CORNERSTONES OF CREATIONcornerstonesofcreation-hyborian

Classification: Mystical power objects embodying the four elements of the cosmos’ creation

Components: (Hyborian era incarnation) Crown of Wisdom, Mirror of Beauty, Rose of Peace, Sword of Strength
    (Modern incarnation)
Black Mirror / Darkhold, Ebon Rose, Serpent Crown, Sword of Bone

Creators: (Hyborian era incarnation) Primal Gods (aka "Elder Gods"; see comments)
    (modern incarnation)
the Darkhold (created by Chthon), Ebon Rose (created by Gaea), Serpent Crown (created by Set), and Sword of Bone (created by Oshtur).

User/Possessors: Pau-Styss the Demon Lord briefly possessed the Hyborian era Cornerstones;

    Princess Noyo and her predecessors in the Cult of Creation knew the exact locations of the cornerstones and the means by which they could be obtained, but never exploited this knowledge until blackmailed by Pau-Styss;
    the modern era Cornerstones were briefly gathered by Ian McNee before being delivered to Chthon.

First Appearance: (Hyborian incarnation) Conan the Barbarian I#128 (November 1981);
    (modern incarnation)
Mystic Arcana#1 (Magik) (August, 2007)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: Allegedly embodying all the forces of creation, the Cornerstones can collectively alter reality, apparently even the Cornerstones' own natures.

    The Cornerstones have a secondary and pure sidereal state that they dissolve into during the appropriate deification ceremony.

    See the individual Cornerstone's profiles for each Cornerstone's powers/functions


Cornerstones' creation

(Conan the Barbarian I#128 (fb)) - In the distant past, the Primal Gods (also sometimes referred to as "Elder Gods"; see comments) created four items, imbuing each of them with one of the four elements of the cosmos' creation: The Sword of Strength, the Crown of Wisdom, the Mirror of Beauty, and the Rose of Peace.

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) - Throughout the ages, the sacred Cornerstones of Creation were jealously guarded by the Cult of Creation. Knowledge of their Earthly hiding places was known only to the hand-picked priestess of the gods.

    Noyo was chosen as the Priestess of the Cult of Creation.

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) - The Wizard Pau-Styss sought to force the locations of the Cornerstones from Noyo, hoping to use their power to overthrow the gods. He waged a long war on Noyo "upon the subtle (mystic?) planes."

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) <500 years before the main story> - As victory was within Pau-Styss' grasp, Noyo invoked her heavenly masters, cloaked herself in mystic wind, and vanished from Pau-Styss' detection.

(Conan the Barbarian#130 (fb) - BTS) <approximately 25-30 years before the main story> - Laynnen was birthed by the "creation-lords" (used interchangeably for the Elder Gods) who was to play a pivotal role in their design. Laynnen's knowledge of his true nature was submerged.

(Conan the Barbarian#130 (fb) - BTS) - The priestess Noyo felt compelled to join together with Laynnen (Noyo apparently had known Laynnen's true nature on some level, but her memories were somehow suppressed).

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) - As Noyo emerged from within a powerful gale in front of Laynnen.

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) - Noyo's return to human form allowed Pau-Styss to again detect her.

(Conan the Barbarian#128 (fb) - BTS) - Laynnen and Noyo fell in love, and Noyo soon after bore him a son, Dreeme.

(Conan the Barbarian#128 - BTS) - Pau-Styss kidnapped Laynnen to force Noyo to recover the Cornerstones. She was joined on her quest by Laynnen's childhood friend, Conan; her and Laynnen's son, Dreeme, also came along. pau-styss-hyborian-ceremony

(Conan the Barbarian#128-130) - Guided by Noyo, Conan gathered the Sword of Strength, Crown of Wisdom, Mirror of Beauty, and Rose of Peace (the latter only with the aid of Dreeme).

(Conan the Barbarian#130) - Noyo transported Conan, Dreeme, and herself to confront Pau-Styss in his base/fortress/etc. When Noyo rushed toward her husband, Pau-Styss blasted her back, noting he did not see the Cornerstones of Creation; Noyo assured him Pau-Styss that the Cornerstones were hidden but would be his once Laynnen was free. However, as the weakened Laynnen noted Pau-Styss' black heart and the Cornerstone's power, Noyo appreciated that their love had no use if Pau-Styss controlled creation.

    Nonetheless, after Pau-Styss struck down Conan with an energy blast, Styss then forced Noyo to bring forth the Cornerstones, which Styss transformed into their sidereal states and spoke the chants to claim their power. Ultimately, however, the power consumed him, leaving him a skeleton before that crumbled to dust.

(Conan the Barbarian#130 - BTS) - Laynnen revealed how, upon learning Noyo's nature, he had understood that only the "chosen one," the one pure in heart, could tap into the Cornerstone's power without harm; he indicated that Dreeme could be that chosen one, though he, Dreeme, and Noyo would have to work on drawing out even the limited stain of violent thoughts on Dreeme's soul.

(Mystic Arcana#1 - BTS) - The Cornerstones of Creation were created by) the Elder Gods: The Dark Mirror (another name for the Darkhold, reflecting its creator, Chthon), the Ebon Rose (created by Gaea) the Serpent Crown (talisman of Set), and the Sword of Bone (talisman of Oshtur). See comments.

(Mystic Arcana#1 - BTS) - Posing as Oshtur, Chthon instructed young sorcerer Ian McNee to gather the Cornerstones of Creation to restore the ancient sorcerer Heka-Nut in order to save the Mystic Realms, which had been badly damaged by the War of the Seven Spheres.

(Mystic Arcana#1) - After granting the Sword of Bone to Ian McNee, Ammut told him he must next seek the Ebon Rose from its holder, Morgan Le Fay.ebon_rose-coc-cornerstones

(Mystic Arcana: Black Knight#1) - With Morgan''s aid, Ian McNee obtained the Ebon Rose.

(Mystic Arcana#3 - BTS) - Aided by Llyra, McNee obtained the Serpent Crown.

(Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm#1 - BTS) - After Ian was gifted a Darkhold page (the Darkhold being the fourth Cornerstone, also known as the Dark Mirror) by Marie LaVeau, Chthon appeared, again posing as Oshtur, and guided him to cast the spell to restore Heka-Nut.

(Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm#1) - Using the combined power of the Cornerstones, and secretly aided by Ashake, Llyra, and Morgan Le Fay, Ian summoned the canopic jar holding Heka-Nut's soul and allowed it to take shelter in his own (Ian's) form.

    Chthon then revealed his true identity and prepared to have Heka-Nut take over Ian's form, but Ian had already determined Chthon's deception and taken steps to thwart it. Ashake traveled forward to the present while invoking Oshtur for help, while Llyra (with the power of the Serpent Crown) and Morgan (with the power of the Rose) retrained Chthon to prevent his interference; Morgan specifically used the Rose and Gaea's power to generate thorny vines to entangle Chthon.

    Using the Cornerstones (notably using the Rose's strength to bind him to the truth), Ashake and Ian helped free Heka-Nut from Chthon's influence, and then Ian banished Chthon from the mortal plane.

Comments: Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Gil Kane;
    modern incarnation created by David Sexton and Eric Nguyen.

Elder Gods and Cornerstones of Creation

blackmirror-darkhold-acewandsSome insight courtesy of creator David Sexton:

     I discovered the original Cornerstones of Creation on your Appendix website as I was investigating magic in Marvel and the idea of the number 4 as a repeated theme in Marvel. And, of course, the way that Tarot fits into all that.

     When I saw the C of C on your site I connected it to Tarot and then the 4 Elder Gods. I knew that Gaea was Earth and Rose fit with her, that the crown was the Serpent Crown, and that the Sword which signifies intellect and the mind was Oshtur.

     So then I was like how would a mirror work with Chthon and I realized that the Darkhold was the mirror of Chthon. A reflection of his twisted vision for the world.

     In Marvel Tarot, it appears as the Ace of Wands (see image on right--Snood; the Ace of Swords is the Sword of Bone, the Ace of Cups is the Serpent Crown, and the Ace of Pentacles is the Ebon Rose)

     In the image of Ian McNee using the Cornerstones of Creation, the Black Mirror is just a magical construct to symbolize the Mirror.

     In my mind, the Darkhold itself is the Cornerstone. Possessing the Last Chronicle of Chthon / Darkhold page allowed Ian to access the Darkhold's power (as far as the Cornerstones of Creation is concerned).

The Serpent Crown. The Ebon Rose. The Sword of Bone. and the Darkhold. Those are the four Cornerstones

The Cornerstones of Creation received a mini-profile in the Talismans of Mystic Power of the Mystic Arcana handbook. It stated:

The Cornerstones of Creation refers to a set of four unique artifacts of the ancient world. The Sword, the Rose, the Crown, and the Mirror are related to air, earth, water, and fire, respectively, and some ancient texts have connected them with four entities known as "Elder Gods." Individually possessed of vast power, some have theorized that if the four Cornerstones were gathered together and used correctly, the very fabric of reality could be altered. This is why the true names of the items have been obscured throughout history...

    After re-re-re-re-reviewing all the stories and speaking to the creator, it seems clear that the Handbook entry offers the best solution...the Cornerstones' reality-altering power changed their nature...or their natures were altered.

    Khitai is the Hyborian equivalent of China. Read the Blockbusters handbook's entry on the Great Cataclysm for more information.

by Greg O'Driscoll;
    expanded into a number of solo profiles, updated, re-formatted, and re-written by Snood.


The Cornerstones of Creation and the Crown of Wisdom should not be confused with:

Conan the Barbarian#128 (main image)
pg. 17, panel 5 (conducting ceremony);
        pg. 20, panel 1 (created by Elder Gods);

Marvel Tarot#1, pg. 44 (Darkhold/Black Mirror represented as Ace of Wands);
Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm#1, pg. 20, panel 1 (created by Elder Gods);

Conan the Barbarian#128 (November, 1981) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Gil Kane (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#129 (December, 1981) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Gil Kane & P. Craig Russell (?) (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Conan the Barbarian#130 (January, 1982) - J.M. DeMatteis (writer), Gil Kane (artist), Louise Jones (editor)
Marvel Tarot (August, 2007) - David Sexton (writer/designer), Doug Sexton (technical consultant), Jeff Christiansen (continuity consultant), Michael Short & Cory Levine (assistant editors), Mark D. Beazley & Jennifer Grunwald (associate editors), Jeff Youngquist (editor)
Mystic Arcana#1 (Magik) (August, 2007) - first and third story (McNee) - David Sexton (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Mystic Arcana: Black Knight#1 (September, 2007) - third story (McNee) -
David Sexton (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Mystic Arcana#3 (Scarlet Witch) (October, 2007) -
first and third story (McNee) - David Sexton (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)
Mystic Arcana: Sister Grimm#1 (January, 2008) -
third story (McNee) - David Sexton (writer), Eric Nguyen (artist), Nathan Cosby (assistant editor), Mark Paniccia (editor)

First Posted: 02/29/2002
Last updated: 02/22/2021

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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