Comments on the Necronomicon

Excepted from Babyloniana by Kalyn Tranquilson

The Necronomicon (by "Simon") has little or nothing to do with authentic Babylonian -- Akkadian or Sumerian -- ritual or magical practices. However, some comments about the text "edited" by Simon might be in order.

First of all, it is clear that Simon had access to a wide variety of mythological materials derived from the Cuneiform culture. I am not convinced that this text had an earlier history before it's copyright date, but even by the early years of this century several of the important texts of the Mesopotamian corpus were becoming available. As evident from his bibliographies and assorted references, Simon had access to some of these works. But he also had a point to prove, and an agenda which distorted the information he provides. His work suffers from a total lack of acknowledgment of the difference between the Akkadian and Sumerian terms and names. He also makes some extremely untenable historical assertions, such as that the Surmerian language is "closely allied to that of the Aryan race, having in fact many words identical to that of Sanskrit (and it is said, to Chinese.)" [p.xviii]

A detailed analysis follows:

The Introductory Materials (p.vii - lvi)

This is the only section Simon claims as his own; it is a hodgepodge of information of various qualities of accuracy. On the whole, his Mesopotamian references suffer from a lack of responsible checking. Simon appears to be a person who had a good idea (the Sumerian and Akkadian material was essentially unknown outside of a very limited scholastic community until very recently), but was unwilling to do the work to do it right, and was afraid to take direct credit. An example of the naivet of his work can be seen in the massive jumps from culture to culture. Yet at the same time he provides some interesting, perhaps even useful, information on Sumerian terms (see p.xlix). His most glaring problem is his linguistic jumps. As one example among many, his equation of Lovecraft's deity Cthulhu (derived from the Greek 'cthone') to the Sumerians through the name of Ereskigal's city Kutha: thus, he says, KUTHA-LU [sic] means "man of Kutha": the proper term in Sumerian would be rendered LU-KUTHA. He also makes a connection between Kutha and Kutu, two completely different cities and terms, and between Kutha, the ABSU (Enki's realm), the NAR MARRATU (which is the marshy area at the junction between the Persian Gulf and the three rivers) and the Greek 'abyss'. While there is something that can be said about the ABSU and the Abyss -- both being the dark preformative world which exists alongside the mundane world, however, the Abyss is simply a void which is total and independent, whereas the ABSU is a real realm located between the Earth and the Netherworld. The Sumerians knew the difference. Kutha and NAR MARRATU are concrete geographical entities -- although Kutha, being the city of Ereskigal, might be said to have a gateway to the Netherworld.

Of the Zonei and their Attributes - (p.17-33)

This is an interesting mixture of original (Babylonian) material and who knows what. The deities' association with specific numbers is real and are a few of their descriptions. The seals are hilarious; at least, they bear no resemblance to anything I've ever encountered.

The Book of the Entrance and of the Walking - (p35-49)

This chapter is basically garbage, even though the attribution of the seven earths, the seven levels and the seven heavens is a known feature of Babylonian systems; I do not believe that Simon actually derived this from any authentic source. Remember that the most famous ziggurat in Mesopotamia was in Babylon (the Tower of Babel) which, it so happens, has seven stories. It's obvious that from very early on the Mesopotamians had a special reverence for the number seven. The early attribution of the seven-pointed star as the "Star of Babylon" was an early adaptation of this in Western Occult tradition. Simon could have easily picked up any of several scholarly accounts of religion in Babylon for this source.

The Incantations of the Gates - (p.51-61)

Some of these invocations sound "familiar" and could possibly be hymns from various periods. I am still looking for the original materials, because if they are actual they may be useful. However, the language of his given translations is hardly accurate and the ABRACADABRA phrases at the end of the invocations are garbage.

The Conjurations of the Fire God - (p.63-65)

Again it sounds close except for the abracadabra bit.

The Conjuration of the Watcher - (p.67-73)

Forget it! Pure fiction...

The Maklu Text- (p.75-92)

First of all, again ignore all of the abracadabra stuff; however, it is an interesting piece in this book. There is in fact a lexical series called the 'maqlu'; there are also several exorcism rites (the most common being the 'uttukku lemnuti') and you will find that in the material provided in this book there are one or two texts, incantations, etc. which appear to be included in sections of Simon's 'maklu" text -- such as the Conjuration Against the Seven Liers-in-Wait (p.79). But these are texts from separate sources and Simon has lumped them together into one "text". In general I do not trust Simon (obviously). I am following through and trying to find all of the originals.

The Book Of Calling - (p.93-120)

Mostly mumbo-jumbo, especially his "Invocation of the Gates" -- the order is European, and late European at that! However, on page 111 he reproduces a shortened version of a verifiable text (text KAR 61, edited by Biggs TCS II (1967):70ff)

The Book Of The Fifty Names - (p.121-150)

The names are derived from the end of the 'Enuma Elis', but the commentary is not. Also be careful with the transcriptions of the names into English lettering; I recommend if you want to know the Fifty Names of Marduk, see Alexander Heidel's book The Babylonian Genesis.

The Magan Text - (p.151-180)

Maggan is the Iranian coast of the Straits of Hormuz, and perhaps the land of the Harrapan civilization; however, it has nothing to do with the content of the text which is presented. This is a bad translation of the beginning of the 'Enuma Elis' (see Heidel's book). Section IV (166-180) "Of The Sleep Of Ishtar" is a rather amusing adaptation of the Descent of Istar (or Inana) myth.

The Urilla Text - (p.181-202)

Very interesting and imaginative, but...

The Testimony Of The Mad Arab - (in two parts, p.3-16 & 203-218)

Who knows, but with Simon's batting average so far, it seems unreliable to me.

All of the above is not to say that Simon's Necronomicon, or it's sequel, The Necronomicon Spellbook, is not interesting reading; nor is it to say that it cannot be used as a magical grimoire, since anything can be so used if you're capable of investing it with power. But it is the product of an imaginative distortion of ancient materials by a modern individual. It is not an authentic system or text of Babylonian, Sumerian or Akkadian ritual or magical practices.