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Lovecraftianism is a part polytheistic, part henotheistic religion that was founded by Northeasterners H.P. Lovecraft and Harry Houdini, and Brazorian Robert E. Howard in 1928 in New York City. The predominant sect of the Lovecraftians groups, namely the Temple of Cthulhu, is adhered to by just under a quarter of the almost 34 million adherents worldwide.
Most Lovecraftianist sects teach that humans were never meant to have much knowledge of how the universe works, or even about most of the events and creatures in existence, as such forbidden knowledge would drive man insane or destroy him. The gods of Lovecraftianism, depicted as otherworldy, uncaring beings from outer space, divided into two circles, namely the Great Ones and the Outer Gods. These gods, while not truly deities, are nonetheless worship-worthy, as they are vastly more powerful. According to most Lovecraftian sects and groups, the universe is an uncaring place with indifferent gods. Unless saved by one of the gods and turned into one of their servants, entropy will claim the soul of a human, as the gods do not care enough to accept all into an afterlife. As such, placating one or more gods with prayer, offerings and even sacrifice is seen as both pledging oneself to one deity and buying oneself an afterlife and escaping entropy.
According to most Lovecraftian eschatology, the universe is slowly decaying and dying, and the only way to achieve eternal paradise is to gain a place in an afterlife. A majority of Lovecraftian groups believe that the Great Old Ones are only ones worthy of worship and offerings, as the Outer Gods offer nothing but entropy and lies. However, Nyarlahothepan interpretations of the Necronomicon states that the corrupt and immoral Great Old Ones are not worthy of worship, as they are as likely to create an afterlife full of suffering as in to lie to the worshipper. Therefore, the Outer Gods, or at least the Great Ones, who are younger, turned Greater Old Ones, are deemed good of worship, and thus the Court of Azathoth is supreme. The third grouping of Lovecraftianists, namely those of the Derlethian branch of Lovecraftianism, argue that both the Outer Gods' court and the Great Old Ones are fake gods, immoral and uncaring, and that the considerably more benevolent Elder Gods are the only ones capable of providing a good afterlife. However, as most of the Elder Gods and indeed the concept were created by Lovecraft's disciple August Derleth, who broke off early after Lovecraft's death from the Temple, they are not universally canonical concepts.
Lovecraftianism's teachings and doctrines derive from a collection of holy scriptures known as the Necronomicon, and the stories all branches of Lovecraftianism includes are the writings of Lovecraft and Howard. However, there are a myriad of books, short stories and other forms of tellings which are not considered universally canonical, and as such are in debate between the myriad of Lovecraftian groups.
Prominent themes in Lovecraftianism are the saving of one's and of a close one's soul, offering, prayer, sacrifice, inherited guilt, dark and secret rituals and a pre-destined fate. By placating a deity's sense of vanity or blood thirst, one buys oneself a place in an afterlife after death. Failing to worship a god results in entropy consuming one's soul, therefore being erased from existence. However, there is no universal afterlife concept in Lovecraftianism, as different groups and sects believe in other concepts, with groups having either a traditional afterlife or re-incarnation.
Monsters, demons and extraterrestrial life are also found in Lovecraftian belief, and dream journeys and oracles are a staple part of most Lovecraftian sects. Few Lovecraftians conform to a strict code of conduct and moral law in order to improve one's chances, and those that do have various ways of conducts. Most Lovecraftian groups claims that past religious and political figures such as Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, and Buddha were people who interpreted the Great Old Ones and Outer Gods in a wrong manner, which implies there is love for all. Other groups outright reject past religious figures, claiming them to propagate false gods.
Lovecraftianism, which spread throughout Anglo-America, particularly in the Northeast Union, in the 20th century, faced conflict with various groups. Congressionalist and Reformed natives and Lutheran and Roman-Catholic immigrants alike clashed with original Lovecraftianist converts, who joined the church en masse during the Great Depression. In addition, after the three founders died in close proximity to one another, Lovecraftianism endured several offshoot movements and schisms from the original beliefs professed by the three. Today, Lovecraftianism remains a controversial and in part dangerous religious movement, mostly due to ritualistic bloodletting, as influenced by Canaanism, allegations of racism in the Temple of Cthulhu, and Nyarlathotepian groups, which sometimes include offerings of animals and, in illegal and underground sects, human sacrifices or ritual suicide. Only a fourth of Lovecraftian adherents are predominantly the descendants of the original Anglo-American followers in the 20th century, as evangelist endeavours and the popularization of the beliefs since the 1960s have spread the religion to a total of almost 34 million current followers across the world, with just under 14 million of these being in the original country of Lovecraftianism, the Northeast Union.
The scattered nature of Lovecraftianism can be derived from the early death of the founders and the splits between different groups just after Lovecraft, the last founder, died in 1936. This lead to a loose interpretation of what the Necronomicon contains, leading to about a quarter of all Lovecraftians to be categorized into a category of 'other standpoint or own beliefs'.
Due to the diverse and decentralized nature of Lovecraftianism, beliefs may vary and be wildly different depending by group, cult or sect.
Great Old Ones
Cthulhuians believe that that the Great Old Ones were the former rulers of the Earth, and that they're the only gods who deserve to be worshipped, as they have ruled the Earth before and thus have a right to it. Cthulhuians often hold disdain towards the Outer Gods, who they see as intrinsically flawed beings who seek to destroy life and kill, feeding the Mashalca, the oblivion of nothingness, as opposed to preserving humanity for its own gains. Cthulhuians argue that the enslavement will only happen to those who do not appease one or more of the Great Old Ones. According to what people consider the 'Bare Necronomicon', which is the smallest defining number of pieces of literature that the vast majority of Lovecraftians see as canonical, the Great Old Ones used to be almost omnipotent, but they either were driven away from the Earth and now live amongst the starts, or have fallen into a deep sleep which limits their powers. Cthulhuians long for the return of the rule of the Great Old Ones, hoping to both appease them and wake them up or bring them back to Earth, in order to become their acolytes and avoid becoming slaves in the future. Although all Great Old Ones are believed to be a genderless beings with determinate forms which would drive a man insane, there have been attempts at gendering most of them. Cthulhuians will insist worship of the Great Old Ones is the only way to save oneself from the Mashalca.
Despite the Great Old Ones' corruption and indifference towards most mortals, Lovecraftians believe that they are immortal and infinite beings who temporarily held back the Mashalca, the oblivion of nothingness which will one day encompass all. Although the Great Old Ones are a pantheon of deities, analysts claim that the worship of the Great Old Ones is in most cases henotheistic, as there is dispute over whose afterlife and rule would give man the better chance at escaping inevitable bondage. A famous case of this is the main dispute between the Cthulhuian over the greatest of the Great Old Ones: while a majority of Lovecraftian groups will insist that Hastur, the Yellow King, is the father-mother of Cthulhu and presides over the other Great Old Ones, some Derlethian and Cthulhuian groups insist on Cthulhu either being the rightful ruler due to him not leaving Earth, or that Hastur never had been the king in the first place.
Predominant Lovecraftian belief holds that it is the desire of the Great Old Ones to rule the Earth again with their minions, and to attain their might again. Once their goal is achieved, life outside their mastery and control will become the slave life, a life of pain and misery. This return, according to Cthulhuians is considered to be inevitable, and speeding the return up is considered to be one of the ways to ensure that one does not become a slave in the new world, once everyone is resurrected again to either toll or rule for the Great Old Ones.
The Outer Gods are believed to be gods who never ruled Earth, instead living in the palace at the center of the universe. While most Lovecraftians believe them to be evil, Nyarlathotepian interpretations of the Necronomicon see them as the only gods worthy of worship, as they are the only ones active on Earth and the only ones who can truly fulfill the need of an afterlife for their worshippers. Unlike with the debate over the ruler of the Great Old Ones, there is no debate over the ruler of the Outer Gods. That ruler is Azathoth, the Blind Idiot King-Queen at the center of the universe who holds his court. It is widely believed in Lovecraftian circles that the Outer Gods have a disdain for mortal lives, and for the most part seek to destroy it. As such, the worshippers appease the Outer Gods in order to be saved from the reunion forced by the Outer Gods with the Mashalca.
Most if not all Nyarlathotepians believe that the Great Old Ones trick people into their 'afterlife' in order to revive them as slaves. They believe that eternal beings who want to dominate will dominate absolutely, with no room for a free human class. As such, they assert that while subservience will happen in some form to the Court of Azathoth, it would be a kinder kind of subservience, and one rewarded by loyalty and appeasement.
Cthulhuians believe that, should the Outer Gods take over, all mortal life will be erased across the universe in all dimensions. However, Nyarlathotepians believe that appeasement and appealing to a deity's vanity can save them from certain erasure from existence. This appeasement can come in the form of bloodletting, offerings and animal sacrifice, but also through ritual suicide and in some extreme cases, human sacrifice. Only thus can a relatively peaceful afterlife be achieved, according to Nyarlathotepians.
While cults and temples exist for all the Outer Gods, the one subject to most worship amongst the Nyarlathotepian Lovecraftians is Nyarlathotep, the son-daughter of Azathoth, and the acting messenger of the Outer Gods on Earth. As he, unlike all others, roams the Earth, he is said to most likely hear the appeasement of his name, and thus is most likely to grant a place in an afterlife to a worshipper and his family. Nyarlathotep is known to appear in different aspects, such as the Black Man, the Crawling Mist, the Effigy of Hate, Samael and the Thing in the Yellow Mask. However, some dissenters disapprove of the attention Nyarlathotep gets, as he is canonically believed to enjoy torturing mortal beings more than killing them, making him an outcast and disliked by some more traditionalist Nyarlathotepian groups, who even reject the term and replace it with Azathothian. As such, traditional worship of the House of Azathoth is believed to also achieve an afterlife.
The Elder Gods are not considered bare-canonical by any standards, and even their existence is debated amongst Lovecraftian scholars. The creation of the pantheon has been overseen by August Derleth after Lovecraft's death, and due to Derleth's early split from the Temple of Cthulhu, his categorization and philosophy is put into question. As such, only Derlethian Lovecraftians consider the Elder Gods as canonical, and thus existing. Individual deities within the classification, however, are considered canonical, but their classification is unclear within the bare-canonical Necronomicon.
The Elder Gods are considered to be benevolent and good, and while removed, their existence is to oppose both the corrupt Great Old Ones and the Court of Azathoth. This goes against mainstream Lovecraftian belief that the gods are indifferent or malicious towards mortal life. Different interpretations talk about an afterlife granted through love and adoration by the Elder Gods. Derlethian cults, contrary to the many disputes within the Nyarlathotepian and Cthulhuian cults, mostly do not claim one of the Elder Gods as a king or ruler, but rather accept that all Elder Gods are valid and acceptable. As such, many deities have been imported into the Elder Gods themselves, including the Greek deity Hypnos, the Egyptian deity Bastet under the name Bast and even Isachul from Canaanism. Differences in the belief of the afterlife are different, however. While about half of the Derlethian cults have received a Canaanist revitalization and have embraced the belief of the Great Equilibrium and Balos, others believe in a more traditional afterlife, inspired by Christian beliefs of the afterlife. As such, proselytism is found amongst Derlethian branches, vastly differing from the other branches of Lovecraftianism.
Appeasement of the Elder Gods is not required, but showing respect and faith is needed, and sacraments and holy acts have developed in different Derlethian branches. Those include blood-letting, prayer, meditation, penance, annointing with holy oils and in some groups, even versions of the Canaanist sun dance and a dream-pilgrimage to the abode of the gods, namely Kadath in the Dreamworld. Some of the Derlethian branches believe that the dimension humanity is located in, namely Earth, is an imaginary battleground between the Elder Gods, the Court of Azathoth and the Corrupt Great Old Ones, and as such, the true reality is the Dreamworld.
According to Derlethian beliefs, the Elder Gods should win the war against the evil courts of Hastur and Azathoth, and believe that such salvation from their evils will end reality, but all the living faithful will be transported to the Dreamworld, in order to continue living until their union or afterlife with the Gods. The Gods are also said to be nigh-omnipotent, and certainly stronger than the evil Courts of Corruption and Death. However, they are not believed to be omniscient, and as such can make mistakes, but acting in their faith will speed up the ending of the Earth, and prevent mistakes from happening. As such, conversion to the belief in the Elder Gods is necessary and needed in order to prevent a victory of evil.
Fate and Guilt
Lovecraftianism was founded on the belief that fate was laid out to us by the gods (either the Great Old Ones or Outer God) in a twisted amusement performance. While Derlethian branches have lost this belief, Cthulhuian and Nyarlathotepian doctrine states that the fate of a person is determined by the action of a person and by the inherited guilt over the generations of the family. The fate of a person, however, can also result in subsequent generations inheriting more guilt.
Inherited guilt is considered a sign of displeasure of the gods, and people who are said to bear inherited guilt are shunned and excluded within these communities, as they are very unlikely to receive a place in an afterlife. Many of these shunned people usually become either very big critics of the Lovecraftian faith or convert to Derlethianism, as in some cults, even the smallest misfortune can be perceived as a sign of inherited guilt which can harm the community as a whole.
According to most Cthulhuian sects, reality, as humans understand it, is manipulable and simple, as reality encompasses much more than what the mere human eye can see, but as such information is forbidden and dangerous to a human, the definition of existence outside of the human perception is unknowable. Lovecraftians do not necessarily believe that there is a single universe, but as with other dimensions and other perspectives than the human one, knowledge of another universe might bring suffering upon the learner.
However, Lovecraftians believe that one can access another dimension somewhat more easily accessible through dreams, namely the Dreamworld. The Dreamworld, or Dreamlands, presents its own inhabitants and places, but it is usually portrayed as a dangerous land to trek, and one can often grow insane or be captured if one is not easy. Controlling reality there makes it tempting to believe oneself a god, and as such, attempts to truly access the Dreamlands are mostly discouraged by Lovecraftian sects and groups. Only a few, notably Derlethian and Nyarlathotepian, encourage such feats in order to either escape or shape one's own afterlife. However, for those seeking answers at all costs, a dream-quest can be advised, in order to convince the frivolous of the idiocy of such attempts.
The Dreamworld is the only notable dimension able to be looked at by humans without going instantaneously insane, due to its similarity to our own. Most Derlethian branches believe that it is the real and good dimension, and that when the dimension of humans is ended, or the dream-battle of the Gods is over, humanity will be transported to live there. Due to the detailed descriptions left behind by H.P. Lovecraft of the Dreamlands, it is believed that he himself had his own dream-quest, with at least one other person, whose identity has been disputed for many years, but is commonly believed to have been fellow founder Harry Houdini.
While the Great Ones are subject to lots of debate around their nature, it is canonical (and thus almost universally accepted) that the Great Ones are gods residing in the Dreamlands under the protection of the House of Azathoth, or more specifically Nyarlathotep. Some interpret them as fallen Great Old Ones, who have once ruled on Earth but have removed themselves from it and aligned with the Outer Gods. As they are bound to the Earth, they say, they cannot leave far from its dimension or pull, and thus are tied to the Earth, they reside in the Dreamland itself. Others say they are simply deities of another dimension, unrelated to the squabbles of the Great Old Ones, Outer Gods and Elder Gods.
Lovecraftian liturgical practices stem largely from the Canaanism. Practices and customs were adapted from the Brazorian Canaanites, but not all branches emphasize the Canaanite connection. Lovecraftianism as a whole doesn't have a preferred day of worship, but certain cults and groups have their own holy day, with many Derlethians worshipping on Sunday, and many Nyarlathotepian worshipping on Friday.
Most Lovecraftians agree on five general rites or rituals that appear to appease or praise the deity. These include the anointion with sacred oil, the bloodletting of the arms or fingers, the burning of incense, the praise dance (adapted from Canaanism), and the smoking of jimsonweed. On festivities, these five rituals are combined into one large spiritual appeasement or praise ritual known as the Afterlife-Seeking. However, several groups have variations of these rituals, including the replacement of sacred oils with sacred blood, and the bloodletting by sacrifices, or different versions of the praise dance and meditation.
Several other rituals are included in different other groups, such as the dream-quest (similar to hajj), fasting on holy days, the dressing and masking of the body in the image of a god, the smoking of marijuana and the ingestion of LSD, and in some Canaan revivalist groups, the Itisha cue stick choreography.
Prayer is an important aspect in Lovecraftianism, either as a tool of appeasement in order to assure oneself a place in an afterlife, or for the strenght of the bond between believer and deity. It, alongside with meditation and sometimes dream-quests, are the principle modes of private worship and instruments for individual salvation. Although there are no 'Bare-Necronomicon'-canonical ways of prayer, most Lovecraftians genuflect or kneel when praying. If standing, the bow of the head and crossing of arms is also commonly proscribed. Cthulhuian and Nyarlathotepian belief asserts that prayer appeases the deity, strokes its ego and can, but won't always, ensure a place in an afterlife the deity has control over. Derlethian beliefs, however, says that prayer provides energy to the deity and strengthens it. In nearly all Lovecraftianist sects it is believed that prayer also cultivates a relationship between the mortal and the deity, and often praying can help one get into an afterlife. Idolatry is a norm in most Lovecraftian cults, as to distinguish between the many deities within Lovecraftianism. As such, Lovecraftian houses or areas of worship display and feature statues or images of the deity worshipped by the cult primarily, and maybe other secondary deities to the cult or group also depicted.
Lovecraftian prayer ranges from simple prayer and meditation to elaborate rituals. Cthulhuian and Derlethian groups will often burn saffron or rosemary in special lamps adapted from Canaanism called queesha during congregations. As Nyarlathotepian cults usually prefer outside worship, braziers filled with cedar branches and incense made from cedar resin, symbolizing death and most importantly the Outer Gods, are burned instead.
Meditation is regarded as distinct from prayer in almost all Lovecraftian branches, but the meaning of it varies by group. In Cthulhuian groups, it is to connect to the Dream-World, for Nyarlathotepians it is to reconnect with the primordial oblivion, the Mashalca, and for Derlethians it is to reconnect one with the deity and to clear one's mind and body of sin and evil. Chants and certain poses are thought to enhance one's connection with the deity and meditations alone are believed to induce premonitions and visions, but any reconnection and closeness to a deity can bring it upon someone. While not all branches view meditation in a completely positive lens, all of them admit that it has its uses. Through meditation, most Lovecraftianists learn to detach themselves from earthly bonds and prepare themselves for the afterlife they will experience, and connect on a deeper level with the deity they want to appease or praise. Through strengthening the bond with the deity, it helps provide a safe future for you and your family, and prevents a family curse from being instilled on the person. Entering a "permanent" meditative state mentally is considered dangerous by many Lovecraftianists, due to the mind not being able to comprehend the realities seen during mortal life, and as such, people who meditate too much are thought to have their sanity slowly being chipped away. Sanitary institutions funded by cults called shalodo are used to house people who have gone insane from meditation as well as dream-questing.
Lovecraftians believe that afterlifes exist, but are restricted in access, due to the selfish nature of most gods. Cthulhuian and Derlethian branches of Lovecraftianism promote dream-quests in order to perform a sort of pelerinage to Kadath, the abode of the gods, while Nyarlathotepian groups promote it for the shaping of their own worlds. However, the practice of dream-questing is not as wide-spread as it used to be, as dream-quests are caused by the consumption of jimsonweed and then later LSD, and health risks had been brought up by the church leaderships in the 1970s, as well as the dangers of sanity loss through dream-questing. While the Dreamlands are believed to be mostly safe for humans to view, but as it is accessible by all deities, it is believed that dangers are nonetheless present which warrant the ban of the practice. As with meditation, people who lose their sanity in the Dreamworld are interned in a shalodo along with those driven insane by the visions and encounters they had.
Blood and Sacrifice
One of the five rites practiced by almost all the Lovecraftian denominations includes "bloodletting", a practice inspired by the Canaanite pushar. Lovecraftianists believe that blood is either especially attention-drawing for the deities or believe that it is holy for their deity, depending on the branch of Lovecraftianism. As in Canaanism, the blood is procured using a needle and is stored in a vial, is purified by father, then put in a holy chalice called a shekul to be mixed with holy oil and burned. The ritual is either to strenghten or seek the attention of a deity. However, some Nyarlathotepian groups take the Canaanite concept of pushar a step further, by adding food offerings into the shekul, usually of meat, but also of fruit and vegetables, and in some more extremist groups, animals are slaughtered over a shekul, and their blood offered to the deity. However, in some criminal and illegal Nyarlathotepian groups, it is believed that the blood of human sacrifices are used to please and entertain the deities.
In contemporary history, the practice of blood and sacrifice has been one of the faith's most controversial and criticized beliefs, primarily fixated on the serious health concerns and risks raised from bloodletting. Following heightened awareness of the AIDS epidemic and other blood-borne diseases similar to HIV, the non-Lovecraftian public and critics have questioned the safety procedures of the clergy on screening participants in the bloodletting ceremony and the sterilization of the vial. Three widely documented cases in 1989, 1991 and 1995 were all related to church members contracting HIV following exposure to an HIV-positive member's blood. In the 1998 Supreme Court case de Bruyne v. Temple of Cthulhu, the Court deemed that places of worship that conducted bloodletting ceremonies be required to ensure that all participants had been screened for HIV/AIDS or other diseases, and clergymen who knowingly allowed HIV-positive members to share the same tools as healthy individuals be held responsible for criminal transmission of HIV.
Officially, mainstream Lovecraftian groups maintain that all individuals who have been confirmed with the congregation are allowed and encouraged to participate in the bloodletting ceremony irrespective of their medical conditions, in order to allow them an equal chance to get an afterlife. In 1999, in response to the case, the Temple of Cthulhu allowed individuals to produce their own needle to draw blood with into the vial in an effort to combat concerns and fear. Mainstream Derlethian, Cthulhuian and Nyarlathotepian cults followed suit in 2000. A small minority of extreme cults have rejected these safety precautions and maintain the need of the communal use of the needle.
Nyarlathotepian groups who sacrifice animals have come in clashes with PETA and animal rights activists due to the killing of an innocent animal for religious purposes. While the groups defend their practices by claiming freedom of religion, many buildings under the control of said groups have been raided by PETA and other similar organizations. A lawsuit between PETA and the Den of the Whispering Man, the Covenant of Samael and the Chalice of the Orbs is currently ongoing within the Northeast Union.
Lovecraftianism doesn't possess completely universal holy books, but all the scriptures a cult recognizes are compiled into what is called a Necronomicon. As many prophets and wise men have added stories that are considered canon by at least one of the groups, a canonical compilation of texts doesn't exist. The texts are usually revealed as parables presented in tales of fiction based on real events. The first texts were written by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, who are said to have undergone spiritual travels in order to find the truth about the universe. Due to the many disagreements on the validity of various texts, a collection of texts known as the "Bare-Necronomicon" has been compiled, which are composed mostly of the texts of the founders and texts written and commented about by Lovecraft in good light. The Bare-Necronomicon has been accepted by almost all groups, but still disputes arise.
Due to the large amount of stories and books in this collection, the collection is released in 6 volumes, commonly under the name "The Bare-Necronomicon, Vol. x". The Bare-Necronomicon has been released in over 50 languages. Every major cult has also extra volumes of the Necronomicon, which are released with other to them canonical stories.
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 1
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 1|
The Terrible Old Man
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 2
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 2|
The Nameless City
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 3
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 3|
The Call of Cthulhu
The Thing in the Moonlight
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 4
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 4|
The Horror in the Museum
The Challenge from Beyond
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 5
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 5|
The Black Stone
Dig Me No Grave
Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 6
|Bare-Necronomicon Vol. 6|
The Horror from the Middle Span
The Shuttered Room
Origins and Foundation
Lovecraftianism originated in the 1920s in New York City at the end of a transcontinental period of religious awakening and furor known as the Third Great Awakening. Lovecraftianism outright rejects Christian influences, but inherited some roots from Canaanism, from which it descends. H.P. Lovecraft, a Northeastern writer from New England, supposedly possessed what was called a wild imagination at that time. Although raised as a Congregationalist, Lovecraft was an atheist as a young adult. His religious views were fundamentally changed following a dream of a nightmarish monster in space (who became Cthulhu). Convinced that there were deities, although still influenced by his atheistic youth, Lovecraft sought to understand these beings he dreamed of. Continuing to write about the things he dreamed of, he eventually met disillusioned Canaanist Robert E. Howard in 1924, who introduced him to the concepts of Canaanism. Lovecraft felt himself drawn to the concepts of the Bashalca and Baahgul and took Howard under his wing, but soon came to see John Casingden much in the same way as other religious founders, as people who misunderstood the world, but at the same time thought he had come closest to understanding the cosmic power. By 1926, Lovecraft and Howard met the famous illusionist Harry Houdini, who became fascinated by Lovecraft and Howard's writings.
According to an entry in Lovecraft's journal in 1927, Lovecraft and a second man (thought to be either Howard or Houdini, but some say Derleth) undertook a dream-quest together while sleeping on the banks of Lake Champlain in Vermont, where they discovered the truth in their theories and dreams. The journey of Lovecraft in the Dreamlands saw them meet many deities, such as Nyarlathotep, Cthulhu and Hastur, with the second party member going insane due to the forbidden knowledge. It is said Cthulhu offered Lovecraft a place in R'lyeh in the afterlife if he served and sacrificed for him. According to Lovecraft, this is when the stones are set for the foundation of the Temple of Cthulhu, the first and largest Lovecraftian sect.
The religion was founded in the first weeks of 1928, and Lovecraft, Howard and Houdini wanted to attract people to abandon the religions which has weakened and deluded man from the truth of the universe. At first, the three were rebuffed as Christians denounced them as non-believers who will enter Hell. However, after the start of the Great Depression, many poor people in New York City flocked to the religion followed by the three, most notably August Derleth, who would become an important figure in the church. Many, including many religious people were convinced due to Harry Houdini's and Robert E. Howard's miracles, such as the Great Ball of Electricity of 1929, which Howard raised from the depths of the East River in the December of 1929. Lovecraft only performed one miracle, that being the Holding of Fire, in January of 1930.
First Great Flowering
The Temple of Cthulhu attracted a plethora of followers, including several upper class New Yorkers. Lovecraft himself opened the second temple of the faith in Brooklyn, and the third in Providence, Rhode Island. The three founders inducted several members of the amassed congregation into a priesthood, and took over responsibilities as leaders of the Temple. However, cracks within the Temple leadership appeared, as Harry Houdini supported the new Social Democratic president Ezio Fiorentino De Gregoriis, while Lovecraft and Howard wrote against socialist ideas.
An anti-Lovecraftianist protest occured within New York City in 1931, attended by many Christian groups calling for the government to ban the extremist and religious group that was the Temple. Due to the Great Depression, however, City Hall did nothing, and the government in New Haven was too concerned with a big infrastructure program to relieve the country. And at the same time, many intellectuals in New York City, Boston and Providence began to dedicate themselves to Lovecraftianism, creating a massive wave. Eventually, many temples were opened by the Temple of Cthulhu all around the country, from Buffalo to Portland, began to join. The membership grew from about 300,000 people in 1931 to 1 million in 1933, resulting in a bloom of new followers, writings and interest. Magazines at the time called the movement the 'tentaclemania', a name which has remained in use in circles in the states of Erie and Allegheny.
The death of founder Harry Houdini in 1934 did nothing to stop the growth, and while the group under Lovecraft and Howard protested against the Social-Democratic government, it still couldn't muster up enough opposition to it. The Temple of Cthulhu continued to grow, and it seemed that the unity of the group would be preserved. However, the group didn't expect what was to come soon.
Deaths of the Founders and First Great Schism
On February 13th, 1936, while conducting a blood-letting ceremony, Howard was shot point-blank in the heart, killing him instantly. The assassin, Eugene Templeton, was an Evangelical Presbyterian who believed Howard and Lovecraft were devil-worshippers and needed to be killed. Templeton was locked up in a mental health facility, and during trial, he admitted that his real target was Lovecraft, who wasn't present at the time due to illness. Lovecraft was heartbroken, and only with regret chose August Derleth as his successor, as Howard was his preferred successor. The illness that prevented Lovecraft from attending that meeting, turns out, was small intestine cancer. Lovecraft suffered off it throughout 1936, and finally passed away on March 15th, 1937, leaving the church in the hands of August Derleth. Lovecraft was buried in the Lovecraftian Cemetery Grounds in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Derleth had different ideas on the Mythos, contradicting those of other prominent members such as Henry Kuttner, Frank Belknap Long, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch and Fritz Leiber. He had support from Henry S. Whitehead, which kept the unity of the Temple of Cthulhu together until his death from a stroke in 1938. After that, Kuttner and Bloch demanded Derleth step down as leader of the Temple due to his ridiculous ideas, and an initiative by them cast him out of the Temple. Derleth retaliated by founding the Church of Ulthar the Watchful, and a large amount of members from the Temple followed him, especially more moderate believers who disagreed with the doom and gloom messages of the Temple. A large theological debate between the Cthulhuians and the Ultharians (later called Derlethians). Due to the perceived forceful takeover of the Temple by Kuttner and Bloch, as well as other disagreements, Leibner founded his own church called the Court of Hastur, but didn't stray too far from Temple of Cthulhu doctrine. Clark Ashton Smith saw the chaos, and with his differing views already known, founded the Cult of the Crawling Chaos, forming the first Nyarlathotepian group.
The groups bickered, and in some case, violence broke out amongst the groups, causing even more damage to Lovecraftianism's reputation. While this went on, the Second World War was going on, and many young Lovecraftians were drafted into the army. One of the first nations in North America to enter the conflict, the Northeast Union joined as a result of existing alliances with the British Empire, and supplied munition and men to the allied cause. Lovecraftianism spread through the military, and while open practice of it in the army was banned, many cults were formed by soldiers, which still form the backbone of a large number of these groups. This also normalized relations between Christians and Lovecraftians, who at first saw the Lovecraftians as demon-worshippers, but came to see a large part of them as misguided pessimists (Cthulhuians) or good-willed pagans (Derlethians).
The Dartmouth Controversy and Years of Repression
While the view of Lovecraftians changed, and they became more accepted, as the Cold War progressed, the culture of the Northeast Union became more conservative and the Liberal-Republican government wanted to promote traditionalism in order to combat the atheistic Soviet Union. As such, Lovecraftians began to be subtly discriminated by the government, especially groups that didn't support them, such as Derlethian and Nyarlathotepian groups. Such paranoia soon began turning into discrimination against Lovecraftians. Many businesses began firing all Lovecraftians within their groups,