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> ED legend and real life connections, Nightslayer was Enki
nezumi
post Nov 4 2004, 06:40 PM
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Alright, hopefully this won't get me damned for all time. This is my first real, in depth SR essay type thing, so be kind.

I would like to apologize well in advance for any religious toes I step on. If it's any consolation, I am stepping on my own religion as well, and I will do my best to not be unnecessarily mean to anyone else. Just remember, it's all a game.

I've been reading what I believe to be the Necronomicon, which was published in 1980 (according to the preface, after being recovered in a bookshop in Harlem). I chalk this up entirely to fun and interesting fiction, but they did open up with some excellent insight between Lovecraft, Aleister Crowley and the Sumerian religion. What I found fascinating is how easily these things fit in with the Earthdawn/Shadowrun creation story. I will attempt to bring these four different stories together, so lets see how I do. I have tried to do additional research into Sumerian creation stories, but there isn't as much available online as I'd like. As there are multiple stories, I've taken what I can from the stories that agree the most. I hope to end up with something you GMs can use to tie your horror stories into real myths, and get a good source of additional information from other sources you really couldn't use before.

I've attempted to only include major points that I could reconcile, especially between Sumerian myth and the Earthdawn creation story. Its worth pointing out that gender is a major sticking point. In most primitive and a number of nature based religions, there's a strong duality between male and female; the female is the creator, and the male goes and buys her pickle ice cream at 3am (or does whatever it is he does, which varies from god to god). Horrors do not have a gender in the strictest sense of the world. So every creature that procreates using any method will, in human mythology, be represented by a female goddess, and many characters who are great leaders or warriors are represented by male gods. This is humans trying to impress human standards on non-human events. The result is many Earthdawn creatures are represented by both a god and a goddess, one side is their reproductive nature, the other the leader nature. I've tried to make notes of this where ever possible.

At the beginning of recorded time, the earth is a dark and horrible place; there is no moon, and the stars and sun are blocked by the all-encompassing dark. Biblically, this is the point in which there is nothing but the darkness (and God). The world is 'flooded', allegorically by a salt sea no human can survive in. There is a creature, the Hunter, who destroys all and gives birth to all. It is the great Verjigorm, the Beast represented biblically as CTHDH 666. This is Cthulhu, in Sumerian it is Ctha-lu (pronounced Ka-ta-lu or Ku-tu-lu), or Absu. The name literally means 'of the underworld', 'of the abyss' or 'of the space'. This refers to Verjigorm's departure to, and perhaps its original arrival from his home metaplane. In his 'beneficial' form, he is called Nanna, the god of the moon (not coincidentally, also named Sin), the horned god (oddly accurate, if you've ever seen a picture of Verjigorm), from which all else sprung. He is also Nannu, the salt sea, deadly and chaotic, but from which all else comes. While he is hailed as a hungry, animalistic and hungry god, he is the source of all else. Presently he has been cast back into the abyss, the ocean, although his power is still tapped. He may be represented by several other gods and goddesses, representing his different natures and appearances throughout time. From Verjigorm sprang only horrors, terrible creatures that existed only to feed, and for Verjigorm's amusement.

Tiamat in the Sumerian religion is a great serpent, the biblical Leviathin, Satan, pure chaotic energy, both creative and destructive. In Lovecraft, this refers to the Ancient ones, the god-like creatures to which Cthulu and his ilk belong. I propose this is not a single creature, rather the horrors on the whole that represent the roiling energy and chaos that settled over the earth. They are the 'salt ocean' Nannu rules, the flood which will return later. Under their rule, there was constant birth in the creation of new horrors, but also death and destruction, as they devoured each other. The relation between Nannu, the goddess of the ocean, and Tiamat, the ocean itself, Verjigorm, the creator of all horrors and the Horoi, the encompasing group of all horrors, is close indeed. It is important to remember though, the Horoi are not only demons, but chaos and water.

From the creative powers of Tiamat/Nannu/Verjigorm, a new creature is created, Enki, Nightslayer. Contrary to the Judeo-Christian beliefs, but in line with the Sumerian legends, it is good, not evil, which is the rebel. Described by Sumerian legend as a reptilian creature, Enki creates land from the flood, a safe place for man to live, biblically 'separating the seas'. Enki goes to the "island" the Arab name for Sumeria, making him the Sea-god, as well as the god of creation and knowledge. From his cleansing waters (his tears in Earthdawn, and his semen in Sumeria) spring the sentient races, the name-givers, humans, dwarves, elves, t'skrang, obsidians, trolls, orks and dragons, dragons being the first and the strongest. Nightslayer gives instructions and laws to his creations, making him the god of knowledge and rules. In addition to instruction, Enki gives the 'words of power', or 'naming', which is the basis for magical patterns. This is directly connected to many current religions, and has connections with Shadowrun magic. In short, he taught spells and order.

Enki stays with humans and the other name-givers for many generations, as his life span is nearly half a million years according to Sumer legend. But before his time is up, the flood returns. This is Tiamat, the horrors, in their final attempt to destroy Enki. (Has human pride connected the war in their paradise with their decision to gain knowledge, where the serpent offers the apple? Or does that story of the snake and the tree refer instead to a relatively minor incident in which humans are led to betray the side of good in exchange for some other gain? The world shall never know...) I propose that Marduk, the good version of Tiamat, is the group name for the name-givers, for order and land. Earthdawn legend states clearly that it was the powers that Nightslayer gave to the name-givers, the order he bestowed upon them, that allowed them to fight off the flood. This is Marduk, who conquers Tiamat. In addition to being the warrior, Marduk is the 'hundred named', indicating his role is not that of a single person, but many different entities combined, be they individuals or spells. These 'names of Marduk' are what are called upon in Sumerian magic, similar to specific power words used in other magical traditions and, I contend, directly related to Shadowrun magic.

The exact way the horrors were defeated is unclear between the different texts. What is made clear is man is a creation of the enemy and the "breath" of the horrors and Marduk survives while Enki disappears. Most importantly, Tiamat is beaten, and from Tiamat the land is made permanent. Part of her is cast deep into the earth, and part far into space. This new place created from the flood is the land made for name-givers to live on. This could be the flood story from so many religions (better known as Noah's Ark), although that story could also refer to a more recent increase in mana and invasion of the horrors.

I've connected the following Earthdawn names to preexisting characters in Lovecraft and Sumerian legend:

Verjigorm is Cthulhu, Cthau-lu, the Beast, as well as Nanna, the horned god of lust, emotions, creation and destruction, Nannu, the goddess of the salt water ocean, of chaos. He is known by many names in many newer religions, including Pan. One might call him Lucifer, although the roles are reversed; the 'good God' is a rebel against Lucifer, not vice versa, however Lucifer is defeated and banished in the end in both stories.

Nightslayer is Enki, the god of fresh water, knowledge and protector of humans, as well as the god of good magicians. He is also 'God' in Judeo-Christian religions, although as mentioned earlier, in this case God did NOT exist first even though most of the rest of the story matches (he created light, the land and fought and won a great war against Lucifer).

Tiamat refers to the horoi on the whole, the old ones, and is the chaos of the world, which is still tapped into by many religions; the yin.

Marduk refers to the name-givers who resisted the horrors, and still do, as well as order in the world, good magic and knowledge. It is also tapped into by many religions; the yang.

We also have some horrors we can't precisely pin down to their ED counterparts:

Azatot in Lovecraft, Azag-Thoth, literally "Lord of Black Magicians"

Shub Niggurath in Lovecraft, Ishnigarrab in Sumerian, translated refers to answering prayers, exorcism, and "the throwing".

I also cannot place Allwings nor Dayheart into the story, although they appear to play minor roles at this point.

The Elder gods from Lovecraft do not play a significant part in the creation myth here (as they don't in Lovecraft or ED, and in Sumeria are largely restricted to copulating and raping). I need to do further research on how they fit in at all. Its also worth pointing out the similarities between underground, space and the astral. Assumedly, space and underground are human analogies for the astral and metaplanes. It is still unclear what, if any role the moon plays, as it has been mentioned in several different creation myths as only being created after Verjigorm is defeated, and the unusual relationship Nanna, the moon-god, shares with Satan and Verjigorm.

There is also strong carry-over to Egyptian mythology, although the Egyptian creation story changes depending on which cult you investigate, but it would appear there are a few elements that exist in all versions; The Earth has 'died' somehow, due to some violent event (the infestation of horrors). There is still some sort of flood. The soul of the Earth (Nightslayer) "awakens" from death, while the goddess aspect of Earth (Marduk) rises from the ocean and ejects the primeval matter (Tiamat, Horoi), creating the heavens and the moon. This separation is some sort of cataclysm or battle. The earth god, Nightslayer, infuses himself with the Earth, putting his spirit into the planet.


So, any comments? Sorry this turned out so long. I'd love constructive criticism on this.
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GaiasWrath8
post Nov 4 2004, 06:45 PM
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I knew a lot of this but never saw the conection to Shadowrun and Earth Dawn. Thanks, great work. :)
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Ancient History
post Nov 4 2004, 08:03 PM
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The Simon version of the Necronomicon. Oy fraggin' vey. Take a salt mine with that one nezumi.

Notes:
QUOTE ("nezumi")
Horrors do not have a gender in the strictest sense of the world.


Not true in every case, but generally speaking. I'd even except the female identification due to the propogation of Horrors from Verjigorm, and the propogation of constructs from Horrors. Ignoring for a moment the strong male penetration complex.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
The result is many Earthdawn creatures are represented by both a god and a goddess, one side is their reproductive nature, the other the leader nature.


THis is actually funny as Hell if you've ever read "Mother Speaks." Warning: characters more fucked up than normal in that trilogy.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
This is Cthulhu, in Sumerian it is Ctha-lu (pronounced Ka-ta-lu or Ku-tu-lu), or Absu.


I won't touch the numerology perspective on this-I'm not that strong on early Judaic religion. I will note that the pronounciation of Cthulhu was a point of debate among many, many people, and Lovecraft intentionally muddied the issue. That said, neither of the Sumerian pronounciations are HPL's. Most of the time.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
It is important to remember though, the Horoi are not only demons, but chaos and water.


Oddly accurate from the perspective of the unusual dual nature of Horrors; some have only a physical presence, some only an astral, and some a physical AND an astral presence. The astral form is definately the superior, as is evident in places, but the dual form is higher still. Consider also how spirits may be seen as made entirely from mana, and come from the astral, which literally is a sea of energy.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
From the creative powers of Tiamat/Nannu/Verjigorm, a new creature is created, Enki, Nightslayer. Contrary to the Judeo-Christian beliefs, but in line with the Sumerian legends, it is good, not evil, which is the rebel. Described by Sumerian legend as a reptilian creature, Enki creates land from the flood, a safe place for man to live, biblically 'separating the seas'.


Michael Moorcock safely established the Order from Chaos approach before this version of the Necronomicon was compiled, but focusing on Nightslayer: 'separating the seas' would imply literally seperating two metaplanes across astral space. Rather than merely banishing Verjigorm with the power of Naming. 's an interesting idea.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
In addition to instruction, Enki gives the 'words of power', or 'naming', which is the basis for magical patterns.


Sumerian religion is also the basis for the psuedo-magical linguistic hacking of the cyberpunk novel "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson. Good read, good inspiration for players and GMs alike.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
Earthdawn legend states clearly that it was the powers that Nightslayer gave to the name-givers, the order he bestowed upon them, that allowed them to fight off the flood.


Eh. The timing of Nightslayer's death doesn't quite fit here. The first Scourge might work, but all those who fight die. Only those who hide survive. Which nicely fits into Judeo-Christian stories too!

QUOTE ("nezumi")
These 'names of Marduk' are what are called upon in Sumerian magic, similar to specific power words used in other magical traditions and, I contend, directly related to Shadowrun magic.


The practice is not unfamiliar in other systems of belief and magic, Jews repeating the names of God for just one example; or Dark Age scholars feared as necromancers because of their "grammery." It fits in nicely with Shadowrun magic as well...I mean, even Dr. Strange called on the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth from time to time!

Most important distinction: calling on a being for power (invocation), and using a being/thing's name to gain power over it. The first can be best imagined by having a certain pact with a spirit, so that you can call on a spell it taught you which is effected with the Spirit Tap power for greater efficiency; or by intimidating someone by naming a superior of theirs who owes you a favor. The latter is best represented by the True Name of the spirit which can be used to control or destroy it...or by the true name of a corporate spy you've uncovered and wish to influence.

QUOTE ("nezumi")
Tiamat refers to the horoi on the whole, the old ones, and is the chaos of the world, which is still tapped into by many religions; the yin.


Diving back to Lovecraft for a second, note that HPL populated his world with a number of ancient and potent races...just like Earthdawn. This interpretation of events only concerns two of them in any real capacity (Dragons and Horrors).

QUOTE
Azatot in Lovecraft, Azag-Thoth, literally "Lord of Black Magicians"

Shub Niggurath in Lovecraft, Ishnigarrab in Sumerian, translated refers to answering prayers, exorcism, and "the throwing".


Nah. Azathoth has no exact ED counterpart...well, not that I want to get into at this point. Ristul would be closest. The Azag-Thoth line is a detraction, someone reading a few too many Robert E. Howard stories.

Shub Niggurath actually makes a great Horror, but there's no exact counterpart in the mythoi, since Shub Niggurath is a messenger, a gate, and a key, in different interprations. Something like the emissary of Verjigorm and the harbinger of the Scourge.

Not much to say about the rest, really, except that most creation stories necessitate a seperation from a solitary universe to binary (heavens and earth, seen and unseen, etc.)




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nezumi
post Nov 4 2004, 08:23 PM
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*falls to his knees* I HAVE BEEN BLESSED!!

Yeah, I am taking the necromicon with a lot of skepticism. As I said, it's fiction, but it is a neat read.

It sounds like you liked my interpretation, and honestly, you're the person I was hoping most to get good criticism from. I do think it needs a lot more tweaking, of course, as I'm a scholar of neither Crowley nor Sumeria, and even my HPL knowledge isn't as extensive as it should be.

Alright, so to add on to my reading list...
Mother Speaks
Moorcock

And I need to get some more practice with the uber powerful SR and general ED magic so I can refine my 'words of power' idea.

Thanks to all who've offered comments, who've read and liked, or who've generally not said 'oi, he's off his rocker'.
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Req
post Nov 4 2004, 08:26 PM
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Ah, Moorcock. Melnibone uber alles.

Ever since I read about the surgically- and magically-modified Melnibonean choir slaves, each capable of singing but one perfect note, I was hooked. :)
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Backgammon
post Nov 4 2004, 09:41 PM
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QUOTE (Ancient History)
QUOTE ("nezumi")
In addition to instruction, Enki gives the 'words of power', or 'naming', which is the basis for magical patterns.


Sumerian religion is also the basis for the psuedo-magical linguistic hacking of the cyberpunk novel "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson. Good read, good inspiration for players and GMs alike.

Kind of ties in with the Language of the Birds, too. And Muadib (sp) from Dune (his name a killing word). Words, vibrations of the air, have an effect on other in accordance with your Will, which is Crowley's definition of magick. At the dawn of civilisation, you can imagine how being able to refer to something with a sound would give you power. Exchange of knowledge is way the hell easier that way. And some sounds can have pretty messed up effects on humans.
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Nikoli
post Nov 4 2004, 09:43 PM
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Also, look at how Adam and Lillith, followed by Eve, were told to name the things in the garden. They were given the power of naming.
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Req
post Nov 4 2004, 10:37 PM
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Isn't the traditional definition of a shaman something along the lines of "one who knows the names of things?" Remembering way back to my Religious Studies classes in college and Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane, and probably missing something...
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DrJest
post Nov 5 2004, 11:24 AM
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QUOTE
Yeah, I am taking the necromicon with a lot of skepticism. As I said, it's fiction, but it is a neat read.


To the best of my (admittedly not stellar) knowledge, the Necronomicon does not exist. The book and its deranged author were invented out of whole cloth by HPL strictly as part of his writing of fiction. Many decades later, someone wrote a Necronomicon, but the book definitely came after HPL.

There's a fairly definitive history on this website.
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Fortune
post Nov 5 2004, 01:54 PM
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Trust me, there is indeed a book (or even more than one) published under the title 'Necronomicon'. It is not the book referenced by Lovecraft, but it does exist. :)
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Ancient History
post Nov 5 2004, 02:36 PM
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I've had a chance to read a few different copies. I prefer L. Sprague de Camp's rather rare hardback version.
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DrJest
post Nov 5 2004, 03:06 PM
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I think we're talking at cross-purposes, Fortune. When I wrote:

QUOTE
the Necronomicon does not exist.


I was referring to the actual book written about by Lovecraft. That doesn't exist, never has done. Further down, I wrote:

QUOTE
Many decades later, someone wrote a Necronomicon


Which is what I think you were talking about. Actually there are at least two, as noted on the Church of Satan site I linked to (and that cracks me up, btw, the Church of Satan debunking the Necronomicon).
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snowRaven
post Nov 7 2004, 04:04 PM
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At least three, by my count - the one nezumi talked about, the rare one AH mentioned, and an additional one (also fairly rare) published in the 60-70's I believe (around the same time as nezumi's version (which is the only one I actually possess as well)).

AH seems to have more knowledge here though (as usual) :elims:
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Ancient History
post Nov 7 2004, 04:17 PM
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Heh. I'm a Lovecraft fan. Discounting various props and art books, there have been at least three published versions of the Necronomicon or Al Azif, with reprints and different editions on one or two.
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Sandoval Smith
post Nov 8 2004, 12:14 AM
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Actually, if you feel like looking, you can find all sorts of actual ancient, old, and moldering Necronomicans out there. Since it's title is simply greek for 'book of the dead' it got a lot of use for collections of dark 'secrets,' genelogies, or mother in law's particularly vile hummus recipe. As for the Al-Azif version of the Necronomican, indeed, Lovecraft created that one whole clothe, although fans being what they will, there now is are a couple versions floating around.
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Kremlin KOA
post Nov 8 2004, 03:06 AM
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two quick points: Necronomicon actually means book of dead names and there are old versions tat reference things not dissimilar to the stuff Crowley and Lovecraft talked about.
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