Fake Necronomicons

"...the Necronomicon, a highly secret magical text released in paperback."
-- William S. Burroughs.

Sigil from the Simon Necronomicon

The DeCamp-Scithers Necronomicon.
The Wilson-Hay-Turner-Langford Necronomicon.
The Simon Necronomicon.
The Gregorius Necronomicon.
The Quine Necronomicon.
The Ripel Necronomicon.
The Perez-Vigo Necronomicon.
The Lin Carter Necronomicon.
The H.R. Giger Necronomicon.
The Necronomicon Project.
The Charles Pace Necronominon.

The DeCamp-Scithers Necronomicon

Lovecraft biographer and science-fiction writer L. Sprague De Camp relates a tale of intrigue about how he smuggled the manuscript of this, entitled Al Azif, out of Iraq amidst various dangers. A scholar who attempted to translate it, he further states, wound up spattered all over the walls of his study. In fact, most of the book, released by Owlswick Press, consists of a mere eight pages of scrambled Syriac script repeated over and over, with the characters nearest the margins changed to help hide the repetition. As this obviously cannot be taken seriously, it would be unfair to consider this a hoax rather than a sort of in-joke.

DeCamp himself, in a later commentary on his introduction, has said:

I hope you get a chuckle out of this introduction -- but I also trust that you will not take it seriously. I may wish to go back to Iraq some day, and I do not want this little hoax to complicate my visit.

The Wilson-Hay-Turner-Langford Necronomicon

Typical illustration from the Wilson-Hay-Turner-Langford Necronomicon.

Little effort need be spent to prove that this version is not the genuine article, for Colin Wilson has admitted as much in his article, "The Necronomicon, the Origin of a Spoof", which appeared in Crypt of Cthulhu and was reprinted in Black Forbidden Things: Cryptical Secrets from the "Crypt of Cthulhu", edited by Robert Price. Wilson's claims cannot be taken entirely seriously, for he says:

In fact, anyone with the slightest knowledge of Latin will instantly recognise it for a fake -- it is subtitled "The book of dead names" -- when the word "necronomicon" actually means the book of dead laws.

In fact, anyone with the slightest knowledge of Latin will recognise that the title is Greek.

Wilson describes how George Hay approached him with the idea of his writing an introduction to a spoof volume of stories about the Necronomicon. The tales, according to Wilson, were very dreadful indeed, all centering on the theme of the scholar who finds the hellish tome, stupidly invokes powers greater than he can control, and winds up smeared all over the walls. Wilson instead proposed that they attempt to produce something that could actually be the Necronomicon itself. The idea was partly inspired by a tale by David Langford, in which a computer analysis proves the existence of the Necronomicon, with the usual unsightly results. In the finished volume, Langford indeed contributes a portion in which he claims that a computer analysis has deciphered the manuscript Liber Logaeth of John Dee, revealing it to be -- none other than. Robert Turner, an actual practitioner of ceremonial magick, contributes another section, purporting to be the translation of Liber Logaeth. For the most part, it is run-of-the-mill occultist fair, with typical magickal récipés utilizing a few Mythos names. Wilson himself contributes the introduction, which presents a mishmash of fact and fantasy, claiming (unfoundedly) that Lovecraft's father belonged to "Egyptian Freemasonry" and had learned all sorts of bizarre occult secrets -- which he later spouted in his (actual) insanity. There is also a letter by a "Dr. Hinterstoisser", actually written by Dominic Purcell.

The work also includes two essays supposedly written before the discovery of the manuscript key, and if anything in the book makes it worth owning it will be these. They are: "Dreams of Dead Names: The Scholarship of Sleep" by Christopher Frayling, -- which, by the way, includes an accurate account of Lovecraft's invention of Abdul Alhazred and the Necronomicon, and "Lovecraft and Landscape", by Angela Carter.

Other than this, there is little to say about the book. Wilson's introduction will be interesting to those with the background knowledge to separate the fact from the fantasy. Some find the information on cryptography in Langford's piece interesting; there are entire books available on this subject, however, which are doubtless better sources. The material presented as the Necronomicon itself lacks aesthetic value. (For example, the near-constant -- but inconsistent -- use of "ye" for "the"; -- we could accept the authentically archaic "ye".) Whether it has value for practicing mages I leave to them to decide.

The use of the Cthulhu Mythos is also suspect. The well-known cryptic couplet appears several times misquoted as: "That which is not dead which can eternal lie . . ." Other inconsistencies with Lovecraft's conceptions appear as well. Shub-Niggurath appears as a male deity, whereas in Lovecraft this being is clearly female. The Old Ones are correlated with the four elements, in a scheme borrowed from August Derleth that neither appears in Lovecraft's work nor is consistent with it. The work also holds to the two warring factions, the "Elder Gods" vs the "Great Old Ones", another innovation of Derleth, along with his Christianity-inspired tale of the revolt of the Great Old Ones against their Elders and betters. The simple fact is, the vast majority of the material in this version of the Necronomicon owe its inspiration not to the Lovecraft Mythos, but to the vastly different Derleth Mythos -- when they are not simply supplanted by typical magick récipés.

A number of on-line versions of the Wilson-Hay-Turner-Langford Necronomicon exist. These include only the purported translations of Liber Logaeth, and omit all other material. They include (sorry most of these links have gone dead):

Liber Logaeth (dead).
Liber Logaeth (forbidden).
Liber Logaeth.
Liber Logaeth.
Liber Logaeth.
Liber Logaeth.
Liber Logaeth.
Liber Logaeth (forbidden).
Liber Logaeth (dead).
Liber Logaeth (Belgium).
Liber Logaeth (Germany).
Liber Logaeth (Poland).
Liber Logaeth (Spain).
Liber Logaeth (Spain; translated into Spanish).
Liber Logaeth (Norway; dead?).
Liber Logaeth (Norway).
Liber Logaeth (Sweden).
Liber Logaeth (Croatia; dead?).
Liber Logaeth (Yugoslavia!).
Liber Logaeth (Russia).
Liber Logaeth (Russia).
Liber Logaeth (Russia).
Liber Logaeth (Russia; translated into Russian!).
Liber Logaeth (Russia; translated into Russian!).
Liber Logaeth (Russia; translated into Russian!).
Liber Logaeth (text only).
Liber Logaeth (text only).
Liber Logaeth (Belgium; text only; dead?).
Liber Logaeth (Soviet Union! -- text only).

There has since appeared a purported R'lyeh Text, compiled by the same team, which claims to continue the manuscript begun in the first volume. It is interesting to note that Lovecraft never used the name R'lyeh Text, which was in fact invented by August Derleth after Lovecraft's death, and which is not identical witht the Necronomicon or any part of it. (It is supposedly in the actual tongue of Cthulhu himself and possibly brought from the stars with him.) For the most part, the book is just more of the same. There is included an interesting essay, "Awake in the Witch-House: On the Trail of the 'real' Brown Jenkin", by Patricia Shore -- which, however, includes the notorious, spurious, "black magic" quotation. By 1992, one's scholarship really ought to have been better than that.

The additional material attributed to Liber Logaeth is now on the Web as well:

The R'lyeh Text.

The Simon Necronomicon

Typical illustration from the Simon Necronomicon.

As this is the only Necronomicon which qualifies as a full-blown hoax rather than a spoof or in-joke, it will receive a longer examination than the others. There are quite a number of problems with the volume, all of them impeaching its claims to represent a true text of the Necronomicon.

The claims concerning the supposed manuscript are unconvincing. The publisher states that the MS cannot be held up to public inspection. But scholars would not normally use the actual manuscript of such a work; they would work from a set of photographs of it. Provision of such a set would certainly bolster the book's claim. In any case the story told about the discovery of the manuscript is simply too much like a bad Cthulhu Mythos story to be credible. In addition, they state that the manuscript is in Greek, whereas Lovecraft makes it clear that the Greek text has been lost for centuries. Simon says that one section of his putative translation, the URILLIA TEXT, "might be Lovecraft's R'lyeh Text". Lovecraft, however, never referred to the R'lyeh Text, which was an invention of August Derleth's (after Lovecraft's death); and the work is distinct from the Necronomicon in Derleth's conception.

It is evident that the majority of the work is composed of adaptations of existing translations of various Mesopotamian religious and magickal texts, with Lovecraftian names tossed in wherever the original is unreadable. Simon tosses together Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian materials without discrimination, in an historically impossible fashion. The pieces purporting to represent the original languages of various incantations are apparently simply gibberish.

Simon would like us to see great similarities between both his Mesopotamian material and the magick of Aleister Crowley, and the Lovecraft Mythos, but provides essentially no correspondances between them. What few he does attempt to argue for, are unconvincing. He would like us, for example, to see great similarity between the name Cthulhu and the Greek word stélé (as in Crowley's Stélé of Revealing); -- in the right Greek typeface, it does look kind of like CTH^H. The other entries on his short list are either commonplaces of magick and weird fiction or even less similar. Again, he wants us to notice the similarity between Shub-Niggurath and Crowley's Pan (a commonplace of magick and weird fiction both), whereas Shub-Niggurath is female. (Yog-Sothoth would certainly correspond fairly well, on the other hand, given the basis of "The Dunwich Horror" in Arthur Machen's "The Great God Pan".) Again, he would have us note the similarity between Lovecraft's exclamation Iä!, Crowley's use of the commonplace exclamation Io! and the equally commonplace deity name IAO, and the Sumerian deity name IA, which Simon claims as a variant of the god EA (despite which, in his Necronomicon, it is used as the Lovecraftian exclamation).

Simon also wishes us to see a great correspondance between the Lovecraft Mythos and the Mesopotamian mythologies. He states:

Lovecraft depicted a kind of Christian Myth of the struggle between opposing forces of Light and Darkness, between God and Satan, in the Cthulhu Mythos.

And again:

Basically, there are two "sets" of gods in the mythos: the Elder Gods, about whom not much is revealed, save that they are a stellar Race that occasionally comes to the rescue of man, and which correspond to the Christian "Light"; and the Ancient Ones, about which much is told, sometimes in great detail, who correspond to "Darkness". These latter are the Evil Gods who wish nothing but ill for the Race of Man, and who constantly strive to break into our world through a Gate or Door that leads from the Outside, In.

Those knowledgable of modern Lovecraft scholarship will recognize that this does not accurately describe Lovecraft's work, in which there are no Elder Gods, and no cosmic conflict between Good and Evil in any form either. The term "Ancient Ones", as well, only occurs in one story -- and there, it is made clear that they are amoral and indifferent to man rather than evil. It is in fact an accurate description of the Derleth Mythos rather than the Lovecraft Mythos. Considering that renaming the Good and Evil sides of the Mesopotamian deities "The Elder Gods" and "The Ancient Ones" is the major attempt at syncretising the two systems, it would appear the attempt ended in abject failure.

The treatment of individual deities is hardly any better, however. Cthulhu appears as KUTULU, a name which never appeared before this book. Simon derives it from KUTU, the city Kutha, and LU, man. The proper Sumerian form, however, would be LU-KUTU, if these words were compounded. In any case, the name Cthulhu is of non-human origin and thus not amenable to such interpretation.

Simon derives Azathoth from a compound AZAG-THOTH, where AZAG is indeed a Sumerian demon, and THOTH is the Coptic name for the Egyptian deity Tehuti. As to how this compound name could have come about, however, he gives us no clue. Nor does he tell us why it had never appeared in print before.

Other deities are less convincing. Shub-Niggurath appears as ISHNIGGARAB. Yog-Sothoth appears as IAK SAKKAK.

Even where Simon merely cites a Lovecraftian name, without attempting to give a corresponding form, he frequently misspells them. So Yog-Sothoth appears as Yog Sothot, Azathoth as Azatot, "the mad Arab" as "the Mad Arab", shoggoth as shuggoth, etc.

At least one deity of paramount importance in Lovecraft, Nyarlathotep, has nothing corresponding to him in the Simon Necronomicon, as is the case with various minor creations of Lovecraft's that one might expect to put in an appearance, such as Yig, Nug and Yeb, Ghatanothoa, or Rhan-Tegoth, whereas several of the most important Mesopotamian deities in the volume have no corresponding deity in Lovecraft. These include: MARDUK, TIAMAT, PAZUZU, ENKI, NANNA, and INANNA (ISHTAR). Likewise, the various alien races invented by Lovecraft have no place in Simon's Necronomicon, while a host of supernatural creatures from Mesopotamian cultures, with no answering form in Lovecraft, figure prominently.

Another questionable assertion that Simon makes is as follows:

Lovecraft's mythos deals with what are known as chthonic dieties [sic], that is, underworld gods and goddesses, much like the Leviathan of the Old Testament. The pronunciation of chthonic is 'katonic', which explains Lovecraft's famous Miskatonic River and Miskatonic University, not to mention the chief diety [sic] of his pantheon, Cthulhu, a sea monster who lies, "not dead, but dreaming" below the world; an Ancient One and supposed enemy of Mankind and the intelligent Race.

There is quite a number of problems with this statement:

Most readers seem to find the portion labelled "The Testimony of the Mad Arab" to work effectively as Lovecraftian fiction. Many claim that the volume works wonders in the area of magick, regardless of whether the factual claims made regarding its origins are fraudulent or not. This is fully consistent with modern theories of magick.

In addition to the inexpensive paperback edition, the Simon Necronomicon was also released in an expensive leatherbound edition of 666 copies, followed by another of 3,333 copies.

There is also a Simon Necronomicon Spellbook (originally titled The Necronomicon Report), which gives a more récipé-like approach to the section "The Book of Fifty Names". Another such volume, The Gates of the Necronomicon, was also announced for publication, but apparently never appeared. Avon has recently re-issued the Spellbook.

The Simon Necronomicon exists in pirated form on the Web:

The Simon Necronomicon (not currently up).
The Simon Necronomicon.
The Simon Necronomicon.
The Simon Necronomicon (Russia; dead).

Or for a text-only version presented by the Coroner:

The Simon Necronomicon (dead).
The Simon Necronomicon.
The Simon Necronomicon (Poland; text file).
The Simon Necronomicon (gopher text).

Those interested in its validity may also wish to see:

Comments on the Necronomicon
The Necronomicon and Ancient Sumer: Debunking the Myth.

Various rumors have spread around concerning the true identity of "Simon". One of these states that he was Herman Slater, the proprietor of the Magickal Childe occult bookshop of New York, which is indeed mentioned prominently in the volume. Another, more likely rumor, has it that he was a magickian in need of cash, who has subsequently gained a great name for himself in the field of Chaos Magick. Less likely candidates rumored to have authored the Simon Necronomicon include L. Sprague De Camp, Colin Wilson, L. Ron Hubbard, Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, and Sandy Pearlman (the Lovecraft-influenced lyricist for the band Blue Öyster Cult).

The Gregorius Necronomicon

Published in Germany and German, titled Das Necronomicon: Nach den Aufzeichnungen von Gregor A. Gregorius (The Necronomicon: From the Transcription of Gregor A. Gregorius), this is simply a translation of the Simon Necronomicon. The volume also includes a German translation of an authentic mediaeval grimoire called the Goetia; or, the Lesser Keys of King Solomon.

The Quine Necronomicon

The purported translation of the Necronomicon made by Antonius Quine appears to be so fake it doesn't even exist.

However, if you have any information on please contact me: [email protected].

The Ripel Necronomicon

This was published by one Frank G. Ripel, who is head of the Ordo Rosae Mysticae (Order of the Mystic Rose), in Italy, 1987-88, as part of his Sabaean Trilogy. It includes a book called Sauthenerom, of ancient Egyptian origins, and a text of the Necronomicon, which is alleged to be 4,000 years old and to have been plagiarized by Abdul Alhazred.

A description of this volume by Luis Abbadie resides at Daniel Harms' excellent Necronomicon Files Page.

The Perez-Vigo Necronomicon

Recently published in Spain, this edition by Fernando Perez-Vigo reputedly includes a Necronomic Tarot along with a text derived from those of the Ripel Necronomicon and the Wilson-Hay-Turner-Langford Necronomicon.

I have been unable to obtain any information on the Perez-Vigo Necronomicon, including whether or not it truly even exists. If you have any such information (especially if you know where I might obtain a copy), please contact me: [email protected].

The Lin Carter Necronomicon

"If the Necronomicon actually existed, it would be out in Bantam paperback
with a preface by Lin Carter.
-- T.E.D. Klein

Lin Carter wrote several short stories which purport to be chapters from the John Dee translation of the Necronomicon. They relate various adventures of Abdul Alhazred. Obviously and explicitly fiction, this is only included here for completeness.

Lin Carter's version is included in a volume available from Chaosium, edited by Robert M. Price and entitled The Necronomicon: Selected Stories and Essays Concerning the Blasphemous Tome of the Mad Arab, containing sundry works of interest.

Chaosium Press.

The H.R. Giger Necronomicon

Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger has used the title Necronomicon for a book compiling his necrotic art. Obviously, this makes no claim to be an authentic Necronomicon, but we include the entry not only for completeness, but as a pretext to enthusiastically endorse Giger's art. Giger has also produced a sequel volume, Necronomicon II.

The Official H.R. Giger Website.

The Necronomicon Project

This is a collaborative effort to create a fake Necronomicon on the Web. There is clearly no attempt to claim validity for the results of this project.

You too can participate: The Necronomicon Project.

The Charles Pace Necronominon

Leroy Green's article "Shaman or Showman? Alex Sanders, 'King of the Witches'" (Rapid Eye #2 contains the following information:

One of the show's writers later told me that [Dennis] Wheatley was "terrified" of Sanders and had as little to do with him as possible, except for joining in the discussion on the show. During it, Sanders produced a wax image which he called a "fith-fath", and proceeded to stick pins in it. He announced that the image had been consecrated to represent a man named Charles Pace, with whom Sanders had had some sort of dispute. Twisting the pin around in the location of the image's heart, Sanders said: "He will have a heart attack now." Questioned if he thought such a grotesque performance could actually work, Wheatley said he thought that it was highly possible.

It didn't. Pace lived on to write a number of articles for The News of the World, in which he made his own verbal attack on Sanders. Pace himself, however, was something of a fantasizer. I gather that, at some time, he had been on friendlier terms with Sanders, because at his London flat, Sanders showed me a manuscript prepared by Pace.

It purported to be The Necronominon [sic]--a totally fictional work, invented by the horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, who actually called it The Necronomicon. Pace's work was one of the most amateurish forgeries I have ever seen--something between a comic book and a child's crayoning book.

Have any further information on the matters discussed here?
Please inform me: [email protected].

Copyright © 1997-2006 Dan Clore.

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