Tag Archives: spawn of cthulhu

The Architecture of R’lyeh

R’lyeh is the sunken city where Cthulhu is entombed.  In a previous article on non-Euclidean Geometry I briefly mentioned R’lyeh; however, here I want to go into more detail on this sunken alien city described in HPL’s great tale The Call of Cthulhu.

A vision of R’lyeh by Paul Carrick

As described in The Call of Cthulhu, the crew of the Emma landed on an unknown island on the 23rd of March 1925.  The island was the alien Cyclopean city of sleeping Cthulhu and his Spawn.  The first thing observed as the crew approached the island was a “great stone pillar sticking out of the sea.”  As they approached it, the crew found a coastline of mud, ooze and weeds (I am assuming the “weeds” were a combination of seaweed, tubeworms,  crinoids, coral and other sessile marine life).

R’lyeh by Paul Mudie

The narrator of the story, Francis Wayland Thurston, hypothesized that the city the sailors landed on was “only a singlel mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadel whereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters.”  Everything was incredibly huge – greenish stone blocks of unbelievable size and colossal statues and bas-reliefs (in the image of Cthulhu) were observed.

In addition to the immense size of the structures the geometry or the “angles” of the city were all wrong, at least for the human species whose architecture is firmly grounded in Euclidean geometry.  The city seemed to made of non-Euclidean geometry and loathsomely redolent spheres and dimensions apart from our own.  As I mentioned in a previous article, non-Euclidean is simply geometry not confined to straight lines at right angles, triangles, squares, circles, etc.  Any example of what this non-Euclidean geometry looks like in R’lyeh was given in the sailor’s account – “….in those crazily elusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewed convexity.”

Concave is simply curved inward like a cave, where convex is the opposite and a shape stick out (from http://www.concretecountertopinstitute.com)

So, look at the two sets of buildings below – the buildings on the left are concave, while those on right are convex.  So imagine looking at one set of those buildings and at one moment the structure is convex and the next it is concave.  Or imagine looking at the structure and as you are walking by it actually changes before your eyes from concave to convex, simply based on your point of view.  In addition, unlike a hologram this is a real structure and the shift from concave to convex is not consistent or predictable.  Some structures look the same while others are shifting in shape and structure, with no repeatable pattern.   Still others may change in shape at one point in time and then stop such changes.

Concave and Conex buildings (from www.trekearth.com)

One can see how such strange, chaotic changes in the city of non-Euclidean geometry would certainly make one uneasy.  You would question both your sanity and reality.  Is this city, which originated from the bottom of the sea and obviously not built nor designed for humans some strange hallucination?

Angles of R’lyeh by Marc Simonetti (from The Art of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos).  This piece of almost “Escher-like” artwork seems appropriate in conveying the confusion and disorientation associated with being at R’lyeh.

Such confusion and disorientation on R’lyeh did result in the death of at least one of the sailors on 23rd of March 1925.  Johansen swore he saw Parker slip and was “swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn’t have been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse.”  Thus, if we are to accept the testimony of Johansen, this shifting or phasing of the buildings and structures on R’lyeh was actually manifested in our reality and not an illusion.  This was beautifully demonstrated in Andrew Leman’s incredible movie “The Call of Cthulhu”, which was filmed as a silent, black and white movie.  I strongly recommend anyone who is interested in Lovecraft and the Cthulhu mythos in general to see that movie – it is fantastic and amazing that they produced such a high quality film on such a limited budget.

At R’lyeh – from Andrew Leman’s The Call of Cthulhu (H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society)

To conclude, R’lyeh not only exhibited non-Euclidean geometries but also exhibited quasi- or alternative forms of quantum mechanics that occurred at the macroscopic level.  This is why poor Parker slipped through an angle he thought was solid.

Next time will discuss the link between R’lyeh and HPL’s story Dagon.  Thank you – Fred

Another view of R’lyeh by Mr. Loach

The Spawn of Cthulhu, Part 3 – Additional notes

As previously mentioned there is very little information on the spawn of Cthulhu.  We know they somewhat resemble their Master or Parent Cthulhu and that they came down to Earth with him approximately 350 million years ago.  They battled with the Elder Ones and peace was achieved.  The spawn built the great city of R’lyeh, which then mysteriously sunk into the Pacific Ocean around 300 million years ago.  To this day, Cthulhu and his spawn lie entombed in R’lyeh asleep and sending dreams to the sensitive.

City of R’lyeh by the great Lovecraftian artist John Coulthart

Very little is known about the spawn of Cthulhu; however Hiraku Takeoka, a gentleman from Japan who I have met on Facebook, made a very good point (see below).  Lin Carter, a well known writer of fantasy, science-fiction and horror, contributed to the Cthulhu Mythos, which included the Xothic Cycle.  Mr. Carter was well known to flesh out or “fill in the gaps” in Lovecraft’s mythology but I want to focus this article on the spawn of Cthulhu.

Chaosium’s The Xothic Legend Cycle, Lin Carter’s Mythos fiction (edited by Robert M. Price)

Specifically, according to Mr. Carter’s stories Cthulhu brought a number of other entites to Earth from Xothic, a green binary star.   Some of these entities included Cthulhu’s “mate” Idh-yaa, and their progeny – Zoth-Ommog, Ghatanothoa, Ythogtha and Cthylla (The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana by Daniel Harms).  While this description makes it sound like Cthulhu is the father of one happy “Old One family”, this is a very deceptive interpretation.

Ghatanothoa by the talented artist Mike Bukowski

Biological concepts based on sexual reproduction, such as parents, progeny and siblings, more than likely do not apply to Cthulhu and his spawn.  Nothing is known about the reproduction of these entities; however, the prevailing hypothesis is that they reproduce primarily through mitosis.  That is, they reproduce similar to basic cell division.  Once the cell or individual attains a certain size or volume they split.  It is not known if the conventional Darwinian mechanics of natural selection apply to Cthulhu and his relatives but more than likely Cthulhu is the largest, and thus leader of the spawn.

Following this line of logic, Mr. Takeoka made an excellent point that these “family members” of Cthulhu’s may be larger representatives of the spawn.  Again, if Cthulhu is the largest and oldest of the spawn, he is the leader.  The other family members must be other leaders of the spawn (subordinates to Cthulhu) and have grown to such a size to be named, known and worshipped by humanity and other races in our universe.

Another incredible drawing of a spawn of Cthulhu by KingOvRats

To conclude, not much is known of the spawn of Cthulhu.  However, to date, they are the most “alien” of entities that we reviewed on this blog site.  One thing is for sure, the spawn of Cthulhu is very distinct from the next group of entities we will be discussing – the Deep Ones.  Thank you and Happy Holidays!  Fred

The Spawn of Cthulhu, part 2 – Made of Different Stuff

Both the Mi-Go and the spawn of Cthulhu are identified by HPL as being from outside of our known universe.  In addition, it is recognized that these entities are made of different matter than us.  But how different is different?  Relative to Lovecraftian entities this is a fairly important question, particularly since there appears to be an inverse relationship that the more “different” an entity is from us, the less we understand them or their motivations.  In addition, this difference is not simply based on appearance and morphology.  This article will briefly review this topic.

Back in August as part of my presentation on the Old Ones at the Necronomicon, I used the analogy of trees in understanding the differences among various forms of life.  This is by no means an innovative idea; Charles Darwin famously coined the term “Tree of Life”, based at least partially on a scribble he did in one of his notebooks (see below).

Darwin’s Tree of Life

As described in a previous article on this blog site, Darwin’s Tree of Life now a days can be thought of more as a shrub rather than a tree (thanks primarily to the knowledge we have gained on genetics and microbial evolution over the last 150 years).  Thus, all life on Earth can be thought of to be on the same shrub, with each twig or tip representing a distinct species (keeping complicating microbial processes factors such as horizontal gene transfer out of the picture for now).

Humans are eukaryotic organisms; our cells are endosymbiotic “experiments” where simpler forms of life (bacteria) are merged together to form more complex forms of life such as animals, plants, fungi and protozoa.  These experiments were run by the Elder Ones.  Another outcome of their experiments with native prokaryotic Earth life was the development of the “super-eukaryote” – the Shoggoth.  While incredibly adaptable to varying environments and means of obtaining energy (food), the Elder Ones intentionally bioengineered the shoggoths to be incapable of reproducing, unless facilitated by their masters in the “shoggoth pits”.

Since prokaryotic Earth life was used to create the shoggoths, these organisms would technically be another branch on Earth’s shrub of life.  Although a more distant and distinct branch, the shoggoths would still be a branch on Earth’s shrub.  This is in sharp contrast to the Elder Ones, which are presumed to be truly alien; that is, they originated and evolved on another world before coming to Earth.  Thus, to use the shrub analogy, while the Shoggoths are on our Shrub of Life, the Elder Ones would be on another entirely different shrub, representing another world’s evolutionary machine.  This means while the shoggoths are our cousins, the Elder Ones are more “different” relative to humans.

Shoggoth and an Elder One by the talented artist Ian Miller (for the cover of HPL’s At the Mountains of Madness – Panther Horror Edition)

In contrast to the Elder Ones, the Mi-Go are said to have to have come from “outside” of our known universe and thus are very different than humans, Shoggoths or Elder Ones.  Thus, not only do the Mi-Go from a different shrub, but their shrub is from an entirely different “forest”.

Evidence for this “difference” is provided by the fact that the MiGo can’t be photographed by standard photographic equipment and how clumsy they are both in walking and flying in our atmosphere and in our gravity.  However, while they are very different from the residents of our universe, something is known of their motivation in their dealings with our world.  They need some metal or material on Earth that is somewhat rare in our universe and so they conduct mining operations.  Thus they interact with the “natives” of Earth, form strange alliances with certain people and have an excellent knowledge of human physiology and anatomy.

Incredible drawing of a M-Go by Nathan Rosario

While the spawn of Cthulhu are also from “outside” they appear to originate from a more distance “outside”.  Thus, to continue on the analogy, the spawn come from a more distant forest relative to the Mi-Go

Like the Mi-Go, their matter is very different from us; however, the spawn can easily change shape and size, which is very different than even the Mi-Go.  Although the Mi-Go can alter their shape and size, this typically done through surgery or other medical procedures.  In contrast, it appears that the spawn (like their Master) can change their shape and size at will although they do have a preferred morphology.

Fantastic drawing of a spawn of Cthulhu by KingOvRats

In addition to their shape changing, the exact motivation of why the spawn and their Master came to Earth is fairly ambiguous compared to the Mi-Go’s need for Earth’s raw resources.  Earth already had the Elder Ones ; why come to Earth where competition for space and resources was already high?  Additionally, it is not known how or why their city of R’lyeh sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and why they are all dormant and asleep.

Thus, while both the Mi-Go and the spawn are very different to us, the spawn seem to be even more “different” with their shape changing abilities and unknown motives.  In addition, there are other Lovecraftian entities we will discuss in future that are even more “different” than the spawn.  Next time we will wrap up the discussion on the spawn of Cthulhu and move into the New Year with discussions on the Deep Ones.  Thank you – Fred

The Spawn of Cthulhu

While Cthulhu is one of the most well known and described creations of H.P. Lovecraft, very little is known of the “spawn of Cthulhu”.  For this discussion the focus will be on the spawn of Cthulhu as a race of beings and not the entity called Cthulhu (which will be discussed in great detail later).

Ironically, the term “spawn of Cthulhu” is not mentioned in the Call of Cthulhu.  In fact, the phrase, “spawn of Cthulhu” or “Cthulhu spawn” is used by HPL in only two of his formal / solo stories.  The first time they are mentioned is in At the Mountains of Madness and the second time is in Through the Gates of the Silver Key (co-written by E. Hoffmann Price).

Spawn of Cthulhu illustration from S. Petersen’s Field Guide to Cthulhu Monsters (Sandy Petersen, et.al., 1988)

Based on the scant bit of information we have on these entities, they resemble their Master, Leader or Parent(?) Cthulhu, which is a semi-bipedal being that looks like a combination of human, octopus and dragon.  More importantly, similar to the Mi-Go, they are not made of the same matter as entities of our universe such as humans and Elder Ones.  Thus, the spawn of Cthulhu are known to be from “outside” of our space-time reality.

The Spawn of Cthulhu from the “Real Ghostbusters” cartoon.

While both the Mi-Go and the spawn are from “outside” they appear to be as different from each other as they are from entities in our universe.  The Mi-Go can easily manipulate the biochemistry and physiology of themselves, as well as other life forms, in an intense and aggressive form of directed evolution that included, but was certainly not limited to, surgery.  Thus, the M-Go are masters at manipulating life from a genetic to an individual level, creating new species with specific attributes or abilities.

To me, this looks like a great drawing of a spawn of Cthulhu (drawing by the talented David Carson in James Van Hise’s The Fantastic Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft)

The spawn of Cthulhu did not appear to have the surgical abilities, or the biological interest for that matter, to alter either themselves of other creatures.   However, in sharp contrast to the Mi-Go, the spawn of Cthulhu could manipulate their size and shape at will.  Like Cthulhu himself, the spawn were described as being a fluid or viscous-like creature.

If you think about it, this is very similar to an octopus.  These intelligent mollusks have been well documented to be able to easily fit through small openings a fraction of their size.  The octopus has the ability to easily modify its shape and can also appear to change its size as well.  In addition, an octopus moves in a very fluid manner, as if it was oozing.  Thus, the spawn, as well as Cthulhu himself, not only have some attributes of octopuses, but also probably move like these creatures.  Additional evidence of this can be found in The Call of Cthulhu, where the movements of Cthulhu are described as “flopped down the slimy stones” and “slid greasily into the water”.  These passages make one think of an octopus moving from the deck of a boat and plopping into the water.

An octopus moving out of plastic cube through a small opening (www.youtube.com)

Next time, we will discuss in more detail how being made of different matter make the spawn of Cthulhu very different from us and the Elder Ones.  Thank you – Fred