My Cult of Alien Gods and its supporting materials—including the revised version of my “Secret History of Ancient Astronauts” being published next month in Dark Lore VII—take a materialist view of the Cthulhu Mythos, assuming (correctly, by all rational laws of nature), that the Cthulhu Mythos is the invention of H. P. Lovecraft and has no basis in fact whatsoever beyond the building blocks from Theosophy, the Arabian Nights, and the Encyclopedia Britannica that Lovecraft used to develop it.
But have you ever wondered what would have happened if my Cult of Alien Gods had been written by an "alternative" theorist? Fortunately, we don’t have to wonder. It really happened.
By a weird coincidence, at the same time I was writing The Cult of Alien Gods in 2004 (and publishing “Charioteer of the Gods”) occultist Tracy R. Twyman wrote her own funhouse-mirror version of my Lovecraft connection theory called “Dead but Dreaming: The Great Old Ones of Lovecraftian Legend Reinterpreted as Atlantean Kings.”
Whereas I looked at the connections between Lovecraft and ancient astronaut authors through the lens of the influence of (artificial) ideas, Twyman instead suggested that Lovecraft was carrying forward an esoteric tradition drawn from the Book of Enoch and the lost continent of Atlantis by way of Sumerian mythology. (This last point is obviously derived from the Sumerian-influenced hoax Necronomicon of Simon, which she acknowledges later.) She suggests that the “fall” of Cthulhu (i.e., his imprisonment in R'lyeh) descends from the Book of Enoch and the “universal” tale of Atlantis.
Cthulhu, she claims, bears a striking resemblance to Oannes, the fish-man wrongly identified in Lovecraft’s day with Dagon and later with ancient astronaut flying space frogs. I don’t see it, personally. Cthulhu is an octopus-headed dragon, while Oannes is a man in a fish suit. Cthulhu has wings and claws; Oannes doesn’t.
The descent of R’lyeh into the abyss, she says “parallel[s] precisely the tales of the Nephilim, the Titans, and the war in Heaven between God and Lucifer, as well as the fall of the Atlantean empire,” with the promised return of Cthulhu a cipher for the Apocalypse of Revelation.
At no time does Twyman seem to understand that she has the order of events backward. The prophesied return of Cthulhu resembles Revelation (and Ragnorak) because Lovecraft was Biblically literate and used the Biblical narrative as a base in order to subvert it. The imagined “fall” of Cthulhu, however, bears only a superficial resemblance to Atlantis, and even that was intentional. Lovecraft tried to create a (fictional) analogue to Plato’s Atlantis narrative as an answer to the Theosophists and their silly claims about Venusians running occult schools on Lemuria. Plato’s Atlantis sinks because of the Atlanteans’ sins; the Nephilim fall because they are evil. Cthulhu and R’lyeh sink beneath the waves—just because. Geology happens. There is no moral good or evil implied. It just happened. This is decidedly not parallel but rather a subversion of the traditional Classical and Biblical narratives Lovecraft knew very well.
But Twyman is so blinded by ideology that she cannot fathom that Lovecraft was conscious of his own material; she truly believes that R’lyeh is a secret Atlantis and that it sank because of—seriously—Noah’s Flood. She thinks the Old Ones’ reign was “glorious” like that of Atlantis, Lemuria, or Thule because she cannot parse Lovecraft’s complex narrative and takes his intentionally Biblical words at face value. The Old Ones’ reign was one of violence, blood, and death; it is considered glorious by a delusional cult.
That same literal-mindedness leads her to read deep secrets into the Esoteric Order of Dagon practicing in an old Masonic Hall. Unable to believe that Lovecraft knew enough of Masons (and Masonic conspiracy theories) to purposely use them to lend weight to the fictive Dagon cult, she instead reads this as proof that the real-life ancient cult of Dagon (whom she views as Satan) is in league with the flesh-and-blood Freemasons!
This is not enough, of course. She takes the hoax Necronomicon of Simon as a genuine representation of Sumerian myth, and based on its forced and false parallels between Lovecraft’s deities and Sumer’s (which exist only because Lovecraft used Classical, Biblical, and Arabian myths as inspiration, and these share an uneasy heritage with Mesopotamia) she suggests that the Sumerian (actually Babylonian) practice of identifying gods with planets (like the Romans did—Jupiter, anyone?) meant that the “gods” were from outer space or another dimension, like Cthulhu!
Her article shades into Lovecraftian Magick, the weird practice of taking Lovecraft as a conduit of truths from another sphere and then trying to summon his monsters. The late Kenneth L. Grant actually argued that Lovecraft unconsciously channeled the Necronomicon from another dimension and that therefore one could summon Cthulhu using appropriate spells. Since we are all still alive, this is obviously untrue. It was, however, a survival of Theosophy’s unique insight that it could claim science fiction as prophecies of Theosophy by declaring that sci-fi writers merely received their ideas from the plane of ether, where Theosophy’s extraterrestrial gods spend their time when not cruising earth’s skies in flying chariots.
Twyman’s article reads like a parody of my own. Instead of seeking out the facts as they exist here on the earth, among real people, she dances across the clouds making “connections” at random, ignorant of the human motives behind them and unwilling to acknowledge that even a single piece of writing is the result of conscious decisions rather than the passive receipt of inspiration from the level beyond human.
Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulhu” acknowledges and subverts Atlantis and Armageddon—and this was intentional. Similarly, Lovecraft’s “Dunwich Horror” purposely acknowledges and subverts the life of Christ. By failing to recognize intentionality and the role of the author as creator of his own narrative, Twyman can propose a global, universal, self-reproducing set of myths and legends. But this is a chimera. Hmm. I better watch myself. She might take that literally and think I’m channeling hybrid monsters from the plane of ether! And whatever you do, don’t let her see Cthulhu in World Mythology. I shudder to think what she would make of my parody.
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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