Friday, 31 July 2015

Things That Should Not Be...

“Men know him as the Dweller in Darkness, that brother of the Old Ones called Nyogtha, the Thing that should not be. He can be summoned to Earth’s surface through certain secret caverns and fissures, and sorcerers have seen him in Syria and below the black tower of Leng; from the Thrang Grotto of Tartary he has come ravening to bring terror and destruction among the pavilions of the great Khan. Only by the looped cross, by the Vach-Viraj incantation and by the Tikkoun elixir may he be driven back to the nighted caverns of hidden foulness where he dwelleth.”
-Henry Kuttner, “The Salem Horror”

Nyogtha is surrounded with an aura of mystery. Its origins are obscure, but it has certain inalienable associations which pertain to it and its activities. With all this in mind, here is a summation of all things “Nyogthic” for your delectation.


Nyogtha is said to be a “Lesser Old One”, a worrying term since it implies that there are gradations with which operators approach these entities, whereas they should all be dealt with under conditions of extreme caution. It manifests as a gelatinous and malleable blob of darkness, displaying great plasticity and semi-impermanence. Legend has it that it was summoned at one point in the distant past by the Elder Race and used for uncertain ends: afraid of its growing size and power, the leaders of the ‘Race constructed a kind of “shield” which restricts the movements of Nyogtha, keeping it locked in a subterranean prison and only able to be accessed through a handful of connexions to the earth’s surface; some sources claim that this prison lies in red-litten Yoth, a series of caverns below K’n-yan. One of these entry-points connects to Earth’s Dreamlands, specifically to a point beneath the Plateau of Leng and this has a certain inalienable logic to it; other reports that Nyogtha is trapped upon a dark planet orbiting Arcturus are likely to be the exceptions rather than the rule.


There are four main theories which attempt to explain the source of the Thing That Should Not Be, and they are as follows, in no particular order:

Some believe that the Sleeper of N’kai is the source of Nyogtha. This would seem to stem from the fact that Tsathoggua has created his Formless Spawn as servants and there are those who think that Nyogtha, therefore, is simply some kind of “über-Formless Spawn”, in much the same way that Dagon is thought of as a sort of “über-Deep One”. Investigators should be wary however, about structuring theories based simply upon appearances where the Mythos is concerned.

Those seeking further insight should re-examine the Book of Eibon, the Codex Dagonensis, the Cthaat Aquadingen, the Parchments of Pnom, and von Junzt’s Unaussprechlichen Kulten.

This connexion would seem to be borne out of the spurious premise that all roads must lead eventually to Cthulhu. Cthulhu’s plasticity of form is quite different to that of Nyogtha and, despite its utter alien-ness, it is corporeal for the most part, while Nyogtha is not. It’s possible that Nyogtha may have existed for awhile in a kind of parasitic, or symbiotic, relationship with Cthulhu for a time, which may have led to this association.

Check the facts in “An Investigation into the Myth Patterns of Latter-Day Primitives”, the Black Tome of Alsophocus, the Book of Dzyan, the Book of Eibon (or its derivatives), the Codex Dagonensis, the Confessions of the Mad Monk Clithanus, the Cthaat Aquadingen, “Cthulhu Among the Victorians”, “Cthulhu in the Necronomicon”, Dwellers in the Depths, the Invocations to Dagon, the Johansen Narrative, Legends of the Olden Runes, the Necronomicon, Notes on Nessie, the Ponape Scriptures, the R’lyeh Text (aka., the Urilia Text), Unaussprechlichen Kulten, and the Zanthu Tablets.

Another theory claims the Unbegotten Source is the sire of the Thing That Should Not Be. There are certain similarities between the two entities: both are formless and dark, lack organised cult worship, and dwell in deep, largely inaccessible caverns. It should be remembered though that Nyogtha is imprisoned below the earth while Ubbo-Sathla is not. Also, Ubbo-Sathla is mostly inert and its reasons for wanting, or needing, to generate such a thing as Nyogtha are unclear.

Other details may reside within the Book of Eibon; certainly the answer would lie within the Elder Keys but good luck accessing those!

Parastic Entities
There is a notion that the Great Old Ones have generated their own symbiotic and parasitic relationships with other beings of power - not of them, but with them. These demonic vectors include Bugg-Shash and Yibb Tstll, and these may well count Nyogtha amongst their ranks. This would help to rationalise the notion of Nyogtha being a “lesser” Great Old One and also account for its being referred to as a “brother of the Old Ones”.

Further research could be undertaken using the Broken Columns of Geph (or the Geph Transcriptions), the Cthaat Aquadingen, or the Chuma Scrolls.


Now let’s take a look at Nyogtha itself:

“...An insidious odour began to penetrate the room. It was vaguely reptilian, musky and nauseating. The disk lifted inexorably, and a little finger of blackness crept out from beneath its edge ... a great wave of iridescent blackness, neither liquid nor solid, a frightful gelatinous mass...”
-Henry Kuttner, “The Salem Horror”

Nyogtha is a minor deity restricted to underground caverns on Earth (or possibly, Arcturus). It may be related to Cthulhu, amongst others, or it may be some kind of parasite (possibly symbiotic) which lives off the Old Ones in some fashion. Nyogtha resembles a blob of living darkness, which may throw out black tentacles or pseudopods at will.

Tomes which discuss Nyogtha explicitly include the Cultes des Goules, De Vermis Mysteriis, the Necronomicon, The Scriptures of Klek and Unaussprechlichen Kulten; It’s not unreasonable to expect that the Ghoul’s Manuscript would make reference to it also. Nyogtha also appears in a little-known and not widely-circulated novel entitled Black God of Madness.

Attacks and Special Effects:

Unless driven off by appropriate spells, Nyogtha grabs and drags its victim off to underground pits. If Nyogtha strikes for damage, each target within 10 metres takes 1D10 points of damage from numerous small wounds.

“The Thing That Should Not Be”
Magic Points
Damage Bonus: +/-0
Weapon:       Tentacle 100%, 1D10 or Grapple
Armour:        Nyogtha ignores the first 10 points of damage received each round from all sources; at 0 HP, Nyogtha is dispelled
Spells             All Call and Contact spells; Create Gate
SAN Loss       It costs 1D6/1D20 SAN to see Nyogtha


Nyogtha is not widely worshipped. At best it is summoned up by single warlocks, solitary witches, or lonely sorcerers, who want to do a bit of horse-trading with the Other Side. In this sense, Nyogtha is your “go to guy” because, as opposed to other Mythos entities, it appears to be easy to whistle up and to then send packing (an underestimation which we’ll examine shortly). The two main camps of Nyogtha worship are as follows:

The Prinn Family
Ludwig Prinn (died 1542), the wizard who wrote De Vermis Mysteriis, had a descendant in the form of Abigail Prinn (died 1692), who lived in Salem MA, and who died just prior to the start of the infamous witch trials there. Ludwig was a widely-travelled dabbler in black magic who made the black pilgrimage to Chorazin amongst many other abominable things. The knowledge which he accumulated was obviously passed along in his family line, because “Abbie” Prinn was a notorious witch whose activities were so vile that she was staked into her grave by concerned citizens of Salem, in order that the evil which she did stayed in the pit with her. Under her former house, a shrine and gateway to Nyogtha were discovered and some say that an attempt to summon the Great Old One was thwarted there in 1937.

Naggoob & the Ghouls
Lending further credence to the notion that Nyogtha is capable of emerging in Earth’s Dreamlands is the fact that certain ghouls there worship the Great Old One, and that this devotion is led by none other than Naggoob, the “master ghoul” of the species. The cult devotion to the Thing That Should Not Be is largely confined to those ghouls who dwell on, or around, the Plateau of Leng and it vies relentlessly with those ghoul factions who worship other entities, such as Mordiggian, the Charnel God. Naggoob, more pertinently, is said to have been the archetype of the ‘Black Man’, leader of witches’ revels during the Salem outbreak, and this tangible link between Nyogtha, Naggoob and Abigail Prinn is particularly telling.

The Spawn of Nyogtha
An obvious part of the Nyogthic cult structure are those Fosterlings of the Old Ones known as the Spawn of the Thing That Should Not Be. These beings are the result of unions between Humans, Ghouls, and Nyogtha, possibly through the intercession of Naggoob, during Witch Sabbats and Black Masses. Initially these creatures pass as human, with the exception that, instead of blood, a black ichor flows through their veins. Between three and six decades after their birth, they quickly degenerate into blobs of gelatinous horror, much like their Parent. Before then, they are strong, tough, and highly charismatic, bent upon seducing others into the dark worship of their progenitor.

Once a Spawn reaches puberty, they begin to receive dream sendings from Nyogtha. These increase in intensity until they start to lose Sanity with each dream at a rate of 1D3 points every night. When they are insane, they become an extension of the dark god and begin to enact its will. The final degeneration is terrible indeed: the skeleton of the Spawn warps and shifts, while their flesh erupts into black blobs before transmuting into wormlike tentacular flesh. Their eyes glow red and they develop fangs and claws. Distantly, if obscured by a heavy coat and a hat, they might still pass as human, but not for long.

The Spawn, are always immune to bullets and all other Impaling attacks; they take no damage from fire, acid, electricity or radiation. Once transformed, they become extremely photosensitive, feeling intense pain in open sunlight. They are able to see in extremely low light, but cannot see in total darkness.

Famous Spawn of Nyogtha were Nelson Klek, “The Rubber Man”, a sideshow contortionist known for his black ‘tattoos’ - he vanished without trace in 1902; and the Romanian gypsy child Nadia Savostyanov: she was locked into a crate by Nazis working under Josef Mengele and tossed into Lake Toplitz. And then there is this alarming image to consider:


As stated, Nyogtha is unable to fully emerge from its imprisonment; however, it can be summoned to appear at the entrances which lead to its underground abode. There are a finite number of these access points but they allow the Great Old One to range widely across the planet and into the Dreamlands of Earth. Known locations exist in the New England area of the USA, Syria, Tartary, Romania and in New Zealand; other points of access no doubt exist.

The most famous gateway to Nyogtha is beneath the Pharos of Leng, also known as the Black Tower of Leng. This dark spire dominates the centre of the Plateau and sends out a beam of bluish light on occasions which fills those who see it with dread. Whether the Pharos is connected to the black Monastery of Leng, wherein sits the High Priest “whose face is not good to look upon”, is unknown. Prophecy tells that the Pharos will burst into light, signalling the return of the Great Old Ones, but only after the Earth has been cleared in preparation.


As has already been indicated, Nyogtha is perceived as being relatively easy to deal with, although this perception may well be a faulty one. Traditionally, there are three effective means of thwarting the Thing That Should Not Be, and we shall take them one by one.

The crux ansanta of Ancient Egypt is said to be very efficacious against Nyogtha, and indeed, of all the Old Ones, it would seem that it is the only one so affected. However, things are certainly not straightforward. Certainly, a strongly presented ankh will stop Nyogtha from advancing; however, the ankh must be an especially-prepared one – infused with POW just like an Elder Sign – and even then, it will only stop Nyogtha from moving towards the wielder, it won’t drive it off entirely. Happily, a cave entrance, or Gate, which is warded by such an ankh, will keep Nyogtha from being able to use that access point.

Tikkoun Elixir
For all that it has an unusual name, Tikkoun Elixir is said to be merely holy water. That being the case, some occultists have been known to say that it is “very hard to get”, but this could be an instance of misdirection on their part. The word “Tikkun”, in Hebrew, refers to cabbalistic processes designed to restore Creation from a shattered state, so perhaps this “holy water” derives from Jewish practises rather than Christian ones. Tikkoun Elixir is also said to be somewhat effective against Cthonians also, along with other “earth-based” Mythos creatures (however this is defined – thank you, I don’t think, August Derleth!). When infused with all the caster’s Magic Points, the ‘Elixir removes the target’s non-physical immunity to damage (that is, an immunity not based on purely physical qualities such as scales or tough hide), or its invulnerability to non-magical weapons, for a single round. Against Nyogtha alone, it does 2D10 points of damage, as well. Of course, a successful Throw roll is needed to employ this weapon.

Vach-Viraj Incantation
“Yan a kadishtu nilgh’ri stell-bsna Nyogtha; K’yarnak phlegethor l’ebumna syha’h n’ghft. Ya hai kadishtu ep r’luh-eeh Nyogtha eeh, S’uhn-ngh athg li’hee orr’e syha’h.”
-The Vach-Viraj Incantation in the Senzar tongue

Found within the pages of the dread Necronomicon, this incantation is the ultimate game changer for dealing with Nyogtha. Although it forms no part of her Book of Dzyan, Helena Blavatsky states that the Vach-Viraj Incantation represents a blending of male and female principles; what deleterious effect this might have on something like Nyogtha is beyond comprehension. The spell is also sometimes effective against Cyaegha and the cthonians, but nowhere near as efficacious as when used against Nyogtha.

A number of different versions of the spell exist in various languages but the one in Senzar, above, is the most often encountered. It should be pointed out that simply switching out Nyogtha’s name in favour of, say, Cyaegha’s, when dealing with that entity, should not be undertaken by someone without a high level of competency with the language in question (a skill level of at least 70%)! The spell is powered by the number of Magic Points which the caster, and their associates, choose to invest in the incantation; this number is compared against the target’s POW on the Resistance Table. When used against Nyogtha, the base chance to dispel it is 50%.

It is possible to say the Vach-Viraj Incantation backwards, to reverse or nullify the effects of the spell (again with a base 50% chance when used in relation to Nyogtha). If two bands of casters confront each other – one trying to dispel Nyogtha; the other coming to its assistance – then the Magic Points of both incantations should be compared against each other on the Resistance Table first, before being targeted against the Great Old One. If the friends of Nyogtha prevail, the Great Old One is not sent packing; if the enemies of Nyogtha win, the force of their magic is directed at Nyogtha and a check is required to see if it is de-manifested. If spoken at a location which is an access point to Nyogtha’s prison, then the reversed Vach-Viraj Incantation is simply a Summon Nyogtha spell. Using the Vach-Viraj Incantation causes a 0/1D2 San loss if used to banish; if used to summon, or thwart a banishment, the penalty is 1D2/1D6.

A final point: “Vach-Viraj” is said to be one of the many titles of the Daemon Sultan Azathoth. This might explain the spell’s efficacy against an entity of living darkness like Nyogtha, but it must also stand as a warning as to what might go wrong if the spell somehow backfires...

Monday, 27 July 2015

A Pile of Black Stones...

Throughout the Mythos literature we encounter rocks, carved with strange symbols and pregnant with subtle power or dangerous potency. Some of these are cult objects; others are artefacts of hidden lore. Mostly, they are hazardous to one’s health. In our subjective “real world” there are similar stones, not always dark in a metaphoric sense, which have obviously served as the foundations for literary horrors: the following list throws them all into the mix as inspiration.

Akely’s Dark Stone

“The thing, as nearly as one might guess, had faced the camera vertically with a somewhat irregular curved surface of one by two feet; but to say nothing definite about that surface, or about the general shape of the whole mass, almost defies the power of language. What outlandish geometrical principles had guided its cutting – for artificially cut it surely was – I could not even begin to guess; and never before had I seen anything which struck me as so strangely and unmistakably alien to this world. Of the hieroglyphs on the surface I could discern very few, but the one or two that I did see gave me rather a shock. Of course they might be fraudulent, for others besides myself had read the monstrous and abhorred Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred; but it nevertheless made me shiver to recognise certain ideographs which study had taught me to link with the most blood-curdling and blasphemous whispers of things that had had a kind of mad half-existence before the earth and the other inner worlds of our solar system were made...”
-HPL, “The Whisperer in Darkness”

Discovered on Round Hill in Vermont during the 1920s, the black stone found by Henry Akely measured roughly one foot by two feet. It had a curved upper surface covered with hieroglyphs and, compared to other examples of local stone seemed alien and even artificial. In translation, the glyphs suggested some kind of intelligent activity on the fringes of our solar system, prior to the formation of the inner planets.

As detailed in “The Whisperer In Darkness” (1930), the strange Fungi from Yuggoth made concerted efforts to regain the stone from Akely’s possession and ultimately succeeded, with the help of local cultists, indicating that the stone may well have originated on their home planet. The whereabouts of the artefact are today unknown, but the question of whether the stone itself is an object of power, or only coveted because of the dark secrets engraved upon it, is still an open one.

Al-Hajar al-Aswad (“The Black Stone from Heaven”)

Also known as “The Stone Which the Builders Refused”, this dark stone is a meteorite, the fragments bound together in a silver setting, which is located in the Ka’aba within the Great Mosque of Mecca. It is regarded as the fifth pillar of Islam, and undertaking a pilgrimage to see it is one of the five duties of the Islamic faithful. When the stone first fell from the heavens, it was white; however, over time, as more pilgrims came to visit it, it became black: this was taken to mean that the stone was drawing the sins of the pilgrims into itself. As a result, the stone has come to symbolise the covenant between God and humanity and represents the invisible right hand of Allah.

Black Seal of Ira’an

Legend tells that this stone seal, together with the Mao Rite and the Letter of Nug-Soth (both found in the Necronomicon), opens a Gate to the Gulf of the S’glhuo, a dimension of pure sound. The S’glhuoans, worshippers of the Great Old One Tru’nembra, communicate with humans using modified sound waves to cross the dimensional barrier, communications which arrive in the form of dreams. They often coax dreamers to build machines which allow them to pass over physically into our universe.

It is known that the Seal was brought to Earth by the Fungi from Yuggoth, fell into the keeping of the Muvian sorcerer Ira’an (or Irahn), and was then passed on to the wizard Zanthu. It is said that the Seal is inscribed with the Seven Signs of Terror by means of which obedience can be commanded of any being; certainly the image of the Seal which features in John Dee’s version of the Necronomicon is rudimentary at best and provides only a sketchy notion of what the Signs might look like. The location of the Seal is unknown.

The Black Stone of the Magna Mater

This is a large black stone which was sacred to Cybele, or the Magna Mater (“Great Mother”). It was originally located at a place called Pessino in the country of the Phrygians, but was moved to Rome after a passage in the Sybilline Books revealed that Carthage would fall to Rome if the Great Mother was transplanted there. The prophecy was proved correct and the Romans took up worship of the new goddess with gusto.

The stone was said to contain the creative energies of the Mother Goddess and the priestesses of her temples were able to tap into these forces by caressing the rock. I don’t have to point out how much like Shub-Niggurath worship this all sounds, do I?

Just as Christianity supplanted many ancient rituals and holy days, the proponents of that faith were eager to efface ancient sites of worship by building churches and other holy constructs on top of them. In this instance, St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome is built atop the ancient site of Cybele worship, right over the Black Stone of the Magna Mater. Of course, whether the stone is still there, or whether it has been moved elsewhere for safekeeping, only members of the Vatican will truly know...

The Black Stone of Stregoicavar

“It was octagonal in shape, some sixteen feet in height and about a foot and a half thick. It had once evidently been highly polished, but now the surface was thickly dinted as if savage efforts had been made to demolish it; but the hammers had done little more than to flake off small bits of stone and mutilate the characters which once had evidently marched up in a spiralling line round and round the shaft to the top. Up to ten feet from the base these characters were almost completely blotted out, so that it was very difficult to trace their direction. Higher up they were plainer, and I managed to squirm part of the way up the shaft and scan them at close range. All were more or less defaced, but I was positive that they symbolized no language now remembered on the face of the earth. I am fairly familiar with all hieroglyphics known to researchers and philologists and I can say, with certainty that those characters were like nothing of which I have ever read or heard. The nearest approach to them that I ever saw were some crude scratches on a gigantic and strangely symmetrical rock in a lost valley of Yucatan...”
-Robert E. Howard, “The Black Stone”

This monolith is located within the mountains of Hungary close to the village of Stregoicavar, the “Village of Witches”, west of Buda-Pesth. In ancient days the town was known as “Xuthltan” and was the site of a large cult of demon-worshippers. In 1526, Muslim invaders captured the town and all the residents were put to the sword; the village passed into legend and the new name was coined as a reminder of the wickedness which took place there.

The Black Stone can still be found here: it is a massive, octagonal spike of rock, carved with runes that spiral upwards from the base to the summit. The majority of these close to the ground have been effaced by centuries of hands touching them. The upper ranges of the hieroglyphs are hardly any better having been weathered from ancient days. The smooth rock surface gives the illusion of being almost transparent and, so far, the language of the runes remains incomprehensible.

A local rumour tells that those who sleep near the ‘Stone at certain times of the year, fall prey to horrid dreams and visions. This doesn’t seem to stop anybody from doing it, though!

The Black Stone of Zimbabwe

"The ancient Fishers from Outside—
Were there not tales the high-priest told,
Of how they found the worlds of old,
And took what pelf their fancy spied?"
-H.P. Lovecraft, "The Outpost"

Discovered by a Dr. Mayhew in the ruins of Zimbabwe, this black stone is a ten-sided block of meteoric iron of an almost crystalline appearance. Each side is a shiny black plane covered with columns of strange hieroglyphs, except for one side which simply displays a grotesque bird-like figure with popping eyes and a toothed, beaklike maw.

After transcribing the text, Mayhew deciphered them and published his findings as the Zimbabwean Rituals. The ruins, Mayhew declared, were built by a race of beings known as “The Fishers from Outside” and were the furthest outpost of their interstellar empire. Another African explorer, Thomas Slauenwaite, also made this assertion. This body of lore covers the worship of Yig, discussions of Mnomquah, and of Gol-Goroth. Some have said that the Fishers are actually Shantaks; however, these creatures are generally confined to the Dreamlands and are considered unintelligent. The presence of Gol-Goroth – the god of the Shantaks – and of Mnomquah in the text may ameliorate this perception, however.

The Crystal of Zon Mezzamalech

“Zon Mezzamalech had dreamt to recover the wisdom of the gods who died before the Earth was born. They had passed to the lightless void, leaving their lore inscribed upon tablets of ultra-terrene stone; and the tablets were guarded in the primal mire by the formless idiotic demiurge, Ubbo Sathla...”
-Clark Ashton Smith, “Ubbo Sathla”

This is an oblate spheroid of crystalline matter. Staring into its depths allows the viewer to travel back in time, even to the start of the universe. The wizard Zon Mezzamalech – mentioned in the Book of Eibon and other sources - used the Crystal to travel far back along the timeline in order to view the Elder Keys, a set of carved stones guarded by the entity Ubbo-Sathla – it is said that the Elder Keys are engraved with the spells used to bring the universe into being. Unfortunately, the mind of the viewer using the Crystal alters to match that of the dominant lifeform in the era being viewed, and so, once Zon Mezzamalech was able to view the ‘Keys, his amoeboid brain was unable to comprehend anything of value about them.

It is said that the Crystal also allows the mind of the viewer to travel forward in time as well as backwards. It is unclear in what regard the Hounds of Tindalos hold the Crystal, and, as always, any experimentation with the device should anticipate activity from their quarter.

Hexecontalithos (“Sixtystone”)

“Glancing over the clear-printed pages, my attention was caught by the heading of a chapter in Solinus, and I read the words: ‘MIRA DE INTIMIS GENTIBUS LIBYAE. DE LAPIDE HEXECONTALITHO’, 'The wonders of the people that inhabit the inner parts of Libya, and of the stone called Sixtystone’...”
-Arthur Machen, The Novel of the Black Seal

According to the Latin geographer Solinus, the aboriginal peoples of central Libya were in possession of a seal made from dull black stone. It was two inches long and one and a quarter inches in diameter. The surface of the Black Seal is covered with sixty runes which on first sight look remarkably like cuneiform sigils; closer inspection shows them to be strangely different from that ancient text. A certain Professor Gregg discovered the Seal near a dig site at Babylon; its whereabouts are currently unknown.

Solinus states: “This folk [the central Libyans] dwells in remote and secret places, and celebrates foul mysteries on savage hills. Nothing have they in common with men save the face, and the customs of humanity are wholly strange to them; and they hate the sun. They hiss rather than speak; their voices are harsh, and not to be heard without fear. They boast of a certain stone, which they call ‘Sixtystone’; for they say that it displays sixty characters. And this stone has a secret unspeakable name; which is ‘Ixaxar’”. Some people say that the sixty runes, if spoken in the correct order, summon Iod, the Hunter of Souls.

Professor Gregg made an extensive study of the Hexecontalithos and linked to several old legends concerning the Little People of the British isles, sometimes referred to as the Children of the Night. According to these stories, the Little People had possession of a magical black stone which they called “Ishakshar” and whose language was represented by the sixty runes on the Seal. The legends say that the Little People kept their stone in a secret place at Stonehenge called Dagon’s Cave, but that Celtish incursions forced them to relocate it elsewhere. The stories say that if one is clever enough to find and steal the Seal from its hiding place, the Little People can be made to perform a service in exchange for its return; all the legends end with the vengeful Little People perverting the intent of the request to bring about the Seal-holder’s destruction. The fact that Professor Gregg held the Seal and vanished without trace in 1895, opens up some interesting lines of speculation...

The Hivaoa Island Monolith

“Among these notes were photographs of a singularly hideous monolithic statue, of a distinctly saurian cast of feature, labelled ‘E. coast Hivaoa Is., Marquesas. Object of worship?’...”
-August Derleth, “The Survivor”

Hivaoa Island is known for the striking mountain which dominates its landscape, the weathered plug of an extinct volcano. However, there are other monoliths to be found here, mostly less imposing. All of these – and they tend to date from far antiquity – depict the horrific face of a definitely crocodilian being. The local natives are divided between those who seek to preserve and protect these images, and those who try to destroy them. These stone figures bear a striking resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian god Sobek, and there are those who say that the island’s monolithic mountain once displayed a similar likeness...

John Dee’s “Shew Stone”

“But another important link connects Tezcatlipoca with obsidian. Bernal Diaz states that they call this ‘Tezcat’. From it mirrors were manufactured as divinatory media by the wizard. Sahagun says that it was known as aitztli (water obsidian), probably because of the high polish of which it was capable...The name of the god means ‘Smoking Mirror’, and Acosta says that the Mexicans called Tezcatlipoca’s mirror irlacheaya (an obvious error for tlachialoni), ‘his glass to look in’, otherwise the mirror or scrying-stone in which he was able to witness the doings of mankind.”
-Lewis Spence, The Gods of Mexico (1923)

John Dee was an adept at scrying and it is by this means that he compiled much of his written wisdom (possibly also much of the content of his version of the Necronomicon). He accumulated several different scrying stones – or “shew stones” – over his career, but the one from which he derived the most benefit was brought back to England from South America and made its way into his possession.

It is described as a circular piece of shining black stone, “as big around as the crown of a hat”. A leather case was manufactured for it to keep it safe, but whether this was constructed by Dee or some earlier owner is unknown. The stone is certainly made from aitztli, the highest quality form of Aztec obsidian and was likely made as part of the ritual accoutrement for the worship of Tezcatlipoca. The name “Smoking Mirror” no doubt signifies the steaming sacrifices left to this bloody god upon his obsidian altars.

Dee, and his assistant Kelley, used the Shew Stones to speak with spiritual entities, whom they referred to as “angels”; given the origins and purpose of this Stone, one wonders how ‘angelic’ these contacts could possibly be?

The Kensington Runestone

“8 Geats (or Goths, or Gutnish, or Gotlanders) and 22 Norwegians (Norsemen) on [a] journey of exploration, from Vinland west of. We had a camp with 2 shelters, one day's journey north from this stone. We were at fishing one day, after we came home found 10 men red of blood and dead. AVM [Ave Virgo Maria] rescue from evils.
[Side of stone] “Have 10 men [by/at] sea to look after our ships, 14 day journey from this island. Year 1362”
-Inscription on the ‘Stone

The Kensington Runestone was discovered wrapped in the roots of a poplar tree whilst being cleared from a field. It was named after the nearest large town to its discovery in Douglas County, Minnesota. The year was 1898 and the discoverer, Olof Öhman, was drawn to the markings on the rock by his 10-year old son: they thought at the time that they had discovered some kind of ‘Indian almanac’.

The rock was moved to the local bank in Kensington and rubbings and photographs were sent to many institutions with tenured experts in Scandinavian languages: every one of them declared the slab to be a forgery. Nevertheless, the stone (30 x 16 x 6 inches or 76 x 41 x 15 cm, in size and weighing about 200 pounds, or 90kg) was taken to England for further investigation. Based upon stylistic usage, anachronistic statements about the composition of the adventuring party and inconsistent rune combinations, the stone was again declared a hoax (incidentally the invocation “AVM” is in perfect accord for a Swedish inscription, the Swedes being mostly Catholic at that time).

Öhman received the ‘Stone back from its travels and used it as a step to improve access to a barn on his property; he also used it as an anvil to straighten nails. It is noteworthy, that at no time did he try to make money from his discovery. Since his death, the ‘Stone has been moved to a place of greater prominence within the Kensington community, who continue to believe in its accuracy.

Despite the research already done on the rock, every so often another academic tries to explain the discrepancies and reveal it to be an authentic artefact; if later research proves the ‘Stone to be a genuine inscription by lost Scandinavian adventurers on the American mainland, it will cause the Viking history of North America to be extensively revisited.

The Minch Stone

Found on the northernmost tip of the Isle of Lewis, this carved stone contains a warning about the Fir Na Ghorm, the Blue Men of the Minch, who prowl the waters between that island and the Shiant Isles. It describes how to survive an encounter with these aquatic denizens by besting their chieftain in a battle of rhymes.

In Ogham; author unknown; c.100 BC; Sanity Loss: 1/1D3; Cthulhu Mythos: +1 percentile; Occult: +3 percentiles; average one week to study and comprehend.

Spells: None

The Omphalos

According to Greek mythology, Zeus released two eagles and sent them in opposite directions around the globe. At the point where they met and crossed in flight, he placed a stone – the Omphalos – to signify the middle of the world. The Omphalos was the same stone which Rhea, Zeus’s mother, gave to her husband Cronus in place of Zeus: Cronus was in the habit of eating Rhea’s children in order to prevent them usurping his place of authority, as he had done with his own father Uranus. The place where the stone was placed was on the island of Delphi and a temple was constructed around it.

Omphalos is the Greek word for "navel" and it is said that the Greeks measured the extent of their territory from this central location. The stone itself is a dome of reddish stone carved to look as though it has been wrapped in a net. The centre is hollow and the dome widens towards its base. The temple surrounding the stone’s original site is sacred to Apollo, who killed a monster called Python and buried it beneath the Omphalos: the poison fumes from the monster’s corpse flowed upwards through the middle of the stone intoxicating the Oracle who perched upon a three-legged stool nearby. There are other copies of the Omphalos (and indeed, the Omphalos at Delphi may itself be a copy) scattered throughout the Mediterranean region, an indication of the power and religious significance it represented. Nowadays “Omphalos Syndrome” refers to a mistaken belief that global centrality is determined by a nexus of political and economic power.

The Owl Rock

More generally known by its indigenous name “Palka Karrinya”, this is an enormous wedge of rock which dominates the entrance to a gorge containing a permanent water source, three hundred kilometres north-west of Alice Springs in central Australia. Unlike the surrounding rock formations, the stratas of rock which comprise this monolith are vertical, while everything around it is horizontally layered. It presents a pretty geological puzzle to those experts who have encountered it. The monolith is ten metres tall and four metres thick at its widest point (near the summit); however, it stands upon a pedestal barely one metre in diameter.

A Jungarrayi aboriginal legend concerns the creation of the rock: Buk-buk the Owl and his two wives were forced to leave their home in the Bigili rock hole to the north due to a drought. After finding the waterhole, Buk-buk decided that he would ever after stand guard over it, ensuring that it would remain for others to use. He transformed into the rock formation and keeps his vigil; the waterhole has never been known to dry up.

Nowadays, the gorge is used by the women of the local tribes to enact female tribal rituals (women’s business); they sing the “Bush Plum Dreaming” here, a ceremony which serves to maintain sources of sustenance in the region. When entering the gorge for the first time during a visit, it is traditional to walk around the Owl Rock touching it with a branch of eucalyptus; first timers are supposed to also throw a stone into the nearby waterhole. Years of such activity have ensured that Owl Rock is worn smooth at its base.

Geographically, Owl Rock and the gorge which it protects, is directly in the middle of the Australian land mass, which may explain its mystical importance. In 1873, a white explorer Peter Warburton came here and decided to set up camp within the gorge; however, his camels refused to enter the formation, or to drink the water from the waterhole, which was otherwise completely potable. In the 1960s, artist Ainslie Roberts and anthropologist Charles Mountford visited the locale and both were struck by the impact of the formation – Roberts’s allegorical painting of the formation is depicted above. They were led to the site by an aboriginal guide known as “One Pound Jimmy”, whose image today can be found on Australia’s $2 coin.

The Philosophers’ Stone

The Philosophers’ Stone (sometimes called “Azoth”), like much of alchemical lore, is a symbolic expression as much as it might be an actual rock. According to its usage in various Hermetic treatises, it is a manufactured substance which confers immortality and which transmutes lead into gold; it is a recipe for accomplishing these miracles; or it is an actual mineral object yet to be unearthed. Nowadays, it usually refers to something of legendary status after which many fruitless attempts at discovery are launched. In Chinese alchemy – which, remarkably, tracks very well in its aims alongside the Western version – the Philosophers’ Stone is the Elixir of Immortality, which is equally as nebulous and difficult to pin down.

The Rosetta Stone

The Rosetta Stone was discovered by the French in Egypt in 1799, was captured by English forces and returned to London in 1802, where it has been on display in the British Museum ever since. It is a stele, or proclamation etched on stone for public viewing, which is written in three distinct languages – Egyptian hieroglyphs, a form of the hieroglyphic style called Demotic, and Ancient Greek (at the time that the ‘Stone was created, Egypt was ruled by a Greek line of kings, known as the Ptolemaic rulers). The stone discusses the repealing of certain taxes by Ptolemy V and is, of itself, not completely edifying reading; but it is the fact that all three writing styles were used that makes the ‘Stone so incredibly important.

Research was conducted by the French linguist Jean-François Champollion and British Scientist Thomas Young. Champollion’s input was of the greatest value since he was able to read Coptic – a later derivation of the Demotic style – and could ‘reverse engineer’ Coptic back into the Hieroglyphs and compare these to the Greek. In time, this led to the riddle of Hieroglyphic writing being solved.

Taballae Defixionum

In its original form, the Taballae Defixionum consisted of two stone tablets with inscriptions on one side. Once transcribed, it was widely disseminated and became notorious as one of the earliest texts on necromancy. Practitioners were advised to keep their copy buried in a graveyard in order to ensure its potency and so it is not often encountered (graveyards not being conducive to the safe storage of books!). Whether the problems stem from such slipshod handling or perhaps from damage to the original stones, the Taballae is notoriously untrustworthy: the spells it contains are largely incomplete or have been corrupted by poor replication. Nevertheless, it is a ‘go to’ text for magi who want to try to raise the dead...

Latin; author unknown; c. first century BC; Sanity Loss 1D4/1D8; Occult +10 percentiles; average 16 weeks to study and comprehend.

Spells: None.

The Seal of Nephren-ka

Nephren-ka, the Black Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, is surrounded by legends and is ever associated with the worship of Nyarlathotep (and may well be an avatar of that entity). For many speculative reasons, Nephren-ka was forced to flee Egypt but was prevented from doing so: instead he caused to be built a hidden tomb complex, “the place of the Blind Apes, where Nephren-ka bindeth up the threads of thruth”, and in which he may still be hiding.

Some thinking has it that the Seal of Nephren-ka – allegedly an object of dull, black metal – is the key to this secret location. Many have tried to find the tomb thinking that the Seal would be there, however this seems to be an error of logic: surely the key to the tomb wouldn’t be hidden within the tomb that it opens? Some tales claim that followers of the Black Pharaoh managed to make their way to Britain, so perhaps the Seal is hidden there somewhere?

Another variation to this narrative runs as follows: Nephren-ka is said (within the pages of certain blasphemous tomes) to have discovered the Shining Trapezohedron and to have used its powers for his own ends. Perhaps the “Seal” is this cursed object instead, and then perhaps it’s just as well that it is hidden in the darkness of a lost tomb...

The Shining Trapezohedron

“The four-inch seeming sphere turned out to be a nearly black, red-striated polyhedron with many irregular flat surfaces; either a very remarkable crystal of some sort, or an artificial object of carved and highly polished mineral matter. It did not touch the bottom of the box, but was held suspended by means of a metal band around its centre, with seven queerly designed supports extending horizontally to angles of the box’s inner wall near the top. This stone, once exposed, exerted upon Blake an almost alarming fascination...”
-HPL, “The Haunter of the Dark”

This remarkable stone was brought to Earth by the Mi-Go in a time far before the rise of humanity upon the planet. It is known to have surfaced in such civilisations as Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria, before being pulled from the sea in the nets of an Egyptian fisherman. Passed on to the Black Pharaoh, Nephren-ka, it was held within the labyrinth of Kish before being employed by Nitocris for her own ends. Professor Enoch Bowen discovered it during an archaeological dig in 1844 and took it back to Providence in Rhode Island, USA, where it became the focus for a religious organisation called the Starry Wisdom cult. After the dissolution of this group in 1877, the Trapezohedron lay undiscovered in the cult’s main temple until terrible events in 1934 caused it to be thrown into the waters of Narraganset Bay. It is said that, if the stone rises from its watery tomb, the Starry Wisdom sect will re-form and begin their devotions once more.

Three things are known about the Shining Trapezohedron: firstly, it acts as a window over all time and space; secondly, if gazed upon and then plunged into darkness, it summons forth the Haunter of the Dark, a dangerous manifestation of Nyarlathotep’s power; and third, it accelerates the transformation of creatures who are partway through their metamorphosis (Deep Ones for example). Some have suggested that John Dee had possession of the Trapezohedron for awhile and that it, rather than any other of his “shew stones”, might have been the source of much of his power; until further evidence comes to hand however, this notion must remain speculative.

The Witch Stone

“The villagers could not kill her, but there were spells which could nullify her evil magic, and there were words of power that could keep her fettered in her grave – words such as those which were chiselled on the Witch Stone, the caretaker protested, fear contorting his face into a brown, wrinkled mask.

In Monk’s Hollow they said – and his voice sank to a tremulous whisper – that in the grave, Persis had grown more like her unknown father. And now that Hartley was moving the Witch Stone...”
-Henry Kuttner, “The Frog”

Wherever there are witches in the world, giving license to ancient evils better left alone, there are people who work against them and who have ways with which to deal with their poisonous activities. Witch Stones are a case in point.

Inscribed with words of power, infused with the POW of the caster, they hold at bay the noisome capabilities of the witch buried beneath the ‘Stone. The sigil might be an Elder Sign or some other arcane symbol, but it effectively contains the threat of the witch’s re-emergence. In some places – notably in the New England coastal areas – these ‘Stones are occasionally carved to resemble frogs or toads, for reasons which are clear to Mythos aficionados.

The evil that lies beneath them is not altogether prevented: around the Witch Stone, no plants will grow and no lichen or moss will adhere to its surface; insects and small creatures, such as birds and reptiles, will sicken if they come into contact with the ‘Stone and then crawl away to die. If the Witch Stone is ever lifted – and usually their size and weight prevents a casual instance of this - then the grotesque powers of the dead witch will surely emerge.

In the case of Persis Winthorp, a witch from the night-haunted town of Monk’s Hollow, her dead body re-animated and she rose again as a full Deep One, to harass and torment the citizens of the town. In other cases, a dying curse from a dead witch might be held in abeyance while the ‘Stone remains in situ, but will come into effect if the ‘Stone is lifted. It all depends on the circumstances under which the evil practitioner went to their reward...

The Zegembri Seals

The Zegembri Seals are set of jet-black stones which are said to pre-date the Sumerian civilisation, and which were used by the priests of Sumer to summon forth entities of malevolent power. The stones are said to be carved with indecipherable sigils but exactly how many of them there are and their current location(s) is unknown. It’s entirely possible that the Black Seal of Ira’an is one of the set.

It is known that the Zegembri Seals (or possibly, just images of the sigils upon them) passed over to Western Europe where they were used in witchcraft rituals to summon “abominations”. Also at this time, rumours began to spread of how the Seals were “unlucky”, or “cursed”, since whoever owned them was sure to meet a terrible misfortune...

A mystic tome – The Zegembri Manuscript – possibly contains specific information regarding the Seals. This book was penned by the wizard Nicholas Zegembri, who was also the author of the infamous Diablerie. The Manuscript was supposedly a transcription by Zegembri of the writing upon two stone stelae, which had been removed to another dimension before the advent of human beings on this planet. Zegembri travelled to that realm and copied the information, writing it down in three languages – alien hieroglyphs, an unidentified rune-like script, and Latin. He later fled London, escaping the Great Fire, taking the manuscript with him to the village of Torpoint where it is presumed he was preparing the Manuscript for publication. Mysteriously, he vanished, and the local Church representatives took advantage of his absence to torch his home and library. An attempt at resurrecting the manuscript was later published as the Zegembri Fragments but is woefully incomplete. Rumours persist that a secretive cult made off with the Zegembri Manuscript before the fire was lit and still have it hidden somewhere...