Lovecraft, like his contemporaries, envisioned savages "as closer to the Earth," only in Lovecraft's case, this meant, closer to Cthulu. Inherited guilt-another recurring theme in Lovecraft's stories is the idea that descendants in a bloodline can never escape the stain of crimes committed by their forebears, at least if the crimes are atrocious enough. Descendants may be very far removed, both in place and time (and, indeed in culpability), from the act itself, and yet blood will tell (The Rats in the Walls, The Lurking Fear, Arthur Jermyn, The Alchemist, The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward). An example of a crime that Lovecraft apparently considered heinous enough for this consequence is cannabilism-The Picture in the House, and again The Rats in the Walls.
Though little is known about his fan base, Lovecraft was familiar with the work of the German conservative-revolutionary theorist Oscar Spengler. Spengler's pessimistic thesis of the decadence of the modern West formed a crucial element in Lovecraft's overall anti-modern, ceonservative worldview. Spenglerian imagery of cyclical decay is present in particular in At the Mountains of Madness. In his book titled H.P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, S.T Joshi places Spengler at the center of Lovecraft's political and philosophical ideas. Lovecraft wrote to Clark Ashton Smith in 1927: "It is my belief, and was so long before Spengler put his seal of scholarly proof on it, that our mechanical and industrial age is one of frank decadence." (see China Mieville's At the Mountains of Madness, Modern Library Classics, 2005). Lovecraft was also acquainted with the writings of another German intellectual who dealt with civilized decadence in philosophical terms, Friedrich Nietzsche.
Lovecraft frequently dealt with the idea of civilization struggling against more barbaric, primitive elements. In some stories this struggle is at an individual level; many of his protagonists are cultured, highly educated men who are gradually corrupted by some obscure and feared influence. In such stories, the "curse" is often a hereditary one, either because of interbreeding with non-humans (e.g. Facts Concerning Arthur Jermyn and His Family, 1920, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, 1931.) Sometimes through direct magical influence -The Case of Charles Dexter Ward- physical and mental depredation often comes together, this thereof 'tainted blood' may represent concerns relating to Lovecraft's own family history, particularly the death of his father due to what Lovecraft might have suspected was a syphilitic disorder. In other tales, an entire society is threatened by barbarism. Sometimes the barbarism comes in an external threat, with a civilized race destroyed in war (e.g. Polaris). Sometimes, an isolated parcel of humanity falls into decadence and atavism (evolutionary throwback-think George "Dubya" Bush-yuk yuk) of its own accord (e.g. The Lurking Fear). But most often, such stories involve a civilized culture being gradually undermined by a malevolent underclass influenced by inhuman forces.
A Buddhist monk named Robert Ernst Dickoff brought together different aspects of Lovecraftian thought using both sets of "Gods" and Lovecraft's mountain of "Kadath" in a book he wrote in 1951 called Agartha. Richard Shaver, the Pennsylvanian welder of "deros" fame and a long time Weird Tales reader, employed very similar thoughts in his writing about the underground "deros" who inflict pain and suffering on humanity and are opposed by the "teros."
Very interesting also, is that a case could be made for Lovecraft anticipating John Keel's theory of "windows"-areas through which extradimensional beings and their influences can come through by decades. And also giving a glimpse of Erich von Daniken's theory of "ancient astronauts" also decades before ancient astronaut mania swept the world. It is not being suggested that Keel or von Daniken were directly inspired by Lovecraft -only that their 'real' theories follow behind the 'fictional' course set out by Lovecraft. After certain sects of people involved in the occult and esoteric began buying in Lovecraftian themes, it was only a matter of time before rumors began of sects of various occultists practicing Lovecraftian magic. Two works published in 1922 brought Lovecraft's 'magic' to an even wider audience. Anton LaVey's The Satanic Rituals included rituals also by the dark and controversial (and I think seriously disturbed -and worse)- Michael Aquino to call Lovecraft's gods Shub-Niggurath and Cthulu into consciousness.
Hopefully I will get to more about Aquino, The Church of Satan, Jonestown and some other horrific and disturbing subjects in the future. LaVey and Aquino said that these cermemonies and rituals were only acts of psychodrama. However, if true, this fact was lost on many people (their followers and others who practice them. Kenneth Grant, Aleister Crowley's supposed "successor" published The Magical Revival, which celebrated Lovecraft as a contemporary of Crowley who also believed in the start of a new aeon. Those who followed magical or occult beliefs have never generally been shy of giving birth to their own traditions, but the acceptance and incorporation of an acknowledged fictional pantheon began a great firestorm of controversy that hasn't let up to this day in some circles.
For all the misgivings, Lovecraftian magic will be here for a long time. In thse seemingly most fictional or perhaps derivative of times, of the late 20th and early 21st centuries I think it would be fascinating and a great insight into human psychology if Lovecraftian theories and magic outlasted them all.
There are groups of spiritual seekers who even use hallucinogens to get in touch with Lovecraft's "Old Ones." I can't imagine what kind of enlightenment they are trying to find-but as long as they don't bring the "Old Ones" up from the Pacific or down (perhaps interdimensionally?) from "Beyond the Stars" more power to them. Black Moon Publishing provides photocopies of an enormous collection of Lovecraftian conjurations, rituals, Tarot decks and even theoretical speculation. Chances are very good that as more people find out about H.P. Lovecraft and his work, that more and more will practice magic based on his fiction. The Necronomicon is no doubt by far the most widely known and alluring offshoot of this imaginal magical tradition. In a fascinating excercise of "bootstrapping"; people continue to "write" the book invented by Lovecraft long after his death.
This ends the parts about H.P. Lovecraft the man and his times, thoughts etc. As always, I am somewhat confused about where to go next. I was going to continue in the vein of "real" seemingly Lovecraftian inspired horrors that take place here on Earth. But now I want to call the next series if there is to be one, something different-I just don't want to attribute -or mislead? anyone into thinking the writing of H.P. Lovecraft inspired these terrifying people and events-in fact it is the very sickness of some of these real-life horror stories that is preventing me from wanting to continue in this way at all-I will have to think about it.
I wanted to do a bit about the Necronomicon, and still might. This series was inspired by various sources: Jeff Wells' excellent book Rigorous Intuition and Daniel Harms with his superb article about Lovecraft in the July 2004 issue of Fortean Times magazine called Dreamer of the Dark. Harms is the author of The Encyclopedia of Cthuliana, and the co-author with John Wisdom Gonce of The Necronomicon Files. Best to anyone stopping by and thanks again for your thoughtful and intelligent comments and links! Almost forgot-a great deal of information for this series- especially this article and a couple of others came from wikipedia. Wiki entry on S. T. Joshi here.