Dead Names, Dead Dog: A Curious Omission

As I said last time, I'm not going to post much on the first part of Dead Names, as there's not much of substance with regard to the actual Necronomicon there.  Still, I have one piece of evidence that suggests a different story.

Before me I have a photocopy of a page from the first issue of Earth Religion News, with a cover date of Yule, 1973.  This is the first print reference to "Simon"'s Necronomicon that I have found anywhere.

On page six is a full-page ad for the Warlock Shop. Under the section on grimoires (labeled "Practice") are a number of classic works, including the Keys of Solomon (Lesser and Greater), the Black Pullet, and the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.  The final item on the list is the Necronomicon, a "translation" in a "lmtd. edition" that is "not yet in print," though it is available for the advance price of $15.  So far, it's pretty reasonable.

The shocking part is the item before that – "The Necronomicon" by "Abdul Alhazred" in its "original script," retailing for a measly $30!

What's this about?

Those of you who are remember your Necronomicon lore will recognize that, in that very year, Owlswick Press released its own version of the Necronomicon – the Al Azif, a book of fake calligraphy supposedly by "Abdul Alhazred" with an introduction by L. Sprague de Camp.  Here's a reprint by Wildside Press.  This is probably the best candidate for this "original script" Necronomicon.

When visiting a collector of rare occult books a few years ago, John and I made a discovery that makes this theory even more likely.  In this man's library was a copy of the de Camp book.  Inside the front cover was the bookplate of the Earth Star Temple, the coven run by Warlock Shop owner Herman Slater.

For those who are still doubting, I just asked Alan Cabal, author of this New York Press article about the Necronomicon, about this.  He said that, while the de Camp book wasn't exactly a hot ticket item, Slater was indeed selling it to his customers.

Thus, it's clear that, while "Simon" was working on the Necronomicon, Slater was selling advance orders by claiming it was a "translation" of an admitted Necronomicon hoax.This suggests another scenario:  "Simon" saw the "Al Azif" being sold, and decided to work on a "translation."  As time went on, it was realized that tying it so closely to another book might be problematic, so new stories were created to explain it, based on what was going on in the NYC underground.  It is certainly consistent with the evidence – or the lack thereof – as "Simon" presents it.

Some might say that Slater was merely taking advantage of an amazing coincidence, using the de Camp version to market his own.  Nonetheless, that itself is of interest. 

When writing a book on how one found and translated a mythical manuscript, there is no requirement to point out how a hoaxed version of that same manuscript appeared at the same time, or how it was being sold out of the shop around which the project centered.  Still, such a revelation would have no doubt been one of the most memorable events in such a history, and certainly one worthy of comment.

Nonetheless, Simon does not even hint at the appearance of the de Camp book anywhere in Dead Names.

Published in: on June 20, 2006 at 8:50 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Yo!

    Why don’t you post a scan of that page?


  2. J.S.,


    It’s a document from a special collections department, which places some restrictions on reproduction. Plus, the page is bigger than my scanner. We’re talking about a newspaper-sized full-page ad for the Warlock Shop filled with small type. I could just scan part of the page, but I’d be difficult to establish context – the shop info is at the bottom of the page, while this passage is near the top.

    Still, if I start getting more requests for this, I’ll see what I can do.


  3. The Earth Star Temple wasn’t Herman’s “coven.” It was the sacred space behind the store where various groups met, including a Pagan Way Grove, several different covens, and a Satanist group. We really, really hated sharing space with Satanists, but that was Herman. He didn’t charge for the space, and it was his version of freedom of religion. It was always fun going through the secret door behind the rack of robes, and the restroom had the best graffiti in NYC.

  4. Sappho, can you give me a source for that? You yourself are fine, if you were present on the scene and can say how you fit into it.

  5. I’ve just fallen in love with the phrase “The sacred place behind the store.” So incongruous, yet so melodic.

  6. There was yet another Necronomicon-writing project going on at the same time, Lin Carter’s, the science fiction author who loved Lovecraft. The date and geographical location pretty well match what is written above. There were the same concerns circulating as well, “currents” if you prefer: Derleth’s Arkham House was trying to pretend ANY name in the HPL canon was trademarked and infringers would be sued mercilessly, and the silly people actually generating material for Lin Carter were having their texts lifted and used without attribution.

    Here’s a theory: Peter L. got Lin C.’s partially complete Necronomicon, polished up a few sections, wrote an intro and handed it back to Slater, with a really good “cover” story in case Carter’s friend de Camp or anyone else tried to sue: it was translated from the Greek, see, the cover page was NECRONOMICON written in Greek letters!

    Possibly there are many more details involving real theft and resale, perhaps even some of Peter L.’s coreligionists even lifted the manuscript from the private individual who was keeping it, or perhaps it was all very prosaic, Carter or one of his fellow project members passed it to Slater as “the genuine article” to get it into circulation and keep the decades-old Necronomicon cycle going with some fresh blood.

    • Thanks for posting. What I’d need an answer to, if I were to consider this theory, is the whole Mesopotamian aspect of the text – where the idea to use it came from, and what level Carter had in that particular civilization.

  7. I wish I could speak with “Sappho” above, but her name is not an active link, just a name. I suspect she may be someone my sister and I knew, “back in the day.”

    I know these comments were posted in 2011, but Dan Harms, PLEASE, please contact me via my blog so I can put you in direct touch with my sister Rhia, who was the HPs of the Earth Star Temple, abovedescribed.

    Also, we are seeking to speak with ANYone who was around the Shoppe back then. Many thanks and blessings.

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