Shub-Niggurath (The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young) is an Outer God in the Cthulhu Mythos of H.P. Lovecraft. The being first appeared in Lovecraft's revision story "The Last Test" (1928); however, in Lovecraft's fiction, she is never actually described, but is frequently mentioned or called upon in incantations. Shub-Niggurath also appears in the works of other mythos authors, including August Derleth, Lin Carter, and Brian Lumley.
Shub-Niggurath in the mythosEdit
Shub-Niggurath is an Outer God (or Outer Goddess) in the pantheon. She is a perverse fertility deity, said to appear as an enormous cloudy mass which extrudes black tentacles, slime-dripping mouths, and short, writhing goat legs. Small creatures are continually spat forth by the monstrosity, which are either consumed into the miasmatic form or escape to some monstrous life elsewhere.
Of all the mythos deities, Shub-Niggurath is probably the most extensively worshipped. Her worshippers include the Hyperboreans, the Muvians, and the people of Sarnath, as well as any number of druidic and barbaric cults. She is also worshipped by the non-human species of the mythos, such as the "Fungi from Yuggoth" (the Mi-Go) and the Nug-Soth of Yaddith. With the proper occult paraphernalia, Shub-Niggurath can be summoned to any woodlands at the time of the new moon. However, the place from whence she comes is not known. One possibility is that she dwells at the court of Azathoth at the center of the universe. She may also live beneath the planet Yaddith, where she is served by the Dholes. It is also possible that she lives in another dimension altogether.
Shub-Niggurath is believed to have mated with Hastur to produce the beings Ithaqua, Zhar, and J'Zahar. Hastur may also be the father of her "Thousand Young" or "Dark Young", though there is a good chance that they were spawned by fission. She may possibly have mated with Yog-Sothoth to produce Nug and Yeb (though their father is more likely Hastur), and even Yig to produce Byatis (which is debatable since some believe her to be Yig's mother, though he may be the offspring of Mappo no Ryûjin.
Dark Young of Shub-NiggurathEdit
The Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath are horrifying, pitch-black monstrosities, seemingly made of ropy tentacles. They stand as tall as a tree (perhaps between twelve and twenty feet tall) on a pair of stumpy, hoofed legs. A mass of tentacles protrudes from their trunks where a head would normally be, and puckered maws, dripping green goo, cover their flanks. The monsters roughly resemble trees in silhouette — the trunks being the short legs and the tops of the trees represented by the ropy, branching bodies. A congregation of these abominations smells like an open grave. They usually dwell in woodlands wherever Shub-Niggurath's cult is active.
The Dark Young are usually called upon to preside over cult ceremonies. One means for summoning them is found in the Book of Eibon and requires a blood offering. The ritual may only be performed in the deep of the woodlands at the darkest of the moon, and the victim must be sacrificed over a stone altar. Dark young act as proxies for Shub-Niggurath in the accepting of sacrifices and the worship of cultists, in the devouring of non-cultists, and in the spreading of their mother's faith across the world.
Gof'nn hupadgh Shub-NiggurathEdit
"gof'nn hupadgh Shub-Niggurath" is the name given to the favored, once-human worshipers of Shub-Niggurath. When the deity deems a worshiper to be most worthy, a special ceremony is held in which the Black Goat of the Woods swallows the initiate and then regurgitates the cultist as a transformed satyr-like being. A changed worshiper is also endowed with immortal life.
The Black GoatEdit
Although Shub-Niggurath is often associated with the epithet The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young, it is possible that the Black Goat is a separate entity. Rodolfo Ferraresi, in his essay "The Question of Shub-Niggurath", says that Lovecraft himself separated the two in his writings, such as in "Out of the Aeons" (1935) in which a distinction is made between Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat — the goat is the figurehead through which Shub-Niggurath is worshipped. The most persuasive distinction, however, is the depiction of the Black Goat as a male, most notably in the rite performed in "The Whisperer in Darkness" (1931) in which the Black Goat is called the "Lord of the Woods". The Black Goat may be the personification of Pan, since Lovecraft was influenced by Arthur Machen's The Great God Pan (1890), a story that probably inspired Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" (1929). In this incarnation, the Black Goat may represent Satan in the form of the satyr, a half-man, half-goat. In folklore, the satyr symbolized a man with excessive sexual appetites. The Black Goat may otherwise be a male, earthly form of Shub-Niggurath — an incarnation she assumes to copulate with her worshipers. Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG considers the Great God Pan to be an avatar of Shub-Niggurath.
The Magna Mater, or the Great Mother, is a goddess worshipped since before Roman times. She is associated with Cybeles and Atys.
This is an avatar of Shub-Niggurath.
The current residence of Shub-Niggurath remains a mystery. A popular hypothesis is the planet Yaddith, beneath the surface of which it resides with its dhole servitors. However it is postulated in R. L. Tierney's "The Lords of Pain" that the Black Goat of the Woods came to earth, building the city of Harag-Kolath in a cavern beneath southern Arabia, though its possible the cavern and Harag-Kolath exist co-terminously with Yaddith or are linked to it. It is also possible that Shub-Niggurath remains at the court of Azathoth, or even in another dimension entirely.
In the writings of August Derleth and Lin Carter the Tcho-Tcho People as well as The Little People (sometimes called "fairies" and sometimes identified with the The Worms of the Earth) are servants of Shub-Niggurath.
Appearances in other fictionEdit
Both Stephen King and Terry Pratchett have referenced Shub-Niggurath in their works. Terry Pratchett parodies Lovecraftian gods, referring to them as the things from the "Dungeon Dimensions". For example, in Pratchett's Moving Pictures, the being "Tshup Aklathep, Infernal Star Toad with A Million Young" kills its victims by showing them pictures of its children until their brains implode. Some of the Doctor Who spin-off novels have identified the Nestene Consciousness (the being which animates the Autons) as one of the offspring of Shub-Niggurath. The connection was first drawn in Millennial Rites by Craig Hinton, and has been followed up in other appearances of the Consciousness in the novels.
Additionally, the light novel and anime series "Overlord" makes a reference to her, as the main character casts a spell that summons Shub-Niggurath's offspring to destroy an enemy army. (He sacrifices 70,000 enemy troops to summon five Dark Young, using them to slaughter an additional 90,000 for a total of 160,000.) However, this ritual is used in plain sight, and not in the woods during a new moon.
Behind the MythosEdit
- George Olshevsky named the nonconvex snub polyhedra after some other Great Old Ones, with the Great snub dodecicosidodecahedron as "Shub-Niggurath".
- A version of Shub-Niggurath is the final adversary of the first-person shooter computer game Quake.
- Shub-Niggurath makes an appearance as the main villain in the online PC game Arcane 2: The Stone Circle.
- In Bruno the Bandit, one of the denizens of the demon world is "Shub-Megawrath", a goat-like blob creature with a thousand children (1001, if you count the croatoan clone of Bruno she created). The character is meant to be another of the Lovecraft references that occasionally pepper the strip.
- Shub-Niggurath is the name of a French band.
- Shub-Niggurath is the name of an old Mexican black/death metal band (albums: Horror Creatures Demo, 1990; Unknown Adorer EP, 1991; Blasphemies Of Nether World EP, 1992; The Black Goatlike Arise Demo, 1993; Evilness And Darkness Prevails Full-length, 1994; The Kinglike Celebration (Final Aeon on Earth) Full-length, 1997).
- Shub-Niggurath is mentioned by the band Morbid Angel in their song "Angel of Disease".
- Shub-Niggurath appears as a boss in the 2005 Playstation 2 game "Shadow Hearts: From The New World", though its name is mistranslated as Jeb Niglas.
- In the PC game Night in the Woods, an entity known as the "Black Goat" plagues the dreams of the main character, who later encounters a cult dedicated to it and the supposed bottomless pit that it resides in.
- In the game South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Shub-Niggurath appears as a boss fight.