Hastur

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Hastur (The Unspeakable One, Him Who Is Not to be Named, Assatur, Xastur, H'aaztre, or Kaiwan) is an entity of the Cthulhu Mythos. Hastur first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story "Haïta the Shepherd" (1893) as a benign god of shepherds. Hastur is briefly mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness; previously, Robert W. Chambers had used the name in his own stories to represent both a person and a place associated with the names of several stars, including Aldebaran.[1]

In Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens Hastur appears as a fallen angel and duke of hell.

Hastur in the mythos[edit]

In Bierce's "Haïta the Shepherd", which appeared in the collection Can Such Things Be?, Hastur is more benevolent than he would later appear in August Derleth's mythos stories. Another story in the same collection ("An Inhabitant of Carcosa") referred to the place "Carcosa" and a person "Hali", names which later authors were to associate with Hastur.

In Chambers' The King in Yellow (1895), a fin-de-siècle collection of horror stories, Hastur is the name of a potentially supernatural character (in "The Demoiselle D'Ys"), a place (in "The Repairer of Reputations"), and mentioned without explanation in "The Yellow Sign". The latter two stories also mentioned Carcosa, Hali, Aldebaran, and the Hyades, along with a "Yellow Sign" and a play called The King in Yellow.

H. P. Lovecraft read Chambers' book in early 1927[2] and was so enchanted by it that he added elements of it to his own creations.[3] There are two places in Lovecraft's own writings in which Hastur is mentioned:

I found myself faced by names and terms that I had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connections—Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L’mur-Kathulos, Bran and the Magnum Innominandum—and was drawn back through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder, outer entity at which the crazed author of the Necronomicon had only guessed in the vaguest way.... There is a whole secret cult of evil men (a man of your mystical erudition will understand me when I link them with Hastur and the Yellow Sign) devoted to the purpose of tracking them down and injuring them on behalf of the monstrous powers from other dimensions.

—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness"

It is unclear from this quote if Lovecraft's Hastur is a person, a place, an object (such as the Yellow Sign), or a deity (this ambiguity is recurrent in Lovecraft's descriptions of the mythic entities).

  • In "Supernatural Horror In Literature" (written 1926–27, revised 1933, published in The Recluse in 1927), when telling about "The Yellow Sign" by Chambers, H. P. Lovecraft wrote:

"... after stumbling queerly upon the hellish and forbidden book of horrors the two learn, among other hideous things which no sane mortal should know, that this talisman is indeed the nameless Yellow Sign handed down from the accursed cult of Hastur—from primordial Carcosa, whereof the volume treats..."

  • In Chambers' "The Yellow Sign" the only mentioning of Hastur is:

"...We spoke of Hastur and of Cassilda..."

So, judging from these two quotes, it is quite possible that H. P. Lovecraft not only recognized Hastur as one of the mythos gods, but even made him so recalling Chambers' book.

Derleth also developed Hastur into a Great Old One,[4] spawn of Yog-Sothoth, the half-brother of Cthulhu, and possibly the Magnum Innominandum. In this incarnation, Hastur has several Avatars:

  • The Feaster from Afar, a black, shriveled, flying monstrosity with tentacles tipped with razor-sharp talons that can pierce a victim's skull and siphon out the brain[5]
  • The King in Yellow.

Anders Fager's "Collected Swedish Cults" features a Stockholm-based coterie known as "The Carcosa Foundation" that worships Hastur.[6]

Hastur is amorphous, but he is said to appear as a vast, vaguely octopoid being, similar to his half-niece Cthylla.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Gaiman, Neil; Terry Pratchett. Good Omens. ISBN 978-0-441-00325-9. 
  • Harms, Daniel (1998). "Hastur". The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. pp. 136–7. ISBN 1-56882-119-0. 
  • Joshi, S. T.; David E. Schultz (2001). An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31578-7. 
  • Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon. ISBN 1-56184-129-3. 
  • Price, Robert M. (ed.) (1997). The Hastur Cycle (2nd ed.). Oakland, CA: Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-094-1. 

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Harms, The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, p. 136.
  2. ^ Joshi & Schultz, "Chambers, Robert William", An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia, p. 38
  3. ^ Pearsall, "Yellow Sign", The Lovecraft Lexicon, p. 436.
  4. ^ Derleth once entertained the notion of calling Lovecraft's mythos the Mythology of Hastur—an idea that Lovecraft summarily rejected when he heard it. (Robert M. Price, "The Mythology of Hastur", The Hastur Cycle, p. i.)
  5. ^ Joseph Payne Brennan (1976), "The Feaster from Afar", The Hastur Cycle (2nd ed.), pp. 272–82.
  6. ^ Fager, Anders, "Samlade Svenska Kulter"

External links[edit]