Saturday, June 29, 2019

Dragon Issue #138 (Oct ’88), Deities & Demigods, & The Religions of Shub-Niggurath

Its been a long while since the pages of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea was cracked open. But last night I returned to my lair in the wee hours of the morning after a successful game night only to have a Dragon magazine slap me in the face. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea often seems to me to be the perfect blend of B/X D&D and AD&D. The issue of Dragon Magazine in question is issue #138 (Oct ’88). In which we've got the Call of Cthlhu rpg article The Black Book and the Hunters by Craig Schaefer which introduces The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath & the Hunters of Shub-Niggurath (Greater Servitor Race). At four A.M. weird thoughts swirl in one's head & my copy of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition's Deities & Demigods was open to the 'Cthulhu Mythos' section. My eyes happened to catch this entry on Shub-Niggurth. 

Now at first this looks like Clark Ashton Smith's 
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") & perhaps it was originally going to be. But then I started to think that perhaps it actually is an avatar of Shub-Niggurth. Maybe there's a far deeper connection between the cynical Abhoth & the 'mother of a thousand young'. A quick scan of the HP Lovecraft wiki revealed;" Of all the mythos deities, Shub-Niggurath is probably the most extensively worshipped. Her worshippers include the Hyperboreans, the Muvians, T'yog of K'naa, and the people of Sarnath, as well as any number of druidic and barbaric cults. She is also worshipped by the non-human species of the mythos, such as the "Fungi from Yuggoth" (the Mi-Go) and the Nug-Soth of Yaddith.(EXPThe Encyclopedia Cthulhiana) With the proper occult paraphernalia, Shub-Niggurath can be summoned to any woodlands at the time of the new moon. However, the place from whence she comes is not known." In my AS&SH this puts a very different spin on what might be residing with the bowels of  caverns of Y'quaa beneath Mount VoormithadrethAbhoth could be part & proxy of a greater network of 'mis' creation that connects with the both Shub-Niggurath & Ubbo-Sathla. Abhoth is one source of many of the abominations that one finds within my dungeons; 

"[H]e described a sort of pool with a margin of mud that was marled with obscene o
ffal; and in the pool a grayish, horrid mass that nearly choked it from rim to rim... Here, it seemed, was the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination. For the gray mass quobbed and quivered, and swelled perpetually; and from it, in manifold fission, were spawned the anatomies that crept away on every side through the grotto. There were things like bodiless legs or arms that flailed in the slime, or heads that rolled, or floundering bellies with fishes' fins; and all manner of things malformed and monstrous, that grew in size as they departed from the neighborhood of Abhoth. And those that swam not swiftly ashore when they fell into the pool from Abhoth, were devoured by mouths that gaped in the parent bulk. 

Clark Ashton SmithThe Seven Geases
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") resides in the cavern of Y'quaa beneath Mount Voormithadreth. It is a horrid, dark gray protean mass and is said to be the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination."
All of this puts a very different spin on the cults, covens, witches, & human institutions within Hyperborea or at least my version of it. 
All of these deities & their cults are going to be very important to the respective fertility & production of crops especially on Hyperborea. The glaring red star in the sky is very unforgiving & villages are going to need all of the help they can get.

So let's  go back to Clark Ashton Smith's 'The Seven Geases' which gives us some of the best slices of Hyperborean royals, court life, & a complete tour of the underworld of Mount Voormithadreth. But this story is  also the source for Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness"). These 'avatar  pools' spawn life, fertility, & uncleaness in equal measure but what if their all interconnected. What if these avatar pools are all part of some high dimensional 'Cthulhu Mythos' birthing bio occult birthing mechanism for life. These avatar pits might in fact be the source that were used by the Elder Things for the creation of both life on Earth & the Shoggoths.

Shoggoth artwork by 
Nottsuo - nottsuo.deviantart 
This puts a very different spin on the 'fertility rites' of the druids, shamans, & other human races of Hyperborea. I think its advised to not visit certain villages or towns at certain times of the year during the festivals. This is clearly the sort of a rite or invocation that we see in HP Lovecraft's 'The Festival'.

But there maybe much more going on here then we know, lately I've been rereading 
H. Rider HaggardAyesha, the Return of She  .
The novel is a  squeal to H.Rider Haggard's She in which the  character Ayesha, returns to life from the depths the afterlife. A mysterious occult force from the depths of the book's volcano known as the Pillar of Life which grants immortality. Now Ayesha is the inspiration for  "Galadriel in The Lord of the Rings – Ayesha's reflecting pool seems to be a direct precursor of Galadriel's mirror."  I 
Could these 'avatar pools' also grant a type of twisted immortality to their high priests & priestesses? I think so & in my version of Hyperborea this is only one more rung on the ladder of damnation that the Mythos gods inflict upon their charges. A twisted form of this style of immortality can be seen in Clark Ashton Smith's 'The White Sybil'. 

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