Certain Signs, Swastikas and The Shadow Over Innsmouth

H. P. Lovecraft began to write The Shadow Over Innsmouth in 1931. In one part of Zadok Allen’s history, he mentions “certain signs” belonging to the ‘Old Ones’ which have powers over (or against) the Deep Ones:

“…sarten signs sech as was used onct by the lost Old Ones … them old magic signs as the sea-things says was the only things they was afeard of … In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—with somethin’ on ’em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them was the Old Ones’ signs…”

While this use of the swastika may seem incongruous to a late 20th / early 21st century audience, it is in fact a very old symbol, appearing in ancient North America, Europe, Africa and India. What most likely prompted the use of it here (in the Pacific) in HPL’s story were the public speculations of James Churchward from 1926 on:

churchward-swastika-article-1928
Popular Science, March, 1928.

We know HPL was familiar with Churchward’s theories because he mentions him by name in Through the Gates of the Silver Key (1932) and Out of the Aeons (1933). Reading the first 3 paragraphs of the article above gives us a clear view at the then popular ‘lost continent’ stories in the public eye at the time, and the ‘evidence’ used to support them.

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Museums Mentioned in HPL’s Fiction

This is the result of a quick search of HPLovecraft.com for the word “museum.” Very exhaustive, and fool-proof, I’m sure. The following are museums (but not libraries), real and fictional, mentioned by name (or implied specifically enough to ID) in the written fiction of H. P. Lovecraft:

The Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia. Holds the “Alert” Cthulhu idol from The Call of Cthulhu. Real.

The British Museum, London, UK. Holds a copy of the Necronomicon, as stated in The History of the Necronomicon. This is curious, as The British Library would seem to be a better custodian of such a rare book. Real.

The Cabot Museum of Archaeology, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Greatest collection of in mummies in America, as mentioned in Out of the Aeons. Fictional.

Captain Orne’s ‘marine museum,’ Martin’s Beach, Massachusetts, USA. Short-lived museum built on a boat, containing the remains of a sea monster, from The Horror at Martin’s Beach. Fictional.

The Miskatonic University Museum, Arkham, Massachusetts, USA. Contains some Innsmouth jewelry, as mentioned in The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Fictional.

The Newburyport Historical Society, Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA. Innsmouth jewelry, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Fictionalized version of The Museum of Old Newbury.

The Paterson Museum, Paterson, New Jersey, USA. Local and natural history, mentioned in The Call of Cthulhu. Real.

The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Art modern & historical. Mentioned as containing materials related to the local witch trials in The Shunned House. Real.

Rogers’ Museum, London, UK. Wax figures / monsters, from The Horror in the Museum. Fictional.