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Books of the Dead: Cthulhu Madness & Ritual Practice

What if a book had the power to drive you insane?

What if each page held dark secrets and untold power?

What if this power could be yours, if only you’d let go of reality?

Would you read it?

I did. Well, sort of…

I set out to explore the many iterations of the Necronomicon and found one distinct commonality: madness.

Come along. Let’s lose our minds together.

Kitab Al-Azif

“That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.”

What unspeakable horrors lurk beyond our senses?

This unnerving question author H. P. Lovecraft sought to answer by way of fiction.

Yuji Kaida, ca. 1989.

Throughout his stories he wrote of a book which held the power to summon untold horrors of a pre-historic age.

He eventually named this book the Kitab Al-Azif; what we know as the Necronomicon.

In 1927’s The History of the Necronomicon, Lovecraft mixed real history and occult references with fictitious events and people, adding to its mystique.

The distinction between real and fake was further compounded since he allowed other writers to use the book in their own stories.

A page from the Necronomicon Pop Up Book by Skinner

Even after his death, Lovecraft’s creation continued to turn up in various works of fiction and, more importantly, in the real world.

Simon Necronomicon

In the years following Lovecraft’s death, many books have been published claiming to be the Necronomicon; the most famous being that published by the author known simply as ‘Simon’.

The Simon Necronomicon has remained in print since its publishing

This book was Necronomicon in name only, taking most of its magical contents from Ancient Sumeria.

Nevertheless, this book filled the shelves of many a basement-dwelling occultist throughout the 80s and 90s.

While largely considered an elaborate hoax, the book was cited in the 1998 double-murder trial of Rod Ferrell, who claimed to be a 500-year old vampire named ‘Vesago’.

Real or fake, the Necronomicon has continued to exert its influence over this tentative reality of ours.

Necronomicon Ex-Mortis

Though not a literal expansion of Lovecraft’s mythos, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films make use of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, or the Book of the Dead.

Canonically, the book remains a source of madness and mania with a single purpose not unsimilar to Lovecraft’s: to summon the unspeakable.

In the series, the book holds the power to conjure an unspeakable force of evil: the Kandarian Demon & their slaves, the Deadites.

In the world of Evil Dead, the Necronomicon is but one piece of a vast epic spanning time and space.

Perhaps the madness this book induces is just another word for transcendence; a tool for initiation into a higher purpose.

Why don’t we ask a magician?


How can we be certain that reality is what it seems?

The truth is, we can’t.

Enter, Phil Hine.

In his book, The Pseudonomicon, Hine says Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos can be a useful tool in confronting reality and helping us to realize our potential as magical beings.

As with Lovecraft’s stories, this world we live in is not all there is to be seen.

This ‘consensus reality’ is convenient for daily living; but we can reach beyond, if only we’d let go.

Indeed, our reality requires participation to maintain its illusion. But we mustn’t be fooled by our senses.

Through ritual practice, by way of the Cthulhu Mythos, we may shatter that stability.

As our notions of reality are destroyed and eventually reassembled, we realize our ability to shape the world around us.

“Each god brings its own madness.”

The End…?

The Necronomicon continues to creep beyond our imaginations and into our nightmares, chipping away at the distinction between real and fake with each page turned.

Keep your eyes open for hidden worlds, my fellow pop occultists.

Cthulhu may dream, but it is we who must wake him.

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