Investigating the Origins of the Necronomicon

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Featured Horror Books Horror Mystery and Lore

You’ve come across an ancient book, not just some dust-covered antique that you found at your local bookstore; no, this was gifted to you with the confidence that you would heed the warning on the attached note and stash the book in a lock-box far away from prying eyes that may fall upon the archaic and mysterious pages of this increasingly enticing tome. Its pages call out to you, begging you to gaze upon them and to unleash the horrors that reside within. What would you do? Well, if you’ve seen any horror movie ever, you’d know that the ancient and creepy compendium of nightmares you’re holding is, in fact, what you can single-handedly bring about the apocalypse with–however, just like every horror movie you’ve ever seen, you’re probably going to open that damn book.

Stop it, Pandora. Don’t you dare open that goddamn book.

Necronomicon Prop
Photography by Staffan Vilcans

You opened the book, didn’t you? This is why we can’t have nice things.

Don’t worry, you’re not the first one. That’s part of what makes movies like Evil Dead (1981) so much fun, the horny group of teenagers fall victim to curiosity and another one–or three, or four–bite the collective dust. The curiosity may be unbearable but when it comes to the Necronomicon, a mythical book of demonic power, you should probably leave well enough alone.

What exactly is the Necronomicon?

Depending on where you know the Necronomicon from there may be different lore attached, but legend tells us that the original Necronomicon was written by the mad Arabian poet Abdul Alhazred. After spending a decade roaming the ruined cities of Babylon and Memphis he completed his tome before he descended further into madness and by A.D. 738 was devoured by an invisible monster according to Lovecraft. The actual name Necronomicon is, according to Lovecraft translated to, “the book of the customs (or laws) of the dead,” but other translations include, “the book of dead names.”

It is said that his manuscript was translated into Greek by scholars in the 10th century then burned in the middle ages, which only a few copies were said to survive; which of course allows us all to enjoy the delightfully awful antics that follow the contents being read aloud. Despite being a product of H.P. Lovecraft’s strange and mystifying imagination, it was inspired by real historic texts such as the Egyptian Book of the Dead. It has been said in certain sources that Lovecraft confessed the original idea for the Necronomicon came to him in a dream and he first showcased his idea in the short story The Hound (1924).

What’s Actually in the Book?

In the first appearance of the Necronomicon, it is referred to in passing as two grave robbers steal a jade amulet, which was, “the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred.” While Lovecraft may not have been happy with The Hound, it along with The Nameless City (1921) began the universe that would become the center of the Cthulhu mythos.

What else is really in the book though? From what Lovecraft divulges within his stories, Alhazred spoke mostly of the Old Ones and it makes sense that a book like the Necronomicon could only exist in a universe where ancient, god-like beings would bring their wrath by those who sought to wake them. In fact, the book was even said to contain the very passages that would wake the Old Ones and inspire madness just from viewing its pages. In Dunwich Horror, Lovecraft gives us a quite lengthy excerpt from the Necronomicon, speaking specifically about Yog-Sothoth. A much more popular creature, Cthulhu, is also mentioned as a monster who lies at the bottom of the ocean.

In fact, many fans tend to think about the Necronomicon as a sort of bible for Lovecraft’s pantheon of the immensely powerful extraterrestrial beings. The book appears within eighteen of his own stories, more often than any other real or fictional ancient tome that he was known to reference. Later on, with the adaptations of other authors, the book gained more of a reputation as a book of spells and rituals, but Lovecraft’s original intention for the book lay mostly in mythology and origin stories for the creatures that were the foundation of his universe.

Within the context of horror Lovecraft’s portrayal of the history of our world, in the times before man, as a universe controlled by beings so terrifying that just reading about them had to potential to drive a person completely insane. This was the birth of cosmic horror, as many of the stories Lovecraft developed ended with at least one of the characters descending into the depths of madness after flipping through the Necronomicon because these creatures were so beyond human comprehension that even thinking about them could be mentally devastating. It would be interesting to see how Lovecraft might feel to know that eighty-two years later there would actually be people convinced that his Necronomicon was an authentic and evil book of spells.

Is the Necronomicon Real?

The short answer is no, the Necronomicon is a purely fictional book that was brought to life through the creative genius of H.P. Lovecraft. To be fair though, Lovecraft did a pretty great job creating a comprehensive universe with its own history, deities, and forbidden lore, which added the element of cosmic horror to his tales. While in reality, the Necronomicon doesn’t exist, there are more than half a dozen books with the same title that you can find at bookstores–these books are all works inspired by, or containing Lovecraft’s book.

The practice of developing such a rich background in fictional literature would inspire other writers to do the same; renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien would follow suit when he brought Middle Earth to life. Lovecraft’s immersive method caught fire with other writers, such as August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith, who regularly had exchanges with him and even expanded upon the universe by using the Necronomicon and all of the related Chtulhu mythos in their own work. Lovecraft also included his peer’s creations in his own tales as well, as an example, Smith came up with the idea of The Book of Eibon, which was mentioned within his own body of work. Lovecraft even included Robert Bloch’s De Vermis Mysteriis, a book which was said to have the power to summon demons from alternate dimensions, in his stories The Haunter of the Dark and The Shadow Out of Time.

As an avid letter-writer, Lovecraft quite frequently mentioned the Necronomicon in his correspondences to his colleagues where he suggested that his inspiration was also derived from Gothic writing; Gothic writing often made use of the idea of ancient texts and forbidden literature. There was a tendency among authors of the time to do their best to blur the lines between fiction and reality. An author that Lovecraft quite openly admired, Edgard Allan Poe, would go to extremes in an attempt to convince his audience that his stories were true–he even published his 1844 story The Balloon-Hoax as a legitimate article in the New York’s The Sun. As can be seen, by radio performances likeWar of the Worlds by H.G. Wells in 1938, as well as found-footage movies like The Blair Witch Project (1999), the V/H/S series, and the [REC], it is something that modern horror culture still strives to do.

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The Paranormal History of Skinwalker Ranch

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore

Mysterious low-flying spacecraft, doorways that appear in midair, disembodied voices, crop circles, mutilated cattle…the stuff of science fiction? Or just another day at Skinwalker Ranch? Though thousands of people have reported seeing UFOs over the decades, this particular 512 acres of property in the Uintah Basin region of northeastern Utah seems to be a hotbed for extraterrestrial activity. 

Terry and Gwen Sherman bought the now-infamous ranch back in 1994, presumably unaware of what they were getting themselves into, and Skinwalker Ranch has since become one of the most heavily researched, and controversial, paranormal spots in the world.

The First Sightings

“For a long time we wondered what we were seeing, if it was something to do with a top-secret project. I don’t know really what to think about it.”

Terry Sherman

The family’s initial reports of bizarre and unexplained phenomena came from their first two years living there, where they and their two children witnessed a variety of unnerving events. Between 1994-1996 they saw three different types of UFOs, discovered eight foot by three foot rings of flattened crops, and lost seven cows (four disappeared, one apparently lifted straight from the snow in which it stood, and three were mutilated). The mutilations are particularly strange as the wounds were surgically precise and bloodless. The Shermans also report having seen strange animals, including a wolf three times larger than it should have been and impervious to bullets.

Road sign of ufo abducting a cow

Real Estate Agents Love UFOs

The Shermans shared their paranormal findings with the Deseret News in June of 1996, and three months later Las Vegas real estate magnate and UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow bought the property. Bigelow, also the founder of an organization known as National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDSci), set up 24/7 surveillance of the ranch with his team of scientists, researchers, and guards. Over the decades he reported having numerous experiences and sightings, but according to skeptics he was never able to provide hard proof. At one point the United States Defense Department even became involved, conducting a secret investigation under the name Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP).

No trespassing signs at skinwalker ranch

Bigelow eventually sold the property in 2016 to Adamantium Holdings, which was later revealed to be a shell company of real estate tycoon Brandon Frugal, who wanted his identity to remain anonymous. Frugal is the one who acquired the trademark “Skinwalker Ranch”. The name Skinwalker refers to a malevolent being in Native American folklore. Many indigenous tribes believe these “skinwalkers” are witches who can transform themselves into various animals. Indeed there is a large population of Ute living in and around the Uintah Basin and they believe the ranch has been a haunt for skinwalkers for at least fifteen generations.

ute tribe skinwalker folklore

Final Thoughts

So have all the reports over the decades at Skinwalker Ranch been hoaxes? Are they less extraordinary phenomena with perfectly reasonable explanations? Or, as many claim, is there something otherworldly going on? It’s no surprise that in an area known to the extraterrestrial research community as “UFO Alley”, the Uintah Basin would draw worldwide attention. But there is a particular allure to Skinwalker Ranch, the crowned king of alien activity. It was even Google’s most searched cultural landmark in the U.S. in 2022. Thanks to media attention, billionaires, skeptics, and numerous books and shows, such as the History Channel’s currently running The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, it’s clear that there is something about the ranch worth exploring.

To learn more about Skinwalker Ranch, check out Skinwalker-ranch.com and Skinwalkerranch.com. There’s also a detailed documentary on YouTube you can find here.

Further Readings/Resources

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/skinwalker-ranch/

https://www.newsweek.com/ufo-skinwalker-ranch-utah-pentagon-paranormal-1701730

https://www.saltlakemagazine.com/high-strangeness-at-skinwalker-ranch/

https://www.vice.com/en/article/m7qb54/inside-skinwalker-ranch-a-paranormal-hotbed-of-ufo-research

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