Insect from Shaggai

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Shan, AKA Insects from Shaggai

Origin: The Insects from Shaggai are primarily described in Ramsey Campbell's "The Insects from Shaggai", seemingly inspired by a dream H.P. Lovecraft noted in his Commonplace Book.


Insect from Shaggai, as depicted by naturalist/entomologist Nicolaes DeBruyn in 1594

"...I was, while walking in a familiar rural region, suddenly attacked by a swarm of swift-darting insects from the sky. They were tiny and streamlined, and seemed to be able to pierce my cranium and enter my brain as if their substance were not strictly material. No sooner had they entered my head, than my identity and position seemed to become very doubtful. I remembered alien and incredible scenes..."
H.P. Lovecraft, in a May 11, 1935 letter to Robert H. Barlowe

"At last a shape appeared, flapping above the ground on leathery wings. The thing which flew whirring toward me was followed by a train of others, wings slapping the air at incredible speed... I could ... make out many more details... Those huge lidless eyes which stared in hate at me, the jointed tendrils which seemed to twist from the head in cosmic rhythms, the ten legs, covered with black shining tentacles and folded into the pallid underbody, and the semi-circular ridged wings covered with triangular scales... I saw the three mouths of the thing move moistly, and then it was upon me... [not] strictly material [but] constructed of some alien matter which allow its atoms to exist conterminously with those of my body...."
Ramsey Campbell, "The Insects from Shaggai"

The Shan, a.k.a. the Insects from Shaggai, are a little larger than terrestrial insects, with ridged and scaled leathery wings, huge lidless eyes, jointed tendrils which twist "from the head in cosmic rhythms", ten legs covered with shiny black tentacles that fold into their pallid underbody, and the three mouths on its head, controlled by three compartmentalized personalities cohabiting a six-lobed brain.

The Shan find Earth a hostile place to live, in particular due to solar radiation, which the Shan find deadly in extended exposure. The creatures appear to be capable of thought transference on physical contact with a human brain, effected by the incorporeal, immaterial composition of the creatures, which allows them to pass easily through the solid matter of human flesh and bone, directly into the human brain, allowing the target to remember the insect's vast and alien memories, as well as the merger or replacement of human and Shan minds.

Associated Mythos Elements




Reference works

Role-playing games