Black Gnosis

{The following is an excerpt from Book of Cthulhu, by the Dark Lords.}

The Called are those who have had a revelation—one that shatters their comfortable cosmos and ensures that they can never again look upon the world without a profound sense of apprehension and horror.

What revelation is that? The realization that reality is much larger and more terrifying than previously suspected; that there is an Outside realm in which forces and beings utterly alien to us dance and dream and destroy whole worlds by accident. It is the realization that none of the sources of comfort and meaning commonly embraced by humans—the tribal gods who privilege one absurd primate species above all others, as worshipped by the monotheists; the imaginary moral arcs and world-improving teleologies believed in by the progressives; the microcosmic personal dramas and delusions of “creating one’s own meaning” that occupy the existentialists; the relentless probings into the mindless mechanisms and moral voids of nature that so fascinate the scientists—none of these paths capture the full horror of our cosmic predicament. It is the realization that sanity itself is a flimsy and fleeting construct, built to block out the mind-shattering truth about reality. We call this realization the Black Gnosis, those who seek and glorify it, the R’lyehians, and those who have experienced it, the Black Gnostics.

Black Gnosis is the central them of Lovecraft’s Literature, and the key to becoming a full-fledged Cultist and devotee of the Outer Gods. Only those who have had this experience of cosmic disorientation and horror can be “born again” as a R’lyehian. The Literature contains numerous examples of this Gnosis—the most powerful and well-known being the statement of Francis Wayland Thurston in the opening lines of “The Call of Cthulhu”:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Thurston, having read his late uncle’s research notes about the “Cthulhu Cult” and followed up on them himself, has pieced together various clues that lead him to conclude that the Cult truly does exist, and the Old Ones it worships do in fact menace the “placid island of ignorance” where most men live their lives. Thurston concludes his account with another powerful statement of Black Gnosis:

I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies of spring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think my life will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much, and the cult still lives.

This is the crux of the Gnosis: knowing too much. The quest for knowledge leads not to enlightenment and serenity, but to horror, insanity and death. That is just the nature of things; it so happens that in this reality truth is toxic to human minds. If you prefer comfort to abhorrent knowledge, sanity to awakened madness, then stay on your placid island of ignorance and don’t voyage far onto the black seas of infinity. The choice is yours.