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The Necronomicon Files
June 21, 2009 4:15 PM   Subscribe

"Necronomicons: The Scariest Book in the World" - A talk given by Daniel Harms, author of the Encyclopedia Cthulhiana, on the history of the Necronomicon(s) - taking in Abdul Alhazred, John Dee, assorted aquaintences of HP Lovecraft, some rather dodgy sounding occultists from the 70s and a man known only as Simon. Previously.
posted by Artw (24 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, and another previous with Dan Harms brushing up against the Cthulian occult.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on June 21, 2009


-1D6 SAN
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:48 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Necronomics? Isn't that the study of our Economic system today?
posted by wendell at 4:53 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A thousand thanks for this.
posted by Busithoth at 5:27 PM on June 21, 2009


Like most suburban American countercultural-leaning males, I too will never forget the day I bought a copy of the Simon Necronomicon from a Borders bookstore.

What made the book scary for me was the Black Aggie Effect. Just as you know that standing facing a mirror in the bathroom with the lights out and saying "Black Aggie" three times won't really make her appear, you still hesitate, and feel that creeping sensation snaking up your spine as you do it. And as I look around, I see that my copy is in fact missing. Maybe I loaned it to someone. Or maybe that's what the Old Ones want me to think.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 6:00 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


A story. Forgive the length.

I worked for Waldenbooks when I was in college. My store was one of two such franchises in Hamilton Place Mall, the first two-story mall built in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The upstairs store was closer to the food court, which might've been why we experienced more teenager traffic than the downstairs store. More teenagers means regular patrolling the Erotica section, disheartening requests for Cliff Notes from late-coming summer readers, and -- best of all -- very special Special Orders. These very special Special Orders were always for one of three books. None of these books were regularly stocked, though only one of the three defied categorization entirely. These books were, in increasing order of awesome: The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, The Anarchist's Cookbook and ... The Necronomicon.

The placing of the Special Order always went the same way. A Creepy Kid would step into the store with a determined look, avoiding the eyes of anyone working behind the counter. He'd go through the store from section to section. Science Fiction? Gaming? Religion? Occult? New Age? But what he wanted was not to be found, not without speaking to somebody with a Waldenbooks badge. And so, Creepy Kid would wait until there were no paying customers near the counter, then he'd make his approach.

"Hey."

"Yes. Help you find something?"

"Yeah. Um ..."

"Looking for some Cliff Notes?"

"What? No. No. Do you ... You guys carry ..."

At this point, I'd lean a bit over the counter, knowing what I was about to hear.

"... The Necronomicon?" Said at a whisper, like the password to a speakeasy.

"You sure? Well, alright then. If you're sure. I'll have to ... Special Order it."

Normally, these special orders would never be completed. I'd get to the part where I needed a phone number, and that would be that. As this was the early 90s, teenagers just didn't have cellular phones. And even a phone of your own at home was rare. So I wouldn't get a phone number, and they'd walk away disappointed. But sometimes, a Creepy Kid would be brave enough to hand over the digits. Special orders didn't require any pre-payment, so with all the information we needed to submit the order, the request would be sent to Ingram. Five to seven days later, the Necronomicon ... or The Satanic Bible ... would arrive in our store. And as we would for any other special order, we called the customer to let them know.

"Hello?"

The voice on the line was hardly ever the Creepy Kid, but usually their mom.

"Yes, hello. This is Thomas with Waldenbooks ... yes, the one in the Mall. Right."

"Oh, okay. How do you do?"

"I'm great. And I'm calling to let ... um ... Billy? Yes, Billy. If you could let Billy know that his special order of copy of The Satanic Bible has arrived."

A pause.

"The Satanic what?!?"

"The Satanic Bible. By Anton Lavey. Oh, and we have his Necronomicon as well. A book that collects the ..."

"I'm sorry. I have to go and ... speak ... to Billy. Thank you ... very much."

"Okay. Have a good day!"

While I was there, not a single Special Order'd Necronomicon or Satanic Bible was picked up by any Creepy Kid.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:11 PM on June 21, 2009 [39 favorites]


These very special Special Orders were always for one of three books. None of these books were regularly stocked....

Damn, I hate retail. If you get orders, STOCK THE DAMN BOOK!
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on June 21, 2009


Damn, I hate retail. If you get orders, STOCK THE DAMN BOOK!

The Waldens in Fox Chapel, the WASPYish of Pittsburgh's many white bread suburbs stocked both the Necronomicon and The Satanic Bible in the 80s.

My, um, creepy friend, bought them there.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:18 PM on June 21, 2009


I didn't realize how much of a male suburban countercultural ritual the purchasing of a Simon Necronomicon was until you mentioned it, Marisa. I bought mine from a B. Dalton in 1982 or 1983. The thing creeped me out so much I had to return it a couple days later.

In the early 1990s, UCLA's library catalog listed a copy of the Necronomicon in its rare book room. The bibliographic details in the catalog very closely matched what Lovecraft alluded to in his pseudo-history of the book. Someone had a lot of fun creating that catalog record. I thought about going down to the rare book room to ask for it, but didn't want to break the illusion that they really had it.
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 6:20 PM on June 21, 2009


I prefer the Nomnomicon, the Book of Forbidden Eats.

I received it from a cat who told me he was not a burrito, and neither delicious nor nutritious.
posted by yeloson at 6:22 PM on June 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


Now that's an impressive collection of tags right there.
posted by JHarris at 6:57 PM on June 21, 2009


In the early 1990s, UCLA's library catalog listed a copy of the Necronomicon in its rare book room.

That makes me smile. Currently, the only extant, genuine copy appears to be with Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
posted by steef at 7:03 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ha ha, grabbingsand's story reminds me of when I was a creepy teenager and I bought a Satanic Bible. God, I'm glad I'm not that guy anymore. I'm still creepy, but I hope a little less gullible.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:14 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ah, the Simonomicon--that brings back memories. My high school friends and I were casually interested in magic, not heavily into it although we knew the people who were. I found the Simonomicon interesting, but ultimately not worth buying, because even then the idea of a book that drove people mad from reading it existing in a mass-market edition was kind of ludicrous.

Anyway, "The Doom that Came to Chelsea" is an interesting article from someone that claims that his late wife was not only the ex of "Simon", aka Peter Levenda, but also long-time X-Men writer Chris Claremont. Small freakin' world, my friends.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:34 PM on June 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've got the Simon Necronomicon in paperback on my comparative religion shelf, between the Sri Isopanisad and the Koran.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy is on the same shelf, for some reason.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:36 PM on June 21, 2009


That was a really sweet story, Halloween Jack. Thanks for that.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:30 PM on June 21, 2009


I bought the Simon Necromonicon in a Waldenbooks. It was actually my introduction to Sumerian/Babylonian mythology. I had never heard of Sumer even, I don't think. I thought Tiamat was just a D&D dragon until I read it.
posted by empath at 10:10 PM on June 21, 2009


I used to know this very weird bunch of Sumerian Pagans. Yes, you read that right.

Anyway, they claimed they followed actual Sumerian writings and so on.

Which of course was why they all wore necklaces with the sigil that appears on some edition of the Necronomicon. *sigh*
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:17 PM on June 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I was 16, I thought my local library was the coolest place on earth because it stocked both the Simon Necronomicon and the 2 Ed. core book for Vampire: The Masquerade. Creepy guy, meet creepy girl.
posted by Jilder at 12:37 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I found the Simonomicon interesting, but ultimately not worth buying, because even then the idea of a book that drove people mad from reading it existing in a mass-market edition was kind of ludicrous.

Until the advent of Stephanie Meyer, I used to think so too.
posted by JHarris at 6:18 AM on June 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I seem to remember reading that the rituals in the Simon Necronomicon are deliberate jokes- they ask you to use herbs that spirits are supposed to hate, the chants are actually insulting to the gods and so forth- that would, if magic and all that were really real, get you eaten by invisible monsters in short order.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


These very special Special Orders were always for one of three books.

Ah, grabbingsand, you bring it all back. I, too, worked at a Waldenbooks in a mall at about the same time, and I, too, had the same Creepy Kids asking about the very same books! Mere coincidence? Or evidence of a huge cult to Azathoth working toward the downfall of civilization?

Note: This has absolutely nothing to do with my user name. Really.
posted by Shoggoth at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first link is very interesting, though it is all lies. C'thulhu fhtagn
posted by RussHy at 8:11 AM on June 22, 2009


I'm NOT CREEPY
posted by poppo at 8:48 AM on June 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


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