FAQ 2 of 4 (complete text can be found here:
is the Necronomicon?
A question not answered easily, quickly, or with any level of
If we may begin at what seems to be the beginning, we will also
answer the question:
(1a) Who is H.P. Lovecraft?
In the early 1900's, a man by the name of Howard Phillips
Lovecraft lived in New England and struggled with an unsuccessful
career as a writer. Living as a bachelor and a recluse most of his
life, he tried various occupations, journalism, literary
criticism, and editing among them. He finally came upon an
enjoyable form of composition, writing horror fiction. Like his
hero, Edgar Allen Poe, Lovecraft dreamed of creating worlds of
wonder and mystery, and is credited with the creation of the
modern mystery format by his student, Robert Bloch, the author of
_Psycho_. While Lovecraft published much of his work, most notably
in the magazine "Weird Tales", he died with no critical acclaim,
and little recognition by the public. It was much later, after
World War II and into our decade, that Lovecraft began to receive
the publicity that he deserved as a literary figure. Lovecraft is
now noted as the logical successor to Poe, and served as the
inspiration for many modern horror authors, including Steven King.
[(1) Most information from Willis Conover's biography of Lovecraft
entitled _Lovecraft at Last_. Published by Carrollton-Clark in
1975 in Arlington, Virginia. ISBN 0-915490-02-1. Conover was a
publisher who corresponded with Lovecraft during the height of his
writing and during his years of illness before he died. KKC] What
made Lovecraft's works different from other pulp fiction was his
method of "legitimizing" the stories he told. Devoid of gratuitous
splatter violence or adolescent foolishness, Lovecraft mixed
ancient mythology and occult literature by real authors with books
and theologies of his own devising. He did this so well that in
many short stories, one cannot tell the difference between the two
without a lifetime's knowledge of the subject. Take the story "The
Rats in the Walls", where Lovecraft creates a fictional family
history from the Magna Mater cult, or in "The Dunwich Horror",
where Lovecraft freely intermingles books like the Malleus
Maleficarum with fictional titles like the Book of Eibon or the
[(2) This opinion is expounded upon by Robert Bloch in the
introduction to the Lovecraft anthology entitled _Bloodcurdling
Tales of Horror and the Macabre_. New edition published by
Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-345-35080-4. KKC] One of the titles that
Lovecraft freely threw around was Necronomicon.
Lovecraft denied that the book existed, and wrote as a joke a
paper titled "A History of the Necronomicon", giving a chronology
of the book, names, and places. Supposedly, the book was written
around A.D. 700 by an arab by the name of Abdul Al-Hazred, and the
original title was Al Azif, which is arabic for the sound made by
nocturnal insects. Al-Hazred was supposedly better known as "the
Mad Arab, and the name of the book is supposedly bastardized greek
and latin, which roughly translates into "The Book of Dead Names"
(IE ikon=book, Necro=die or dead, and Nom=name).
[(2a) The nomenclature of the Necronomicon is one of those
wonderful topics that can be argued forever, much like the debate
over whether Elvis Presley is still alive. Whatever the true
linguistic origins of the name, "Necronomicon" is meant to evoke
images of horror and suspicious, and so it does. KKC] Lovecraft
told his colleagues that he stole the name "Al Azif" from another
author as a joke, and that the name "Al-Hazred" was a pun on his
mother's maiden name, Hazard. (The history is reproduced in the
Appendix, in part 3 of the FAQ. The archivist is receiving no
monetary gain from the publication of the material in this public
[(3) Again, from Conover's _Lovecraft at Last_. KKC] From this, we
can assume the following: In fiction or in fact, the Necronomicon
is a magickal grimiore, or a collection of spells and experiences
from the pen of one person, presumably the man called Al-Hazred.
Apparently there are those who believe that Lovecraft lied.
Several books are currently in print bearing the title "Necronomicon".
But whether or not Lovecraft invented the concept of the
Necronomicon, it was he who gave it publicity and notoriety.
(2) What are the Necronomicons like? What is in these books?
Well, it depends on what you happen to find.
Of the books which are titled Necronomicon:
1) The Necronomicon, by Abdul Al-Hazred Edited by Simon ISBN
0-380-75192-5 Copyright 1977 by Magickal Childe Publications, New
1980 by Avon Books, third printing
218 pages, illustrations by Khem Set Rising Standard mass media
(paperback) format $5.99 in the U.S.
Published by the same people who produced Anton Lavey's _Satanic
Bible_, this book has little or nothing to do with Lovecraft, but
a great deal to do with Sumerian and Assyrian mythology.
One-fourth of the book is a large introduction written by Simon
that supposedly relates the history and the times of the
Necronomicon and of Abdul Al-Hazred. The book seems to be a
collection of genuine translations of cuneiform tablets found in
Iraq by archaeologists, with the occasional indecipherable line
deciphered by Simon, invariably with some reference to Cthulhu or
another reference to something vaguely Lovecraftian.
Simon claims that the book was originally written in Greek, and
that this volume is not a complete translation, as parts were
"purposely left out" for the "safety of the reader".
This book is interesting because of its subtlety in some places,
and outright bluntness in others. While Simon attempts in his
preface to form a tenuous link between Lovecraft and Aliester
Crowley (who never met each other, as far as anyone knows), he
dedicates the book in part to a demon named Perdurabo, without
telling us who he is. Frater Perdurabo is a name that Crowley
adopted for himself, and is a mystical motto of sorts. Also, Simon
warns against allowing the text to be used by "novices" in the
mystical arts, and the author also states repeatedly something to
the effect of "show these words not to the uninitiated". However,
neither give any definition of what an expert or an initiate might
be. The system of rituals also seems extremely simplistic,
compared to, say, the high-complexity of the Golden Dawn system.
On the up side, the book does contain some "real" information,
most notably the fifty names of Marduk as archetypes, and an
abridged version of the Sumerian creation epic, where Marduk kills
Tiamat and creates the earth from her corpse. Also, the symbols
and sigils are complex and interesting to look at, and form the
basis of a "gate walking" ritual that supposedly takes a full
year, and is supposed to raise the user's conciousness to a higher
state. This sort of ritual is common to many magickal texts. The
text also bears a suspicious resemblance to _The History of
Babylon_ by Berosus, which is considerably more credible to
This book was also made available in hardback leatherbound, with
silver inlay on the cover. The archivist believes that the print
run was about 600, and it was made available in an advertisement
in Omni magazine in
1a) The Necronomicon Spellbook, by Simon ISBN 0-939708-11-6
Copyright 1987 by Magickal Childe Publications 170 pages,
paperback $6.95 in the U.S.
The Gates of the Necronomicon, by Simon ISBN 0-939708-08-6 $14.95
in the U.S These two books, essentially repeating the material in
the "original" Simon Necronomicon, are Simon's efforts towards
fleshing out the vague material he originally put forth in 1977.
The Necronomicon Spellbook, originally entitled _Necronomicon
Report_, is a "simplified" guide towards usage of the fifty names
of Marduk in divination and prayer, and contains some interesting
insight into the meanings of the names. It is interesting to note
that many systems of Magick seem to have some diety upon whom many
names are conferred; Egyptian and Greek pantheons come to mind.
The Gates of the Necronomicon is a purported "introduction to the
system," which supposedly takes one step by step through each part
of the gate walking initiation which is described in the
Supposedly, the ambiguities and unavailability of certain
materials which are needed in the rituals are explained away by
Simon. The book is currently unavailable from Magickal Childe;
although they claim to have published a first edition in June of
1992, it was never made available. It was supposed to be released
for the first time in December of 1993, as a sort of "sequel" to
the first. No evidence of the "Gates" book has yet manifested.
[(4) Short of travelling directly to New York and visiting the
Magickal Childe shop, you will find these two very difficult to
obtain (and if you don't, please do tell us all how you got them).
2) The Necronomicon, by Colin Wilson et al.
ISBN 1 - 871438 - 16 - 0 Edited by George Hay Copyright 1978
Neville Spearman, London 184 pages, illustrated by Stamp and
Turner $9.95 in the U.S.
With about 150 pages of introduction and essay, and about 40 pages
of Necronomicon, famed skeptic Colin Wilson gives us the most
exhaustive piece of research on how H.P. Lovecraft must have seen
the Necronomicon, and evidence for and against the existence of
such a book. Wilson calls on the research by Robert Turner and
David Langford to form a Necronomicon that they admit freely was
fabricated from the works of Lovecraft alone, and seemingly
without any real historical base.
Notably, Wilson presents a "complete" text on the summoning of
Yog-Sothoth and the passage through the gates, the Ibn Ghazi
powder, the "adjuration" of Cthulhu, and references to Kadath,
Leng, and other names found only in Lovecraft's stories. There is
also a poem containing the famous "not dead which eternal lie"
Wilson claims to have taken the contents of an obscure volume
owned by John Dee called the Liber Logaeth, which supposedly
contains several tables of enochian-like characters in 49x49
grids. From this, Hay and Wilson claim to have taken the contents
of the book that they published.
It can be said with a fair amount of certainty that the Hay book
is a fake. In addition to various references to the fictional
Miskatonic University as if it were real, there are also plates
and photographs which are cunningly faked as if to convince the
reader that all the materiel is genuine. Look closely if you have
a copy; what they portray is not necessarily what has been
In toto, the book contains:
A table of working
configuration of planetary and astrological stones to form a
Compuund Ye Incense of Zkauba
Ye Powder of Ibn Ghazi
Unction of Khephnes Ye Egyptian
Fashion the Scimitar of Barzai
Alphabet of Nug-Soth
in Ye Cold Waste
Conjure of Ye Globes
Adjuration of Great Cthulhu
Shub-Niggurath Ye Black
Talisman of Yhe
Formula of Dho-Hna
is probably most useful to players of the role playing game "Call
of Cthulhu", as it is most faithful to the works of Lovecraft.
At the moment, the book is not available on American shelves, so
far as the archivist has been able to discern. Every occult shop
and speciality bookstore has either been out of stock for years or
participate in some elaborate conspiracy to keep it out of
American hands (most likely the former, but don't discount the
possibility :) To obtain the book, you need to mail order it for
$9.95 from the Abyss, a New England occult wholesaler whose
address is given in part I of the FAQ.
The Hay Necronomicon was also begetting a sequel in December,
called "The R'lyeh Text", which supposedly is a translation of the
second half of the book (the Necronomicon part is only the first
half, so claims Wilson). This book does not seem to be in
existence yet either.
[(5) This information owes a great deal to Ashton from the net,
who seems to have no last name, but found and bothered to read the
book. I have also read the book by this writing. KKC]
3) Al Azif: The Necronomicon, by Abdul Al-Hazred Copyright 1973 by
196 pages Hardback This is an interesting book, if for purely
aesthetic reasons. It consists of eight pages of simulated Syrian
script, repeated over and over 24 times, in a spiffy hardback
cover. No notes, no value, makes a great conversation piece.
It is interesting to note that Wilson says in his introduction to
the Hay Necronomicon that it was this book which inspired DeCamp
to collaborate on the publication of the Hay Necronomicon. The
connection is unclear, as this book is very very unavailable to
the general public.
A few copies are available in the rare and uncirculating portions
of some university libraries. The University of South Florida,
somewhere in Tampa, has one under tight lock and key, according to
one anonymous source.
- An entry which once deserved a place among these Necronomicons
has been proven to be a hoax. Apparently a man by the name of
Wollheim sent to the Branford Review (a Massachusetts Newspaper) a
fake review of a book called Necronomicon in 1934, supposedly
edited by a W.T. Faraday.
Interestingly, it was this fake book review which spurred
Lovecraft to write his own History of the Necronomicon, according
to Willis Conover. Although Lovecraft had invented most of the
history prior to this time, it was small scale hoaxes like the
Wollheim incident which actually inspired Lovecraft to set the
record firmly crooked on one or two relevant points.
A copy of the history is found at the end of this FAQ.
There are also many other books that bear the same title. Modern
artist H.R. Giger, of _Alien_ fame, has produced two books of
horror art title Necronomicon. There is also a gaming newsletter
in the northeast called Necronomicon. There are also many entries
in catalogs, library systems, and cross-references to books with
the title Necronomicon, most of which are pranks or inside jokes.
If anyone does find a significant book titled Necronomicon not in
the above list, please e-mail the archivist.
(3) Who is/was Abdul Al-Hazred? Does he exist?
As stated above, Lovecraft created the name as a family joke. His
mother's maiden name was Hazard, and taking a common name "Abdul",
Lovecraft created the Mad Arab with his scanty knowledge of Arabic
nomenclature. Lovecraft had such inside jokes with many of his
fictional authors. Comte D'Erlette, author of the fictional _Cultes
de Goules_, was a derivative of the name of Lovecraft's biggest
fan, August _Derleth_. Robert Blake, the writer who was possessed
and destroyed by Nylarlathothep in "The Haunter of the Dark," was
based on his student Robert Bloch, the author of _Psycho_.
2) For Real?
Supposedly, there was a wandering Arab who ended up in Damascus
after witnessing horrible magical rituals since leaving his home
on the bank of the Euphrates river sometime in the mid 1200's. He
took the name Abdul Al-Azred, which supposedly but erroneously
means Servant of God, He Who Knows the Forbidden (or something to
that effect). After writing down an incomplete synopsis of
everything he learned and saw, he mysteriously vanished, leaving
only a thick, 800 page greek text.
Originally, this wandering Arab was thought by the archivist to be
the famous Ibn Khallikan, the biographer and historian from whose
works we know many great middle eastern writers and philosophers.
Without Khallikan's work, many of these men and women would be
forgotten. An exhaustive search of Khallikan's biographies reveals
no one with a name even remotely similar to Al-Hazred. Khallikan
himself should not be confused with Al-Hazred either.
There is evidence against and for both theories, all of which is
too lengthy to include in this already humongous FAQ. But suffice
it to say that the above two theories are the prevalent ones, with
other minor ones floating around.
[(6) Jason and Laurie Brandt from the University of Oregon are the
main contributors to the extremely abridged text above. KKC] (4)
Who or what is Cthulhu?
Cthulhu is the main character of Lovecraft's masterpiece, "The
Call of Cthulhu". Supposedly, in the early days of life on earth,
an alien being came to earth and established rule over whatever
sentient life was inhabiting earth. However, the lives of Cthulhu
and his race are reportedly cyclical, and so at present they are
in a hibernation of sorts.
Cthulhu is chief among these entities. Cthulhoid beings resemble a
humanoid several hundred feet tall, with a head resembling a
squid, claws, and prodigious telepathic capabilities. Supposedly,
the cycle is about to end as the 20th century comes to a close,
and Cthulhu has maintained a cult of humans to help him return and
re-establish his previous rule.
In the Simon Necronomicon, Cthulhu is seen as the great and
all-powerful evil that will invade the world with the rest of his
"evil" brethren if certain gates are left open or carelessly used.
Cthulhu is head of the Ancient Ones, the old gods who were
defeated originally by the Elder Gods, who are supposedly the
An interesting side note: Kutu is the name of a city in the
Sumerian underworld, according to the mythology. Lu is a word in
Sumerian which reads as "man", as evidenced by all the
Mesopotamian kings whose names were LuGalxxxxx, meaning "Great Man
of xxxxx". So KutuLu means man of the underworld. Or so claims
Simon, the editor of the Magickal Childe rendering of the