Musings on the Necronomicon

So I've finally gotten around to reading my copy of The Necronomicon Files. It's only taken me five years. Gee, you'd think I had a long book list or something. Anyway, I'm about halfway through it, and since my website is due for an update anyway, I thought I'd talk about my own experiences with it.

I started reading Lovecraft when I was nine or ten. I forget exactly. My brother had checked a book out of the library that had one or two of his stories in it. I think it was Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, but I'm not certain. Anyway, it frightened and fascinated me. Over the next couple of yearsI read many more of his stories, though not all of them. I didn't avoid any of them or anything, it's just that I didn't try to hunt them down. Whevenever I ran across them, which was usually at the library, I read them.

I was about thirteen when I found a copy of the Simon Necronomicon. My family was in Reno as my parents were deciding whether or not to invest in a time-share. In the course of our week there we went one day to the mall, where at a B. Dalton's — does this chain still exist? — I found a copy of The Magic Power of Witchcraft and, to my amazement, a black book entitled simply Necronomicon. Fortunately I had enough money for both. The former was a book I'd seen advertised in comic books and would become influential in its own right, but that's another story.

The idea that the book was a hoax didn't occur to me. Still, even in my youthful exuberance I figured out pretty quickly that it was not the book Lovecraft wrote about. After all, I didn't recall Lovecraft ever referring to Sumerian or Babylonian myths, and I knew who Marduk, Enki, Inanna and Tiamat were.

But the book was compelling all on its own, not just because of the style of writing but also because I was in the perfect position to encounter a book like that. I knew enough about magic to recognize the approaches and techniques used in the book, but was still na´ve enough to believe statements like, "There are no effective banishings for the forces invoked in the NECRONOMICON itself."

This was for the best, really. At that point in my magical career I had done nothing more serious than attempt a few minor spells. I had not tried any sort of invocation or evocation, tempted though I had been to try the evocation of Vassago discussed in Huson's Mastering Witchcraft (this was years before I ever saw a proper copy of any of the Keys of Solomon). I was just about as rank a novice as you can get. I don't know if I would have tried experimenting with the book without those warnings — after all, it's title was Necronomicon and as a young reader of Lovecraft this carried warning signals of its own — but the warnings sure didn't hurt.

In retrospect, I think I might have tried them anyway if it weren't for the conjuration of the Watcher. I mean, here was the spirit that is supposed to serve you as a guardian and protect you as you work your way through the gates, but if you conjure it wrong it tries to destroy you. I knew full well I wasn't up to a task like that, especially when the conjuration included words whose meaning I could only approximate.

I never really got into the Hay Necronomicon. I've finally gotten my own copy of it, but this is mostly for the sake of having it. Honestly, even in the spirit of a hoax or a potential magical plaything I have trouble getting beyond the Sign of Kish. That's right, folks, the sign that "breaketh down all barriers and openeth ye portals of ye Ultimate Planes" is flipping the bird. Tell me no one takes that book seriously.

Oh, yes, I eventually picked up a copy of the Necronomicon Spellbook, though if I'd known they were going to reprint it in a size that would fit neatly next to my Simon Necronomicon, I'd've waited. They just look odd together on my shelf.

It's funny, but with all the strange experiments I've done over the years, I have yet to try experimenting with any Lovecraftian magic. This is despite a minor personal experience involving Cthulhu and a major personal experience involving Yog-Sothoth (stories for another time). Perhaps one day I will, but I doubt that any published Necronomicon will have a role.

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