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Mythic Archetypes and Lovecraft

To: alt.necromicon
Subject: Mythic Archetypes and Lovecraft (
Date: 49940614

As I've discussed in earlier posts many elements of Lovecraft's fiction
were directly inspired by Near Eastern myth and magick. For instance
Cthulhu is an expansion on the Dragon of the Abyss in Near Eastern myth.
This dragon called leviathan or Tiamat lies in the Abyss or primordial
Ocean. Cthulhu is described as dragon-like and is said to lie in the
ocean. Both Cthulhu and the Dragon are said to predate mankind by aeons.
The Dragon is sometimes said to be dead. However, since the Dragon can be
roused from this state sleeping might be a more accurate description.
Cthulhu is "dead but dreaming" waiting to be roused. Some ancient texts
say that the Dragon will rises at the end of a great cosmic cycle. The end
of this cycle will come at a time when man is wild and beyond morals. The
exact same is claimed of Cthulhu. There are many more parallels, but this
should suffice. Obviously Cthulhu is an expansion on ancient myth familiar
to HPL. This in no way detracts from Lovecraft's creativity. All writing
of merit contains archetypical myth-forms. These Myth-form are often most
effective when they are a fresh interpretation of a Primal figure. This is
the case with HPL. The presence of Archetypical myth-forms in Lovecraft's
fiction may help account for the quasi-reality they have acquired. There
are many other examples of archetype appearing in HPL. Dagon is obviously
derived from the Dagon of Philistine myth. The Black Goat of the woods
with a thousand young Shub-Niggurath is based on the Goat cults of
antiquity. Pan and the Egyptian "Goat of Mendes" are two examples. The
ultimately compact and nuclear source at the center of infinity (Azathoth)
and the deity that is co-terminous with all space and time (Yog-Sothoth)
are myth-forms that appear cross-culturally. The gnostics said that their
god Abraxas had two aspects: that of the Point, the center and source of
all and that of Infinite Space. It is interesting to note that Jung
mentions both of these forms in _Seven Sermons to the Dead_. Jung also
connects these mythic forms with the unexplored territory of the mind, a
very Lovecraftian concept, in this same book. What is the most interesting
about this is that Jung received this book through a type of automatic
writing. Jung believed himself in contact with a "spirit" at the time of
the books writing. "Yod" in the cabala is the primal point (sperm) of
creation. "He" in the cabala the space (window) in which creation is
manifest. The Jewel is the seed of the universe while the Lotus is the
infinite void in esoteric Buddhism. (These interpretations are not the
only ones: Buddhism and the cabala almost alway have multiple meanings for
all their symbols) Nuit is infinite space while Hadit is the "atomic
point" in Crowley's mysticism. The list could go on and on. As you can see
the Archetypes of the deity which is the manifestation of infinite space
and time, and the god of the center and source of all are primal
Myth-forms. Nyarlathotep the Mighty Messenger the heart and soul of the
Gods is closely related to Thoth (tehut) the messenger heart and soul of
the gods in Egyptian myth. Hermes is also a close parallel to
Nyarlathotep. The Messenger/trickster archetype appears in many mythic
traditions. Part of the power of Lovecraft's fiction is that it contains
these archetypes. HPL's mythos are to a large extent a dynamic and modern
interpretation of many of the world's most ancient and powerful
archetypes. Lovecraft incorporated much mythic and archetypical material
in his stories consciously. However, It also seems that HPL derived
material from what Jung would have termed the collective unconscious.
Lovecraft based many of his stories on dreams. HPL was a serial lucid
dreamer. a serial lucid dream is a rare type of dream which begins where
the last dream left off. It is further distinguished by the fact that the
dreamer is aware that he is dreaming and is fully conscious. (Lucid
dreaming is an important part of Sufi and Buddhist practice...) It should
be remembered that Jung felt that Archetypical images are often
encountered by dreamers especially if the dreamer is making spiritual and
psychological progress and that many ancient myths were based on dreams.
It has also been asserted that HPL had T.L.E.. This would have made him
much more prone to visions than average. The fact that HPL consciously
used ancient mythic material may not be as significant as the fact that he
encountered God-forms in visions and dreams. It should be remembered that
most mythologies were created as new interpretations of old archetypes
combined with insights based on dreams and visions. (Again this is not to
suggest that HPL "believed" in his mythos; he did not) Jung has stressed
the fact that myths and archetype are meant to be experienced (lived) and
intergrated. Myth researcher Joseph Campbel has reiterated the importance
of this. According to Campbel myths are meant to be rites in the shamanic
sense. They are powerful spiritual and psychological tools. A myth is meant
to be used as a frame for a transformative journey according to Campbel.
Because of the fact that HPL based much of his stories on dreams or
ancient myth it can be argued that his "Cthulhu Mythos" can be used to
accomplish this transformative journey as easily as older "classical"
myths. Indeed, Lovecraft's fiction carries a power to affect the modern
reader much more deeply than most "classical" myths do. This fact alone
makes mythic and shamanic work with the Cthulhu mythos an important option
for the spiritual quest. The Archetypes in HPL are clear and powerful.
They are based on the most primal and archaic myths and yet they embrace
the chaotic future. The Mythos of HPL offer another benefit that
traditional mythologies don't; the mythos are relatively unexplored. They
offer insights and novelty that well mapped systems can not. The fact that
little has been charted out in the Cthulhu mythos presents yet another
advantage, the unknown alway carries feelings of awe with it. The Mythos
are powerful, mysterious and frightening.(fear is an important component
in spiritual work, it invariably show us a psychological hang up that
needs to be integrated) How many traditional myths can creat these feeling
in the majority of modern people?

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