I am Dread Lord Cthulhu – Part I: Lovecraft

TThis is the tale of Dread Lord Cthulhu, Soul-Eater and Eldritch God, and his favourite horror writer and unwitting chronicler

The Dread Lord Chtulhu [(k)ʟ̝̊ʊlʔɬuː] – good luck pronouncing that right! – the word comes from the Greek chthonic, meaning subterranean) is thought to have been created by the deranged mind of Victorian horror writer and accidental cultist, H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft suffered from anxiety all his life. Yet, he did not blame his anxiety on his daddy issues. Instead, he knew that all human anxiety was borne of the inner knowledge that Dread Lord Cthulhu and the ‘Old Ones‘ slept beneath the abysmal depths of the sea. Deep below, in the icy darkness they slept, and they dreamt of taking over mankind and unleashing nothing short but hell on earth. That knowledge would make anyone a bit anxious, right?

Cthulhu's chronicler

H.P. Lovecraft, 1934. You can see the blank stare of horror after having witnessed the summoning of Dread Lord Cthulhu…

Why poor old H.P.?

Even though Lovecraft never achieved any obvious success during his lifetime, his creation (or so it is thought) has lived on. His chronicling of Dread Lord Cthulhu and the Old Ones‘ adventures made him one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Unfortunately for him, and as seems to happen to all the best artists, the world only acknowledged his importance after his death. By then, he wouldn’t have cared anyway as he had lost his mind shortly after witnessing the full dread of Dread Lord Cthulhu.

You see, Cthulhu was not invented by Lovecraft, oh no… Instead, Lovecraft stumbled across the Necronomicon, when he was digging around Edgar Allan Poe’s grave (he was, after all, a massive fan of Poe). This, a grimoire*, the most evil of books, was writ on human skin by the “Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred. Once H.P. uttered these guttural evil words, he was suddenly overcome by a blinding madness. Soon after, a bunch of cultists descended upon him and dragged him into a summoning (it’s quite easy, just follow the instructions here). From then on, he was forced to chronicle Chtulhu’s existence, until his poor body and brain finally gave out. Like a personal biographer, of sorts. With more blinding madness and less pay…

Cthulhu in a pensive mood, as sketched by Lovecraft, his chronicler (1934).

Who is Dread Lord Cthulhu after all?

Our Dread Lord is an entity that has long (for eons and times immemorial!) dwelled in the icy depths of R’lyeh, the ‘nightmare corpse city‘. A civilisation long forgotten (and most likely, eaten) originally summoned it from outer space. What did Lovecraft see when staring into Cthulhu’s maddening eyes? Only the complete irrelevance of mankind in the face of the cosmic horrors that exist in the universe.

In “The Call of Cthulhu“, Lovecraft describes it as a “monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.” It is usually depicted as being hundreds of meters tall. It has webbed, humanoid arms and legs, tentacled face, and a pair of rudimentary wings on its back. Pictures almost always depict it as green-hued.

Cthulhu rising (it’s big!) by Xardwen

More Cthulhu rising (it’s getting bigger!) by Disse86

The biggest Cthulhu rising (it doesn’t even need the deep sea anymore) by Dashadee

We now know better though: Dread Lord Cthulhu is brilliant at invoking anxiety, dread and fear. It turns its cult followers (and artists trying to capture its magnificence) into deranged, babbling messes. However, its alien heritage and ability to camouflage is just like its brethren the coleoid cephalopods (see “Are Kraken aliens?” blog). This also means that it can take many, many forms.

Never has anyone photographed or filmed the Dread Lord Cthulhu, until…

An all-female scientists expedition to Antarctica happened to RELEASE THE KRAKEN. Then, in turn, the Kraken summoned Dread Lord Cthulhu as backup. Unlike puny human cultists, who need the Necronomicon, the Kraken needed no such trinkets to raise its new best friend. The ‘Deep Ones’, children of Mother Hydra and Father Dagon, hate the Kraken’s chief enemy Medusa and happily lent a hand in the summoning. Check out the Kraken Mythology blog for cool info on the tentacled ones’ family tree through the eons.

This is what Dread Lord really looks like:

 

Cthulhu on a tourist ship (note the camera, clearly taken from a soul-eaten tourist)

So, now we know. Cthulhu looks a lot more like Lovecraft, his deranged chronicler, depicted all along (see his sketch above). And like his drawing of the Dread Lord, Lovecraft also correctly predicted the rise of general anxiety in the world. We would do well to consider his writings with more seriousness again…

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