Thursday 9 October 2008

Review: Grimoire of the Necronomicon

Donald Tyson's Grimoire of the Necronomicon offers a very different approach to Lovecraftian magic than that of Steve Ash, which I talked about yesterday.

The ritual described by Steve was experimental, experiential and fluid. Donald Tyson's book offers a formal, structured method of honouring The Great Old Ones of the Cthulhu Mythos. This involves setting out a circle of stones and an altar in a precise layout and using specific symbols to represent seven of The Great Old Ones: Yig, Shub-Niggurath, Cthulhu, Dagon, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep and Azathoth. There are also specific rituals to honour these deities, to be conducted at precise times of the week or year.

The purpose behind these rituals, according to Donald Tyson, is no less than to bring about the end of the world. The reason given for this is a story of a fall from grace. Apparently, Azathoth once had a beautiful daughter, the goddess Barbelzoa. Nyarlathotep raped her and, in her shame, she fell from her throne at the centre of the universe and became encased in solid matter. Her inert body now forms the globe of our planet Earth. Those who follow the paths of The Great Old Ones are trying to undo that state of affairs, which will obviously not be such good news for those dwelling on Earth's surface.

Now, that is not a story Lovecraft ever wrote, but many authors of fiction have taken the Cthulhu Mythos in different directions. If you are into high Gothic romance, then you might be tickled by this take on the legends.

While the Grimoire offers a cohesive set of rituals - none of which require you to do anything illegal, I hasten to add - perusing its pages won't teach you how to raise a corpse from its essential salts, brew Space Mead to travel through space or many other spells hinted at in classic Mythos tales.

So, who is going to enjoy Grimoire of the Necronomicon? Well, I have to say I found it a thoroughly entertaining read, although it will sit on my shelf somewhere between my set of Lovecraft's fiction and my copy of the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game. It certainly won't be on the shelf with my serious books of magic. The only readers I can imagine taking it seriously are bed-sit black magicians driven by teenage angst to dream of world destruction. This book should keep them out of trouble for hours.

Grimoire of the Necronomicon
Call of Cthulhu (Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying) (Call of Cthulhu Roleplaying)


Ryan said...

I have the grimore and I follow the way of Dagon. I see it as a foundation to lovecraft's magick system.

Anonymous said...

Making a review about a grimoire without experiencing the rituals is like saying a wine sucks without ever tasting it. The rites are useful and very effective, the paths do transform the individual who follows them . Ia Old Ones!

Badwitch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Badwitch said...

Anonymous - I'm sure they do transform the individuals who do them. I am experienced enough in rituals for personal transformation - and experienced enough in the mythos - to realise when a ritual is likely to be transformative in a way I choose not to be transformed :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I was infuriated when I read about Barbelzoa. It all seemed like Tyson watched a bit too much Disney and decided to add his own princess.

Anonymous said...

The paths are to hone the self for personal transformation and attainment. The weekly rites help the initiate learn to work with planetary and Old One energy effectively. I agree with anonymous above, writing about a book of rituals without experiencing them firsthand is like saying a certain food is nasty or bland without ever tasting it. There is wisdom learned in the making of the keys, sigils, seals, and finding stones that resonate with the seven lords. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Dark blessings \m/

Badwitch said...

I'm glad some people found the book of sufficient value to try out the rituals, and that some people feel they are worthwhile doing.