Difference between revisions of "Cthulhu Mythos"

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| 1. Six-legged, furry, [[rhinocerous]]-like creatures with an affinity for cold climes. || '''HM''', LT, SM
| 1. Six-legged, furry, [[rhinocerous]]-like creatures with an affinity for cold climes. || '''HM''', LT, SM
| 2. Hairy cannibals that once dwelt in Lomar. || '''PO'''
| 2. Hairy cannibals that once dwelt in Lomar. || '''PO''', DQ
| [[Gnorri]] || Resemble [[Merman|mermen]] with possibly one or two additional arms. || '''SK'''
| [[Gnorri]] || Resemble [[Merman|mermen]] with possibly one or two additional arms. || '''SK'''

Revision as of 22:39, 15 December 2016

Cthulhu in R'lyeh

Cthulhu mythos is the term coined by the writer August Derleth to describe the shared themes, characters, and elements in the works of H.P. Lovecraft, his protegés, and writers influenced by him. Together, they form the mythos that authors, writing in the Lovecraftian milieu, have used—and continue to use—to craft their stories [1]. Although this mythology is sometimes called the Lovecraft Mythos—most notably by the Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi [2]—it has long since moved beyond Lovecraft's original conception. Still, purists who wish to discuss Lovecraft's work, rather than the modifications and expansions of it written by others, consider this to be the most accurate term. Lovecraft himself occasionally referred to it as the Arkham cycle [3], after the main fictional town in his world, or Yog-Sothothery [4], after one of its primary gods.

Lovecraft and the mythos

In his essay "The Lovecraft Mythos", S. T. Joshi defines four key elements in Lovecraft's mythos: (1) the fundamental principle of cosmicism, (2) an imaginary New England setting, (3) recurring "pseudomythological" entities, and (4) works of arcane literature. Joshi points out, however, that Lovecraft never fully realized his mythos at any time in his career, but instead developed it gradually, adding elements to it with each story he wrote [5].


Common themes in Lovecraft's fiction are the insignificance of humanity in the universe [6] and the search for knowledge ending in disaster [7]. Humans are often subject to powerful beings and other cosmic forces, but these forces are not so much malevolent as they are indifferent toward humanity [8]. Lovecraft called this viewpoint Cosmicism, a doctrine which holds that humankind's religious beliefs are a mere conceit and that ultimately humanity is alone and defenseless in an uncaring universe [9].

Imaginary New England setting

Many of Lovecraft's tales take place in a fictional New England setting which may be connected to what Lovecraft called his "Arkham cycle". These ficticious locales may also parallel real-life places in Massachusetts (see table below) [10].

Lovecraft's parallels to real places
Fictional town or city Actual location in Massachusetts
Arkham Salem
Dunwich Vicinity of Hampden, Wilbraham, and Monson
Innsmouth Newburyport
Kingsport Marblehead

Lovecraft's pantheon

Lovecraft's original pantheon

When Lovecraft conceived his imaginary mythology, he apparently never laid out a definitive plan to follow. Instead, he simply launched into writing his stories, adding matter-of-fact references to the various deities and monsters of the mythos. Furthermore, Lovecraft often used these references capriciously, indicating that he probably favored drama over consistency (a noteworthy example is Lovecraft's use of Old Ones, a term whose meaning varied from story to story). Nonetheless, Phillip A. Schreffler, in his book The H. P. Lovecraft Companion, argues that by carefully scrutinizing Lovecraft's writings a workable framework emerges for a pantheon of beings (see figure at right) [11]. Not included in this chart is Nodens [12], a member of a rival group of potent deities known as the "Elder Gods" (never expanded by Lovecraft) that were more or less benign [13].

Lovecraft's central deities are Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth, both representing opposing cosmic principles. Azathoth, the "blind and idiotic" ruler of the pantheon, occupies the literal center of the universe, whereas Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth's co-ruler, embodies the infinite, existing in all places and in all times. Next in the hierarchy is Shub-Niggurath (whom Lovecraft mentions but never describes in his stories), representing a kind of pagan fertility god. Attending Azathoth at his court are the Other Gods, mysterious beings that dance mindlessly around Azathoth's throne in cadence to the piping of a demonic flute, and Nyarlathotep, the avatar and messenger of Azathoth and the Other Gods. Nyarlathotep is the only being that can interact intelligently with human beings, though he often manifests himself in human form to disguise his true appearance.

The topmost tier of deities is served by earthbound, non-human beings. Cthulhu is regarded as the priest of the gods, while Dagon appears to be his subordinate. The lowest tier consists of the Elder Things and the Mi-go, both extraterrestrial races, and the Deep Ones, ocean-dwelling humanoids, which serve Cthulhu and Dagon [14].

Because of the additions of later authors, the mythos pantheon has grown considerably and is now populated by deities and beings never conceived of by Lovecraft. Nevertheless, the original schema, which places Azathoth and Yog-Sothoth at the top of the pantheon, is still widely recognized by many mythos writers.

Gods and devils

According to Robert M. Price in his essay "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", Lovecraft never intended his pantheon of beings—occasionally referred to as the Old Ones—to be supernatural creatures but instead powerful extraterrestrials. For naive humans to worship these beings as gods or to deride them as devils was to feebly attempt to anthropomorphize them and thus render them into mundane and explainable terms. What early humans could not understand they characterized as divine; thus, prescientific cultures deified incomprehensible entities like Azathoth. Though humans might try to placate or earn the favor of these beings by worshiping them, the Old Ones were not welcoming of such veneration and moreover were quick to exploit the gullibility of their worshipers to further their own agenda.

Lovecraft's inspiration was to tear humanity from its supposedly vaunted place in the universe by forcing his characters to confront alien beings far older and wiser than humankind. Unfortunately, August Derleth, as well as other writers who followed after him, misinterpreted Lovecraft's original conception and took the Old Ones to be literally supernatural and godlike. Derleth further distorted Lovecraft's vision by concocting a parallel to the Christian narrative of Satan warring against Heaven, pairing the devils of Lovecraft's mythos (the Old Ones) against a race of benevolent Elder Gods with humanity's fate hanging in the balance. In Price's view, "religious fiction" of this sort could not be further from Lovecraft's fundamental notion of an indifferent, nihilistic universe [15].

Cthulhuian pseudobiblia

A hallmark of Lovecraft's mythos is the various mystical books and other writings of arcane lore which Edward Lauterbach calls "Cthulhuian pseudobiblia" [16]. These tomes were invented by Lovecraft and his imitators to lend more believability to their stories. A good measure of humor was also employed in their creation; for example, Cultes des Goules is credited to the fictional writer Comte d'Erlette, an obvious pun of August Derleth's name [17].

Selected fictional works
created by mythos authors
Author Fictional book
Robert Bloch Cultes des Goules,
De Vermis Mysteriis
Ramsey Campbell Revelations of Glaaki
Lin Carter Ponape Scripture,
Zanthu Tablets
August Derleth Celaeno Fragments,
R’lyeh Text
Robert E. Howard Unaussprechlichen Kulten
H.P. Lovecraft Dhol Chants,
Pnakotic Manuscripts,
Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan
Brian Lumley Cthäat Aquadingen,
G’harne Fragments
Clark Ashton Smith Book of Eibon

Structure of the mythos

The mythos is centered on the Great Old Ones, a fearsome assortment of ancient, powerful deities that once ruled the Earth. They are presently quiescent, having fallen into a death-like sleep at some time in the distant past [18]. The most well-known of these beings is Cthulhu, who currently lies "dead [but] dreaming" in the submerged city of R'lyeh somewhere in the Southeast Pacific Ocean. One day, "when the stars are right", R'lyeh will rise from beneath the sea, and Cthulhu will awaken and wreak havoc on the earth [19]. Despite his notoriety, Cthulhu is not the most powerful of the deities nor is he the theological center of the mythos [20]. Instead, this position is held by the demon-god Azathoth, an Outer God, ruling from his cosmically-centered court. Nonetheless, Nyarlathotep, who fulfills Azathoth's random urges, has intervened more frequently and more directly in human affairs than any other Outer God. He has also displayed more blatant contempt for humanity, including his own worshipers, than almost any other Lovecraftian deity.

A number of different authors have applied different methods of structuring the entities of the Mythos. In part, this is an excellent manifestation of the ideas originated by Lovecraft, where contradictions were deliberately introduced to make the Mythos feel more naturalistic. However, some individuals like to choose one particular structuring form for their own use, whether private, for gaming, for fiction, or for whatever other use. To this end, a number of articles describing some of these structuring forms will be linked from here.

Mythos Structures
Chaosium Mythos Derleth Mythos Lumley Mythos Tierney Gnostic Mythos Tynes Mythos

Derleth's involvement

Derleth had his own take on the mythos and tried to make it conform to his own Catholic values and dualism. Instead of a universe of meaninglessness and chaos, Derleth's mythos is a struggle of good versus evil [21]. Derleth once wrote:

As Lovecraft conceived the deities or forces of his mythos, there were, initially, the Elder Gods... [T]hese Elder Gods were benign deities, representing the forces of good, and existed peacefully at or near Betelgeuze in the constellation Orion, very rarely stirring forth to intervene in the unceasing struggle between the powers of evil and the races of Earth. These powers of evil were variously known as the Great Old Ones or the Ancient Ones...
—August Derleth, "The Cthulhu Mythos"

Lovecraft was an atheist [22] and claimed that Immanuel Kant's ethical system "is a joke." [23] Because of this, Derleth's theories about the Cthulhu mythos are inconsistent with Lovecraft's design. The mythos was never intended to be a cohesive, singular entity; instead, it should be regarded as simply a collection of ideas that can be used in separate works to provoke the same emotions [24]. Another problem with Derleth's mythos is that the Elder Gods never appear in Lovecraft's writings; except for one or two who appear as "Other Gods", such as Nodens in Lovecraft's "The Strange High House in the Mist" (though perhaps this is an example of how "very rarely [they stir] forth"; i.e., usually never). Furthermore, the Great Old Ones, or Ancient Ones, have no unified pantheon [25]. Indeed, the term "Ancient Ones" appears in only one Lovecraft story, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" (moreover, the story is actually a collaboration between Lovecraft and his friend and correspondent E. Hoffman Price).

Derleth also introduced the concept of elementals, tying the deities of the mythos to the four elements of "air", "earth", "fire", and "water". This system left gaps which Derleth filled in by creating the beings Cthugha and Ithaqua, representing the spheres of "fire" and "air", respectively. However, the system is fraught with problems. For example, Derleth classified Cthulhu as a water elemental, but if this were so, how could he be trapped beneath the ocean and how could his psychic emanations be blocked by water? Another problem is that Derleth matched the "earth" beings against the "fire" beings and the "air" beings against the "water" beings, which is not consistent with the traditional elemental dichotomy (namely, that air opposes earth and fire opposes water) [26].

Derleth's elemental deities
Air Earth Fire Water
Zhar and Lloigor
Cthugha Cthulhu

To his credit, Derleth became a publisher of Lovecraft's stories after his death [27]. Lovecraft himself was very critical of his own writings and was often easily discouraged, especially when faced with any rejection of his work [28]. Were it not for Derleth, Lovecraft's writings and the Cthulhu mythos might have remained largely unknown.

Elements of the mythos


Tables appearing under these entries are organized as follows:

  • Name. This is the commonly accepted name of the being or mythos element.
  • Epithet(s), Other name(s). This field lists any epithets or alternate names. These are names sometimes mentioned in books of arcane literature, but may also be the names preferred by cults.
  • Description. This entry gives a brief description of the being or mythos element.
  • References. This field lists the stories in which the being or mythos element makes a significant appearance or otherwise receives important mention. A simple two-letter code is used (the key to the codes is found here). If a code appears in bold, this means that the story introduces the being or mythos element.


Great Old Ones

Main articles: Great Old Ones (Deities), and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]] (includes a table listing all the Great Old Ones in the mythos)

The Great Old Ones are powerful and ancient creatures worshiped by deranged human cults. Many of the Great Old Ones are made of an unearthly substance having properties unlike normal matter. A Great Old One's influence is often limited to the planet on which it dwells. If a Great Old One is based on a planet outside the solar system, it can only extend its influence to earth when the star of its planetary system is in the night sky. In such cases, the help of cultists performing various rituals may be required.

Outer Gods

Main articles: Outer God, and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]] (includes a table listing all the Outer Gods in the mythos)

The Outer Gods have unlimited influence, unlike the Great Old Ones, and function on a cosmic scale [29]. They include a subgroup known as the Lesser Outer Gods, or Other Gods.

Elder Gods

Main articles: Elder God (Cthulhu mythos), and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]] (includes a table listing all the Elder Gods in the mythos)

The Elder Gods are beings who oppose the Outer Gods and the Great Old Ones. Many consider them to be non-Lovecraftian, because they introduce a "good versus evil" dichotomy into the cosmic indifference of Lovecraft's fiction [30]. However, others argue that these beings have no more concern for human notions of morality than the beings they oppose, and that humanity and the human world are beneath their regard [31].

Great Ones

Main articles: Dreamlands#The Great Ones, and [[{{{2}}}]], and [[{{{3}}}]], and [[{{{4}}}]], and [[{{{5}}}]]

The Great Ones are the so-called "gods" of the Dreamlands, but they are not as powerful as the Great Old Ones and are not even as intelligent as most humans. However, they are protected by the Outer Gods, especially Nyarlathotep [32].

Other supernatural beings

Supernatural beings
Name Epithet(s),
Other name(s)
Description References
Alala ? Being made of living sound that dwells in the Gulf of S'glhuo. PL, WP
Ammutseba Devourer of Stars ? ?
Beast in the Pit ? ? ?
Beast of Averoigne ? ? BA
Droom-Avista ? ? JD
The Dunwich Horror Son of Yog-Sothoth An invisible monstrosity with some human features. DH
The Eater of Souls ? ? EA
Fthaggua Lord of Ktynga Appears as a bluish ball of energy. FV, HG
Gnoph-Keh Appears as huge gnophkeh; possibly an avatar of Rhan-Tegoth. HM
God of the Red Flux ? Monstrous, red flowing creature. TR
The Green God ? Appears as a moai covered with foliage. HR
The High Priest Not To Be Described Humanoid wearing a silken mask. CE, DQ
The Hoppwood Tenant ? ? ?
Kali ? ? ?
Knygathin Zhaum Appears as a quasi-humanoid Voormi. FT, TM
K'thun (female)
Noth-Yidik (male)
? Abhorrent, malodorous beings whose mating spawned the Hounds of Tindalos. HM, MT
Mappo no Ryujin Coatlicue,
Mother of All Serpents
A gigantic, serpentine monstrosity covered in small white snakes ?
M'Bwa ? ? TR
Million Favored Ones Beings said to be Nyarlathotep's spawn. MF, WD
Mlandoth and Mril Thorion The Source,
The One
Unknown. WY
Our Ladies of Sorrow ? ? ?
Pharol the Black Appears as a black, fanged demon with tentacles instead of arms. HY, AG
The Prisoner of Vornai ? ? ?
Saboth the Elder The Grinning Ghoul ? ?
Shaurash-Ho ? ? ?
Sss'haa Sssaaa Leader of the serpent people of Valusia. HG, TH, VY
Sthood ? ? ?
The Thing Hanging in the Void ? ? ?
Ubb Father of Worms Leader of the Yuggs. OA, PI, UV, TP
The five Vaeyen Quintet of vulture-like statues that both guard and sequester the Great Old One Cyäegha DM
The Vale Which is the Night ? ? ?
Vibur ? A green, tendril covered orb. ?
Wilbur Whateley Mostly-human twin of the aforementioned Dunwich Horror. DH
Wuthoqquan's Bane ? A large, shapeless beast lurking in the sewers of Commoriom. WQ
Xathagorra ? Vile, multiform creature with a vast wingspan. CH
Xexanoth Bane of Aforgomon ? CM
Xiurhn Guardian of the Dark Jewel A slothlike, winged thing with a terrible face. XI
Yegg-Ha Lord of Nightgaunts A huge, faceless humanoid with tiny wings. IE, TC, WI
Y'hkmaat Queen of One Thousand Eyes ? ?
Zyhumé ? A gigantic, spectral elk. ?

Non-human species of the mythos

Table-a (A–F)
Non-human species A–F
Name Description References
Adumbrali Extradimensional beings that appear as orbs of darkness. AB
Aihais Humanoids from Mars. VU
Antehumans Slender, tall, gaunt proto-humans of great intelligence. SG
Beings of Xiclotl Horrifying, oddly plant-like, carnivorous giants, native to the planet Xiclotl, and the slaves of the Insects from Shaggai (the Shan). IS
Bholes Gigantic, worm-like creatures that inhabit the earth's Dreamlands. DL, DQ
Blupes Translucent, bluish, oval-shaped creatures that can float through the air. DL
Brothers of Chaugnar Faugn Beings that resemble smaller versions of Chaugnar Faugn. HF
Byakhee Resemble bat-like, hornet-like human corpses. FE, GS, HC, WS
Cats from Saturn Cat-like beings from the Dreamlands with abstract, multi-hued bodies. DL, DQ
Cats from Uranus Like those from Saturn, but far more terrible. DL
Chatoka ? ?
Children of the Sphinx Sub-cult of the Brotherhood of the Black Pharaoh. n/a
(The Burrowers Beneath)
Gigantic, squid-like worms. BU, CS
Colour Out Of Space Appears as a shapeless, plastic entity glowing with the colors of an unknown spectrum. CO, CT
Crawling Ones
(The Worms that Walk)
Appear as human-sized worms. FE
Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath Appear as ropy, black tentacles on a pair of stumpy, hooved legs. MK, NF
Deep Ones Ocean-dwelling humanoids that appear to be half-frog and half-fish. BU, DO, GS, HC, HG, RD, SA, SI
Dholes Gigantic, worm-like creatures. DR, TG, WP
Dimensional Shamblers Dimension-hopping humanoids with rough, leathery bodies and huge claws. HM
Doels Tiny, extradimensional, flesh-eating creatures. HN
Elder Things
(Old Ones)
Appear as five-sided, oval-shaped barrels with starfish-like appendages at each end. AM, IV, PW
Fire vampires 1. (Flame Creatures of Cthugha) Appear as tiny points of light that ingite everything they touch. DD
2. (Fire Vampires of Fthaggua) Appear as bursts of crimson lightning that set fire to sentient beings. FV, HG
Fishers from Outside Enigmatic, prehistoric, flying race associated with Gol-Goroth and the Shantaks. FO
Flying polyps Appear as floating, semi-visible, polypous horrors capable of controlling great winds. PW, ST, SY, WF
Formless Spawn of Tsathoggua and Knygathin Zhaum Appear as gelatinous, shape-shifting, black goo. MO, TS
Table-b (G–M)
Non-human species G–M
Name Description References
Ghasts Fearsome, underground-dwelling humanoids with kangaroo-like legs that inhabit the earth's Dreamlands. DQ
Ghouls Corpse-eating, canine-like humanoids. DQ, IC, PM
Gnophkeh 1. Six-legged, furry, rhinocerous-like creatures with an affinity for cold climes. HM, LT, SM
2. Hairy cannibals that once dwelt in Lomar. PO, DQ
Gnorri Resemble mermen with possibly one or two additional arms. SK
Gof'nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath Transmogrified, once-human cultists of Shub-Niggurath. ML
Great Race of Yith Resemble tall, rugose cones with four appendages: two claws, a trumpet-like limb, and a yellow, globe-like organ. CF, PW, SO, ST, SY
Gugs Horrifying, furry giants of the Dreamlands with a mouth that opens sideways. DQ
Gyaa-Yothn Quasi-human, rhinocerous-like quadrupeds used as beasts of burden by the denizens of K'n-yan. MO
Haemophores Small, vampiric creatures with webbed hands and feet. DL
Hounds of Tindalos Extradimensional horrors that can enter our universe through any three-dimensional corner. EL, HN, MT, TC
Hunters from Beyond ? ?
Hunting Horrors Resemble huge, immaterial serpents with bat wings. DQ, LT
Hyperboreans A race of early pre-humans. DS, SG, TS, UB
K'n-yan, Natives of Technologically and psychically advanced humanoids who dwell underground. OE, MO
Kyresh Vicious, wolven creatures of the Dreamlands. YG
Larvae of the Outer Gods Protean beings spawned by the Outer Gods. DQ
Lamp-Efts Resemble small, flying iguanas. DL
Leeches of Yoh-Vombis Parasitic Martian creatures. ?
L'gy'hx, Natives of Cube-shaped, multi-legged, metallic beings that inhabit the planet L'gy'hx (Uranus). IS
Lloigor Beings that may alternately appear as vortices of energy or dragon-like dinosaurs (Ghatanothoa may be a particularly powerful one). IU, RL
Men of Leng Satyr-like beings that inhabit the Plateau of Leng. DQ
(Fungi from Yuggoth,
Outer Ones)
Resemble human-sized, winged crustaceans with globular heads covered with cilia. DT, OW, WD
Miri Nigri Amphibious humanoids created by Chaugnar Faugn. HF
Moon-beasts Plump, toad-like humanoids. DQ, MD
Table-c (N–Z)
Non-human species N–Z
Name Description References
Nagäae Toadish servants of Cyäegha. DM
Nameless City, Denizens of Alligator-like, seal-like humanoids. NC
New Great Race of Yith (Coleopterous Race) Resemble human-sized beetles. ST
Nightgaunts Faceless, bat-like humanoids. DQ, HE, OK, WI
Nioth-Korghai 1. Extraterrestrial, carnivorous monster held in captivity by king Ossaru in Zothique. TB
2. Extraterrestrial, aquatic creatures that feed on the life-force of human beings. PS
Ny’ghan Grii Extradimensional spheres covered in tentacles, with a large central eye. IN
Rat-Things Tiny, rat-like creatures with human-like faces. DW
Sand-dwellers Appear as sand-encrusted, skeleton-like humanoids with large claws. GW
Serpent people Serpent-like humanoids. HG, HK, IU, OW, SG,
Servants of Glaaki Undead zombies that serve the being Glaaki. IL
Servitors of the Outer Gods Beings of varied form that dance mindlessly about Azathoth's throne at the center of the universe. AZ
S'glhuo, Denizens of Tall, bluish humanoids with blank eyes and boneless fingers; actually entities made of living sound. PL
The Shan
(Insects from Shaggai)
Resemble large insects. IS, QU
Shantaks Elephantine, reptilian birds of the Dreamlands. DQ, FO, RY
Shoggoth Resemble gigantic amoebae with numerous floating eyes. AM, GC, NE, PG, SI, TC
The Space-Eaters Appear as shimmering columns of twisting shafts of light that eat brains. PE
Spawn of Ubbo-Sathla Large, formless, black protean beings. UB
Spiders of Leng Giant purple spiders that inhabit the Plateau of Leng. DL
Star-spawn of Cthulhu
Resemble smaller versions of Cthulhu himself. AM, PW, TC
Star vampire
(Shambler from the Stars)
Invisible, levitating, vampiric horror with a myriad of suckers and two huge claws. SF
Tcho-Tcho Mutated humanoids descended from the Miri-Nigri. BK, EH, LS, MH
Terrors from Beyond ? ?
(Beings of Ib)
Green, toad-like humanoids with gelatinous bodies and emerald eyes BM, DC, NL
Tree Men of M'Bwa ? TR
Voonith Huge lizards of the Dreamlands. DL
Voor Degenerate wormlike creatures; survivors of a now-fallen civilisation in Hyperborea. ?
Voormis Yeti-like bipeds that inhabit Mount Voormithadreth in Hyperborea. AF, SG, SM, TM
Xo Tl'mi-go Pale, eyeless, leech-mouthed, and sterile hominids. CK
Yaddith, Natives of Humanoid inhabitants of the planet Yaddith that resemble a cross between mammals and reptiles. DR, HG, TG, VI
Yekubians Technologically-advanced, centipede-like beings that inhabit the planet Yekub. CF
Yuggya 1. (Yuggs or Yuggya) Beings that resemble white, planarian-like flatworms. OA, WI
2. (Yuggya) The offspring of a mating between a Yugg and a Deep One hybrid. PI, WF
Zoogs Creatures of the Dreamlands that resemble small, elfin rodents. DQ, HE

Cults in the mythos

See Cthulhu Mythos Cults

Arcane literature and other media

Arcane media
Name Ref.*
Book of Azathoth DW
Book of Dzyan
(the Stanzas of Dzyan)
Book of Eibon
(Liber Ivonis, Livre d'Eibon)
The Book of Iod BH
Celaeno Fragments HC
Cthäat Aquadingen
(possibly Things of the Water)
Cultes des Goules
(Cults of the Ghouls)
De Vermis Mysteriis
(Mysteries of the Worm)
Dwellers in the Depths AQ
The Eltdown Shards EC
The Ford Translation of the Voynich Manuscript RL (?)
G’harne Fragments CS
The King in Yellow YS
Name Ref.
Massa di Requiem per Shuggay
("Requiem for Shaggai")
The Necronomicon
("An Image [or Picture sic] of the Law of the Dead")
Kitab Al-Azif
(equivalent to the Necronomicon)
The Pnakotic Manuscripts
(Pnakotic Fragments)
Ponape Scripture OA
Revelations of Glaaki IL
R’lyeh Text RH
Saracenic Rituals
(infamous chapter from De Vermis Mysteriis)
The Testament of Carnamagos XE
Unaussprechlichen Kulten
(interpreted as "Unspeakable Cults",
also: Black Book, Nameless Cults)
Zanthu Tablets DT

* Reference to first appearance.

Fictional locations

Name What or where Ref.*
Arkham A city in Massachusetts. PH
Brichester A town in England. UH
Carcosa On the shores of Lake Hali, on a planet in the Hyades. IH
Celephaïs A city in the Dreamlands. CE
Commoriom The capital of Hyperborea. TS
The Court of Azathoth At the center of the universe. AZ
Cykranosh The planet Saturn. DS
The Dreamlands In another dimension. CE
The mountain Dunkelhügel Near Freihausgarten, Germany. DM
Dunwich A village in Massachusetts. DH
Elysia The homeland of the Elder Gods. TC
G'harne A primeval city in Africa. CS
Glyu-Uho The star Betelgeuse. S4
Hyperborea A now-vanished kingdom in Greenland. TS
Ib A pre-human settlement in Mnar. DC
Innsmouth A coastal town in Massachusetts. SI
Kadath The home of the Great Ones. OG
Kingsport A coastal town in Massachusetts. FE
K'n-yan Blue-litten realm beneath Oklahoma. MO
Ktynga A large comet near Arcturus. FV
Kythanil A double planet. TG
The Plateau of Leng A cold, arid plateau. HO
Lomar An ancient region. PO
L'gy'hx The planet Uranus. IS
Miskatonic University In Arkham, Massachusetts. WR
Mnar Probably in the Dreamlands. DC
Mu A sunken continent. OE
Naat ? ?
The Nameless City A buried city. NC
N'kai A lightless cavern beneath Yoth
(or possibly underneath Mt. Voormithadreth).
Olathoë A city in Lomar. PO
Pnakotus A primeval city in the Great Sandy Desert in Australia. ST
Name What or where Ref.
Vale of Pnath In the Underworld. EM
R'lyeh The sunken island/city where Cthulhu is entombed. CC
Sarnath A destroyed city in Mnar. DC
Shaggai A planet orbiting twin emerald suns. HD
S'glhuo, Gulf of An alternate dimension. PL
The Plateau of Sung
(or "Tsang"?)
Possibly a region of Leng. HF
Thuggon A planet. IS
Thyoph A planet. IS
Ulthar A cat-laden town in the Dreamlands. CU
Uzuldaroum A city in Hyperborea. TS
Valley of Do-Hna In Xinaián (K'n-yan). MO
Valusia The ancient land of the Serpent people. HK
Mount Voormithadreth Four-coned extinct volcano in Hyperborea; contains the Cavern of Archetypes and the Web of Atlach-Nacha. SG
Xiccarph ? ?
Xiclotl The sister planet to Shaggai. IS
Xinaián, or K'n-yan Composed roughly of the kingdom of Tsath. MO
Xoth A binary star. FT
Yaanek / Yarak Legendary mountain/volcano at the North Pole. UL
Yaddith A planet. TG
Mount Yaddith-Gho Dwelling place of Ghatanothoa in Mu. OE
Yaksh The planet Neptune. FT
Yekub A planet in a distant galaxy. CF
'Ygiroth In the Dreamlands. YG
Y'ha-nthlei An undersea city. SI
Abyss of Yhe In a Muvian province. HC?
Yian-Ho, or Yian A deserted city. TG
Ylidiomph The planet Jupiter. UA
Yoth Red-litten cavern beneath K'n-yan. MO
Y'quaa A gray-litten cavern, the dwelling place of Abhoth. HG
Yuggoth The planet Pluto(?). FY
Vaults of Zin In N'kai. EM
Zothique A continent in the distant future. EN

* Reference to first appearance.

Non-fictional elements of the mythos

The Cthulhu mythos incorporates many historical, astronomical, and mythological elements from the real world.

See also



  • Bloch, Robert. "Heritage of Horror" (1982) in The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre (1st ed.), Ballantine Books, 1982. ISBN 0-345-35080-4.
  • Derleth, August. "The Cthulhu Mythos" in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, Sauk City, WI: Arkham House, 1969.
  • DiTillio, Larry and Lynn Willis. Masks of Nyarlathotep, Oakland, CA: Chaosium, 1996. ISBN 1-568-82069-0.
  • Harms, Daniel. The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.), Chaosium, Inc., 1998. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.
  • Joshi, S.T.
    • H. P. Lovecraft (1st ed.), Mercer Island, WA: Starmont House, 1982. ISBN 0-916-73236-3 / ISBN 0-916-73235-5 (paper).
    • (ed.) H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-821-40442-3 (cloth) / ISBN 0-821-40577-2 (paper).
—and David E. Schultz. An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2001. ISBN 0-313-31578-7.
  • Mosig, Yozan Dirk W. Mosig at Last: A Psychologist Looks at H. P. Lovecraft, 1st printing, West Warwick, RI: Necronomicon Press, 1997. ISBN 0-940-88490-9.
  • Price, Robert M.
    • (ed.) Black Forbidden Things: Cryptical Secrets from the "Crypt of Cthulhu", San Bernardino, CA: The Borgo Press, 1992. ISBN 1-557-42248-6 / ISBN 1-557-42249-4.
    • "Introduction" in The New Lovecraft Circle, Robert M. Price (ed.), New York, N.Y.: Random House, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-345-44406-X.
    • "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'" in An Epicure in the Terrible: a centennial anthology of essays in honor of H.P. Lovecraft, David E. Schultz and S.T. Joshi (ed.), Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press; Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1991. ISBN 0-838-63415-X.
  • Shreffler, Phillip A. The H. P. Lovecraft Companion, Westport, CT / London, England: Greenwood Press, 1977. ISBN 0-837-19482-2.
  • Turner, James. "Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!" in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos (1st ed.), Random House, 1998. ISBN 0-345-42204-X.

Web sites


  1. ^ Harms, "A Brief History of the Cthulhu Mythos", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, pp. viii–ix.
  2. ^ Joshi, "The Lovecraft Mythos", H. P. Lovecraft, pp. 31ff.
  3. ^ Although Lovecraft sometimes mentioned the "Arkham cycle" in his correspondence, he never explained its meanings; it is possible that he was referring to his stories that take place in his mythical New England setting. (Joshi & Schultz, An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, pp. 50.)
  4. ^ Lovecraft's flippant use of Yog-Sothothery—a veiled reference to Yog-Sothoth, one of the mythical beings in his tales—probably indicates that he never took his mythos very seriously. In a letter to Frank Belknap Long in early 1931, Lovecraft wrote "that 'Yog-Sothoth' is a basically immature conception [and] unfitted for really serious literature". (Joshi & Schultz, An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, pp. 51.)
  5. ^ Joshi's characterizations are a followup to George T. Wetzel's assertion that Lovecraft's mythos stories can be thought of as chapters of a long novel (Joshi, "The Lovecraft Mythos", pp. 32). See also Wetzel's essay "The Cthulhu Mythos: A Study" (H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism", pp. 79–95).
  6. ^ Price, "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", An Epicure in the Terrible, pp. 247.
  7. ^ Price, "Introduction", The New Lovecraft Circle, pp. xviii–xix. Price writes: "One seeks forbidden knowledge, whether wittingly or, more likely, unwittingly, but one may not know till it is too late... The knowledge, once gained, is too great for the mind of man. It is Promethean, Faustian knowledge. Knowledge that destroys in the moment of enlightenment, a Gnosis of damnation, not of salvation."
  8. ^ Price, "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", pp. 249.
  9. ^ Tremlett, 'The Unknown Mind', "A Color Out of Space, A Shadow Out of Time: H.P. Lovecraft & His Works".
  10. ^ Joshi, "The Lovecraft Mythos", pp. 31.
  11. ^ Shreffler, "The Hierarchy of Monsters", The H. P. Lovecraft Companion, pp. 156–7.
  12. ^ Nodens, the Lord of the Abyss, holds a singular place in Lovecraft's writings because he is the only god to intervene on behalf of human beings. (Shreffler, pp. 158.) Examples of this are found in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926) and "The Strange High House in the Mist" (1931).
  13. ^ This view of the "Elder Gods" conflicts with those held by Dirk W. Mosig. In his essay "H. P. Lovecraft: Myth-Maker", Mosig asserts that Lovecraft never intended the "Elder Gods" to be benign, protective deities; instead, they are actually ineffectual beings synonymous with Lovecraft's "weak gods of the earth". (Mosig, "H.P. Lovecraft: Myth-Maker", Mosig at Last, pp. 24–5.)
  14. ^ Shreffler, pp. 158–162.
  15. ^ Price, "Lovecraft's 'Artificial Mythology'", pp. 248–50.
  16. ^ Edward Lauterbach, "Some Notes on Cthulhuian Pseudobiblia", H. P. Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism, pp. 96ff.
  17. ^ Ibid, pp. 96–97.
  18. ^ Harms, "A Brief History of the Cthulhu Mythos", pp. viii.
  19. ^ Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1928).
  20. ^ Mosig argues that Cthulhu "is perhaps one of the weakest and least important of the main entities [in the mythos]—save for his immediacy". He also notes that in the Necronomicon passage in Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" (1929), Cthulhu is demoted to "their cousin". (Mosig, "H.P. Lovecraft: Myth-Maker", Mosig at Last, pp. 25.)
  21. ^ Bloch, "Heritage of Horror", pp. 9.
  22. ^ Derleth, "The Cthulhu Mythos", Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, pp. vii.
  23. ^ Joshi, The Scriptorium, "H. P. Lovecraft", section II.
  24. ^ This quote lacks a reference. You can improve this article by providing one.
  25. ^ Turner, "Iä! Iä! Cthulhu Fhtagn!", Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, pp. viii. Turner writes: "Lovecraft's imaginary cosmogony was never a static system but rather a sort of aesthetic construct that remained ever adaptable to its creator's developing personality and altering interests... [T]here was never a rigid system that might be posthumously appropriated by the pasticheur... [T]he essence of the mythos lies not in a pantheon of imaginary deities nor in a cobwebby collection of forgotten tomes, but rather in a certain convincing cosmic attitude."
  26. ^ Tremlett, 'The Big Question', "A Color Out of Space, A Shadow Out of Time: H.P. Lovecraft & His Works".
  27. ^ Harms, "Elemental Theory", pp. 101.
  28. ^ Price, "August Derleth: Myth-Maker", Black Forbidden Things, pp. 72.
  29. ^ Bloch, "Heritage of Horror", pp. 8.
  30. ^ Joshi, The Scriptorium, "H. P. Lovecraft", section I.
  31. ^ Harms, The Official Cthulhu Mythos FAQ, "Part 2: Mythos Lore", section 2.1, "Outer Gods".
  32. ^ Harms, "Part 2: Mythos Lore", section 2.1, "Elder Gods".
  33. ^ Harms, Ibid. Harms writes: "Others consider their inclusion proper and fitting within their own interpretation of Lovecraft." Lovecraft views humanity as being insignificant in the universe; thus, the Elder Gods share little concern for humankind's fate.
  34. ^ Harms, "Part 2: Mythos Lore", section 2.1, "Great Ones", "Other Gods".
  35. ^ These beings appear in the role-playing game supplement Masks of Nyarlathotep (DiTillio & Willis).
  36. ^ Keith Herber, The Fungi from Yuggoth (1984). Role-playing game material.
  37. ^ This cult appears in Masks of Nyarlathotep (DiTillio & Willis).
  38. ^ Ibid.
  39. ^ Scott D. Aniolowski, "Mysterious Manuscripts" in The Unspeakable Oath #3, John Tynes (ed.), Seattle, WA: Pagan Publishing, August 1991. Periodical (role-playing game material).

External links

Further reading

  • Carter, Lin. Lovecraft: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos, New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1972. ISBN 0-345-25295-0-150.