harms-126" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> Harms, "Great Old Ones", pp. 126–7.
- <cite id="endnote_harms-127" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> Ibid. While the first theory, which proposes that the Great Old Ones were forcibly imprisoned by the Elder Gods, is delineated by the writings of August Derleth, the second theory (relating to "cosmic cycles") is debatable but is favored by Harms.
- <cite id="endnote_Lovecraft-88" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928), The Best of H.P. Lovecraft, pp. 88.
- <cite id="endnote_Unknown-a" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> This information lacks a reference. You can improve this article can providing one.
- <cite id="endnote_Aniolowski-MM" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> Scott D. Aniolowski, "Mysterious Manuscripts" in The Unspeakable Oath #3, John Tynes (ed.), Seattle, WA: Pagan Publishing, August 1991. Periodical (role-playing game material). Baoht Z'uqqa-Mogg first appeared in this gaming supplement.
- <cite id="endnote_price-xx" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> When Brian Lumley read David Sutton's short story "Demoniacal", he wrote a sequel entitled "The Kiss of Bugg-Shash". Lumley expanded Sutton's tale and gave his unnamed entity its name—Bugg-Shash—which effectively tied Sutton's creation to the mythos. (Price, "Introduction", The New Lovecraft Circle, pp. xx–xxi). The name "Bugg-Shash", however, appeared earlier in Lumley's short story "Rising with Surtsey" (Harms, "Bugg-Shash", Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 41).
- <cite id="endnote_Harms-196" style="font-style: normal;">^</cite> M'nagalah first appeared in the comic book Swamp Thing #8 (1974) in a story by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. (Harms, "M'nagalah", Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. 196).