Unaussprechlichen Kulten (also known as Nameless Cults or the Black Book) is a fictional work of arcane literature in the Cthulhu Mythos. The book first appeared in Robert E. Howard's short stories "The Children of the Night" (1931) and "The Black Stone" (1931) as Nameless Cults. Like the Necronomicon, it was later mentioned in several stories by H. P. Lovecraft.
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Unaussprechliche Kulte would be the German for "unspeakable cults". The form Unaussprechlichen Kulten is the dative case, suggesting a full title of Von unaussprechlichen Kulten ("Of Unspeakable Cults", as it were de cultis ineffabilibus) or similar.
Some observers[who?] have commented that since the German adjective may not only translate to "unspeakable, unutterable, ineffable", but also to "unpronouncable, tongue-twisting", the title is a good description of the names invented by Lovecraft.
Role in the Cthulhu Mythos
The following is a fictional account of the origin of Unaussprechliche Kulten and its significance in the mythos.
Unaussprechliche Kulten is believed to have been written by Friedrich Wilhelm von Junzt. The first edition of the German text (referred to by some as "the Black Book") appeared in 1839 in Düsseldorf. The English edition was issued by Bridewall in London in 1845, but (being meant to sell purely based on shock-value) contained numerous misprints and was badly translated. A heavily expurgated edition was later issued in New York by Golden Goblin Press in 1909, but sold few copies as its high production costs made it prohibitively expensive. Original editions in German have a heavy leather cover and iron hasps. Few copies of the earliest edition still exist because most were burnt by their owners when word of von Junzt's gruesome demise became common knowledge. An edition is known to be kept in a locked vault at the Miskatonic University library and some book collectors/occult scholars have managed to find copies.
The text contains information on cults that worship pre-human deities such as Ghatanothoa and includes hieroglyphs relating to the latter. There is also information on more recent cults including that of Bran, The Dark Man. It is from this work that the tale of the doomed heretic T'yog is most commonly sourced. The principal obscurity of the book is von Junzt's use of the word keys—"a phrase used many times by him, in various relations"—in connection with certain items and locations, such as the Black Stone and the Temple of the Toad (possibly associated with Tsathoggua) in Honduras.
In popular culture
In F. Paul Wilson’s The Keep, Captain Klaus Woermann reads an excerpt from the Unaussprechlichen Kulten and finds it a disturbing experience. However, the text does not appear to be the same absolute forerunner of doom as the Necronomicon.
Triumff: Her Majesty's Hero by Dan Abnett features a page of the Unaussprechlichen Kulten shown to the titular hero as a test to see if he has ever studied Goety. It induces instinctive nausea in those never exposed to pure Lore previously.
"Von Unaussprechlichen Kulten" is the title of a song by death metal band Nile from their 2005 album Annihilation of the Wicked. Unaussprechlichen Kulten is also the name of a death metal band from Chile; the lyrics of many of their songs reference the Cthulhu Mythos.
There is a reference to 'Unaussprechlichen Kulten' in the 1992 PC game, Alone in the Dark.
- Price, "Introduction: The Ebony Book", The Book of Eibon, p. xvii.
- Harms, Daniel. "Unaussprechlichen Kulten" in The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana (2nd ed.), pp. 309–11. Oakland, CA: Chaosium, 1998. ISBN 1-56882-119-0.
- Pearsall, Anthony B. (2005). The Lovecraft Lexicon (1st ed.). Tempe, AZ: New Falcon. ISBN 1-56184-129-3.
- Price, Robert M. (ed.) The Book of Eibon (1st ed.), Chaosium, Inc., 2002. ISBN 1-56882-129-8.