Midian, also called City of Midian, Garden of Midian, Isle of Midian, Heights of Midian, the Corpse Moon, the Nightland, the Charnel Abyss, Ghoul Paradise, etc.
In the Mythos
EIGERMAN: Ever done an exorcism, Father?
FATHER ASHBERRY: (frantically flipping through an ancient Bible) No.
EIGERMAN: Ever seen one?
FATHER ASHBERRY: No.... (finds something in the Bible) Listen! "So Moses spoke to the people, saying 'Arm yourselves for war and let them go and take vengeance for the Lord on Midian...' and so they burned with fire all the cities where they dwelt, and killed the kings of Midian, both man and beast!"
EIGERMAN: Hey, how 'bout that, Doc? Sounds like we're on a crusade against the devil himself.
FATHER ASHBERRY: I don't believe in the devil.
DECKER: Oh... you will....
— Nightbreed (1990 film)
BOONE: My God... My God, it's true!
PELOQUIN: Of course it's true. Everything's true... God's an astronaut. Oz is over the rainbow. And Midian is where the monsters live!
— Nightbreed (1990 film)
Midian is both an allegorical location or mystical state, and a legendary or mythical literal location on Earth or elsewhere said to be the origin of Ghouls. Midian is also the idealized namesake for any of a small number of literal locations in the Dreamlands and on Earth, including various colonies of Ghouls in the Americas and Australia, and a Dreamlands paradise or sanctuary for Ghouls and other monsters.
Midian in Allegory, Legend, and Myth
The Garden of Midian of Ghoul legend and myth is a perhaps allegorical paradise from which the tribe of Ghouls fell or were driven from at the beginning of time, when the tribe were said to have been banished to Earth. The myth of the Ghouls' fall from Midian corresponds closely to the Biblical story of man's fall from Eden: Before the Beginning, the Ghouls dwelt in happiness in the paradise of Midian under the careless watch of nameless creator gods, until "The Beginning of Days", the night that a great dragon came into Midian while the gods slept, and taught the Ghouls the secrets of black magic and introduced them to the worship of the dragon's unspeakable Outer Gods; when the mild gods of Midian awakened and realized that the Ghouls had been corrupted in the night, they were incensed to fury, and, slaying the dragon, cast the Ghouls out of Midian "like falling stars ablaze in the night sky", down to Earth, where the Ghouls led by their new god, Mordiggian, show their defiance to their elder gods through the corruption of human flesh, and await the day that they might rise up in rebellion against the elder gods to reclaim Midian.
Allegorical Midian is described by the cult of Mordiggian as a world like Earth, but without daylight, a vast graveyard full of all the corpses of all the humans which have ever lived for the Ghouls to gnaw upon, lit only by the moon, which is forever locked in a single phase, its fullest. This Midian, according to the cult, is a future paradise to be found on Earth when the Stars are Right and the great dragon of old rises up from its grave and the spells of the cult of Mordiggian subdue humanity and overthrow the hated Sun. To the Cult of Mordiggian and other Ghouls who take this view, Midian is a gift and reward to come at some time in the future, to be worked toward now and enjoyed later, if the Ghouls succeed in their work against the gods and the world, and if each Ghoul should live long enough to reap his or her rewards. Midian is described in this way in the Ghoul's Manuscript and in Cultes des Goules.
To some Ghoul mystics, Midian is not a place, but instead a state of mind, an internal peace and balance to be achieved only by the wisest and most self-disciplined Ghouls. Those Ghouls who have thus "returned to Midian" are the most ancient, wise, and civilized of Ghouls, Ghouls who walk beneath the Earth not as feral animals, but with their minds and intellects intact. The most ancient, wise, and deathless masters among the Ghouls who have achieved Midian are said to have physically left Earth as Ghouls know it to live forever in Midian - perhaps in a real city, monastery, or sanctuary someplace that could be considered, for all intents and purposes, to be Midian on Earth. To these Ghouls, Midian is already here, inside every Ghoul, a personal and solitary state to be discovered by turning inward and regaining some primal balance. By some accounts, those Ghouls who have reached a state of Midian have done so by abstaining from consuming human flesh for centuries, thus halting their Ghoulish descent, retaining the last of their humanity, while enjoying the virtual immortality of a Ghoul.
To still other Ghouls and some Mythos scholars, Midian is, or was, a more literal place to be found on the maps of the Dreamlands, or somewhere in the Daylands on Earth or in the stars, perhaps still in existence today, or lost forever to time and catastrophe.
Midian in the Dreamlands
A large and monstrously ancient Ghoul colony in the Dreamlands is one of several places called "Midian" or "The City of Midian", a fortified city carved into a vast cavern in some remote corner of the Vale of Pnath, built and decorated from the morbid statuary and tomb-loot of thousands of exotic worlds in both the Dreamlands and the Daylands, and beyond. Among Dreamlands Ghouls, it is understood that this "City of Midian" is paradise in a figurative sense: an elaborate sanctuary in the Dreamlands for the Ghouls and other monsters from the persecution of humans. Earth's Ghouls, especially those from remote areas who have found ways to live in harmony with their human neighbors for generations, have come to think of this Midian as one and the same with the paradise of myth and legend, and may perhaps aspire to one day making a pilgrimage to the Vale of Pnath to see Midian for themselves before they die.
There are strange Dreamlands sailors' tales which tell a story of a distant and uncharted "Island of Midian", a world located somewhere far over the edge of the world, out among the stars: a beautiful garden paradise which may tempt lost sailors near for shelter and supplies, but is guarded from all approach by hosts of terrifying Cherubim armed with fiery, flaming swords, and who are known for boarding ships to take from the officers, sailors, and passengers any Ghouls, or any humans who might have Ghoulish blood in their veins. Such tales are often considered fictions to terrify Ghoul sailors and passengers, perhaps for the purpose of extorting money from them under threat of sailing too close to this perhaps imaginary island or to explain the suspicious disappearance of Ghoul pilgrims who have hired ships to seek the island, but the Dreamlands are a mysterious place, and who is to say which sailors' tales are true, and which are fiction?
Midian in the Daylands
Following Columbus' journey to the Americas, there were movements among persecuted Old World Ghoul families to establish a "Midian on Earth" in the New World, far from the persecution Ghouls have faced under inquisition and purges across Europe, Asia, and Africa. As a result, a number of odd, small towns or cemeteries which once bore (and sometimes still bear) the name "Midian" can be found scattered across America, and, even today, some Old World Ghouls refer to the Americas figuratively as "Midian". Similarly, there are said to be a "Midian" or two found in remote corners of Australia. Many such towns have since changed their names and/or vanished, especially in North American following the Salem Witch Trials and other such ominous events in the history of American Ghouls.
In the Necronomicon, Abdul Alhazred places the origin of Ghouls, and presumably the location of Midian, as a place in the wastelands of the Arabian desert, "There the Djinn dwell / And the Ghouls fell / In a burning Hell / Where fiery winds swell", describing it as a place of burning pillars of fire, columns of black salt, pools of poisoned water, and yellow clouds of reeking brimstone smoke.
The Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan mention the Midian of Ghoul legend, claiming that the Ghouls came to Earth from Midian in the form of disembodied spirits and pinpointing their world's location as an unseen place in the heavens in a specific place near the star Sirius; in the year 2005, an actual star, so dim as to be undetectable by human eyes, would be discovered by the Hubble Telescope in exactly the region of space referred to in the Seven Cryptical Books of Hsan.
Midian is or was an actual place in the Middle East, generally believed to have been in the north-western part of the Arabian Peninsula, mentioned in the Bible and the Quran, settled by descendants of Midyan, one of the sons of Abraham, and destroyed by angels alongside Sodom and Gomorrah for sins including "lying in wait", idolatry, witchcraft, and seduction of Israelite men by Midianite women, after Midian refused to listen to prophets of doom. According to Christian tradition, Midian was destroyed by an Israelite army, but in Islamic tradition were destroyed by a tremor, and cursed to "a day of overshadowing gloom" which drove them from their homes.
Heresies and Controversies
- Midian does not appear in any of Lovecraft's fiction or in any "mainstream" "Mythos" sources:
- The Daylands version of Midian is largely inferred or borrowed from Clive Barker's Cabal and Nightbreed (1990 film)
- The Dreamlands version of Midian is the product of fan theory, inferred from and expanded from Lovecraft's "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath (fiction)"
- The mystical/allegorical nature of Midian is the product of fan theory.
- The historical (or perhaps legendary) version of Midian is found in the Bible and the Quran.
Associated Mythos Elements
- tome: Cultes des Goules
- tome: Ghoul's Manuscript
- race: Ghouls
- cult: Cult of Mordiggian
- deity: Mordiggian
- deity: The Serpent/Dragon