The Rapier’s Edge – Follow-Up Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - Follow-Up Interview with Donald Tyson

The Rapier's Edge - Exclusive Interviews with Extraordinary Individuals

Nearly a year ago, I interviewed Donald Tyson regarding his then new book, Grimoire of the Necronomicon. Since then, my review partner, Lon Sarver, and I have been working with Tyson’s system and we’ll present our findings in this the next issue. Mr. Tyson was kind enough to agree to a follow-up interview; you’ll find it just below.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

How did you first become acquainted with H. P. Lovecraft’s writings?

Donald Tyson

Pure accident. Way back in 1967 I bought a Lancer paperback titled H.P. Lovecraft: The Colour Out of Space and Others. It was a collection of seven stories by Lovecraft, including “The Call of Cthulhu,” which is generally regarded as the initiator of what is now called the Cthulhu Mythos, although I prefer the term Necronomicon Mythos myself. The stories impressed me with their strangeness — they weren’t like the usual horror stories I was reading at the time. Over the years I read as many other stories by Lovecraft as I could find.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did you ever think back then that someday you would write books about Lovecraft?

Donald Tyson

It never even entered my mind. At that time I didn’t even know that I would become a professional writer. I just enjoyed reading his stories.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Why did you decide to write your own version of the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

It was pure hubris. I was participating in a newsgroup where different versions of the Necronomicon were being talked about, and I suddenly thought to myself, “I can write a better version of the Necronomicon than this.” So I did.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What makes your version better than, say, the Simon Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

Whether it is better or not is ultimately for readers to decide, but I tried to make my version better by posing the question to myself, “If the Necronomicon really existed, what would it contain?” I figured that it would not be just a collection of spells and sigils — that is not how Lovecraft described it, and it doesn’t match up with the quotations from it that he included in his stories. I figured it would be more of a history of the earth before the rise of the human species, describing all the alien races that had existed on it back then, coupled with a description of the strange places the author of the book, Abdul Alhazred, had encountered during his wanderings around the ancient world.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

So you don’t like the Simon Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

It’s not that I don’t like it — the Simon Necronomicon is fine for what it is, a grimoire associated with the Old Ones. I just don’t believe it is very much like what the real Necronomicon would be, if it existed in our world.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

There are monsters in your Necronomicon Tarot that don’t exist in any of Lovecraft’s stories. Where did they come from?

Donald Tyson

The short answer to that is, I made them up. As you know, the Necronomicon Tarot is closely based on my version of the Necronomicon. I didn’t want my book to be limited to only what Lovecraft had written about the Necronomicon, because for one thing, Lovecraft didn’t write all that much about it. The total number of words that Lovecraft put into his stories as supposed direct quotations from the Necronomicon doesn’t amount to more than a few pages — it’s not enough for a book. Also, I’m a creative writer, and I wanted my version of the Necronomicon to reflect some of my own creativity. I did try hard to avoid directly contradicting anything Lovecraft had indicated to be in the Necronomicon, and I tried to include in my book everything that he had written about it. In those respects my version is more faithful to Lovecraft than any other version. It contains all that Lovecraft wrote about the Necronomicon, but it also contains a lot he never imagined.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Talk about some of the monsters you created for the Necronomicon Tarot

Donald Tyson

Well, there’s I´thakuah, an ancient crone who works a kind of witchcraft in front of her fire in the dry cisterns deep under the ruins of the lost city of Irem. She is so old it’s almost impossible to tell whether she is male or female, or even whether she is human. Her hands are like great claws and her arms are long and powerful, the better to catch the rats upon which she feeds in the total darkness. She has lived under the ruins of the city for so long, even she doesn’t remember when she first entered the cisterns. She serves Nyarlathotep, one of the seven Lords of the Old Ones, who communicates with her through his deep-dwelling inhuman agents when they approach and converse with the old hag.

Then there is the Beast of Babylon that lives in the ancient brick sewer tunnels under the ruins of Babylon in Persia. It was upon the folklore of this Beast that the Biblical beast of Revelations was based. It is a great animal the size of a horse, with massive wings that allow it to fly through the air, when it emerges from beneath the ground at sunset to hunt its human prey, and seven heads on seven long, snake-like necks that ceaselessly bud forth and then shrink away by turns. The heads are formed from the heads of all the human beings the Beast has captured and consumed over the millennia, and they are conscious and babble in their own languages about their pain and sorrow, laughing and weeping and screaming during the brief periods of their presence on the necks.

Those are two of my creations, I´hakuah and the Beast.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did you scry any of the strange creatures in the Necronomicon Tarot using a crystal or a black mirror?

Donald Tyson

Not in a formal sense, no. I never sat down before my crystal ball and saw images of these beings. But over the months it took to write the book, I had my mind on Lovecraft and Alhazred and the Old Ones night and day. They started to creep into my dreams, and I even began to notice strange things happening around me.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What sort of strange things?

Donald Tyson

Noises that had no cause. Movements at the corner of my eye that were like flashes of shadow sliding past. Objects that disappeared with nobody around to move them, and then just as strangely reappeared days or weeks later. Strange looks or words from complete strangers I passed in the street.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What do you think was happening? Were you under some kind of attack?

Donald Tyson

I don’t know. I got the sense that something was trying to communicate with me, but that it was so alien, it didn’t quite know how to even make the attempt. It kept fumbling around, using whatever was available as a conduit. It didn’t so much feel malicious as it felt unnatural — like something out of place, or something that didn’t quite belong in our world. I think maybe when I started to write the Necronomicon, this intelligence took notice of me, and that maybe it communicated psychically some of the creatures I wrote about. But no one can prove a thing like that, it’s just a sense you get, like a kind of feeling.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Do you believe the Necronomicon really exists in some form?

Donald Tyson

At one time I would have said no, but today — yes, I believe that the Necronomicon does exist. It was never published in the usual way as a book, of course, but I believe that Lovecraft didn’t invent it from nothing. He was a sleeping seer. When he dreamed, he saw visions of astral planes that are deeper and stranger than most people ever visit during sleep, and he brought things back from those planes that he put into his stories.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What kinds of things?

Donald Tyson

Like the Old Ones, who are invisible creatures that inhabited the earth long before the evolution of the human race. They are so strange, so unlike anything we know in this world, that our eyes can’t even see their color. They floated through the air, and lived in black stone cities without windows — they didn’t need windows because they had no eyes. They perceived the world with senses we wouldn’t even comprehend.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

There is more than one kind of Old Ones in Lovecraft’s stories, isn’t there?

Donald Tyson

Yes, several species are called Old Ones or Elder Things or The Elder Race by Lovecraft. He used the term Old Ones as a general term for those intelligent alien species that inhabited the young earth before the coming of mankind.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Did the Old Ones write the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

According to Lovecraft, the Necronomicon was written around the year 730 by an Arab poet of Yemen named Abdul Alhazred. He went insane, and he wrote the book based on what he had seen in the desert, in abandoned cities and old tombs and caverns deep beneath the sands, and what the creatures that have always lived in these remote desert wastes and deep places whispered to him when he talked with them.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Maybe writing the Necronomicon drove him insane.

Donald Tyson

The book was written when Alhazred was an old man, so he must have gone insane at some earlier stage in his life, since he was known as the “mad Arab” in Lovecraft’s stories. But whether the process of writing the book drove him mad, or whether it was his madness that allowed him to gather the information that went into his book, there’s no way to know.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

You talk about Alhazred as if he were a real person.

Donald Tyson

That’s how Lovecraft wrote about him, and about his book. That’s one of the reasons they seem so real to us today. But I believe that maybe Alhazred did write the Necronomicon, not while he was awake, but while he was asleep, in his dreams. That is how Lovecraft was able to see the book so clearly. Alhazred created it in the dreamlands, as Lovecraft called them, and Lovecraft in his explorations of the dreamlands was able to see the book and learn its Greek name.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Your Necronomicon and the Necronomicon Tarot are only two parts of a trilogy of works from Llewellyn Publications. What is the third part?

Donald Tyson

The third part of my Necronomicon Trilogy is my novel Alhazred. I refer to the three works as a trilogy because they are all based on the same content, the text of my Necronomicon. The Necronomicon Tarot illustrates pictorially the things I wrote about in that book, and my novel Alhazred relates the events in the book from Alhazred’s point of view, as he experienced them during his wanderings.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

What about your other book, the Necronomicon Grimoire?

Donald Tyson

The Necronomicon Grimoire is not a part of the trilogy, but it is closely linked. I wanted to create a practical grimoire based on Lovecraft’s mythology of the Old Ones, with a ritual structure that could be used by serious magicians for practical purposes. I based the grimoire on information in my Necronomicon, so the two books are in harmony with one another, but whereas the Necronomicon concerns strange monsters, alien races, and hidden places of the ancient world, the grimoire lays down the precise details of a system of magic, and sets forth the outline for an occult society based on its rituals that I’ve named the Order of the Old Ones, or OOO for short.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Is the Order of the Old Ones an actual occult society?

Donald Tyson

It will be, if enough people want it to be. I look upon it in much the same way that I regard the Necronomicon of Lovecraft — both are real in an astral sense, and that reality can bring them forth into the world if enough individuals seriously want them to exist.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Are you planning to write any more books based on the Necronomicon?

Donald Tyson

Yes, I have two more in the works, which I won’t talk about in detail here. It seems that Lovecraft hasn’t finished with me yet.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Do you get the sense that Lovecraft is telling you to write these books?

Donald Tyson

I get the sense that his ghost is standing at my shoulder as I’m writing, reading what I’ve written. What he thinks of it, I don’t know, but I hope he approves. I’ve done my best to honor his memory and his mythos, and to add to its occult current rather than merely drawing from it. A lot of writers had reason to be thankful to Lovecraft while he was alive, because he was unfailingly generous to young authors. He would write endless letters encouraging them to write, and giving them helpful advice about how to improve their stories. Today, in a strange way many writers still have reason to be thankful to Lovecraft, because they are building upon the foundation he laid down, writing books that are part of a mythos that would never have existed without Lovecraft’s genius.

Sheta Kaey for Rending the Veil

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Donald Tyson

I always enjoy talking about the Necronomicon and the Old Ones. It’s the thoughts and dreams of all of us that give life on the astral level of the dreamlands to both the book and the things it describes. As long as people continue to read Lovecraft’s stories, the Necronomicon will never die.

The Rapier’s Edge is a semi-regular column featuring interviews with our contributors, other occult authors, and celebrities of interest to RTV readers. If you’d like to be interviewed, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be pleased to consider such an interview (especially if you have suggestions for questions!).

Donald Tyson is the author of Sexual Alchemy: Magical Intercourse with Spirits, Familiar Spirits, and Soul Flight: Astral Projection and the Magical Universe, among other works. You can visit his website here.

Sheta Kaey is Editor in Chief of Rending the Veil and is working on her first book, Infinite Possibility. You can read her blog here.

©2009 by Sheta Kaey
and Donald Tyson.

Rending the Veil is seeking serious volunteers to help kick off next summer with new features and new staff. Also, we now welcome submissions anytime, so send in your best pieces today! Volunteer application (.docx).

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One Response to “The Rapier’s Edge – Follow-Up Interview with Donald Tyson”

  1. […] το θέμα με μια ατμόσφαιρα αστικού θρύλου. Στο εν λόγω site τώρα, θα βρείτε μια πρόσφατη συνέντευξη του Donald Tyson […]

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