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World-Wide Forms Of "Cthulhu"

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Posted by Mario Dovalina on July 3, 2002 16:58:03 UTC

This is in response to the fundies who frequently use the idea that if myths paralell each other in different cultures, they must be true. (i.e. the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Biblical flood, etc.) I found this pretty humorous article describing how Cthulhu worship and descriptions follow each other through the ages (for those of you who don't know, Cthulhu is a fictional god/demon imprisoned underwater in the Pacific, who was made up by H.P. Lovecraft in the twenties.) I cut out parts not important.


World-Wide Forms of "Cthulhu"

The name Cthulhu represents an attempt to transliterate into Greek a difficult Arabic word which frequently appears in the Arabic Necronomicon. [a book which describes Cthulhu] The Greek form is Cthulhu. Although this is a difficult phrase in English, Latin, or Greek, it makes perfect sense in the original Arabic. Cthulhu is sometimes called Khadhulu in the Arabic Necronomicon.

Latin: Cthulhu

Greek: Xthulu

Arabic: Khadhulu or al-khadhulu

In Arabic, Khadhulu means "abandoner" or "forsaker." The term is thus used in the Koran 25:29 by Muhammed the Prophet, where it states, "For Mankind Satan [in Arabic, Shaytan] is Khadhulu." Muslim commentators have traditionally taken this to mean that Satan is a forsaker of mankind - on Judgment Day, Satan will forsake those who followed him in this life.

However, as Khadhulu is used extensively in the Arabic Necronomicon to refer to a powerful deity, and is translated by Theodorus as xthulu and by Olaus Wormius in Latin as Cthulhu, it is possible to translate this verse as "For mankind Satan is Cthulhu" thus identifying the entity Cthulhu, worshiped by a cult of pagan Arabs before Muhammed, with the Satan of Judeo-Christian tradition....

On the other hand, there are numerous reports of small tribes in the isolation of Greenland who refer to this pre-Christian deity as Cthulhu or a near-equivalent, despite the improbability of their having had contact with the Koran or with the Wormius version of the Necronomicon. Perhaps Cthulhu or some similar sound is the true name of this entity, and the similarity of the word khadhulu led Cthulhu's Arab worshipers to refer to their deity by a term understandable to them.

The Semitic cultures in particular, in all their various branches throughout the Middle East, retain vestiges of ancient Cthulhu worship. One of the oldest Semitic languages is Assyrian, which originated in the second millenium B.C. and which shows clear references to Cthulhu worship. A common word for "demon" in Assyrian is alu'u (1). When this word is combined with the Assyrian word khatu(2) meaning "ominous" or "evil", the result is khatu alu'u, and is clearly related philogically to Cthulhu. An ancient Babylonian scribe makes reference to "alu'u lemnu sha pa la ishu atta," meaning "The alu' (demon) who has no mouth." (3) This could refer to Cthulhu himself, whose face is a mass of tentacles, and therefor appears as a demon who has no mouth....

Hebrew, another Semitic language, also makes oblique references to Cthulhu worship. This identification must neccesarily remain tentative, since the oldest Hebrew texts we possess are of the Bible, the writers of which clearly and wisely would have been antagonistic towards any Cthulhu cultists. The prophet Isiah, who lived in the 8th centure BC, wrote "I shall look upon man no more among the inhabitants of Chadhel." (Isaiah 38:11)

Hebrew: Chadhel

The Hebrew word at the end of this verse, Chadhel, is directly related semantically to the Arabic Khadhulu. This word is generally thought to be a euphemism for Sheol or Hell. (4) However, if the word is taken to be a proper name, the significance of the verse drastically changes. Chadhel is most likely an ancient Hebrew form of the word Cthulhu, as the Hebrew "dh," in this case is, in linguistic terms, an emphatic equivalent to the English "th", an aspirant form of the same sound. "The inhabitants of Chadhel" comes to mean "those who dwell with Chadhel" or "The people of Chadhel" (i.e. Cthulhu) and thus clearly refers to a cultist sect. The meaning of the verse should be "I shall look upon man no more among the people of Cthulhu", a form or ritual and well-deserved cursing of the evil cultists. The name Chadhel had such horrendous overtones to the Hebrews that in medieval interpretations it became synonymous with Hell, giving rise to the faulty interpretation of the verse.

Indo-European languages also meantion dread Cthulhu. For instance, the Sanskrit word katala refers to a large fish or sea monster. (5)

Sanskrit: Katala

The word is simply a Sanskrit pronounciation of Cthulhu, who of course qualifies quite nicely as a sea monster.

The name Cthulhu transliterates from Chinese characters thusly:

Chinese: kui tai lao hai

The meaning is kui (demon), tai (evil), lao (ancient), and hai (ocean). (6) In idiomatic English, the phrase signifies "ancient evil oceanic demon."

Important is the derivation of this name from the archaic form of kui. Mandarin chinese characters evolved from pictographs, wherein the character drawn was an abstract picture symbolizing a word or idea. In later times these pictographs were further abstracted into current Chinese characters. The character kui went through an evolution, arranged chronologically from left to right in a nearby box(7) [note: at this point in the article is an illustration depicting 'kui''s evolution, beginning with a circle with squiggly lines descending from it]

Scholars will easily recognize the symbols as archaic drawings of Cthulhu, including the tentacles attached to the head. We can conclude that a generic Chinese character for "demon," kui, evolved from the very early need to refer to Cthulhu. Awareness of this entity must be ancient indeed in China for it to have affected the language so profoundly.


Traces of ancient Cthulhu worship existt in the records of all major Old World civilizations: in Mesopotamia to the Assyrians as Khatu Alu'u, the "Evil Demon"; in Palestine to the Hebrews as Chadhel, a name equivalent to Hell, in Arabia as Khadhulu, "Satan the Forsaker," to the Hindus as Katala, the "sea monster," and to the Chinese as kui tai lao hai, the "evil ancient oceanic demon." All label Cthulhu as maligant..... the widespead nature of this cult - the only god shown to have been worshiped simultaneously in all three major centers of ancient civilization - had hitherto gone unnoticed by scholars. One wonders: if such a powerful cult could have remained so well-hidden in antiquity, what obscene rituals in hidden places might yet be practiced to this alien horror?


1) Ignace J. Gleb, et. al. The Assyrian Dictionary (Chicago University Press, 1964, in progress), vol 2, pp 355Ff.

2) Ibid., vol 6, p 158. Spoken swiftly and slurred (as is often done in human speech) it probably would sound like khatulu'u, easily recognizable as a variation of the word Cthulhu.

3) Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets, 1627:8.

4) Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon (Eerdmans, 1982) p 262

5) Monier-Williams, Sanskrit-English dictionary (rev. version of 1899 edition: New Delhi, Minshiram Manohalal, 1981) p 270a

6) These Chinese characters can be examined in the following sources: Bernhard Karlgren, Analytical Dictionary of Chinese and Sino-Japanese (New York, Dover, 1974) hereafter referred to as ADC, and L Wieger, Chinese Characters (Dover 1964 reprint of the 1915 edition) hereafter referred to as CC. For the specific characters, kui: ADC 460, CC 548. Tai: ADS 959. Lao: ADC 515, CC 88. Hai: CC 595.

7) Ibid. These drawings are analyzed in CC 112, 548.


Not bad for a fictional religion, eh?

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