What is the Book "King in Yellow"

- a speculative essay on what may have inspired the idea.

T. Jantsang

First, a few things about Lovecraft's High Priest in Yellow to separate him away from the King in Yellow of the Hastur stories, and a few things about the use of Hastur and Lovecraft's own intentions against it.

Lovecraft had a clear concept that, to some readers, is obvious. Perhaps this was not his intention, but that seems very hard to believe! (see Crypt of Cthulhu #2, "What was the Corpse Eating Cult of Leng" by Professor Robert Price). The Priest in the Yellow Robe and/or Yellow Mask in Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, where we meet the Leng-men who worship Nyarlathotep, is a Yellow-Hat Lama. In this tale, the Priest in the Yellow Robe takes Randolph Carter to Nyarlathotep. Nyarlathotep is like Hermes/Thoth and, more clearly and specifically the same as Mahakala or Sri Kala Chakra, the Deity (wrongly thought of as a "Devil-God") of all Eastern Lamas. This is not a Deity in any monotheistic sense, which causes a lot of confusion for Western scholars. Evidently HPL didn't know about Red-Hats or Black-Hats! Yellow-Hats are considered "the nice guys." (Actually, they can each be nice or not-nice. The colors of the "hats" is a cultural as-given.)

Leng is clearly placed in Central Asia in The Hound. Despite Leng being transplanted into the dreamlands, the allusions remain Central Asian and the High Priest with the yellow mask worships the Crawling Chaos Nyarlathotep (i.e., not Hastur!). Lovecraft moves Leng once again in At the Mountains of Madness but the allusions are still to Central Asia, which he mentions by name. Finally, in a letter to Robert Bloch, Lovecraft calls him the "Lama of Leng." The name itself, "Leng" could have been derived from "Lenger" a mountainous region in Central Asia (inhabited by Turko-Tatars) or from the Lingku district of Lhasa. Dr. Price seems to see the Tibetan region, Lhasa, and the Dalai Lama in all of this, even though Lovecraft himself keeps saying "Central Asia." People, including Dr. Price, are unfamiliar with non-Tibetan Lamaism and non-Tibetan Lamas since their traditions are not usually written down, and most Westerners are unfamiliar with the Central Asian terrain of the Turko-Tatar lands since, truly, very few Westerners have ever been there! It is extremely harsh and barren land, often impassable, just as Lovecraft describes (while Lhasa is not). The Turko-Tatar Lamaist view of the "Oneness" is a lot more chaotic than is the Dalai Lama's view of this Deity. (Most Turko-Tatars are Moslems, but the few Lamaists are Buddhists and quite different from the Tibetans in all ways. The rest are Shamanist. They are also a distinctly separate ethnic group that speak an unrelated language.). Amongst the Turko-Tatar Lamas are some Warrior Lamas - and they did do human sacrifices and other things, suited for Lovecraft's fiction, when they took that path. There wasn't much written about Tibet back then, but Lovecraft did have access to the account of Marco Polo, which describes the Central Asian region in detail.

Not only does Lovecraft call the man wearing the yellow robe and mask the "Lama of Leng," but Lovecraft claims he represents the "Tcho-Tcho" people. "Chocho" - a word probably from the Tatar-Mongol word "Chotgor," which means devil, also means an attacking type of dog. To call a person a "chocho" is to call him an "evil magician/attack dog." It's similar to Westerners calling a person a "bitch." No one means to call anyone a "female dog." The connotation is as-given. Milarepa (Tibetan student of Marpa from the Kargyu school) is called this after he does black magic that destroys a village. It is not likely that Lovecraft knew about Milarepa at that time. But it is likely he may have run into the word "chocho" at some time, perhaps in New York. He may have also known of Amursana, one of the Turko-Tatar warrior Lamas. There were some accounts of peoples of the Central Asian region after the Soviets took over the entire area and modernized it a bit. Still, I never saw any and I have no idea if Lovecraft did. My guess is he heard the word in New York, probably from a Turk - it's like a "curse word." Example, one doesn't have to know Italian or go to Italy to hear "Ba Fangula" and pick it up. Then again, if Lovecraft made the word up, well, then he coincidentally invented a word that IS the word for an "evil black magician thug." Are the Tcho-Tcho people black magicians and thugs?

The concept of the deity Nyarlathotep is clear in Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, for when Nyarlathotep sends Randolph Carter on his Shantak ride, the big secret Carter learns is that he actually seeks HIMSELF. This echoes Durga (similar to Kali Ma): The Mirror - a facet of Mahakala. In this aspect, Durga has no face/no form, yet has a million faces/forms. Durga is not a Phantom of Truth or a liar: Durga shows INNER-Truth and if your "truth of self" is horrific, you'll see it! The "short path" of Tantra that Dr. Price refers to in his article is not attained by "doing forbidden things" - that is a Western confusion and gross misperception. Anyone can come to "gain this enlightenment" by reading the Dark Tradition section of our website, or reading our articles (sold) in more detail - IF they have it already in them to "hear" such things and know them. There is nothing forbidden about that! Doing forbidden things is just more illusion, more like rebellion, and it accomplishes nothing in the way of attaining enlightenment about the "Void." That's just a psychological crutch-mechanism that works if you are extremely repressed, so much so that you can't just use logic to throw off silly taboos. But Dr. Price is correct in what he says about the Dzogschen Sect, though they are not the only sect that practiced such things as "eating the corpse of a highly enlightened Lama." Most Shamanist cultures did such things, or they ate the heart of a very brave warrior (enemy or ally), or the brains of a very wise teacher. He is also 100% correct when he says that realization of the Unity of All Things and getting in touch with the Primal Oneness, the Undifferentiated Chaos, is the Nirvana we speak of - and if a Mythos name would be properly given to our Deity, The Dark Lord of Transcendent Awareness, the Darkness Which is One, it would, indeed, be Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, the Soul and Messenger! He is incorrect in assuming that only one sect has this as a Deity! They all do.

I do not see how Hastur can possibly be a Cthulhu Mythos entity, except to be in a Mythos story as an ally of man, as in August Derleth's Trail of Cthulhu. Lovecraft told Derleth he was against the use of Hastur, therefore, my view is that Hastur is something else, not a Mythos entity. I stick by Lovecraft and while I may like the tales of other writers as entertaining and even lovable, I dismiss their ideas entirely. Ambrose Bierce's Hastur is just too nice. Robert Chambers' Hastur is just a place or a person, or both. Marion Zimmer Bradley adopted Hastur and wrote books about it - Hastur is nice. Hastur, as I mentioned, is the name of a place or person or being. Who says that people do not have the same names as places? Nowhere, not even in In the Court of the Dragon, does Chambers ever say Hastur is a deity.

Lin Carter's error. He made Hastur into the Deity of the Mi-Go. This is 100% incorrect and contra Lovecraft. Nyarlathotep is the deity of the Mi-Go from Yuggoth, in Whisperer in Darkness; not Hastur. To try to force Hastur into that story is absurd. Lovecraft himself wanted no part of the Hastur Cycle and clearly said so. In Whisperer in Darkness, Lovecraft even threw in that the enemies of the Old Ones were "Those of the Yellow Sign" referring to Chambers' "Yellow Sign" that all those of Hastur have. Lovecraft's "Unspeakable" and his "He Who is Not to Be Named" is YOG-SOTHOTH.

Chamber's book "The King in Yellow" - not the novel in print containing short stories, but the secret book or play spoken of in the 5 "Hastur" stories, is a book that, once read, causes angst, despair and an in-general "what's the use" attitude toward life and the world. There is a secret line of Kings alluded to from places that impinge on Earth or who sometimes are on earth. It's like conspiracy theory; once you fall in with it, it's everywhere and even the most mundane things, even things you like, take on new and often sinister meaning.

The gist of what this sinister book can do: Imagine reading a book and finding things you normally like to do written about in the book, in detail. Then you read that your enjoyed activity is controlled by forces you know nothing about. Example: many people throughout history have liked to watch games or sports. It is then logical to find other people who like to play this game. Then, you build a stadium with seats for spectators. This is, in fact, quite natural! But according to the book, there are forces controlling this, luring people to watch games to whittle away their time with foolishness, when your valuable time "should" be spent doing worthwhile things. O.K.: first of all, what is a worthwhile thing? Work? That's the Christian work ethic! Who calls entertainment and play "foolishness?" Christians always did. Who believed (and still believes somewhat) that there are forces tempting man all the time? Christians do. Who tends to get bent out of shape when they learn that the Cosmos doesn't care whether they even exist or not? Christians do!-- (what, no personal god watching over them? Oh horrors!) The point is, if you read, in detail, of a plot that planned to get masses of humans frenzied at football stadiums, and then you looked up and saw this really happening, you'd come away feeling that either the author knows human nature really well and is preying on the fears of superstitious idiots; or that there really is a plot out there, somewhere! Can you find the plot? Well, you certainly can't find it if Hastur is behind it! Nor can you find this plot if there are demons behind it! Keep this in mind: people who believe this, eventually will look for it! Then they'll find someone to blame!

Let us continue with something more emotional: the plotters decide to send forth tempters to lure people into all sorts of perversions. What do they mean by perversion? Jeffrey Dahmer the serial killer? Suppose all they mean is "homosexual?" Homosexuality is an inborn thing, but most people in the 1800's didn't know this. Christians considered this a perversion. Sadly, some homosexuals believed this, but they still had homosexual feelings! It is only natural that they will respond to another of their own kind! But suppose the book implies that someone out there is plotting to go out and lure people into homosexual behavior? There are some homosexuals (even today) that would actually believe this is possible! If you logically consider this: it would be as absurd to believe that a born Lesbian could be turned into a non-Lesbian if a man raped her! The point is, the book is around in the 1800's, and according to this book, there is a plot to lure people into these behaviors. We know today that people who are born gay will naturally gravitate toward this. Others will not and nothing would be able to persuade them, or "tempt" them into it! (If you don't like coffee, you DON'T LIKE COFFEE! - Period!) Just as there are people that are just good with sports and as little children love to play with a ball, and they tend to like watching sports. No one lures them or "makes them" into sports fans.

Let us continue: today, even though Christians love to "morally condemn" people instead of looking at the biochemical/genetic facts - alcoholism is known to be caused by a chemical imbalance. However in the 1800's, this was not known to most people. You can't lure a person "into alcoholism" - the person would just get so drunk he'd get sick and probably not drink again. People with the gene for alcoholism would become alcoholics. But the book tells you that there is a plot out there, somewhere, to lure people into such behavior!

Let us continue: the book even talks about how the plot is to incite men, whole countries, to war. The plotters/controllers will never take sides, but they will appear to support both sides, so that men can slaughter each other. They'll sell weapons to both sides, and etc. Now the book has taken a turn. It has become: POLITICAL. Such a book might end up banned, not because it is true, but because of what such beliefs can lead to. The murder of two or three related and innocent people is the least of what this could lead to.

Imagine reading such a book and then looking to find, or even accidentally finding, that the money that went to support your country, and the money that went to support the enemy country, came from two people who are RELATED to each other! Please keep in mind, no one believes there is an entity called Hastur controlling these events from far in the Hyades! But MANY people believed (and still do believe) that demons are controlling all this behavior (pick your own "evil behavior" and label it evil) from Hell! Just because one fiction is only shared by some Mythos fans, and the other fiction is shared by an entire religion consisting of millions of people, does not make either a non-fiction! Neither does a very new Mythos Religion become invalid because it's newer than the older established religions! If you doubt that, then ask yourself the next time one of them knocks on your door to tell you all about the Beast: WHO is the Beast? What the hell are these lunatics babbling about? Consider: they BELIEVE what they are babbling about! Are they talking about HASTUR IN THE HYADES? Or SATAN IN HELL? Consider that these people live their lives based on this belief, they fear things they see everyday, they see EVIL PLOTS everywhere, at every turn there is something evil out to GET THEM, SNARE THEM, LURE THEM, whole armies of The Damned are out to ensnare them: "THE SAVED!" They are too demented to realize that the only temptations that exist are their OWN DESIRES! Well: if you desire to watch sports, someone will get the idea to build a sports stadium and find a group of other people willing to play the sport in the stadium. We call that forethought, not plotting.

Let us say that you read such a book, but you do not have the Christian temperament to go out and "crusade against invisible enemies." Instead, you realize that every move you make is almost predictable, can be manipulated, can be determined! What happened to the free will you thought you had? The fact is, 99% of what people think is free will is not free will at all, it is just biological mechanisms at work. Some humans are terrified of that idea: they like to feel "in control." Others are liberated by that idea and, in a deep sense, always KNEW this - that is because this group of people just flowed, bloomed; they never tried to control things, they just LET GO. The others? Well, they read this book, and they get strange ideas. Some think that they must be possessed by demons, or are a hereditary King in Hastur's line. Some go out and try to find the "conspiracy." Some just give up on life: nihil or angst sets in.

Is this the "King in Yellow?" This is what the book is supposed to be about, this is what the book does to people. But what was the real book that actually was written that DID this to people? What book is LITERALLY a book with truths in it, that are lies: a PHAMTOM OF TRUTH? I there such a book? Oh yes, there surely is. And Chambers (author of the King in Yellow) had to have known about it!

Maurice Joly (1831-1878) wrote a book that appeared in Brussels, published anonymously in 1864 or 1865. The book was called "Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu." Joly was part of the in-general Hermetic culture, that is, he knew human nature inside out! He did not like "Machiavellian politics" or "absolutism." "Machiavelli" came to represent the politics of "might, force, coercion" which Joly despised; whereas Montesquieu represented the politics of "right, correct, fair." Joly wrote about his feelings in 1870 in Son passe, son programme.

The fact is, Machiavelli loved freedom as much as Thomas Jefferson! But because he wrote The Prince, originally entitled The Principality, the Christians slandered him, saying the book was inspired by the Devil. They even called him "Old Nick." Instead of realizing that The Prince was simply a work of literature, the Christians just slandered the man who wrote it! It got so bad, that Machiavelli was not called "Diabolical" or "Demonic" - the contrary happened! - the Devil was referred to as "Machiavellian!" The entire slander of The Prince as diabolical is just due to heaps of Christian invective, repeated over and over, non-stop, until the fools believe it! Even people today who want to bring up "Machiavelli" do not want to talk about Machiavelli the man. What they end up talking about is the stench that Christianity has imputed to this man and his book! Well, when Joly referred to Machiavelli, he referred to the Christians' idea of him, not to the real man. This Machiavelli is the one in the book Dialogues in Hell. Why does the dialogue take place in Hell? Well, it ties into another tale Machiavelli told, Belphegor, the Marriage of the Devil, a comedy about a demon trying to find out what married life is like, finding he prefers to return to Hell rather than stay married to a Christian shrew. This tale is based on a much earlier play wherein there are many references to the Classical Idea of Hades, complete with its alien lakes and scenery.

Immediately upon the release of the "Dialogues," the book was banned, confiscated, and Joly was jailed! Why? Because the book got into the touchy subject of POLITICS! What a book! Of course, you can imagine what happened after this: people wanted to read the book! Legends started to form around the book, like the Necronomicon, except that this book, Dialogues in Hell, was quite real.

The plot thickens and a book takes on the form of Big Conspiracies of Hereditary Invisible Ruler Families: In 1884, the daughter of a Russian General, Mlle. Justine Glinka, was in Paris and in communication with General Orgevskii, Secretary to the Minister of the Interior, General Cherevin. In her employ was a man named Joseph Schorst, alias Schapiro. Schorst's father was in jail in London for counterfeiting, that is, passing off something completely fake for something real! Schorst offered to get Mlle. Glinka a "document of great importance to Russia" for a payment of 2,500 franks! After pulling this stunt, Schorst fled to Egypt to avoid the French police, because the stunt he pulled pretty much SHOOK THE WORLD UP.

When the French "document" was shown to General Cherevin, he recognized it as rubbish and filed it away. When Mlle. Glinka returned to Russia, the Czar was displeased. He banished her to her estate in Orel. There, she gave the "document" to the marechal de noblesse, Alexis Sukhotin. Sukhotin showed the "document" to two friends, Stepanov and Nilus. Stepanov had it printed and circulated privately in 1897. Nilus, that is, Professor Sergius A. Nilus, published it in 1901 in Tsarskoe-Tselo, Russia under the new title The Great Within the Small. Then, a friend of the Professor's, G. Butmi, brought out a copy of it and this was put in the British Museum on August 10, 1906.

Later, in January of 1917, Professor Nilus prepared a second edition: REVISED! Before he could put this lunacy on the market, Kerenski (who came to power) ordered the entire new edition destroyed. In 1924, Professor Nilus was arrested by the Cheka (Soviet Police) in Kiev and imprisoned. He was accused of having done an entire minority group incalculable harm. He was set free in February of 1926, two years later, and was exiled. Needless to say, a few copies of the "destroyed edition of the 'document'" were saved and sent to other countries where they were published: Gottfried zum Beck, 1919, Germany; The Briton, 1920; Mgr. Jouin in "La Revue Internationale des Societes Secretes" and Urbain Gohier in "La Vieille," France, possibly in 1920; Small, Maynard & Co., Boston, 1920; The Beckwith Co., New York, 1921. The book can even be obtained today through one of many Christian Conservative Groups. Make no mistake: the book as it is, is DANGEROUSLY CONVINCING! Did Hitler read it? Yes, in fact he did.

The question is, WHO is responsible for the "document" in its present form? Joseph Schorst whose father was a counterfeiter (maybe a good one, maybe a bad one, but it does not mean that Joseph was one)? Or Professor Sergius A. Nilus, a Christian fanatic and rabid Jew-hater who babbled about the Anti-Christ of Zion? Professor Nilus changed the Dialogues in Hell into the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion? We will never know. But a dour, bible-faced, babbling idiot: was Professor Nilus!

I can point to things I do know about. Russia, including the Czarist court, was permeated with mystics and mystical thinking. One need only read about Rasputin to know this. All manner of insane Christian cults (including a eunuch cult) existed throughout Christian Russia. A book about Hell, Demons, and Devils, would have been quite popular; Mlle. Glinka would have paid for such a book, easily, as would anyone else in Paris at that time: the subject was popular! No one would have paid for a book slandering a group of people: they'd have found it boring and dry (it is). But a Professor with such a book would realize that reasonable people would not believe that demons are plotting to control world events. He would also have been knowledgeable enough, and literate enough, to pull this off: and he had a motive - HATE.

The Revolution in 1917 was almost inevitable, how long can working people be expected to live in a feudal system as de facto slaves? The fact is, heading this Revolution were many Freemasons, some of whom were Jewish by culture, not by religion. They were atheists or something similar to atheists. All of them except Lenin himself were Jewish by culture! They believed that religion was an opiate that is intended to make people into stupid slaves. Refer please to Karl Marx and what HE said, not to what others claim he said. (The same type of tampering and slander occurred recently when a Christian helped to translate the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was fired and the translations had to start from scratch. He was not translating. He was writing his own version of history, a fiction.)

Philip Marsh and I personally were given copies of the "document" in its present form as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, in the early 1970's. We both read it and recognized what it was. We tried to tell the people who gave it to us. They became alarmed at what we said. It turned out they were not alarmed that the book they sold was a terrible fraud: they were alarmed that someone KNEW this. In other words: they did NOT WANT TO KNOW about the truth of it. Insistent, Phil tracked down a copy of "Dialogues" and found one under careful supervision in the New York Main Public Library. Looking at it was like looking at the Necronomicon at Miskatonic University, under lock and key, supervised! Therein, he had proof that anyone could go and look at: the original "Dialogues." Did these Christians go and look? NO. They just called him names. One even accused him of being The Devil!

The point: Did Robert Chambers know about the "Dialogues?" It is hard to imagine he did NOT know about it in some form. I personally have to wonder why he chose the color YELLOW. Why not the King in Black, since diabolism is always associated with the color black. WHY YELLOW? Yellow star? Torquemada, himself Jewish, a self-hater who converted to the Christian religion and then proceeded to torture and exterminate hundreds-of-thousands of people, marked Jews with a Yellow Star. The "convert or die" methods were so severe that the only Jews that survived were those who pretended to be Christians. These were called "Marano Jews." Christopher Columbus was a Marano Jew, and he was also a Guild-member (same as Freemasons, before they formally were called Freemasons). It is worth noting that Hitler also branded Jews with a YELLOW star, yet on the flag of Israel the Star of David is BLUE.

I do not need to document Christian persecution: I'd end up with volumes 100 times the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (which, by the way, in their 1975 edition, does not even have a listing for Maurice Joly!) It is possible, as Robert Price and others speculate in their introduction to the Chaosium book "Hastur Cycle," that Chamber's use of the word Yellow referred to "Yellow Journalism," but I find that a bit far-stretching. The book The King in Yellow is about a ruling family of sorts with other-worldly ties. The book is supposed to psychologically play havoc with your mind. I see nothing in Yellow Journalism that can do this: "Elvis loses contract because of bribery and sex scandal?" However, Chambers lived in the era of "The Yellow Peril," the European fear of Asia: see Maker of Moons! Why don't the "scholars" of the Mythos tie this tale in with HPL's Asian-looking Leng men?

Perhaps the people making tenuous, forced connections have never read anything that DID this to their own minds. If this is the case, read the "Protocols." TRY to keep in mind that they are a fraud. If you approach the subject with a closed mind and refuse to see HOW they can "mess with your head," then you are either illiterate, or afraid that you yourself might BELIEVE what is in there. I have met Jews who believed it! The fact is, the "Protocols" are still a thorn in their side, and poo-pooing "The Protocols," or laughing at them doesn't change the fact that reading them tends to make people believe them. I'd suggest simply reprinting Joly's original work! (Someone took me up on that: Joly's work was reprinted!)

When I first read the recognizable "Dialogues" converted into the "Protocols of Zion" I laughed, thinking it was a joke; but then I saw the horrific potential. Prior to realizing that "Hitler may have read this," I was going to change them ANEW and have it that the Elders in R'lyeh are plotting to rule the world, with the Mind of Cthulhu behind them! At least my version would have been more true to Joly's original work: A FANTASY, but a very dangerous one!

I can't convey the effect of the book. Things you normally never noticed, become noticed. Ordinary things become sinister. For me, this was NOT the case: but I saw HOW IT COULD BE the case for many others, and I learned it most certainly IS the case: as I said, conservative Christian groups still sell the book as "The Protocols." Do they INTEND to sell a fiction? Hardly! Do they tell you it is fiction? HELL NO! Try to tell them as we did: they don't want to hear it. You see how this works: I'm part of the plot if I say this, I work for demons, or Hastur, (or Jews)! Trying to expose them is almost self-defeating. Like Castaigne: anyone that looks at him, even unintentionally, is "out to get him," "part of a grand plot." Everything, even the most mundane of things, takes on "new meaning."


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