is the English translation of an original codex of esoteric literature by the “Mad Arab” Abdul Jafari Alhazred, known as the Kitab al-Azif, an Arabic word defined as “that nocturnal sound (made by insects) supposed to be the howling of demons.” From:`Azīf (عزيف) as “whistling (of the wind); weird sound or noise”, where the tradition of `azif al jinn (عزيف الجن) is linked to the phenomenon of “singing sand“, the sound of the shifting dunes of the desert that was believed to represent the sound made by the spirits of the underworld when manifested in underground places of the deep.
The first copy to be recovered by Archaeologist Joachim Agard, later to become the Sufi mystic Ikim Agár, was one of the older versions written in Latin, translated from the Greek, itself translated from the original Arabic, by Olaus Wormius.
What has happened to the codex is unknown, the only evidence that it existed at all these photographs recovered from original negatives believed to have been taken by Agárs, old friend Archaeologist Karl Oskar Eklund, the negatives recovered from his residence in Frederiksberg, Denmark, prior to a fire that destroyed all other remains in 1986. The title is translated from the Greek, meaning “an image of the law of the dead”, compounded respectively from νεκρός nekros “dead”, νόμος nomos “law”, and εἰκών eikon “image”, known as “Book of the names of the dead”, “Book of the laws of the dead”, “Book of dead names” and “Knower of the laws of the dead”.
Alhazred is said to have been a “half-crazed Arab” who worshipped false gods believed to have fostered the creation of the fictional deities Yog-Sothoth and Cthulhu. He is described as being from Sanaa in Yemen, and as visiting the ruins of Babylon, the “subterranean secrets” of the lost Egyptian Labyrinth and the Empty Quarter of Arabia (where he discovered the “nameless city” below Irem). In his last years, he lived in Damascus, where he wrote Al Azif before his sudden and mysterious death in 738.
The Azif “gained considerable, though surreptitious circulation amongst the philosophers of the age.” In 950, it was translated into Greek and given the title Necronomicon by Theodorus Philetas, a scholar from Constantinople. This version “impelled certain experimenters to terrible attempts” before being “suppressed and burnt” in 1050 by Patriarch Michael (a historical figure who died in 1059).
After this attempted suppression, the work was “only heard of furtively” until it was translated from Greek into Latin by Olaus Wormius. Both the Latin and Greek text, the “History” relates, were banned by Pope Gregory IX in 1232, though Latin editions were apparently published in 15th century Germany and 17th century Spain. A Greek edition was printed in Italy in the first half of the 16th century.
The Elizabethan magician John Dee (1527-c. 1609) allegedly translated the book—presumably into English—but this version was never printed and only fragments survive.
According to sources, the Arabic version of Al Azif had already disappeared by the time the Greek version was banned in 1050, “a vague account of a secret copy appearing in San Francisco during the current [20th] century” that “later perished in fire”. The Greek version has not been reported “since the burning of a certain library in 1692”.
According to “History of the Necronomicon” the very act of studying the text is inherently dangerous, as those who attempt to master its arcane knowledge generally meet terrible ends.
Image credit: Laurent Gontier