De Vermis Mysteriis

De VERMIS MYSTERIIS

Classification: Spell book

Creator: Dr. Ludvig Prinn

User/Possessors: Dr. Ludvig Prinn, Robert Blake, Starry Wisdom Cult, Dr. Ambrose Dexter (see notes)

First Appearance: (Historical): "The Shambler from the Stars", Weird Tales (September, 1935);

(Marvel Universe): Journey Into Mystery II#3 (February, 1972)

Powers/Abilities/Functions: The Vermis Mysteriis was a repository of ancient spells, alchemical potions and equations, detailed histories of the elder gods and lost rituals of the ancients. The heavy bound book contained many spells to summon evil creatures as servants but all summoners had to be wary and erect protective circles. If a creature was summoned without one, the caster would be killed by the creature called forth. One summoning spell could call forth the Shambler from the Stars. The book detailed an extensive history of the elder gods, Nyarlathotep, Yig, the Father of Serpents, and many others like Cthulhu and Byatis, as well as ritual ceremonies to curry favor or servitors from these beings. The Book also contained directions on how to make alchemical potions, such as a recipe for a love philter and a formula for a certain drug that enabled the user to recall memories of past lives. The Book was originally written in a form of ancient Celtic runes and later translated into Latin. Other lesser copies existed in different language translations. Any other spells or magical abilities are as yet unrevealed.

Dr. Ludvig Prinn

History:

(Chamber of Chills#3 (fb) - BTS / "The Shambler from the Stars" (historical)) - De Vermis Mysteriis was written by the Flemish alchemist and necromancer, Ludvig Prinn while he was imprisoned, awaiting trial for witchcraft. It is not known how the manuscript was ever smuggled out of the prison but it was speculated that he may have bribed a guard or even received help from a summoned creature. A year after Prinn's death, the book was printed in Cologne, Germany. This original version was in Latin and was immediately suppressed by the Catholic Church. Only a few copies survived, which were transcribed and circulated further. The book remained rare and generally known only to practitioners of the dark arts and occult experts who discouraged its wider distribution.

(Journey Into Mystery II#3 / "The Shambler from the Stars" (historical)) - Robert Blake acquired a great black volume with iron facings and the title inscribed in hand-engraved lettering from a book dealer in Chicago. Unable to read Latin, Robert Blake brought the book to a fellow occult and Latin expert in Providence, Rhode Island. Translating the book, the man proceeded to cast a summoning spell and the room filled with dark clouds and lightning. The lights went out in the house and a great demonic laughter filled the room as the Shambler from the Stars appeared. The Shambler, wrapping one of its amorphous tendrils around its summoner, proceeded to kill the man by absorbing all his blood and before disappearing along with the copy of De Vermis Mysteriis.

(Journey Into Mystery II#4 / "The Haunter in the Dark" (historical)) - Several years later, Robert Blake found a copy of de Vermis Mysteriis and the Necronomicon in an abandoned church in Providence, Rhode Island, while investigating the stories about the Starry Wisdom Cult.

(Journey Into Mystery II#5 / "The Shadow From the Steeple") - After Blake’s death, his friend Howard Phillips began reading the book to gain information and insight on his demise. Four days later, Howard Phillips was found dead and the book was taken by Dr. Ambrose Dexter.

(Scarlet Witch#1) - Agatha Harkness made reference to De Vermis Mysteriis while consulting with the Scarlet Witch.

Comments: Created by Robert Bloch (writer), adapted by Ron Goulart, Jim Starlin (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks).

I have compiled a list of interesting tidbits regarding what de Vermis Mysteriis (translated as "the Mysteries of the Worm") contains within its pages in trying to be as complete as possible. This list was compiled after reading and researching the book’s appearances within the pages of countless stories as printed in Weird Tales and their subsequent reprints in later volumes of material. The authors who wrote stories that include the book de Vermis Mysteriis include Robert Bloch, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, August Derleth, Henry Kuttner and Duane W. Rimel. Here is what I was able to come up with. The second part, called Sarcenic Rituals, has some interesting anecdotes regarding the lost history of Egypt.

De Vermis Mysteriis (Mysteries of the Worm)

The book contains instructions for contacting alien evil entities. The procedures include such things as compounding belladonna with aconite and drawing circles of phosphorescent fire on the floor when the stars are right; melting tallow candles and mixing them with corpse-fat; and performing animal sacrifices.  

The book contains a story of  Nyarlathotep which describes him as the "all-seeing eye".  

The book claims that the ancient Egyptians once colonized Cornwall England.

The book includes a recipe for a love philter that includes yohimbine and cantharadine as some of the ingredients.  

The book includes the formula for creating an unusual drug that would enable the user to recall memories of past lives. The book gives a list of procedures and precautions that needed to be taken before using the drug. Some of these precautions include using the Pnakotic pentagons or other cabalistic signs of protection. The book warns that omitting these protections can make the user prey to the dwellers in the Hidden World, demons and servitor races of the elder gods.

De Vermis Mysteriis talks of a being called Iod, the Shining Pursuer, who hunts souls through the Secret Worlds and other dimensions of time and space. The book does not include any incantation for summoning this being.  

The book includes diagrams of operations designed to give men the attributes of reptiles.

Saracenic Rituals

Prinn devoted a large chapter, entitled "Saracenic Rituals", telling of his travels in Egypt in the days of the Crusaders. Prinn wrote that he studied with  Alexandrian seers. He wrote of his journeys into the Sahara Desert and of his looting of tombs along hidden valleys of the Nile River. This chapter also revealed the lore of the efreet and the djinn, as well as the mysterious secrets of an assassin sect, mythic stories of Arabian ghouls and the hidden practices of the dervishes. He included various passages regarding the Egyptian priesthood worshipping gigantic beings who were half-beast and half-man. These priests were able to obtain great power from these beings through offerings of incense and human sacrifice. The most detailed passage describes the worship of Sebek, the crocodile-headed god.   

In his book, Prinn wrote of the pharaoh Nephren-Ka who conjured up Nyarlathotep by sacrificing a hundred willing victims. Nyarlathotep rewarded Nephren-Ka with the gift of prophecy. The pharaoh proceeded to inscribe the secrets of the future on the walls of his own tomb before dying. This chapter later related the destruction of the Egyptian cities, Elephantine and Bubastis, in which the priests of Bast were blaspheming against the reigning religions and performed atrocious human sacrifices. The priests and their followers were able to flee before the pharaoh’s army could arrive to seize them.

Known Copies

The British Museum has a copy of the Latin edition while the Huntington Library has a copy of De Vermis Mysteriis that is secretly kept in a vault.   

Robert Blake found a Latin edition in a bookstore on South Dearborn Street in Chicago. Robert Blake found a copy of De Vermis Mysteriis in the abandoned church of the Starry Wisdom sect. Blake previously had access to a different copy.The Book was later taken by Dr. Ambrose Dexter. 

There was a copy of De Vermis Mysteriis bound in iron and labeled as “German Inorganic Chemistry”. 

Many other copies exist as photostatted versions and translated into other languages have appeared in numerous stories in Weird Tales. I chose not to list them all due their irrelevance to the Marvel appearances.

Robert Bloch wrote in Weird Tales (1934) “The Secret in the Tomb” that a descendent of a man named Jeremy Strange was taught by his father the mysteries and arcana found among tomes such as Mysteries of the Worm. As a side note to this, the descendent's last name was Strange and no first name was ever revealed. Since the last name was Strange, any connection to Doctor Strange? Doctor Strange must surely be named after him as homage. Maybe he could be retconned somehow as another descendent? Also of interest, Bloch's first published a story titled, "Lilies", for Marvel Tales in 1934, and "The Secret in the Tomb", which was published a few months later in Weird Tales.

Profile by AvatarWarlord72.

CLARIFICATIONS:
The Vermis Mysteriis has no known connections to:

The Shambler from the Stars has no known connections to:


The Shambler from the Stars

Shambler from the Stars

The Shambler from the Stars after being improperly summoned without any form of magical protection against it, turned on Robert Blake’s friend and proceeded to kill him by absorbing his blood through one of its many tendrils. The Shambler quickly disappeared along with the copy of de Vermis Mysteriis. The Shambler - or one of its other kin - later appeared outside Robert Blake’s cell, snaking its tentacles through the bars in a window behind him. 

  The Shambler from the Stars was also referred to as a star vampire, serving the will of the elder and outer gods, Azathoth and Nyarlathotep, as well as any who took precautions by using protective magic to properly summon them. They appeared as a large billowing mass of amorphous tendrils and a single eye. They were pink in color and become redder as they absorbed blood from their helpless victims. Whenever they appeared, they gave off a sound described as hideous laughter that could cause fear and apprehension.

--Journey Into Mystery II#3 (The Shambler from the Stars (historical)

 

 

 


images: (without ads)
Journey Into Mystery II#3, p3, pan4 (de Vermis Mysteriis)

p3, pan6 (Ludvig Prinn)
p8, pan2 (the Shambler from the stars)


Appearances:
"The Shambler from the Stars", Weird Tales (September, 1935) – Robert Bloch (writer)
"The Haunter in the Dark", Weird Tales (May, 1942) - H.P. Lovecraft (writer)
"The Shadow from the Steeple", Weird Tales (September, 1950) - Robert Bloch (writer)
Journey Into Mystery II#3-5 (February-April, 1972) adapted by Ron Goulart , Jim Starlin (pencils), Tom Palmer (inks), Roy Thomas (editor).


Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

Last Updated: 10/19/07

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