H.P Lovecraft Part 2 – The Outer Gods

So, last time I briefly explained Lovecrafts work as a whole and the influences his writings have had on horror since his death. But this time Im going to start looking at a few creatures from his pantheon. Ill be starting with the outer ones and then next time the elder gods.

The outer gods are the greatest of the gods. They rule all of creations and are ruled by Azathoth, The Blind Idiot God. Azathoth holds court over his kingdom in the centre of the universe where a court of other Outer Gods dance around him as the eons pass under his blind implacable gaze. Yog-Sothoth, The All-In-One, acts as The Blind Gods counsel, existing in all places and times in the universe simultaneously whilst not actually being a part of the universe at all.

The first recorded mention of Azathoth came in a note that Lovecraft wrote to himself that read simply AZATHOTH Hideous name. However in the collected fiction of Lovecraft the first mention of the demon was in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

[O]utside the ordered universe [is] that amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the center of all infinitythe boundless daemon sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time and space amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin monotonous whine of accursed flutes.” The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath pg 308

He was later mentioned in multiple works by Lovecraft and other writers who have expanded upon the Cthulhu Mythos. But in a later letter Lovecraft actually outlined a detailed genealogy of Azathoth and how he is related to the other gods of the pantheon. In this family tree, Azathoth is positioned as a primordial being, and the sole parent of Nyarlathotep, the Nameless Mist and Darkness. And through those beings, Azathoth is the direct ancestor of Yog-Sothoth, Shub-Niggurath, Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, and many other deities.

Now moving away from the god king, we have his counsel, Yog-Sothoth. Yog first appeared in the novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and is described as being a conglomeration of spheres. Despite being omniprescent through all of time and space, Yog is said to exist outside of the universe as we know it. This was hinted at in the passage from Through the Gates of the Silver Key below,

It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and selfnot merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweepthe last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign…

The point is, Yog knows all and sees all. To manage to please this god could bring you knowledge of great value. But this knowledge is a double edged blade, to know too much could court disaster.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these deities though. They are creatures of madness and celestial malevolence and malignance that is second to none in the creations of horror.

These gods set up the greater pantheon of the Elder Gods (which is my particular wheelhouse). Their references and presence are far more resonant in horror through the ages, but without these elder gods and their progeny then we wouldnt have them.

So yeah, next week well talk about Cthulhu et al, whom I know is the big crowd draw. Ill see you then and hope fully this has been a little bit enlightening.

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