The Cthulhu Comparison
H. P. Lovecraft's mythos bears a distinct similarity to alternative history. We compare the texts to see just how close
they come. Newly updated with the latest alternative archaeology.
In a previous Lost Civilizations Uncovered
article, "From Cthulhu to Cloning
," we saw how authors of alternative history unconsciously appropriated the fictional mythos 1920s pulp fiction author H. P. Lovecraft
created. Lovecraft's tales of alien dieties bestowing the dubious gifts of extrastellar civilization on a sleeping world
went on to inspire the ancient astronaut frenzy of the 1970s and eventually the lost civilization excitement of today. Alternative
authors seem to accept many of Lovecraft's ideas as fact, even though he himself admonished readers to remember they were
merely fiction, their verisimilitude the result of his ideas being shared with his friends and fellow horror-authors: "This
pooling of resources tends to build up quite a pseudo-convincing background of dark mythology, legendry, & bibliography--though
of course none of us has the least wish to actually mislead readers."
Nearly seventy years after his death, Lovecraft's
brand of dark cosmic terror continues to deceive readers who unsuspectingly pick up non-fiction books without realizing the
influence a fiction-writer's ideas have on today's pseudo-science. Of course, Lovecraft also had his antecedents, the pseudo-science
of the 19th century, like Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antediluvian World
or Churchwell's tales of the vanished continent
of Mu. Lovecraft was the first to add aliens into the equation, and so he is the one we turn to in order to see a comparison
between what is claimed as fact today and Lovecraft's fiction of long ago.
For the comparison below, I drew upon the
works of H. P. Lovecraft and the books of ancient aliens proponents Erich von Däniken and Robert Temple, and the alternative
historian Graham Hancock.
ON THE UNDERSEA WORLD
Lovecraft: Naturally, savants of various kinds
tried their best to classify the frightful object, though always without success. Theories of a bygone Pacific civilisation,
of which the Easter Island images and the megalithic masonry of Ponape and Nan-Matol are conceivable vestiges, were freely
circulated among students, and learned journals carried varied and often conflicting speculations on a possible former continent
whose peaks survive as the myriad islands of Melanesia and Polynesia. The diversity in dates assigned to the hypothetical
vanished culture - or continent - was at once bewildering and amusing; yet some surprisingly relevant allusions were found
in certain myths of Tahiti and other islands. (Out of the Aeons [with Hazel Heald] 1933)
Hancock: It was the submerged structures of Japan
that first awakened me to the possibility that an underworld in history, unrecognized by archaeologists, could lie concealed
and forgotten beneath the sea. Then, when I learned to dive and started to look elsewhere, I began to realize how vast this
vanished underworld might be -- for its traces seem to have been scattered around the continental margins not only of the
Pacific but also the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. . . I have not spoken of the work Santha and
I did in the South Pacific around the Tahitian islands of Taiatea and Huahine, or of the strange things we saw underwater
off the Tongan island of Haapai. (Underworld 2002)
ON ANCIENT ALIENS
"I cannot think of the deep sea without shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and floundering
on its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable likenesses on submarine obelisks
of water-soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may rise above the billows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants
of puny, war-exhausted mankind -- of a day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal
pandemonium." (Dagon 1917)
Temple: "[A] group of alien amphibious
beings were credited by the Babylonians with having founded their civilization. The main individual of the group of amphibians
is called Oannes. . . In somewhat later traditions than the ones Berossosus drew on, Oannes became the fish-god of the Philistines
known as Dagon and familiar to many readers of the Bible. . . [T]he creatures credited with founding civiliation in the Middle
East were frankly described by the Babylonians who revered them and built huge statues of them as 'repulsive abominations.'"
(Sirius Mystery 1998)
ON ANCIENT CULTS
"They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before there were any men, and who came to the young world
out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now, inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets
in dreams to the first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisoners said it had always
existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark places all over the world until the time when the great
priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in the mighty city of R'lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneath
his sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would always be waiting to liberate him."
(Call of Cthulhu 1926)
Von Däniken: "I claim that our forefothers
received visits from the universe in the remote past, even though I do not yet know who these extraterrestrial intelligences
were or from which planet they came." (Chariots of the Gods? 1969)
shall argue that 'serious and intelligent men' - and apparently women too - were indeed at work behind the stage of the prehistory
in Egypt and propose that one of the many namees by which they were known was the 'Followers of Horus.' We propose, too, that
their purpose, to which their generations adhered for thousands of years with the rigour of a messianic cult, may have been
to bring to fruition a great cosmic blueprint." (Mystery of the Sphinx 1996)
Lovecraft: "Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed
the cult around tall idols which the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim eras from dark stars. That cult would never
die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu from His tomb to revive His subjects
and resume His rule of earth." (Call of Cthulhu 1926)
Hancock: "The same constellations,
but with everything flipped 180 degrees, are present in these two skies [10,500 BC and today] separated by 12,500 years. .
. Perhaps the prehistoric cult of immortality which used vast monuments likend to constellations and astronomical cycles as
instruments of initiation is coming back to life." (Heaven's Mirror 1998)
"I would even venture that we may be under observation or surveillance at this very moment, with an extraterrestrial civilization
whose home base is the Sirius system monitoring our development to see when we will ready ourselves for their contacting
us. In other words, we may very possibly allowd to control the forthcoming contact ourselves." (Sirius Mystery 1998)
ON THE HOME PLANET
Lovecraft: "The blasphemies
which appeared on earth, it was hinted, came from the dark planet Yuggoth, at the rim of the solar system; but this was itself
merely the populous outpost of a frightful interstellar race whose ultimate source must lie far outside even the Einsteinian
space-time continuum or greatest known cosmos." (The Whisperer in Darkness 1930)
Von Däniken: "If the view supported
by reputable scientists East and West that Mars once had an advanced civilization is correct, the question arises: Why does
it no longer exists today? Did the intelligences on Mars have to seek a new environment. . . Lastly, were some of the inhabitants
of Mars able to escape to a neighboring planet?" (Chariots of the Gods? 1969)
"The Dogon [tribe] and the Egyptians spoke of civilization coming from the Sirius System, and the Babylonians spoke of it
coming from the heavens; the Dogon and the Babylonians agreed on the amphibious nature of the beings who did this." (Sirius
ON THE AGE OF THE SPHINX
"Near the edge of the plateau and due east of the Second Pyramid, with a face probably altered to form a colossal portrait
of Khephren, its royal restorer, stands the monstrous Sphinx - mute, sardonic, and wise beyond mankind and memory. . . The
gate-chapel leading to the Second Pyramid, nearly buried in the drifting sands, yawns subterraneously south-east of the Sphinx.
Persistent tradition dubs it the 'Temple of the Sphinx'; and it may perhaps be rightly called such if the Sphinx indeed represents
the Second Pyramid's builder Khephren. There are unpleasant tales of the Sphinx before Khephren -- but whatever its elder
features were, the monarch replaced them with his own that men might look at the colossus without fear. (Imprisoned with the Pharaohs 1924)
Hancock: "There is a belief that the
Great Sphinx of Giza was fashioned during the period of history classified as the 'Old Kingdom' on the orders of the Fourth
Dynasty Pharaoh named Khafre whom the Greeks later knew as Chephren [and it is] stated as fact that the features of the Sphinx
were carved to represent Khafre himself. . . [The evidence] is consistent with the recarving of a much older and heavily eroded
statue. . . Is it not possible that Khafre was a restorer of the Sphinx? . . . The geological evidence therefore
suggests that a very conservative estimate of the true construction date of the Sphinx would be somewhere between
'7000 to 5000 BC minimum'"(Message of the Sphinx 1996)
ON THE "SPHINX CHAMBER"
Lovecraft: "It was then that the smile of the Sphinx vaguely
displeased us, and made us wonder about the legends of subterranean passages beneath the monstrous creature, leading down,
down, to depths none might dare hint at - depths connected with mysteries older than the dynastic Egypt we excavate, and having
a sinister relation to the persistence of abnormal, animal-headed gods in the ancient Nilotic pantheon." (Imprisoned with the Pharaohs 1924)
Hancock: "It is a map, not buried in
the earth but cunningly concealed in time, where 'X' almost literally 'marks a spot' directly under the rear paws of the Great
Sphinx of Egypt at a depth, we would guess, of about 100 feet. If we have read the message of the 'Followers of [Hawk-Headed]
Horus' right, then there is something of momentous importance there, waiting to be found . . . chambers of the earthly 'Kingdom
of Osiris.'" (Message of the Sphinx 1996)
"It seemed to be half lost in a queer antarctic haze. . . The effect of the monstrous sight was indescribable, for some fiendish
violation of known natural law seemed certain at the outset. Here, on a hellishly ancient table-land fully twenty thousand
feet high, and in a climate deadly to habitation since a prehuman age not less than five hundred thousand years ago, there
stretched nearly to the vision's limit a tangle of orderly stone which only the desperation of mental self-defense could possibly
attribute to any but conscious and artificial cause." (At the Mountains of Madness 1931)
Hancock: "It was suddenly clear to me how a continent-sized landmass, which
had been the home of a large and prosperous society for thousands of years, could indeed get lost almost without a trace.
As the Flem-Aths concluded: 'It is to icy Antarctica that we look to find answers to the very roots of civilization - answers
which may yet be preserved in the frozen depths of the forgotten island continent.'" (Fingerprints of the Gods 1995)*
* a position he has since recanted
Däniken, Erich von. Chariots of the Gods? Bantam. New York: 1969.
Hancock, Graham. Fingerprints of the Gods. Crown. New York: 1995.
---------- and Robert Bauval. Mystery
of the Sphinx. Crown. New York: 1998.
----------. Heaven's Mirror. Crown. New York: 1998.
----------. Underworld. Michael Joseph. London: 2002.
Howard Phillips. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre. Del Rey Books. New York:
----------. The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death. Del Rey/Ballantine Books.
New York: 1995.
---------. The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness. Del Rey/Ballantine Books.
New York: 1996
Temple, Robert. The Sirius Mystery. Destiny Books. Rochester, Vermont: 1998.