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The Simon Necronomicon is a grimoire allegedly written by Peter Levenda (aka "Simon" from the introduction in the book). Materials presented in the book are a blend of ancient Middle Eastern elements, with allusions to the writings of H. P. Lovecraft and Aleister Crowley, woven together with a story about a man known as the "Mad Arab".
The introduction to the book (comprising about 80 pages of a total of 263) is the only part that Simon claims to have written. It relates how Simon and his associates were introduced to a Greek translation of the Necronomicon by a mysterious monk. Simon claims that after experimenting with the text, they verified that the work is a genuine collection of magical rituals that predates most known religions, and warns that anyone attempting to use the Necronomicon may "unleash dangerous forces". The introduction attempts to establish links between H. P. Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley and ancient mythology (including Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Chaldean myths and rituals), and draw parallels to other religions (such as Christianity, Wicca, Satanism and Hebrew Mythology). Some of the discussion is based on a supposed connection between Crowley and Lovecraft first espoused by Kenneth Grant.
"The Testimony of the Mad Arab"
In addition to an introduction, the book uses a frame story titled "The Testimony of the Mad Arab". The "Testimony" is in two parts, forming a prologue and an epilogue to the core Necronomicon. The author describes himself as a "Mad Arab".
The prologue explains how the Arab first came to discover the dark secrets that he is recording, accidentally witnessing an arcane ritual performed by a cult that worships Tiamat, in which both the demons Kutulu and Humwawa are conjured.
In the epilogue, the Mad Arab is haunted by premonitions of his gruesome death. He realizes that the horrors of the Necronomicon are enraged and seek revenge upon him for revealing their existence to the world. The text is littered with non sequiturs and arcane incantations, presented as indication of his unstable mental state and his desire to protect himself from perceived danger. He is unable to sign his work, and thus remains nameless.
Much of the book is a collection of magic rituals and conjurations. Many incantations and seals are described. Most of these are intended to ward off evil or to invoke the Elder Gods to one's aid. Some of them are curses to be used against one's enemies. The incantations are written in a mixture of English and more ancient languages, with a few possible misspellings in the romanization of the archaic words. There are also several words that do not appear to be from any known language.
The many magical seals in the book pertain to particular gods and demons, and are used when invoking or summoning the entity with which each is associated. In some cases there are specific instructions on how to inscribe the seals and amulets, including the materials that should be used and the time of day for their creation; in other cases, only the seal itself is given.
Both the introduction and the book's marketing make sensational claims for the book's magical power. The back blurb claims it is "the most potent and potentially, the most dangerous Black Book known to the Western World," and that its rituals will bring "beings and monsters" into "physical appearance". The book's introduction gives readers frequent warnings that the powers it contains are potentially life-threatening, and that perfect mental health is needed; otherwise the book is extremely dangerous. It claims a curse afflicted those who helped publish the book. It also claims that the Golden Dawn methods of magical banishing will not work on the entities in this book.
Good versus evil
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The main theme of the book is the struggle between good and evil. The principal forces of good are the "Elder Gods"; and those of evil, the "Ancient Ones". These two groups are populated with authentic Mesopotamian gods and monsters as well as fictitious ones. The Ancient Ones are older and represent primeval chaos. Chief among them is Tiamat. The Elder Gods are younger entities, children of the Ancient Ones, who rebelled against them and prevailed.
Included in the Simon Necronomicon is a story that is a variant of the Enuma Elish, the Babylonian creation epic. It relates how Marduk (Leader of the Elder Gods) slew Tiamat (Queen of the Ancient Ones), clove her body in two and created the Heaven and the Earth from the two halves. The Elder Gods also created mankind from the blood of Kingu (an Ancient One). Other Ancient Ones are imprisoned beneath the Earth or beyond the Heavens. With the exception of the terms "Elder Gods" and "Ancient Ones" (which were first popularized by the fiction of H. P. Lovecraft), many of these stories are derived from authentic myths.
Simon's introduction claims that Lovecraft's mythos tells of the struggle between good and evil, as personified by the good Elder Gods and the evil "Great Old Ones". Lovecraft's work did not feature such a conflict, however; the theme of "cosmic war" derives instead from the apocryphal Book of Enoch, cited by Lovecraft in his essay "Supernatural Horror in Literature", and later contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos by author August Derleth.
According to Simon, the Ancient Ones now lie "not dead but dreaming", awaiting a day when they may return to life. To do this, they are dependent upon the positions of the stars as well as the sacrifices of their mortal followers. These ideas largely run parallel to elements of the Cthulhu Mythos, so much so that critics claim that this is an obvious attempt to reconcile the Simon Necronomicon with Lovecraft's well-known stories such as "The Call of Cthulhu". The Armageddon and Apocalypse of Judeo-Christianity are also referenced: following the conflagration of the End Times, the flesh of the vanquished Leviathan is to be served up to the victorious survivors.
According to one book on the topic, The Necronomicon Files, several portions of the Necronomicon bear striking similarities to other works mentioned in its bibliography, such as R. C. Thompson's The Devils and Evil Spirits of Babylonia and James B. Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament — to an extent that it appears unlikely that separate translations could have arrived at the same result. In addition, two members of the Magickal Childe scene, Khem Caigan (the Necronomicon's illustrator) and Alan Cabal, an American occultist, have independently stated that the book was widely known as a hoax in the local occult community and references Peter Levenda as the author.
Owen Davies calls Simon Necronomicon "a well-constructed hoax", but adds that making a grimoire by stitching together material from previous sources is a well-worn motif in grimoire history, and that "it is their falsity that makes them genuine." The same thing is pointed out by Dan Clore who writes that the hoax Necronomicons are every bit as "authentic" as the Lesser Key of Solomon or the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.
Accusations of black magic and connections to murder
The book was featured as courtroom evidence in the murder trial of Rod Ferrell, with suggestions that it played a part in Satanic human sacrifices. Ferrell, it is claimed, used the book during cult rituals.
In 2006, Avon published Simon's Dead Names: The Dark History of the Necronomicon (ISBN 0-06-078704-X), in which he details the history of the Necronomicon and attacks his critics who claim the book is a hoax. The book's conclusions are considered suspect by his critics.
- Harms, Dan and John Wisdom Gonce III. 2003. The Necronomicon Files. Boston: Red Wheel Weiser.
- Cabal, Alan (June 10, 2003). "The Doom that Came to Chelsea". New York Press. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
- Owen Davies. 2010. Grimoires: A History of Magic Books. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 268
- Dan Clore. 2001. The Lurker on the Threshold of Interpretation: Hoax Necronomicons and Paratextual Noise. Lovecraft Studies, No. 42–43 (Autumn 2001).http://www.geocities.ws/clorebeast/lurker.htm
- Harms, Dan and John Wisdom Gonce III. 2003. The Necronomicon Files. Boston: Red Wheel Weiser. pp. 203-8
- "Dead Names, Dead Dog: A Guide to the Dark History of the Necronomicon". Papers Falling from an Attic Window. WordPress.com. September 11, 2006. Retrieved 26 November 2010.