How Cthulhu Works

The Cthulhu Mythos

A satellite photo showing the location of R’lyeh and the mysterious “Bloop”
Photo courtesy of Google Earth and NASA

Fans of Lovecraft refer to his mythology as the Cthulhu mythos, despite the fact that Cthulhu himself isn't the most powerful creature within the pantheon of strange creatures Lovecraft imagined. We must point out, though, that Lovecraft wrote several stories and poems unconnected to the Cthulhu mythos. The really interesting thing about the mythos is that it hasn't just survived Lovecraft's own demise -- it has thrived.

Lovecraft created dozens of weird and malevolent creatures in his writings, and during his life he encouraged many of his writer friends to create their own stories within his fictional universe. Lovecraft was a prolific letter writer, and historians have preserved much of the correspondence he shared with other authors, including long discussions on the nature of his creations and how others could use them.Together with other authors, here are some of the creatures found within the strange world of the Cthulhu mythos:


A shoggoth is a shape-shifting creature originally created by the Elder Things as slaves.
  • Azathoth - a being of boundless power and size who mindlessly reigns at the center of infinity
  • Dagon - a god who fathered a race of creatures known as the Deep Ones, who appear to be part man, part fish. Dagon was not a Lovecraftian creation - he was the main deity of the Philistines
  • Hastur - a malevolent deity, sometimes called "he who must not be named," because he was known to pop up whenever anyone said his name, usually in a really bad mood
  • Nyarlathotep - aka the Crawling Chaos, the soul and messenger of the Other Gods (beings whose power dwarfs even that of the Great Old Ones), he has infinite shapes and forms and seems to have a malicious sense of humor
  • Shoggoths - created by the Elder Things to act as slaves, these creatures could assume any shape with their gooey bodies
  • Yog-Sothoth - the all-in-one god, who envelops all of existence and time, mentioned extensively in the mystical book the "Necronomicon"

There are dozens of other bizarre and terrible creations populating the Cthulhu mythos. Some creatures, like Yog-Sothoth, are so powerful and vast that they defy human comprehension. Others are less grand, but still are so antithetical to the human experience that to look upon one is to put your sanity in jeopardy. In other words, the Cthulhu mythos is pretty cool, but you wouldn't want to live there.

In the next section, we'll look at some of the real-life organizations formed to celebrate -- and in one case, worship -- the fictional Cthulhu mythos.