Fans of H. P. Lovecraft remember "Irem, the City of Pillars" from Lovecraft's "The Nameless City" (1921), where the ancient Arabian city (today spelled Iram) is mentioned in connection with a fabulous race of lizard people, and again in the "Call of Cthulhu" (1926), where it is a cult center for the Old Ones. It is also found in the Arabian Nights. The city is described in the Qur'an (89:6-13):
Later legends, embellishing on this story, suggest Allah buried the city in the sands of the Arabian desert after "a great noise from above" was heard, as reported in a poetic fragment recorded in the Arabian Nights. (How this was remembered when the city and all in and around it perished, I can't fathom to guess: the poem in question is allegedly spoken by the dead king of the city and recorded by his son!)
I was amused, therefore, to read in Bob Curran's Lost Lands, Forgotten Realms (2011), a supposedly nonfictional examination of lost civilizations, the following passage about Iram and its alleged connection to the Arabian demons, the djinn:
Philip Gardiner's Secret Societies (2007) also repeats the same alleged facts and accepts Lovecraft's Necronomicon as real, and embodying real traditions of Iram! By contrast, Jacques Bergier, who did more than anyone to try to make Lovecraft "real," failed in his Extraterrestrial Visitations (1970) even to understand that Iram was a genuine Arabic myth and instead claimed that Lovecraft originated the story, though drawing, he thought, on secret pre-Islamic traditions.
Would it suprize you to learn that the "tradition" of a pre-human Iram is not a mythological one but rather a "tradition" invented by Lovecraft and the writers of the Cthulhu Mythos, and the "magickal" practitioners of Lovecraftian magick? Asenath Mason, in the Necronomicon Gnosis (2007) claims that "pillar" is "code" for "Old One," not an actual translation, but Curran has gone beyond the Mythos (and Mythos-magickal) writers to invent a fake Arabic translation!
The actual Arabic as given in the Qur'an is somewhat ambiguous. It may mean "Iram of the Pillars," or it could also mean "the people of Iram, who were very tall, like pillars." The "legend" that it predates Adam appears to be a conflation of the Lovecraftian Cthulhu cult (probably misreading the Nameless City as being Iram itself) and a misreading of a line in the Arabian Nights, in which a visitor to Iram found within it no "created being of the sons of Adam." The Nights, however, make clear that a human king named Sheddad built it. I can find no support for the claim that angels or djinn built the city outside of Lovecraftian or magickal texts.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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