Hastur

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Hastur (The Unspeakable One, Him Who Is Not to be Named'", Assatur, Xastur, or Kaiwan) is a fictional character in the Cthulhu mythos of H. P. Lovecraft. Hastur first appeared in Ambrose Bierce's short story "Haïta the Shepherd" (1893) as a benign god of shepherds. Robert W. Chambers later used Hastur in his own stories to represent both a person and a place.

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Hastur in the mythos

In Bierce's "Haita the Shepherd", Hastur is more benevolent than he would later appear in August Derleth's mythos stories. In Chambers' The King in Yellow (1895), a fin-de-siècle collection of horror stories, Hastur is both the name of a city (in "The Repairer of Reputations") and the name of a potentially supernatural servant (in "The Demoiselle D'Ys").

Lovecraft read Chambers' book in youth and was so enchanted by it that he added elements of it to his own creations. There is only one place in Lovecraft's own writings that mentions Hastur (italics added for emphasis):

I found myself faced by names and terms that I had heard elsewhere in the most hideous of connections — Yuggoth, Great Cthulhu, Tsathoggua, Yog-Sothoth, R'lyeh, Nyarlathotep, Azathoth, Hastur, Yian, Leng, the Lake of Hali, Bethmoora, the Yellow Sign, L’mur-Kathulos, Bran, and the Magnum Innominandum — and was drawn back through nameless aeons and inconceivable dimensions to worlds of elder, outer entity at which the crazed author of the Necronomicon had only guessed in the vaguest way.... There is a whole secret cult of evil men (a man of your mystical erudition will understand me when I link them with Hastur and the Yellow Sign) devoted to the purpose of tracking them down and injuring them on behalf of the monstrous powers from other dimensions.
—H. P. Lovecraft, "The Whisperer in Darkness"

It is unclear from this quote if Lovecraft's Hastur is a person, a place, an object (such as the Yellow Sign), or a deity. Derleth, however, developed Hastur into a Great Old One, spawn of Yog-Sothoth, the half-brother of Cthulhu, and theoretically the Magnum Innominandum. In this incarnation, Hastur has several avatars:

  • The Feaster from Afar, a black, shriveled, flying monstrosity with tentacles tipped with razor-sharp talons that can pierce a victim's skull and siphon out the brain{
  • The King in Yellow
  • The High Priest Not to Be Described, entity that wears a yellow silken mask (This is disputed by Lovecraft who connects the Priest to Nyarlathotep)

Hastur's form is amorphous, but he is said to appear as a vast, vaguely octopoid being, similar to his half-niece Cthylla.

Other appearances

  • In the comic strip User Friendly, Hastur appears as a sentient blob of very strong coffee. The coffee was originally created using the extra-special ingredient "Distilled Usenet Bitterness" while Hastur was using Usenet as an avatar.
  • The role-playing game Delta Green uses an alternate image of Hastur, treating him and his counterpart, the King in Yellow, as manifestations of entropy.
  • In the Stephen King short story "Gramma", Hastur is the name that the little boy uses to defeat the corpse of his reanimated grandmother.

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