Thursday, April 17, 2008

Shub-Niggurath: One Bad Mama

Shub-Niggurath Makes An Offer You Can't Refuse

Shub-Niggurath, the "Black Goat of the Woods With 1000 Young"

A Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath
(Click to read its stats)

Shub-Niggurath and Devotees

This really plays on the "Goat" idea

Text from Wikipedia:

Shub-Niggurath, often associated with the phrase "The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young", is a fictional deity in the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. The creature is sometimes referred to as "The Black Ram of The Forest With A Thousand Ewe", lending a male gender to the Great Old One that is often thought of as female.

Shub-Niggurath is first mentioned in Lovecraft's revision story "The Last Test" (1928); she is never actually described in Lovecraft's fiction, but is frequently mentioned or called upon in incantations. Most of her development as a literary figure was carried out by other Mythos authors, including August Derleth, Robert Bloch and Ramsey Campbell.

Shub-Niggurath's appearances in Lovecraft's main body of fiction do not provide much detail about his conception of the entity. Her first mention under Lovecraft's byline was in "The Dunwich Horror" (1928), where a quote from the Necronomicon discussing the Old Ones breaks into an exclamation of "Iä! Shub-Niggurath!"[1] The story provides no further information about this peculiar expression.

The next Lovecraft story to mention Shub-Niggurath is scarcely more informative. In "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1930), a recording of a ceremony involving human and nonhuman worshippers includes the following exchange:

Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat of the Woods. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!
Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young![2]
Similarly unexplained exclamations occur in "The Dreams in the Witch House" (1932) [3] and "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933).[4]

Revision tales
Lovecraft only provided specific information about Shub-Niggurath in his "revision tales," stories published under the names of clients for whom he ghost-wrote. As Price points out, "For these clients he constructed a parallel myth-cycle to his own, a separate group of Elder Gods," including Yig, Ghatanothoa, Rhan-Tegoth, "the evil twins Nug and Yeb"--and Shub-Niggurath.

While some of these revision stories just repeat the familiar exclamations,[5] others provide new elements of lore. In "The Last Test" (1927), the first mention of Shub-Niggurath seems to connect her to Nug and Yeb: "I talked in Yemen with an old man who had come back from the Crimson Desert--he had seen Irem, the City of Pillars, and had worshipped at the underground shrines of Nug and Yeb--Iä! Shub-Niggurath!"[6]

The revision story "The Mound", which describes the discovery of an underground realm called K'n-yan by a Spanish conquistador, reports that a temple of Tsathoggua there "had been turned into a shrine of Shub-Niggurath, the All-Mother and wife of the Not-to-Be-Named-One. This deity was a kind of sophisticated Astarte, and her worship struck the pious Catholic as supremely obnoxious."[7]

The reference to "Astarte", the consort of Baal in Semitic mythology, ties Shub-Niggurath to the related fertility goddess Cybele, the Magna Mater mentioned in Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls", and implies that the "great mother worshipped by the hereditary cult of Exham Priory" in that story "had to be none other than Shub-Niggurath."[8]

The Not-to-Be-Named-One, not being named, is difficult to identify; a similar phrase, translated into Latin as the Magnum Innominandum, appears in a list in "The Whisperer in Darkness"[9] and was included in a scrap of incantation that Lovecraft wrote for Robert Bloch's "The Shambler from the Stars".[10] August Derleth identifies this mysterious entity with Hastur [11] (though Hastur appears in the same "Whisperer in Darkness" list with the Magnum Innominandum), while Robert M. Price equates him with Yog-Sothoth--though he also suggests that Shub-Niggurath's mate is implicitly the snake god Yig.[12]

Finally, in "Out of the Aeons", a revision tale set in part on the lost continent of Mu, Lovecraft describes the character T'yog as the "High Priest of Shub-Niggurath and guardian of the copper temple of the Goat with a Thousand Young". In the story, T'yog surprisingly maintains that "the gods friendly to man could be arrayed against the hostile gods, and...that Shub-Niggurath, Nug, and Yeb, as well as Yig the Serpent-god, were ready to take sides with man" against the more malevolent Ghanatothoa. Shub-Niggurath is called "the Mother Goddess", and reference is made to "her sons", presumably Nug and Yeb.[13]

Other References
Other evidence of Lovecraft's conception of Shub-Niggurath can be found in his letters. For example, in a letter to Willis Conover, Lovecraft described her as an "evil cloud-like entity".[14]

The Black Goat
Although Shub-Niggurath is often associated with the epithet "The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young", it is possible that this Black Goat is a separate entity. Rodolfo Ferraresi, in his essay "The Question of Shub-Niggurath", says that Lovecraft himself separated the two in his writings, such as in "Out of the Aeons" (1935) in which a distinction is made between Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat — the goat is the figurehead through which Shub-Niggurath is worshipped. In apparent contrast to Shub-Niggurath, the Black Goat is sometimes depicted as a male, most notably in the rite performed in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931) in which the Black Goat is called the "Lord of the Woods".

The Black Goat may be the personification of Pan, since Lovecraft was influenced by Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan (1890), a story that inspired Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" (1929). In this incarnation, the Black Goat may represent Satan in the form of the satyr, a half-man, half-goat. In folklore, the satyr symbolized a man with excessive sexual appetites. The Black Goat may otherwise be a male, earthly form of Shub-Niggurath — an incarnation she assumes to copulate with her worshipers. [15]

Robert M. Price's interpretation
Robert M. Price points to a passage from "Idle Days on the Yann", by Lord Dunsany, one of Lovecraft's favorite writers, as the source for the name Shub-Niggurath:

And I too felt that I would pray. Yet I liked not to pray to a jealous God there where the frail affectionate gods whom the heathen love were being humbly invoked; so I bethought me, instead, of Sheol Nugganoth, whom the men of the jungle have long since deserted, who is now unworshipped and alone; and to him I prayed.[16]
Notes Price: "The name already carried a whiff of sulfur: Sheol was the name for the Netherworld mentioned in the Bible and the Gilgamesh Epic."[17]

As for Shub-Niggurath's association with the symbol of the goat, Price writes,

we may believe that here Lovecraft was inspired by the traditional Christian depiction of the Baphomet Goat, an image of Satan harking back to the pre-Christian woodland deity Pan, he of the goatish horns and shanks. The Satanic goat is a device of much spectral fiction, as when in Dennis Wheatley's The Devil Rides Out the Archfiend's epiphany takes goat-headed form.[18]

Stories where Shub-Niggurath is mentioned
"The Dreams in the Witch House" by H.P. Lovecraft
"The Man of Stone" by H.P. Lovecraft and Hazel Heald
"The Mound" by H.P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop
"The Whisperer in Darkness" by H.P. Lovecraft

Other writers

Robert Bloch
Something black in the road, something that wasn't a tree. Something big and black and ropy, just squatting there, waiting, with ropy arms squirming and reaching. . . It came crawling up the hillside. . . and it was the black thing of my dreams – that black, ropy, slime jelly tree-thing out of the woods. It crawled up and it flowed up on its hoofs and mouths and snaky arms.
—Robert Bloch, "Notebook Found in a Deserted House"

The Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath are horrifying, pitch-black monstrosities, seemingly made of ropy tentacles. They stand as tall as a tree (perhaps between twelve and twenty feet tall) on a pair of stumpy, hooved legs. A mass of tentacles protrudes from their trunks where a head would normally be, and puckered maws, dripping green goo, cover their flanks. The monsters roughly resemble trees in silhouette — the trunks being the short legs and the tops of the trees represented by the ropy, branching bodies. The whole mass of these things smells like an open grave. They usually dwell in woodlands wherever Shub-Niggurath's cult is active.

The Dark Young are usually called upon to preside over cult ceremonies. One means for summoning them is found in the Book of Eibon and requires a blood offering. The ritual may only be performed in the deep of the woodlands at the darkest of the moon, and the victim must be sacrificed over a stone altar.

Dark young act as proxies for Shub-Niggurath in the accepting of sacrifices and the worship of cultists, in the devouring of non-cultists, and in the spreading of their mother's faith across the world.

Ramsey Campbell
In Ramsey Campbell's story "The Moon Lens", the English town of Goatswood is inhabited by once-human worshippers of Shub-Niggurath. When the deity deems a worshiper to be most worthy, a special ceremony is held in which the Black Goat of the Woods swallows the initiate and then regurgitates the cultist as a transformed satyr-like being. A changed worshiper is also endowed with immortal life. [19]

Stephen King
In the short story "Crouch End", contained in "Nightmares and Dreamscapes", the plot consists of a woman who loses her husband to and then is chased by minions of something and then it. It is known as the "The goat with a Thousand Young," an obvious reference to Shub-Niggurath.

In popular culture

Shub-Niggurath sometimes appears or is alluded to in fiction that falls outside the Cthulhu Mythos genre of horror. Some of the Doctor Who spin-off novels, for example, have identified the Nestene Consciousness (the being which animates the Autons) as one of the offspring of Shub-Niggurath. The connection was first drawn in Millennial Rites by Craig Hinton, and has been followed up in other appearances of the Consciousness in the novels.

In Terry Pratchett's Moving Pictures, the being "Tshup Aklathep, Infernal Star Toad With a Million Young", kills its victims by showing them pictures of its children until their brains implode.

In Stephen King's short story Crouch End, the main character's husband is supposedly taken by "The Goat With a Thousand Young".

In Neil Gaiman's "Shoggoth's Old Peculiar" (1998), "Shub Niggurath" is the name of a seaside bed and breakfast.

The second adventure of the audio drama series The Scarifyers, "The Devil of Denge Marsh", features a reclusive English village that worships and attempts to summon Shub-Niggurath.

In Christopher Brookmyre's "A Big Boy did it and Ran Away", Shaloub "Shub" N'gurath is a sinister commissioner of hitmen and professional terrorists.

The final adversary of the first-person shooter computer game Quake is called Shub-Niggurath.
It also makes an appearance as the main villain in the online Sarbakan flash game Arcane Season Two: The Stone Circle [20]
Is one of the hand drawn final bosses of the board game Arkham Horror
There are some similarities between Shub-Niggurath and the character, Shuma-Gorath, from the Marvel universe. The presence of multiple tentacles is the most prominent similarity between the two.
The mansion in which the computer game Alone In the Dark takes place is named "Derceto", which one of the characters asserts is another name for Shub-Niggurath.

In Bruno the Bandit, one of the denizens of the demon world is "Shub-Megawrath", a goat-like blob creature with a thousand children.
In Penny Arcade, Gabe and Tycho run into a humanoid version of Cthulhu in a park, wearing a fishing hat and doing a crossword. He asks for a "thirteen-letter word for 'black goat with a thousand young,'" a clear reference to Shub-Niggurath.

Shub-Niggurath is the name of a French Zeuhl group as well as a Mexican death metal band.

Some versions of Altars of Madness by Floridian death metal band Morbid Angel have an illustration of three demons ravaging a female human with the caption "SHUB NIGGURATH, THE GOAT WITH A THOUSAND YOUNG" under the disc tray. The entity is also mentioned in the band's song "Angel of Disease".

The Belgian dance metal band Unk! has a song called "Shub-Niggurath".

The band GWAR refers to Shub-Niggurath in "Lost God", a song on their 2004 album War Party.

The band Behemoth has a song, originally titled "Outro", which is later revealed[citation needed] to be titled "Goat of a Thousand Young".

The band Bebe Rebozo has a song called "Shub-Niggurath"

The Iowa-based band Blood Runs Black have a song titled "Sphere of Venus", in which the lyrics seem like a direct incantation of Shub-Niggurath.

In the film "Atomik Circus - Le retour de James Bataille" (2004), the alien creatures are called Shub-Niggurat.

Check this out

Bloch, Robert [1951] (1998). "Notebook Found in a Deserted House", Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos, 1st ed., New York, NY: Random House. ISBN 0-345-42204-X.
Campbell, Ramsey [1964] (1987). "The Moon-Lens", Cold Print, 1st ed., New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates. ISBN 0-8125-1660-5.
Harms, Daniel (1998). "Byatis", The Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, 2nd ed., Oakland, CA: Chaosium, pp. 42–3. ISBN 1-56882-119-0. [Suggests Byatis is the son of Yig]
—"Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath", pp. 75, ibid.
—"gof'nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath", pp. 124, ibid.
—"Shub-Niggurath", pp. 275–7, ibid.
Ferraresi, Rodolfo A. (Hallowmas 1985). "The Question of Shub-Niggurath". Crypt of Cthulhu #35: A Pulp Thriller and Theological Journal Vol. 5 (No. 1). Robert M. Price (ed.), Mount Olive, NC: Cryptic Publications.
Lovecraft, Howard P. [1933] (1985). "The Dreams in the Witch House", in S. T. Joshi (ed.): At the Mountains of Madness, and Other Novels, 7th corrected printing, Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-038-6. Definitive version.
Lovecraft, Howard P. [1931] (1984). "The Whisperer in Darkness", in S. T. Joshi (ed.): The Dunwich Horror and Others, 9th corrected printing, Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-037-8. Definitive version.
Lovecraft, Howard P.; Zealia Bishop [1940] (1989). "The Mound", in S.T. Joshi (ed.): The Horror in the Museum and Other Revisions. Sauk City, WI: Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-040-8.
—and Adolphe de Castro (1928). "The Last Test", ibid.
—and Hazel Heald (1932). "The Man of Stone", ibid.
Pratchett, Terry [1990] (2002). Moving Pictures. New York, NY: HarperTorch. ISBN 0-06-102063-X.

^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dunwich Horror", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 170.
^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness", The Dunwich Horror and Others, p. 226.
^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Dreams in the Witch House", At the Mountains of Madness, p. 293.
^ H. P. Lovecraft, "The Thing on the Doorstep", The Dunwich Horror and Others, pp. 287, 296.
^ H. P. Lovecraft writing as Zealia Bisop, "Medusa's Coil", The Horror in the Museum, pp. 189-190; H. P. Lovecraft writing as Hazel Heald, "The Man of Stone", The Horror in the Museum, pp. 225, 232; H. P. Lovecraft writing as Hazel Heald, "The Horror in the Museum", The Horror in the Museum, pp. 225, 232; H. P. Lovecraft writing as William Lumley, "The Diary of Alonzo Typer", The Horror in the Museum, p. 321.
^ H. P. Lovecraft writing as Adolphe de Castro, "The Last Test", The Horror in the Museum, p. 47.
^ H. P. Lovecraft writing as Zealia Bishop, "The Mound", The Horror in the Museum, pp. 144-145.
^ Price, Shub-Niggurath Cycle, p. xiv.
^ Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness", p. 223.
^ Robert Bloch, "The Shambler from the Stars", Mysteries of the Worm, p. 31.
^ August Derleth, "The Return of Hastur", The Hastur Cycle, pp. 255-256.
^ Price, p. xiii.
^ H. P. Lovecraft writing as Hazel Heald, "Out of the Aeons", The Horror in the Museum, pp. 273-274; Price, p. xiii.
^ Cited in Price, p. xv.
^ Ferraresi, "The Question of Shub-Niggurath", Crypt of Cthulhu #35, pp. 17–8, 22.
^ Lord Dunsany, "Idle Days on the Yann", A Dreamer's Tales.
^ Robert M. Price, Shub-Niggurath Cycle, p. xii.
^ Price, p. x.
^ Campbell, "The Moon-Lens", Shub-Niggurath Cycle.