What Is The Cthulhu Mythos?

In the 1920s and 1930s, an obscure American writer named H. P. Lovecraft penned a series of the most amazing horror tales ever written. He broached topics never before conceived, devised a multitude of terrifying entities, and invented a whole new approach to horror, changing the face of fantastic fiction forever.

Yet he did even more. He was active in the Amateur Press Association of his time, and corresponded heavily with other authors, giving them advice and mentoring them. One of his innovations was to create a sort of common mythology, which multiple authors would draw upon when writing horror tales. Most infamously, he created the fearful book the Necronomicon, which was mentioned by dozens of other writers, giving it an aura of realism that is rare in fiction. The same is true for many of his other creations.

Today, this framework he invented is usually called the Cthulhu Mythos, named after one of his most famous frights. And here we are today, steeping ourselves again in its awesome and terrible secrets.

The Cthulhu Mythos is based on the principle that humanity is not the center of the universe. The cosmos is vast and filled with unthinkable forces, many not subject to our own natural laws. Some of these forces are unthinkably powerful—best considered to be like unto gods. These include Great Old Ones and Outer Gods such as Yog-Sothoth, Azathoth, Hastur, and Cthulhu. Others are lesser beings, though still fearsome and dangerously intelligent, such as the fungi from Yuggoth, the deep ones, or the elder things. These forces can manifest in the physical world as well, giving supernatural potency to inanimate objects or even concepts, such as geometry and mathematics.

The Mythos is nothing if not scientific, though humanity does not and indeed cannot know everything. The magic of the Mythos is all founded upon scientific principles, discovered or undiscovered.

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