Clark Ashton Smith deities
- 1 Deities of Hyperborea
- 2 Deities of Zothique
- 3 Other deities
- 4 Notes
Deities of Hyperborea
[H]e described a sort of pool with a margin of mud that was marled with obscene offal; and in the pool a grayish, horrid mass that nearly choked it from rim to rim... Here, it seemed, was the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination. For the gray mass quobbed and quivered, and swelled perpetually; and from it, in manifold fission, were spawned the anatomies that crept away on every side through the grotto. There were things like bodiless legs or arms that flailed in the slime, or heads that rolled, or floundering bellies with fishes' fins; and all manner of things malformed and monstrous, that grew in size as they departed from the neighborhood of Abhoth. And those that swam not swiftly ashore when they fell into the pool from Abhoth, were devoured by mouths that gaped in the parent bulk.
—Clark Ashton Smith, The Seven Geases
Abhoth ("The Source of Uncleanliness") resides in the cavern of Y'quaa beneath Mount Voormithadreth. It is a horrid, dark gray protean mass and is said to be the ultimate source of all miscreation and abomination.
Obscene monsters constantly form in Abhoth's gray mass and crawl away from their parent. No two of Abhoth's children are alike. In general, they are complex life forms, but the majority of them are simple-minded, acting on impulse. Their forms can be anything from amorphous blobs and singular body parts, to queer humanoids and monstrous mutants. Abhoth's tentacles and limbs grab many of them, pulling them back and devouring them. Most of those that escape simply wander off, only a few of them tend to their sire's needs. Abhoth has a twisted and cynical mind, and can communicate telepathically with others near him.
Abhoth is also mentioned in Colin Wilson's The Mind Parasites.
Atlach-Nacha resembles a huge spider with an almost-human face. It dwells within a huge cavern deep beneath Mount Voormithadreth, a mountain in the now vanished kingdom of Hyperborea in the Arctic. There it spins a gigantic web, bridging a massive chasm between the Dreamlands and the waking world. Some believe that when the web is complete, the end of the world will come, because it will create a permanent junction with the Dreamlands, allowing monsters to move freely into the waking world.
Atlach-Nacha probably came to Earth from the planet Cykranosh (or Saturn as we know it today) with Tsathoggua. Because of its appearance, Atlach-Nacha is often referred to as the Spider-God(dess) and is believed to be the regent of all spiders. Furthermore, the giant, bloated purple spiders of Leng are thought to be its children and servitors.
There is some disagreement about its gender. In Smith's original story, Atlach-Nacha is referred to as a male, but in later stories by other authors, it is implied to be a female.
Rlim Shaikorth appears as a huge whitish worm with a gaping maw, and eyes made of dripping globules of blood. One of Rlim Shaikorth's avatars is known as the White Worm and is part of Smith's Hyperborean cycle.
The White Worm travels on a gigantic iceberg called Yikilth, which it can guide across the ocean. In its colossal ice-citadel, the White Worm prowls the seas, blasting ships and inhabited land masses with extreme cold. Victims of the White Worm are frozen solid, their bodies appearing eerily white, and remain preternaturally cold—they will not melt nor warm even when exposed to fire. (The Coming of the White Worm, 1941)
There, in the grey beginning of Earth, the formless mass that was Ubbo-Sathla reposed amid the slime and the vapors. Headless, without organs or members, it sloughed from its oozy sides, in a slow, ceaseless wave, the amoebic forms that were the archetypes of earthly life. Horrible it was, if there had been aught to apprehend the horror; and loathsome, if there had been any to feel loathing. About it, prone or tilted in the mire, there lay the mighty tablets of star-quarried stone that were writ with the inconceivable wisdom of the pre-mundane gods.
—Clark Ashton Smith, Ubbo-Sathla
Ubbo-Sathla ("The Unbegotten Source", "The Demiurge") is described as a huge protoplasmic mass resting in a grotto deep beneath the frozen earth. The being is of a monstrous fecundity, spontaneously generating primordial single-celled organisms that pour unceasingly from its shapeless form. It guards a set of stone tablets believed to contain the knowledge of the Elder Gods.
Ubbo-Sathla is said to have spawned the prototypes of all forms of life on Earth; though whatever its pseudopods touch is forever devoid of life. Ubbo-Sathla is destined to someday reabsorb all living things on Earth.
Ubbo-Sathla possibly dwells in gray-litten Y'qaa. The being may also dwell in Mount Voormithadreth and may have spawned another of its residents, the being Abhoth, whose form and nature is very similar. This similarity has led some writers to speculate that Ubbo-Sathla and Abhoth are the same entity viewed at different epochs under different names. The tablets that Ubbo-Sathla guards have been oft sought by sorcerers, though no sorcerer has yet succeeded in acquiring them.
In Smith's The Door to Saturn, Yhoundeh the elk-goddess is the name of the deity worshipped in the waning days of Hyperborea. Yhoundeh's priests also banned Tsathoggua's cult, and her inquisitors punished any heretics. As the Hyperborean civilization drew to a close, Yhoundeh's priests fell out of favor and the people returned to the worship of Tsathoggua.
Deities of Zothique
The "queen of perdition and goddess of all iniquities," Alila is worshipped in central Zothique (The Witchcraft of Ulua).
Geol is an earth god worshipped in Zothique (The Voyage of King Euvoran, 1931).
Zothiquean goddess of love, but "a darker goddess" in the kingdom of Yoros (The Dead Will Cuckold You).
A death-god worshipped in the city of Zul-Bha-Sair and nowhere else on Zothique. See Mordiggian.
Ojhal is a virgin goddess worshipped in northern Zothique (The Black Abbot of Puthuum, 1936).
A powerful entity of the Outer Void. His coursers are so large that they can trample a large building with a single hoof. The archimage Namirrha summoned them to destroy an entire nation (The Dark Eidolon, 1935).
Thasaidon is the ruler of the Seven Hells. He is mentioned in several stories of the Zothique Cycle, but figures most prominently in The Dark Eidolon (1935). Most sorcerers make pacts with this evil being, and he seems to be Zothique's analog to Satan.
Vergama is a mysterious god worshipped in Zothique.
...He gave thanks to Vergama who, throughout the whole continent of Zothique, was deemed the most powerful and mysterious of the genii, and was thought to rule over the heavens as well as the earth.
—Clark Ashton Smith, The Last Hieroglyph
Yuckla is a god of laughter worshipped in Zothique (The Tomb Spawn).
Yululun is a minor deity in Zothique. He is the "Keeper of the Tombs" (The Weaver in the Vault).
Dweller in the Gulf
The Dweller in the Gulf appears in a short story of the same name by Clark Ashton Smith, first published in 1932. The Dweller in the Gulf lives deep beneath the surface of the planet Mars, but may have originated elsewhere. It is worshipped exclusively by a blind, troglodyte sect of the Martian race, the Aihai, and can be ritually summoned by the stroking of its idol.
The Dweller resembles a massive, eyeless, soft-shelled tortoise, but has a triangular head and two whiplike tails. At the ends of its tails are two bell-shaped suckers used for the ceremonial— usually forced— removal of its discoverer's eyes, turning them into the deity's blind, mute servitors.
A lion-faced god of uncertain attributes. His priests are said to be "dreadful magicians and mysteriarchs." (The Abominations of Yondo, 1929.)
Quachil Uttaus can reduce all living tissue he comes into contact with to dust (and is therefore similar to another of Smith's characters, Ubbo-Sathla). Quachil Uttaus is usually associated with age, death, and decay. Summoning this god is considered lethal, if one even subconsciously entertains thoughts of suicide.
It was a figure no larger than a young child, but sere and shriveled as some millennial mummy. Its hairless head, its unfeatured face, borne on a neck of skeleton thinness, were lined with a thousand reticulated wrinkles. The body was like that of some monstrous, withered abortion that had never drawn breath. The pipy arms, ending in bony claws, were outthrust as if ankylosed in a posture of an eternal dreadful groping. (The Treader of the Dust, 1935)
In the story, Vulthoom is the Martian Aihai's equivalent of Satan. Though most rational people believe him to be a myth, he is nonetheless greatly feared by the lower class. In truth he is a mysterious being, from another universe, exiled by his fellow inhabitants, and lying in wait on Mars in the underground city of Ravormos. He plans to take over Mars and then conquer Earth as his next trophy. Because of his vast intellect, and advanced technology, he seems godlike, but is in reality merely a very powerful alien who must rest for millennia at a time. While under the influence of the hallucinogenic perfume of an alien blossom, one man envisioned Vulthoom as a gigantic otherworldly plant, but the being's true form is unknown.
The DC Comics character Power Ring is associated with an entity named Volthoom.
Xexanoth, summoned by the priest Calaspa, is apparently the bane and mortal enemy of the time god Aforgomon, the latter deity possibly an Avatar of the Outer God Yog-Sothoth. (The Chain of Aforgomon, 1935.)
- Gary Myers, "The Snout in the Alcove", The Nyarlathotep Cycle, p. 230.
- Richard L. Tierney, "The Unresponding Gods", The Book of Eibon, p. 282.
- Clark Ashton Smith letter to Robert H. Barlow, dated September 19, 1934 (Will Murray, "The Book of Hyperborea Introduction").
- Clark Ashton Smith, "Master of the Crabs", Tales of Zothique.