Friday, August 3, 2012


In 1924, H.P.Lovecraft's short story,"The Hound" was included in the February edition of Weird Tales, a popular pulp magazine in the occult/horror/mystery genre. It was a story typical for it's time, written in a  style hauntingly reminiscent of  one of Lovecraft's forerunners, Edgar Allen Poe. It was not a tale that stood out among the many Gothic horror stories of the time period. What makes The Hound noteworthy is not the story, but an item mentioned in it: a grimorie of extraordinary evil known as The Necronomicon, a book of totally fictional origin written by  the 'Mad Arab' Abdul Alhazred, a character in another Lovecraft creation.( Much later, Dean Koontz would use the same strategy by using 'quotes' from the fictitious Book of Counted Sorrows his works; in 2003, Koontz did finally publish a limited edition volume of poetry using that very title. For him, as for Lovecraft, I believe the model is a minor bit of marketing genius.)

The Necronomicon is the stuff of literary legend: a moldy, hidden manuscript of ancient origin written by a partly insane devotee of  Cthulhu. Although it's contents and origin are spotty, it is hinted that it contains the secrets of the dead, was used as a reference in ceremonial magic for centuries, passed down from the Sumerians to many other civilizations, translated into Greek and then Latin (when it was banned by a Pope Gregory IX) by way of Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe and later into English through the Elizabethan magician John Dee-who never published his translation in it's entirety. It's mysterious content existed only in fragments throughout it's long life, adding to it's appeal among many occultists who insisted upon it's actual existence.

Lovecraft himself insisted that the Necronomicron was his own invention and never existed in reality."...As for seriously-written books on dark, occult,and supernatural themes- it all truth they don't amount to much. That's why it's more fun to invent mythical works like the Necronomicon..." Lovecraft wrote to Willis Conover, a broadcaster on the popular Voice of America Radio Show, and who published a sci-fi fanzine, Science Fantasy Correspondent in the 1930's.

Although Lovecraft always claimed the book was non-existent and nothing more than a figment of his imagination,the ensuing years brought forth an overabundance of individuals claiming to own authentic copies of the fabled text, from various sources. Library card catalogs listed the book with the notation, " Reference only. Inquire at desk", which was, I believe, more of a device to keep copies written by others with the same title from being stolen rather than limiting public access to it's supposed dark, dangerous contents.

While there are no legitimate copies if the Necronomicon, a number of books using the same name but written by other authors have surfaced, most notoriously, the version in the late 1970's by a self- proclaimed East Orthodox Christian priest using the alias of 'Simon'.  The "Simon Necronomicon"(as it is popularly known) contains an 80 page introduction by the author  and leans heavily on the theory of ancient middle eastern origin for the grimorie that contains mainly conjurations, incantations, demonic and angelic seals and rituals of ceremonial magic. A later book by Simon, Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon[], uses a confusing and convoluted timeline in a conspiracy theory format that attempts to ferret out the 'true' history of a Greek version of the ancient text by the author. It has long been suspected that 'Simon'is the nom de plume of Peter Levenda(, an occult writer who specializes in political conspiracies and who just happens to be one of the characters frequenting the book. His identity is thinly veiled in this occult cat and mouse game of  occult political intrigue that comes off sounding a bit like a psychedelic version of Raiders of the Lost Ark to me. I am especially suspicious of Levenda's credibility when he claims that as a twenty-something he and a colleague crashed Robert Kennedy's funeral mass dressed as two Eastern Orthodox Bishops (Dead Names,pg 60). The account of this adventurous lark in Dead Names is very detailed and specific; the problem I have is that I have viewed the event in question captured in video-taped news footage on Youtube numerous times and have never seen clergy of that denomination sitting in the place of honor described by Simon, nor any ministers fitting his description of their age and vestiture...and as someone who holds a degree in Comparative Religion and is an ordained minister, I would recognize them instantly. It is just one of the details Simon takes liberties with in writing this book. On a positive note, the book is interesting and entertaining in a taboo kind of way-as long as the reader doesn't take his words has truth, because I suspect the account is a fictional as Simon's name.  I did rather enjoy thumbing through the pages featuring a rag-tag troupe of occult notables,near notables and out right odd-balls, most notably his recollection of the flamboyant and toady Herman Slater [], owner of the infamous Magickal Childe bookstore.  I met Slater (unbeknown to me around the time all of this nefarious intrigue surrounding the Necronomicon was taking place) when I was a student at NYU and stopped in Magickal Childe on impulse. He was quite simply a character.

Back to Lovecraft's original statement that the Necronomicron does not exist as invented by him; later pretenders to the literary throne don't count as far as I'm concerned. Writing a grimorie and simply calling it Necronomicon doesn't make it the Necronomicon, it just makes for poor imitation intended to dupe the public...which, in my opinion, places the action in the same class as those who claim degrees of adept  in esoteric orders of dubious existence.

1 comment:

  1. I remember when the Necronomicon came out in the '70s. When the copies we'd ordered for the store arrived, my boss & I "closed shop" for the day and huddled in the back room, taking turns reading to each other in hushed whispers, terrified that we might accidentally invoke something we couldn't handle! Ahhh... what fun and innocent times those were!


Thank You for reading Broom With A View - Your comments are welcome and appreciated.