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The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.necronomicon,alt.horror.cthulhu
Subject: Re: The Book of Power: Evaluating the Necronomicon (was ...)
Date: Sat, 04 Mar 2000 02:23:16 GMT

(alt.mythology snipped)

In article <89p48h$>, wrote:

> I can accept this. it doesn't mean that a Necronomicon cannot
> ever exist, however. one might create a book which conformed
> to all of Lovecraft's descriptions without making a claim
> that the book is pre-Lovecraftian or derived from physical
> historical sources (as compared to having been received from
> the astral plane as a text which conforms to the character
> and content of what Lovecraft imagined, having the quality
> of having been written by Alhazred, during that time period,
> containing references and magical content almost believable
> to the academic and definitely believable to the student of
> Cthulhu mythos).

The difficulty is largely a matter of definitions.  When
Lovecraft fans and scholars hear about the Necronomicon, they
assume that the speaker includes the notion of historic
authenticity with it.  On the other hand, magicians usually
speak of the Necronomicon with the assumption that it must
be a document of magical use.  So both sides often end up
talking past each other.

(Of course, there are magicians who claim historic authenticity,
and fans who are materialists, but these debates rarely interest

> it should be noted that just because a Necronomicon is a hoax
> for having made that claim does NOT mean that the book is
> necessarily a 'fake' and its contents should ALSO be evaluated
> from the standpoint of a comparison with Lovecraft's criteria.
> any hoax (originating post-Lovecraft while laying claim to more
> ancient origins) may contain elements that a 'real'
> Necronomicon can be said to have, despite its inherently
> falsified premise of creation.

Assuming that we can agree on the criteria by which the
Necronomicon can be judged.  I'm not entirely sure that it
can - a look at the Price articles mentioned elsewhere on this
thread shows that Lovecraft himself did not necessarily had
a fixed view of the Necronomicon, and that it was sometimes a
collection of hints about magical artifacts, a grimoire, or
a history of pre-human contacts on our planet.  Alhazred's
views on his subjects even change - at one point it is even
implied that he is a witch-hunter of sorts.  To re-create
Lovecraft's Necronomicon would involve the difficult, if not
insurmountable, task of reconciling these differences.

> I really understand. I hope that you see that I am attempting to
> forge here a middle path between fanatics from both sides of the
> issue of the Book of Power, accepting what I think are reasonable
> criteria that will allow (and perhaps inspire) a grimoire by the
> name "Al Azif" or "Necronomicon" to come to exist without having
> to satisfy ridiculous and hoax-ridden qualifications.

I think there are some - but I must say, I doubt the use of
such a project, even if I attempt to look at the matter
from an occultist's POV.  History is filled of examples of
legendary books of magic that have been grounded, and I have
yet to encounter one that lived up to its hideous and
unspeakable reputation.  Given the precedent from such
folklore, the Necronomicon's look and contents should be
NOTHING like the stories which have built up around it.

> whatever you can do to assist me in this (such as critique my
> approach, work with me or refer people to me who have similar
> ideas to my own, redirect the rabid fanatics to me if you want)
> would be very appreciated. I've been happy to concede many of
> the points of this debate and would steer the occultists and whatnot
> toward more rational lines of bibliographic assessment. despite
> the heat of this thread, I think there are many common points
> of understanding and our area of disagreement is quite small.

I can't provide too much help, but I can give a few suggestions:

-- Begin with Lovecraft.  Start with a blank slate, then go through
his stories and letters.  There's a great deal of stuff which
doesn't turn up elsewhere, and many of the elements of the mythology
(the Sumerian link, those copies bound in human skin) don't show
up in Lovecraft.

-- Check out the bibliography on my site.  Some of the listed
pieces aren't that good, but there's a few month's worth of
reading there.

-- Beg or borrow (but don't steal) a copy of my Necronomicon
Files.  Too bad it's OOP right now - there's a lot of stuff on
the origins and development of the Nec. myth right there.


Daniel Harms

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