Azathoth is a monstrous deity from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, known as the “Blind Idiot God” and the ruler of all chaos.
At the very center of the universe, Azathoth sits in its court of mindless entities, surrounded by the constant cacophony of their frenzied dancing and shrieking music.
Though its true nature remains shrouded in mystery, it is said that Azathoth’s very presence drives those who gaze upon it to madness.
Little is known about the origins of this monstrous deity, but one thing is certain – its reign of terror has long been feared by those who dare to tread the paths of the unknown.
In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the lore surrounding Azathoth and uncover the secrets of this Lovecraftian terror.
Description of Azathoth
According to Lovecraft’s stories, Azathoth is said to reside at the center of the universe, surrounded by a court of mindless entities that constantly dance and play music to keep it satisfied.
These entities are described as “shapeless” and “amorphous”, with no definite form or features. They are said to be constantly in motion, writhing and twisting in a frenzied dance around Azathoth.
As for Azathoth itself, it is described as a massive, bloated being with no definite shape or form. It is said to be constantly in a state of flux, constantly changing and shifting as it feeds on the chaos and madness that surrounds it.
Despite its immense size and power, Azathoth is completely blind and mindless, existing only to consume and destroy.
In terms of abilities, Azathoth is said to possess immense cosmic powers. It is able to manipulate reality itself, bending and twisting the fabric of the universe to its will.
It can also create and destroy worlds with a thought, and is capable of unleashing devastating cosmic forces that can destroy entire galaxies.
Despite its immense power, Azathoth is not all-powerful.
It is said to be bound by ancient and powerful magical spells, which prevent it from fully manifesting in our reality.
As a result, it is unable to directly interact with the physical world, and must rely on its mindless servants and otherworldly creatures to carry out its will.
Although it is difficult to know for sure, some accounts claims that Azathoth is a huge, sentient black hole that is continuous with the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A.
The physical manifestation of Azathoth in our universe is said to be very destructive, and it’s considered to be one of the most dangerous entities in all of existence.
Azathoth is also known by the following:
- The Blind Idiot God
- Nuclear Chaos
- Daemon Sultan
- Abyssal Idiot
- Lord of All
- Him in the Gulf
- The Deep Dark
- The Cold One
- Sleeping Chaos
- Blind Dreamer
- Primordial Demiurge
Post-Lovecraft Names for Azathoth:
- Supreme Lord and Creator of All Things (First appeared in “Azathoth Awakening”)
- King-of-All (First appeared in Demonbane)
- Achamoth (First appeared in “The Strange Doom of Enos Harker”)
- Vach-Viraj (First appeared in “The Strange Doom of Enos Harker”)
The Family of Azathoth
Azathoth is the father of many beings throughout the Cthulhu Mythos. These include:
- Nyarlathotep: a powerful and enigmatic deity in the Lovecraftian pantheon, known as the “Crawling Chaos” and the “Messenger of the Outer Gods”.
- The Darkness: an Outer God, and the progenitor of Shub-Niggurath.
- Cxaxukluth: a god-like being, described as a massive, amorphous blob of swirling energy and darkness.
- The Nameless Mist: an otherworldly entity, described as a swirling, formless cloud of darkness and corruption.
- Yog-Sothoth (Grandson): a cosmic entity, known as the “Gateway to Everywhere” and the “All-in-One”.
- Shub-Niggurath (Granddaughter): a deity from the Lovecraftian pantheon, known as the “Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”.
- Nug and Yeb (Great-grandchildren): a pair of powerful, god-like beings, described as the “offspring” of Azathoth.
- Wilbur Whateley (Great-grandson): a character, described as a young man with incredible magical powers and a deep connection to the cosmic horrors of the universe.
- Cthulhu (Great-Great-Grandson): a monstrous deity, known as the “Great Old One” and the “Lord of R’lyeh”.
- Tsathoggua (Great-Great-Grandson): a massive, amorphous blob of swirling energy and darkness, with a grotesque, toad-like face and glowing, hypnotic eyes.
Real-World History of Azathoth
Let’s dive into the actual events that prompted the creation of Azathoth by author H. P. Lovecraft.
The Initial Inspiration
The name “Azathoth” was first mentioned in a note written by Lovecraft in 1919, which simply read “AZATHOTH – Hideous name”.
Robert M. Price, an editor of Lovecraft’s work, has suggested that the name may be a combination of the biblical names Anathoth and Azazel, mentioned by Lovecraft in “The Dunwich Horror”.
Price also suggests that the name may be inspired by the alchemical term “Azoth”, used in the title of a book by Arthur Edward Waite, who served as the inspiration for a character in Lovecraft’s “The Thing on the Doorstep”.
Additionally, the name may be derived from the phrase “As a thought”.
In another note written by Lovecraft in 1919, he mentions an idea for a story involving “a terrible pilgrimage to seek the nighted throne of the far daemon-sultan Azathoth”. In a letter to Frank Belknap Long, Lovecraft connected this idea to the supernatural novel “Vathek” by William Beckford.
Lovecraft attempted to turn this idea into a novel, but was unsuccessful.
However, Lovecraftian scholar Will Murray suggests that the idea may have been used in his Dream Cycle novella “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, written in 1926.
Price also suggests that Lovecraft may have been inspired by Lord Dunsany’s “Mana-Yood-Sushai” from “The Gods of Pegana”, a creator deity who made the gods and then rested.
In Dunsany’s conception, Mana-Yood-Sushai sleeps eternally, lulled by the music of a lesser deity who must drum forever. This oblivious creator god accompanied by supernatural musicians is similar to the character of Azathoth.
Appearances in Fiction
The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926-27)
Azathoth was first mentioned in a short story by Lovecraft in his novella “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”, which was written in 1926-27. In this story, Azathoth is mentioned briefly as the “daemon-sultan” and the “blind idiot god” who resides at the center of the universe.
One of the poems in Lovecraft’s 1929 poetry cycle “Fungi from Yuggoth” is titled “Azathoth” and includes the following text:
Out in the mindless void the daemon bore me
Past the bright clusters of dimensioned space,
Till neither time nor matter stretched before me,
But only Chaos, without form or place.
Here the vast Lord of All in darkness muttered
Things he had dreamed but could not understand,
While near him shapeless bat-things flopped and fluttered
In idiot vortices that ray-streams fanned.
They danced insanely to the high, thin whining
Of a cracked flute clutched in a monstrous paw,
Whence flow the aimless waves whose chance combining
Gives each frail cosmos its eternal law.
“I am His Messenger,” the daemon said,
As in contempt he struck his Master’s head.
The Whisperer in Darkness (1931)
In “The Whisperer in Darkness” the narrator describes feeling “loathing” when they hear about the “monstrous nuclear chaos beyond angled space” which is referred to as Azathoth in the Necronomicon. In this context, the word “nuclear” likely refers to Azathoth’s central location at the nucleus of the cosmos, rather than nuclear energy, which was not well-known at the time. This passage suggests that Azathoth is a powerful and malevolent force, associated with chaos and destruction.
The Dreams in the Witch House (1932)
In “The Dreams in the Witch House,” the protagonist Walter Gilman has a dream in which the witch Keziah Mason tells him that he must go to the throne of Azathoth at the center of ultimate chaos, and sign a book in his own blood. Gilman is hesitant to go with her because he has read about Azathoth in the Necronomicon, and knows that it represents a primal horror. Later in the story, Gilman wakes from another dream remembering the “monotonous piping of an unseen flute”, and realizes that he has learned about Azathoth from the Necronomicon. He also fears finding himself in the “spiral black vortices” of the realm of Azathoth, where the mindless daemon-sultan reigns. This passage suggests that Azathoth is a powerful and terrifying being, associated with chaos and madness.
The Thing on the Doorstep (1933)
In “The Thing on the Doorstep,” the protagonist Edward Pickman Derby is a poet who has published a collection of “nightmare lyrics” called “Azathoth and Other Horrors”. This suggests that Derby is familiar with the character of Azathoth and sees it as a source of inspiration for his poetry. It also implies that Azathoth is a fearsome and disturbing entity, capable of inspiring fear and horror in those who encounter it.
The Haunter of the Dark (1935)
In “The Haunter of the Dark” Azathoth is mentioned as the “Blind Idiot God” and the “Lord of All Things” who reigns at the center of ultimate chaos. He is described as being surrounded by a “flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers” and lulled by the “thin monotonous piping of a demonic flute”. This passage paints a vivid picture of Azathoth as a powerful and malevolent deity, associated with chaos and destruction. It also suggests that Azathoth is accompanied by other supernatural beings who serve as his followers or servants.
Expansion by Later Writers
Other authors of Lovecraftian horror have mentioned Azathoth in their works, including the following:
In August Derleth’s novel “The Lurker at the Threshold”, Azathoth is depicted as a leader in a cosmic rebellion similar to Lucifer’s in Christian mythology.
In a passage attributed to the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, Azathoth is described as the “blind idiot god” who instructs the other Great Old Ones who fought against the Elder Gods. Another passage from the book prophesies that Azathoth will “arise from ye middle of ye World where all is Chaos & Destruction”.
According to Derleth, the Elder Gods punished Azathoth by rendering him mindless and blind. This depiction of Azathoth as a rebellious deity who is punished by the Elder Gods adds another layer to his character, portraying him as a potentially tragic figure.
Many felt this take was not faithful to Lovecraft’s original portrayal of Azathoth, and that Lovecraft’s original creations were not meant to be embodiments of evil, but rather indifferent.
Humanity is like ants to these cosmic gods, and that’s part of what makes them so terrifying.
In Ramsey Campbell’s story “The Insects from Shaggai”, the extraterrestrial creatures of the title are described as worshippers of the god Azathoth, practicing “obscene rites” in a conical temple.
After their home planet is destroyed, the insects teleport the temple to a forest near the fictional town of Goatswood.
The narrator of the story, Ronald Shea, enters the temple and sees a twenty-foot idol of Azathoth, described as a bivalvular shell with polypous appendages and a bestial, hair-covered face.
At the climax of the story, Shea catches a glimpse of the “idiot god” in its current form, described as a pale grey shape that “oozes” and “expands” in a disturbing manner.
In another story, “The Mine on Yuggoth”, Edward Taylor discovers that Azathoth has another name, N______ (the name is never fully revealed), which he learns from the Revelations of Glaaki.
If spoken, this name can scare away mythos beings, but Taylor fails to use it in time. This depiction of Azathoth as a grotesque and otherworldly deity worshipped by extraterrestrial creatures adds to the sense of dread and cosmic horror surrounding the character.
In Gary Myers’ stories, Azathoth is frequently mentioned as a cosmic deity with immense power and a connection to the Dreamlands.
For example, in “The Snout in the Alcove”, the protagonist is distressed to find himself in the Dreamlands, where he has vowed never to return, due to a prophecy that says that the Elder Ones will be deposed by the Other Gods and the world will be dragged down to Azathoth’s realm in the central void.
In “The Last Night of Earth”, the sorcerer Han briefly ponders Azathoth’s role as the creator and potential destroyer of the universe.
In “The Web”, the teen protagonists read about Azathoth’s veiled face and his body made of the stars. These references to Azathoth’s power and cosmic significance add to the sense of fear and awe surrounding the character.
In Thomas Ligotti’s short story “The Sect of the Idiot”, a group of non-human creatures are revealed to be worshippers of Azathoth, as indicated by the epigram from the Necronomicon.
In “Nethescurial”, a malevolent deity resembling Azathoth is gradually revealed to the narrator through a manuscript describing its cult. Ligotti’s use of these allusions to Azathoth adds to the sense of the character as a powerful and malevolent entity.
In Nick Mamatas’s 2004 novel Move Under Ground, the Great Old Ones, led by Cthulhu, have taken control of the world. Only a small group of Beats, including Jack Kerouac, stand in opposition to their rule.
The Great Old Ones use the constellations as vessels for their surrogates, and Kerouac observes the “red stars of Azathoth”.
Later in the novel, Neal Cassady becomes a chosen one of Azathoth, gaining immense powers that he uses in the battle against Cthulhu and the other Great Old Ones.
Joseph S. Dale:
Joseph Dale’s novel “Azathoth Rising” is set in various times and places throughout history, following the discovery and translation of the Necronomicon.
The novel explores the consequences of different characters attempting to use the spells in the book for their own gain, and the role of Nyarlathotep in guiding them towards this. Dale takes liberties with historical accuracy, but acknowledges this in the prelude.
Azathoth is truly a monstrous deity from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, known for its immense powers and cosmic chaos.
Despite its fearsome reputation, little is known about this being and its true nature remains shrouded in mystery.
Throughout the years, it has been mentioned in numerous Lovecraftian stories and has been featured in works by other authors, further expanding its lore and legend.
Whether Azathoth truly exists or not remains a mystery, but its impact on the Lovecraftian pantheon is undeniable.