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An interpretation of the Mi-Go by Ruud Dirven
Mi-go ("The Abominable Ones") is a Himalayan nickname for a race of extraterrestrials in the Cthulhu Mythos created by H. P. Lovecraft and others. The name was first applied to the creatures in Lovecraft's short story "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931), elaborating on a reference to 'What fungi sprout in Yuggoth' in his sonnet cycle Fungi from Yuggoth (1929–30) which described the contrasting vegetation on alien dream-worlds.
The "Mi-go" are large, pinkish, fungoid, crustacean-like entities the size of a man; where a head would be, they have a "convoluted ellipsoid" composed of pyramided, fleshy rings and covered in antennae. According to two reports in the original short story, their bodies consist of a form of matter that does not occur naturally on Earth; for this reason, they do not register on ordinary photographic film. They are capable of going into suspended animation until softened and reheated by the sun or some other source of heat. They are about five feet (1.5 m) long, and their crustacean-like bodies bear numerous sets of paired appendages. They possess a pair of membranous bat-like wings which are used to fly through the "aether" of outer space (a scientific concept which is now discredited). The wings do not function well on Earth. Several other races in Lovecraft's Mythos also have wings like these.
The Mi-go can transport humans from Earth to Pluto (and beyond) and back again by removing the subject's brain and placing it into a "brain cylinder", which can be attached to external devices to allow it to see, hear, and speak.
In "The Whisperer in Darkness" the Mi-go are heard to give praise to Nyarlathotep and Shub-Niggurath, suggesting some form of worship, although in newer works by authors other than Lovecraft, the Mi-go are at war with the Elder Gods. Their moral system is completely alien, making them seem highly malicious from a human perspective.
One of the moons of Yuggoth holds designs that are sacred to the Mi-go; these are useful in various processes mentioned in the Necronomicon. It is said that transcriptions of these designs can be sensed by the Mi-go, and those possessing them shall be hunted down by the few remaining on earth.
Supposedly, a group known as the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign are dedicated to hunting them down and exterminating the fungoid threat, though it is unknown if this is actually true since it was given as a reason for their remaining hidden. Hastur, which is mentioned in passing among several other places and things, was eventually converted into a God-Like alien being by August Derleth who linked it to the Yellow Sign and gave it the title "Him Who is Not to be Named". However, in "The Whisperer in Darkness", a human ally of the Mi-go mentions "Him Who Is Not to Be Named" in the list of honored entities along with Nyarlathotep and Shub-Niggurath. Lovecraft never made a connection between Hastur and "Him Who Is Not to Be Named", and indeed didn't even imply Hastur was a being; Derleth was the one to do so.
The Mi-go appeared in comic books in the first three issues of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu: The Whisperer in Darkness that featured the Miskatonic Project, created by Mark Ellis.
The Mi-go are prominent antagonists in Pagan Publishing's Delta Green sourcebook for the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. It mentions three castes: scientist, soldier, and worker. The book states that the Mi-go usually have five pairs of appendages, though the number can vary. Normally, the first pair is designed for grasping and manipulating, but in the scientist caste it is usually the first two pairs. The remaining appendages are used for locomotion. The soldiers may have two or more pairs of wings. Some individuals do not have wings at all if they are deemed unnecessary to their task. The Mi-go apparently can modify their own bodies. It is also suggested[by whom?] that all their external accoutrements are actually extruded at will from the central gelatinous mass similar to the way the Shoggoth extrude body parts. In the Delta Green setting, the "Greys" are puppets remotely-controlled by the Mi-go.
They are distinguished by their mastery in various fields of science, especially surgery. Although they originate from beyond our solar system, they have set up an outpost on Pluto (known as Yuggoth in the mythos) and sometimes visit Earth to mine for minerals and other natural resources. The Mi-go normally communicate by changing the colors of their orb-like heads or by emitting odd buzzing noises. They can also speak any human language upon receiving the appropriate surgical modification.
The Mi-Go are one of the main enemies of humanity in the role-playing game CthulhuTech, which combines Lovecraft's fiction with tropes and themes from mecha anime. In the game, their name is spelled “Migou” (see below), but they are commonly referred to as bugs by humans.
They are presented in CthulhuTech much as they are in the original Lovecraft stories, and somewhat similar to that in Delta Green: they are masters of science and genetics, and in particular human genetics. Their hostility to humanity could be seen[by whom?] as jealousy that humans had created a technology which they had never thought of, combined with a fear of humanity's growing power. Although it is stated that they have emotions vastly different from our own, their campaign on Earth developed into genocidal hatred of humans.
The Mi-go appear in the final segment of the movie Necronomicon, directed by Brian Yuzna.
A Mi-go is scripted to walk across the stage during the "Tentacles" number of A Shoggoth on the Roof, prompting Armitage to say "some horrible creature... I do not even want to know what that is".
The horror-themed miniatures game HorrorClix, which features Cthulhu as a colossal figure, includes a Mi-Go as a unique figure in its The Lab expansion.
Origin of the word
It is possible that Lovecraft encountered the word migou in his readings. Migou is the Tibetan equivalent of the yeti, an ape-like cryptid said to inhabit the high mountain ranges of that region. While the Mi-go of Lovecraft's mythos is completely unlike the migou of Tibetan stories, Lovecraft seems to equate the two, as can be seen in the following excerpt from "The Whisperer in Darkness":
It was of no use to demonstrate to such opponents that the Vermont myths differed but little in essence from those universal legends of natural personification which filled the ancient world with fauns and dryads and satyrs, suggested the kallikanzarai of modern Greece, and gave to wild Wales and Ireland their dark hints of strange, small, and terrible hidden races of troglodytes and burrowers. No use, either, to point out the even more startlingly similar belief of the Nepalese hill tribes in the dreaded Mi-Go or "Abominable Snow-Men" who lurk hideously amidst the ice and rock pinnacles of the Himalayan summits. When I brought up this evidence, my opponents turned it against me by claiming that it must imply some actual historicity for the ancient tales; that it must argue the real existence of some queer elder earth-race, driven to hiding after the advent and dominance of mankind, which might very conceivably have survived in reduced numbers to relatively recent times—or even to the present.— H. P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness
Incidentally, the Persian word "maygo" translates as "prawn" or "shrimp." This may of course be coincidence; however, one may at least wonder if Lovecraft was aware of this, and perhaps found in the Persian word a suitably exotic (for his time) name for his creations.
- In "The Whisperer in Darkness", a "black stone with unknown hieroglyphics" from Yuggoth is among the items owned by the narrator that the Mi-go want to recover as part of their plot to lure him to the Akeley farmhouse.[clarification needed]
- Mi-go is the compound word for "man-wild" (wild man; Wylie: mi rgod; Tib: མི་རྒོད་) in Tibetan and is pronounced me-gö. (See Goldstein, pp. 251, 792, 794.)
- Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st ed. ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon Pub. ISBN 1-56184-129-3.
- Detwiller, Dennis (1998). Delta Green Eyes Only Volume One: Machinations of the Mi-Go (1st ed. ed.). Seattle, WA: Pagan Publishing.
- Goldstein, Melvyn (2001). The New Tibetan-English Dictionary of Modern Tibetan (1st ed. ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.