"Quetzalcoatl vs Yog-Sothoth"    [ 17 ]   
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Sept 2016
 Quetzalcoatl

Quetzalcoatl (not to be confused with Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli) was a pretty big deal back in his day some millennia ago. He was a deity in the ancient Mayan culture who figured prominently in most everything they worried about, often depicted as a great winged serpent up to all sorts of shenanigans like the kind pictured at right. (This search in 'Google Images' offers a nice variety of possible appearances) Depending on who you ask, Quetzalcoatl presided over light in general along with the morning star (Venus), justice and mercy, and the wind (??), and invented books, calendars, and maize (corn), among exhibiting other fundamental powers. Pretty busy guy. He also moonlighted as the 'symbol of death and resurrection' which doesn't seem all that surprising, I suppose. But he was a pretty happenin' god, especially when brooding over his minions 2,500± years ago. However, he was nothing but a pigeon-toed chump compared to the likes of the reality-altering YOG-SOTHOTH · · ·

 Yog-Sothoth
YOG-SOTHOTH

From Wikipedia: “Coterminous with all time and space, Yog-Sothoth is supposedly locked outside of the universe we inhabit, existing in a state that has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike.” This is pretty Major League. As an absolute neutral being, Yog-Sothoth stands guard at, or just is the "Gate of the Multiverse" — Take THAT, Quetzalcoatl! — one to whom even the 'Old Ones' owe some manner of unspoken allegiance. And he (it [whatevs]) is also the "eater of souls", so watch out for that . . .

H.P. Lovecraft, originator of the literary Cthulhu mythos from whence sprang this entity, describes Yog-Sothoth as [try reading this out loud - it's fun] “great globes of light massing toward the opening, and not alone these, but the breaking apart of the nearest globes, and the protoplasmic flesh that flowed blackly outward to join together and form that eldritch, hideous horror from outer space, that spawn of the blankness of primal time, that tentacled amorphous monster which was the lurker at the threshold, whose mask was as a congeries of iridescent globes, the noxious Yog-Sothoth, who froths as primal slime in nuclear chaos beyond the nethermost outposts of space and time!” This goes waaaay beyond Quetzalcoatl, with protoplasmic flesh flowing blackly at the very boundaries of conceivable (and inconceivable) space/time . . .

Yog-Sothoth could literally blow your mind just trying to think about him/it!

Another 'Google Image' search provides some extra flavor of the insanity-laced visage of Yog-Sothoth, which is not something easily modeled in, say, Sculpy .. though I'm sure some have tried (and probably lost their minds for it). Troublesome as Yog-Sothoth is, he/it is still not the most terrifying member of the Cthulhu pantheon, nor the most famous. That honor belongs to the namesake of the mythos, Cthulhu himself, first unleashed upon the world in Lovecraft's ©1926 "The Call of Cthulhu" (◄ eReading printable link). More stories naturally followed:

  • "The Colour Out of Space" (1927)
  • "History of the Necronomicon" (1927/1938)
  • "The Dunwich Horror" (1929)
  • "The Whisperer in the Darkness" (1931)
  • "At the Mountains of Madness" (1931/1936)
  • "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" (1931/1936)
  • "The Thing on the Doorstep" (1933/1937)
  • "The Shadow Out of Time" (1936)
  • "The Haunter of the Dark" (1936)

There are a slew of others, but you get the idea. H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe would have gotten along swimmingly, I am sure, but they were separated by about 70 years ... probably fortunate for everyone else.  Anyway, Lovecraft created his fanciful mythology with the express intent it should be freely expanded upon by other writers, some of whom invented completely new beasties and races, linking traces of his core lore to even loftier ideals on occasion. The entire enterprise now spans almost an entire century, sprawling over a wide milieu of media, which speaks volumes for the first borderline-crazy yarn presented in a 1920's edition of horror/fantasy pulp magazine 'Weird Tales'.

Scores of original Lovecraftian stories lured from the fringes of Cosmic Madness a vast menagerie of twisted monstrosities, but not all Cthulhu creatures are shapeless blobs of psychosis-inducing terror (though that is a prominent recurring feature). Some sport tentacles and/or wings, cylindrical, undead, or shape-shifting bodies ~ all sorts of ghastly and unearthly manifestations. Consider these sketches of just a few of his more provocative eldritch concoctions:

 
The malignant and terrible CTHULHU
 Cthulhu
        the Great Race, the Yith
 Great Race, the Yith
(an) Elder Thing (aka: Old One)
 Elder Thing
    (a) shoggoth
 shoggoth
 

Many more lurk along the tracing shadows of madness!  This particular lineup [artwork: Erol Otus] comes courtesy of the original ©1980 first edition of "Deities & Demigods", a curious if impractical collection of mythologies and their gods, heroes, and villains. Some represented actual cultural legends while others (such as Lovecraft's Cthulhu and Michael Moorcock's Melnibonéan mythos) were invented for this tome and assigned more or less arbitrary stats. It was a fine idea to collect pantheons for RPG purposes, but kind of a dorkus move to make such fantasy gods nothing much more than killable über-monsters . . . seriously . . . (I'm looking at you, Q1 & Lolth)

These sketches above are nice and all, but pale in comparison to what Lovecraft actually imagined and described. Take that shoggoth on the far right, for instance. Those creatures were multifaceted servants genetically designed and created by the Elder Things / Old Ones and forced to build a great city for them in the hidden recesses of Antarctica. The shoggoth eventually rose up against their rulers in a monumental war. Eons later, one of these things was actually found alive (and quite agitated, apparently) by an expedition forging deep into the southernmost continent . . and it looked nothing like that amicable rendition over there — No sir. It looked more like ▼ THIS ▼

 Deities & Demigods
 
 shoggoth

Just imagine the SHOCK experienced by this lonely explorer!

(a) gibbering mouther
 Gibbering Mouther

Yeah, that's more like what a real shoggoth looks like!

It's understandable, I suppose, how folks sometimes still confuse a shoggoth for a gibbering mouther, as each exhibit the same basic amorphous form. However, a shoggoth is ominous and enormous and fairly intelligent, while a gibbering mouther is more of a senseless anomaly of writhing terror, filling the volumic space of roughly one room before splitting off into more gibbering masses. It also does not sport the “protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous” that undulate through your standard-issue shoggoth. Make no mistake: encountering either one of these equates to Really Bad News, so I suppose it doesn't matter a whole lot either way .. but I felt it was important to point out the key differences between them: the larger created by the Old Ones to serve as shape-shifting slaves, and the other an oddity seemingly squeezed from the chaos of the Void plane, or maybe oozing from the Limbo plane. (This is still widely debated)

For anyone honestly interested in learning more about Cthulhu lore in general, this seems to be a pretty comprehensive Wikipedia page detailing its deities and other powerful entities, monsters, and key locales, with IRL accounts about how the mythos grew in the hands of various authors. Plenty of links to sources will get you going.  :-)  Just watch out for the 'Mi-go', and if ever invited [or summoned] to by R'lyeh, never ever go! It will ruin your entire day, without a doubt, and quite possibly your entire dimension.

And none of this is real.

Not Quetzalcoatl / and not a single stitch of Cthulhu.

So why am I even writing about any of this?

And worse, why are you wasting your time reading it?

The human heart and mind have such a hard-wired proclivity to amass fathomless quantities of what can be readily identified as Completely Worthless Data. We spend years researching it, accumulating it, poring over it, memorizing it, espousing it, and even teaching it!

—    Oh, don't you give me that look    —

If sci-fi or fantasy is not your thing, let's talk about Sports statistics, shall we?

Or movie trivia. Or Art. Or History. Or cars. Or countless hobby-level themes!

Superman could squash Batman like a bug - no question. Don't even bother arguing: one sour look with his HEAT-RAY VISION and he would incinerate the Bat into a shifty pile of guano ash. WHY do we know this? Why would anyone in the real world even care about such nonsense?? How is it that imaginary lands and cultures such as Middle Earth and Narnia beckon our hearts so earnestly? Why does DUNE fascinate us so... or Star Trek or Star Wars, or the millions of unreal worlds accessible through books and films and songs and plays? (‘Harry Potter’ anyone? ‘Game of Thrones’ ring any bells..?)

ALL of these fables are simply metaphors reflecting the real issues and concerns and fears of humanity in the real world. This being a deeply studied subject in its own right, I will not belabor the point here. But what haunts me as a Christian is the troublesome thought that I have dumped YEARS of my time, energy, focus, heart, mind, and soul into these vats of creative allegories at the expense of seeking after Real Concerns with legitimately TRUE and LASTING VALUE, things that actually touch on and reach into Eternity!  For a bit of perspective, consider the following account from the 1879 execution of one of England's most nefarious criminals, Charlie Peace [ironic name]:

    Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the reply. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell. Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase without a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings”?
    All this was too much for Charlie Peace. Addressing the preacher, he said, “Sir, if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worthwhile living just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!”
— “Why Revival Tarries” (Leonard Ravenhill)

~    This is a sobering indictment    ~

Now, before some of you write in and call me [falsely] a Catholic, recommending I take my dump truck of misplaced guilt to the nearest confessional, keep in mind that I am only popping up the hood to expose this universal engine in the human psyche. (Don't hate the player - hate the game) Yog-Sothoth may be an obvious progenitor to the vastly more farcical 'Flying Spaghetti Monster', but both mean absolutely nothing. They and their ilk are completely void of intrinsic value. Sure, they stand as icons of points to argue — but again: What's the end game if Objective Truth is not a part of the discussion? (And don't try arguing there is no such thing as 'objective truth' as mathematics, physics, natural order and cross-cultural moral norms evidentially crush such suppositions) ~ Why do we all willingly spend so much time and energy on trivial matters catering to such fanciful pursuits..? Outside of a bit of fun, to swing too far and so wide as many of us do constitutes what amounts to a colossal waste of time / energy / LIFE! And please do not think I am throwing stones all helter-skelter. I am painted in these colors more than most, I'm afraid, down to the bone...Nobody forced me to write what you are reading now, or threatened me with blackmail to acquire such volumes of minutia about Cthulhu... or Star Trek... or Rush...  This is all on me and only serves to illustrate the point.

Metaphors and allegories and fables, both ancient and modern, are good insofar as they portray genuine TRUTH. (Even Jesus taught in colorful and extreme parables - it really is OK) But when we become unduly captivated by the shapes and forms of the metaphors themselves and NOT the Truths behind their forms, then much is lost in our day-to-day lives. It is a fine line to weigh effective communication methods against rampant fandom... a least it seems to me. I look with great respect at more focused believers who have gone before me, men and women who, while by no means perfect, truly engaged their societies and even entire cultures by rightly applying the time, energy, and resources they were given. They pursued more meaningful goals instead of filling their lives and minds with [or even creating] convoluted fantasies like the Cthulhu bestiary, for instance... But on the same token may be found some of the most glorious stories that honestly and properly inspire! I guess a proper balance may be found so long as such fantasies do not deplete one's limited time here on earth... It is good to cause or be inspired; not good to be consumed by illusions. - - - Kinda makes me wonder if I've written a little too pointedly about even this here and now . ..

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