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Introduction

This page will aim to cover the cosmology as it is written in the stories of Howard Philips Lovecraft and the Lovecraft Circle. I will go over each and every detail that has been given regarding the cosmic structure of the Cthulhu Mythos, formally known as Yog-Sothothery.

Universes and Dimensions

  • Individual universes are infinitely large, and also function under fundamentally different laws, such as whether or not life is possible, which physical constants do or do not exist, etc.
In time he grew so impatient of the bleak intervals of day that he began buying drugs in order to increase his periods of sleep. Hasheesh helped a great deal, and once sent him to a part of space where form does not exist, but where glowing gases study the secrets of existence. And a violet-coloured gas told him that this part of space was outside what he had called infinity. The gas had not heard of planets and organisms before, but identified Kuranes merely as one from the infinity where matter, energy, and gravitation exist.
~ Celephaïs
  • There is a vast number of universes.
“There are four kinds of instruments here, Wilmarth,” whispered the voice. “Four kinds—three faculties each—makes twelve pieces in all. You see there are four different sorts of beings presented in those cylinders up there. Three humans, six fungoid beings who can’t navigate space corporeally, two beings from Neptune (God! if you could see the body this type has on its own planet!), and the rest entities from the central caverns of an especially interesting dark star beyond the galaxy. In the principal outpost inside Round Hill you’ll now and then find more cylinders and machines—cylinders of extra-cosmic brains with different senses from any we know—allies and explorers from the uttermost Outside—and special machines for giving them impressions and expression in the several ways suited at once to them and to the comprehensions of different types of listeners. Round Hill, like most of the beings’ main outposts all through the various universes, is a very cosmopolitan place! Of course, only the more common types have been lent to me for experiment.
~ The Whisperer in Darkness: VII.
  • More confirmation of a multiverse, coupled with a mention of "ultimate infinity" which we will come back to later, a mention of juxtaposed dimensions, and a statement that universes are but atoms through the lens of the greater space-time structure.
I have said that there were things in some of Akeley’s letters—especially the second and most voluminous one—which I would not dare to quote or even form into words on paper. This hesitancy applies with still greater force to the things I heard whispered that evening in the darkened room among the lonely haunted hills. Of the extent of the cosmic horrors unfolded by that raucous voice I cannot even hint. He had known hideous things before, but what he had learned since making his pact with the Outside Things was almost too much for sanity to bear. Even now I absolutely refuse to believe what he implied about the constitution of ultimate infinity, the juxtaposition of dimensions, and the frightful position of our known cosmos of space and time in the unending chain of linked cosmos-atoms which makes up the immediate super-cosmos of curves, angles, and material and semi-material electronic organisation.
~ The Whisperer in Darkness: VII.
  • The hierarchy of universes extends even further, with universes existing within larger universes, and escaping from the former and into the latter is compared to breaking through the bonds of (local) material limitations.

"But what place is this? Is it Paradise or Hell? This is not the world I have known since birth. And those stars-I have never seen them before. Those constellations are mightier and more fiery than I ever knew in life."

"There are worlds beyond worlds, universes within and without universes," said the ancient. "You are upon a different planet than that upon which you were born; you are in a different universe, doubtless in a different dimension,"

"Then I am certainly dead."

"What is death but a traversing of eternities and a crossing of cosmic oceans? But I have not said that you are dead."

"Then where in Valka's name am I?" roared Kull, his short stock of patience exhausted. "Your barbarian brain clutches at material actualities," answered the other tranquilly. "What does it matter where you are, or whether you are dead, as you call it? You are a part of that great ocean which is Life, which washes upon all shores, and you are as much a part of it in one place as in another, and as sure to eventually flow back to the Source of it, which gave birth to all Life. As for that, you are bound to Life for all Eternity as surely as a tree, a rock, a bird or a world is bound. You call leaving your tiny planet, quitting your crude physical form-death!"

"But I still have my body."

"I have not said that you are dead, as you name it. As for that, you may be still upon your little planet, as far as you know. Worlds within worlds, universes within universes. Things exist too small and too large for human comprehension. Each pebble on the beaches of Valusia contains countless universes within itself, and itself as a whole is as much a part of the great plan of all universes, as is the sun you know. Your universe, Kull of Valusia, may be a pebble on the shore of a mighty kingdom. "You have broken the bounds of material limitations. You may be in a universe which goes to make up a gem on the robe you wore on Valusia's throne or that universe you knew may be in the spiderweb which lies there on the grass near your feet. I tell you, size and space and time are relative and do not really exist."

~ Kull: The Striking of the Gong
  • Each universe is divided into an indefinite number of "dimensional phases."
Any being from any part of three-dimensional space could probably survive in the fourth dimension; and its survival of the second stage would depend upon what alien part of three-dimensional space it might select for its re-entry. Denizens of some planets might be able to live on certain others—even planets belonging to other galaxies, or to similar-dimensional phases of other space-time continua—though of course there must be vast numbers of mutually uninhabitable even though mathematically juxtaposed bodies or zones of space. It was also possible that the inhabitants of a given dimensional realm could survive entry to many unknown and incomprehensible realms of additional or indefinitely multiplied dimensions—be they within or outside the given space-time continuum—and that the converse would be likewise true.
~ The Dreams in the Witchhouse
  • In another story, we learn that yes, there are an infinite number of dimensions.
The waves surged forth again, and Carter knew that the BEING had heard. And now there poured from that limitless MIND a flood of knowledge and explanation which opened new vistas to the seeker, and prepared him for such a grasp of the cosmos as he had never hoped to possess. He was told how childish and limited is the notion of a tri-dimensional world, and what an infinity of directions there are besides the known directions of up-down, forward-backward, right-left.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: V.
  • On any given dimensional level, all objects corresponding to that dimensionality are merely infinitesimal cross-sections of objects in the next dimension up, and this chain goes upwards to "archetypal infinity."
Then the waves increased in strength, and sought to improve his understanding, reconciling him to the multiform entity of which his present fragment was an infinitesimal part. They told him that every figure of space is but the result of the intersection by a plane of some corresponding figure of one more dimension—as a square is cut from a cube or a circle from a sphere. The cube and sphere, of three dimensions, are thus cut from corresponding forms of four dimensions that men know only through guesses and dreams; and these in turn are cut from forms of five dimensions, and so on up to the dizzy and reachless heights of archetypal infinity.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: V.

If you've been keeping up with everything so far, we know that universes extend infinitely in all directions, of which there are an infinite number in each universe, and higher dimensions have a definite qualitative superiority over lower dimensions. These infinite-dimensional universes in and of themselves are merely atoms in a greater cosmos, which makes up one higher level in a fractal of realities. So far, we have proof of Low 1-A through the previous statements, but let's keep going.

The First Gate

  • Early on on in Through the Gates of the Silver Key, Randolph Carter performs a ritual with the Silver Key, a legendary magical artifact that Carter believes will open the way to his childhood dreams. The first performance of this ritual sends Carter's consciousness back in time, returning him to the body of his child self. When the young Carter attempts the ritual a second time, right off the bat, he experiences the sensation of his position in spacetime being distorted, but in truth, he has detached himself from space and time entirely, no longer being confined to such things as age and location.
For the rite of the Silver Key, as practiced by Randolph Carter in that black, haunted cave within a cave, did not prove unavailing. From the first gesture and syllable an aura of strange, awesome mutation was apparent—a sense of incalculable disturbance and confusion in time and space, yet one which held no hint of what we recognise as motion and duration. Imperceptibly, such things as age and location ceased to have any significance whatever. The day before, Randolph Carter had miraculously leaped a gulf of years. Now there was no distinction between boy and man. There was only the entity Randolph Carter, with a certain store of images which had lost all connexion with terrestrial scenes and circumstances of acquisition. A moment before, there had been an inner cave with vague suggestions of a monstrous arch and gigantic sculptured hand on the farther wall. Now there was neither cave nor absence of cave; neither wall nor absence of wall. There was only a flux of impressions not so much visual as cerebral, amidst which the entity that was Randolph Carter experienced perceptions or registrations of all that his mind revolved on, yet without any clear consciousness of the way in which he received them.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
  • As soon as the ritual is completed, Carter immediately knows that he has entered a realm beyond the space-time continuum. He has crossed the First Gate into the Earth's Outer Extension.
By the time the rite was over Carter knew that he was in no region whose place could be told by earth’s geographers, and in no age whose date history could fix. For the nature of what was happening was not wholly unfamiliar to him. There were hints of it in the cryptical Pnakotic fragments, and a whole chapter in the forbidden Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred had taken on significance when he had deciphered the designs graven on the Silver Key. A gate had been unlocked—not indeed the Ultimate Gate, but one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside time, and from which in turn the Ultimate Gate leads fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths, all universes, and all matter
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
  • The Outer Extension is stated to be undimensioned and outside of time.
Memory and imagination shaped dim half-pictures with uncertain outlines amidst the seething chaos, but Carter knew that they were of memory and imagination only. Yet he felt that it was not chance which built these things in his consciousness, but rather some vast reality, ineffable and undimensioned, which surrounded him and strove to translate itself into the only symbols he was capable of grasping. For no mind of earth may grasp the extensions of shape which interweave in the oblique gulfs outside time and the dimensions we know.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
  • The Outer Extension is again stated to be transdimensional.
He was in many places at the same time. On earth, on October 7, 1883, a little boy named Randolph Carter was leaving the Snake-Den in the hushed evening light and running down the rocky slope and through the twisted-boughed orchard toward his Uncle Christopher’s house in the hills beyond Arkham—yet at that same moment, which was also somehow in the earthly year of 1928, a vague shadow not less Randolph Carter was sitting on a pedestal among the Ancient Ones in earth’s trans-dimensional extension.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
  • The planet on which humanity lives, alongside its equivalent in the Dreamlands (the "gods of men" AKA the Great Ones are mentioned), is only the three-dimensional phase of a "small wholeness" to which the First Gate is the passage. From the perspective of the Outer Extension (which is called "many-dimensioned" here, but don't let that mislead you), the material world is "shadow and illusion," while the Outer Extension is "substance and reality."
The world of men and of the gods of men is merely an infinitesimal phase of an infinitesimal thing—the three-dimensional phase of that small wholeness reached by the First Gate, where 'Umr at-Tawil dictates dreams to the Ancient Ones. Though men hail it as reality and brand thoughts of its many-dimensioned original as unreality, it is in truth the very opposite. That which we call substance and reality is shadow and illusion, and that which we call shadow and illusion is substance and reality
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: V.

Given all of the above, we can safely say that the Outer Extension is 1-A.

  • Bonus: It is heavily implied that this "small wholeness" which Randolph Carter accessed is only one out of innumerably many Outer Extensions.
A gate had been unlocked—not indeed the Ultimate Gate, but one leading from earth and time to that extension of earth which is outside time, and from which in turn the Ultimate Gate leads fearsomely and perilously to the Last Void which is outside all earths, all universes, and all matter.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
“You, Mr. de Marigny,” he suddenly said to his learned host, “do not need to be told the particular alien rhythm to which those cowled Shapes on the hexagonal pillars chanted and nodded. You are the only one else—in America—who has had a taste of the Outer Extension. That clock—I suppose it was sent you by the Yogi poor Harley Warren used to talk about—the seer who said that he alone of living men had been to Yian-Ho, the hidden legacy of sinister, aeon-old Leng, and had borne certain things away from that dreadful and forbidden city. I wonder how many of its subtler properties you know? If my dreams and readings be correct, it was made by those who knew much of the First Gateway. But let me go on with my tale.”
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
For the first time Carter realised how terrific utter silence, mental and physical, may be. The earlier moments had never failed to contain some perceptible rhythm, if only the faint, cryptical pulse of the earth’s dimensional extension, but now the hush of the abyss seemed to fall upon everything.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.
On earth, on October 7, 1883, a little boy named Randolph Carter was leaving the Snake-Den in the hushed evening light and running down the rocky slope and through the twisted-boughed orchard toward his Uncle Christopher’s house in the hills beyond Arkham—yet at that same moment, which was also somehow in the earthly year of 1928, a vague shadow not less Randolph Carter was sitting on a pedestal among the Ancient Ones in earth’s trans-dimensional extension. Here, too, was a third Randolph Carter in the unknown and formless cosmic abyss beyond the Ultimate Gate. And elsewhere, in a chaos of scenes whose infinite multiplicity and monstrous diversity brought him close to the brink of madness, were a limitless confusion of beings which he knew were as much himself as the local manifestation now beyond the Ultimate Gate.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
“Randolph Carter,” IT seemed to say, “MY manifestations on your planet’s extension, the Ancient Ones, have sent you as one who would lately have returned to small lands of dream which he had lost, yet who with greater freedom has risen to greater and nobler desires and curiosities.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.

Beyond the First Gate

  • After passing through the Ultimate Gate leading directly to the outer void outside of existence, Carter looks back and perceives a multiplicity of gates, indicating that there is indeed a 1-A hierarchy at play here.
Randolph Carter’s advance through that Cyclopean bulk of abnormal masonry was like a dizzy precipitation through the measureless gulfs between the stars. From a great distance he felt triumphant, godlike surges of deadly sweetness, and after that the rustling of great wings, and impressions of sound like the chirpings and murmurings of objects unknown on earth or in the solar system. Glancing backward, he saw not one gate alone, but a multiplicity of gates, at some of which clamoured Forms he strove not to remember.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
  • Now, to showcase that this is fact a proper hierarchy of levels of existence, we then take a step aside and look at another important story that explains a great deal about the cosmology: Hypnos. In it, the narrator and the title character use special drugs to project their astral forms into a universe of dreams, described as deeper and of a more fundamental level than the world of time, space and matter, which is described as being birthed out of it, in the same way a bubble of smoke emanates out of the pipe of a jester.
Of our studies it is impossible to speak, since they held so slight a connexion with anything of the world as living men conceive it. They were of that vaster and more appalling universe of dim entity and consciousness which lies deeper than matter, time, and space, and whose existence we suspect only in certain forms of sleep—those rare dreams beyond dreams which come never to common men, and but once or twice in the lifetime of imaginative men. The cosmos of our waking knowledge, born from such an universe as a bubble is born from the pipe of a jester, touches it only as such a bubble may touch its sardonic source when sucked back by the jester’s whim. Men of learning suspect it little, and ignore it mostly. Wise men have interpreted dreams, and the gods have laughed. One man with Oriental eyes has said that all time and space are relative, and men have laughed. But even that man with Oriental eyes has done no more than suspect. I had wished and tried to do more than suspect, and my friend had tried and partly succeeded. Then we both tried together, and with exotic drugs courted terrible and forbidden dreams in the tower studio chamber of the old manor-house in hoary Kent.
~ Hypnos
  • And within this universe, Hypnos and the unnamed narrator then begin to ascend into increasingly more primal levels of reality, becoming less and less restricted by the limitations of the material world as they plunge into more remote regions. The breaking of these limitations is represented in this world by a series of cloudy "obstacles" which the two occasionally tear through during their travels, comparing their ascent to "plungings" and "soarings", two words with opposite meanings.
Among the agonies of these after days is that chief of torments—inarticulateness. What I learned and saw in those hours of impious exploration can never be told—for want of symbols or suggestions in any language. I say this because from first to last our discoveries partook only of the nature of sensations; sensations correlated with no impression which the nervous system of normal humanity is capable of receiving. They were sensations, yet within them lay unbelievable elements of time and space—things which at bottom possess no distinct and definite existence. Human utterance can best convey the general character of our experiences by calling them plungings or soarings; for in every period of revelation some part of our minds broke boldly away from all that is real and present, rushing aërially along shocking, unlighted, and fear-haunted abysses, and occasionally tearing through certain well-marked and typical obstacles describable only as viscous, uncouth clouds or vapours.
~ Hypnos
  • The protagonist reaffirms that time is meaningless at this level, citing their observation that neither they nor their friend age at any rate.
Of the progress of time we kept no record, for time had become to us the merest illusion. I know only that there must have been something very singular involved, since we came at length to marvel why we did not grow old.
~ Hypnos
  • One night, due to abstract winds, the pair are carried through remote areas that the narrator describes as "limitless vacua beyond all thought and entity" that unfold entirely new perceptions of infinity upon the two, with the narrator himself eventually reaching a final obstacle, incalculably denser than the rest, which he is unable to penetrate, but which Hypnos passes through without much difficulty.
There was a night when winds from unknown spaces whirled us irresistibly into limitless vacua beyond all thought and entity. Perceptions of the most maddeningly untransmissible sort thronged upon us; perceptions of infinity which at the time convulsed us with joy, yet which are now partly lost to my memory and partly incapable of presentation to others. Viscous obstacles were clawed through in rapid succession, and at length I felt that we had been borne to realms of greater remoteness than any we had previously known. My friend was vastly in advance as we plunged into this awesome ocean of virgin aether, and I could see the sinister exultation on his floating, luminous, too youthful memory-face. Suddenly that face became dim and quickly disappeared, and in a brief space I found myself projected against an obstacle which I could not penetrate. It was like the others, yet incalculably denser; a sticky, clammy mass, if such terms can be applied to analogous qualities in a non-material sphere.
~ Hypnos
  • This hierarchy is then referenced again in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, where Randolph Carter is dragged out of the material world and into the Ultimate Void by Nyarlathotep's hunting-horrors, and after leaping off of the monster before it can bring him to the Court of Azathoth at the center, he is described as falling through "endless voids" before returning to his home in Boston. Interesting to note is that he is also described as falling through them for aeons, in his perspective.
Onward unswerving and relentless, and tittering hilariously to watch the chuckling and hysterics into which the siren song of night and the spheres had turned, that eldritch scaly monster bore its helpless rider; hurtling and shooting, cleaving the uttermost rim and spanning the outermost abysses; leaving behind the stars and the realms of matter, and darting meteor-like through stark formlessness toward those inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time wherein black Azathoth gnaws shapeless and ravenous amidst the muffled, maddening beat of vile drums and the thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes.
~ The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

Thick though the rushing nightmare that clutched his senses, Randolph Carter could turn and move. He could move, and if he chose he could leap off the evil shantak that bore him hurtlingly doomward at the orders of Nyarlathotep. He could leap off and dare those depths of night that yawned interminably down, those depths of fear whose terrors yet could not exceed the nameless doom that lurked waiting at chaos’ core. He could turn and move and leap—he could—he would—he would—

Off that vast hippocephalic abomination leaped the doomed and desperate dreamer, and down through endless voids of sentient blackness he fell. Aeons reeled, universes died and were born again, stars became nebulae and nebulae became stars, and still Randolph Carter fell through those endless voids of sentient blackness.

~ The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
  • Said voids being described as "sentient blackness" also lines up with passages from the Necronomicon quoted in Through the Gates of the Silver Key, which describes the horrors beyond the First Gate as "Blacknesses." (Also, a mention of "the Veil" is given, which we will come back to later.)
“And while there are those,” the mad Arab had written, “who have dared to seek glimpses beyond the Veil, and to accept HIM as a Guide, they would have been more prudent had they avoided commerce with HIM; for it is written in the Book of Thoth how terrific is the price of a single glimpse. Nor may those who pass ever return, for in the Vastnesses transcending our world are Shapes of darkness that seize and bind. The Affair that shambleth about in the night, the Evil that defieth the Elder Sign, the Herd that stand watch at the secret portal each tomb is known to have, and that thrive on that which groweth out of the tenants within—all these Blacknesses are lesser than HE Who guardeth the Gateway; HE Who will guide the rash one beyond all the worlds into the Abyss of unnamable Devourers. For HE is’UMR AT-TAWIL, the Most Ancient One, which the scribe rendereth as THE PROLONGED OF LIFE.”
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: III.

So, given how the hierarchy leading to the Ultimate Void is described as one of "limitless vacua" and "endless voids" in two separate occasions, it should be enough to suggest a 1-A+ structure overall.

The Ultimate Void

  • The Outer Void is stated to not be beholden to the physics and mathematics of any conceivable cosmos. We know that this is referring to the Outer Void because the second half of the second sentence implicitly describes it, but more importantly, the last two sentences are explicitly referring to the Outer Gods who inhabit it.
There were suggestions of the vague, twilight abysses, and of still vaster, blacker abysses beyond them—abysses in which all fixed suggestions of form were absent. He had been taken there by the bubble-congeries and the little polyhedron which always dogged him; but they, like himself, had changed to wisps of milky, barely luminous mist in this farther void of ultimate blackness. Something else had gone on ahead—a larger wisp which now and then condensed into nameless approximations of form—and he thought that their progress had not been in a straight line, but rather along the alien curves and spirals of some ethereal vortex which obeyed laws unknown to the physics and mathematics of any conceivable cosmos. Eventually there had been a hint of vast, leaping shadows, of a monstrous, half-acoustic pulsing, and of the thin, monotonous piping of an unseen flute—but that was all. Gilman decided he had picked up that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos.
~ The Dreams in the Witch House
  • Admittedly, this comes from the perspective of a mere human, but the man in question, Walter Gilman, is an expert mathematician who has also studied eldritch lore.
Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus and quantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, and tries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints of the Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be wholly free from mental tension. Gilman came from Haverhill, but it was only after he had entered college in Arkham that he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder magic.
~ The Dreams in the Witch House
  • There are also two separate statements in The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath which describe the Outer Void as a place where no dreams reach. This is consistent with how the narrator of Hypnos was unable to penetrate the last obstacle leading to it, in spite of attaining a similar nature to the title character during his travels throughout higher spheres of reality.
There were, in such voyages, incalculable local dangers; as well as that shocking final peril which gibbers unmentionably outside the ordered universe, where no dreams reach; that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion which blasphemes and bubbles at the centre of all infinity—the boundless daemon-sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud, and who gnaws hungrily in inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond time amidst the muffled, maddening beating of vile drums and the thin, monotonous whine of accursed flutes; to which detestable pounding and piping dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic ultimate gods, the blind, voiceless, tenebrous, mindless Other Gods whose soul and messenger is the crawling chaos Nyarlathotep.
~ The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
Only to taunt had Nyarlathotep marked out the way to safety and the marvellous sunset city; only to mock had that black messenger revealed the secret of those truant gods whose steps he could so easily lead back at will. For madness and the void’s wild vengeance are Nyarlathotep’s only gifts to the presumptuous; and frantick though the rider strove to turn his disgusting steed, that leering, tittering shantak coursed on impetuous and relentless, flapping its great slippery wings in malignant joy, and headed for those unhallowed pits whither no dreams reach; that last amorphous blight of nethermost confusion where bubbles and blasphemes at infinity’s centre the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth, whose name no lips dare speak aloud.
~ The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
  • The Outer Void is stated twice to be a truly infinite realm, as opposed to the limited lower worlds which although still infinite, utterly pale in comparison.
Their main immediate abode is a still undiscovered and almost lightless planet at the very edge of our solar system—beyond Neptune, and the ninth in distance from the sun. It is, as we have inferred, the object mystically hinted at as “Yuggoth” in certain ancient and forbidden writings; and it will soon be the scene of a strange focussing of thought upon our world in an effort to facilitate mental rapport. I would not be surprised if astronomers became sufficiently sensitive to these thought-currents to discover Yuggoth when the Outer Ones wish them to do so. But Yuggoth, of course, is only the stepping-stone. The main body of the beings inhabits strangely organised abysses wholly beyond the utmost reach of any human imagination. The space-time globule which we recognise as the totality of all cosmic entity is only an atom in the genuine infinity which is theirs. And as much of this infinity as any human brain can hold is eventually to be opened up to me, as it has been to not more than fifty other men since the human race has existed.
~ The Whisperer in Darkness: V.
I have said that there were things in some of Akeley’s letters—especially the second and most voluminous one—which I would not dare to quote or even form into words on paper. This hesitancy applies with still greater force to the things I heard whispered that evening in the darkened room among the lonely haunted hills. Of the extent of the cosmic horrors unfolded by that raucous voice I cannot even hint. He had known hideous things before, but what he had learned since making his pact with the Outside Things was almost too much for sanity to bear. Even now I absolutely refuse to believe what he implied about the constitution of ultimate infinity, the juxtaposition of dimensions, and the frightful position of our known cosmos of space and time in the unending chain of linked cosmos-atoms which makes up the immediate super-cosmos of curves, angles, and material and semi-material electronic organisation.
~ The Whisperer in Darkness: VII.

Given all of this, I am confident in saying that the Ultimate Void is High 1-A, as it is unreachably beyond a world of pure dreams that resides beyond a multiverse of infinite-dimensional "cosmos-atoms" constituting a "super-cosmos", and is a void of genuine and ultimate infinity which is considered to be beyond mathematics from the perspective of an expert mathematician.

  • Bonus: Not really a tiering-related thing, per se, but it is worth mentioning that the Ultimate Void is repeatedly described as the chaos existing outside of the ordered universe:
Before his eyes a kaleidoscopic range of phantasmal images played, all of them dissolving at intervals into the picture of a vast, unplumbed abyss of night wherein whirled suns and worlds of an even profounder blackness. He thought of the ancient legends of Ultimate Chaos, at whose centre sprawls the blind idiot god Azathoth, Lord of All Things, encircled by his flopping horde of mindless and amorphous dancers, and lulled by the thin monotonous piping of a daemoniac flute held in nameless paws.
~ The Haunter of the Dark
There were suggestions of the vague, twilight abysses, and of still vaster, blacker abysses beyond them—abysses in which all fixed suggestions of form were absent. He had been taken there by the bubble-congeries and the little polyhedron which always dogged him; but they, like himself, had changed to wisps of milky, barely luminous mist in this farther void of ultimate blackness. (...) Eventually there had been a hint of vast, leaping shadows, of a monstrous, half-acoustic pulsing, and of the thin, monotonous piping of an unseen flute—but that was all. Gilman decided he had picked up that last conception from what he had read in the Necronomicon about the mindless entity Azathoth, which rules all time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos.
~ The Dreams in the Witch House
The passage through the vague abysses would be frightful, for the Walpurgis-rhythm would be vibrating, and at last he would have to hear that hitherto veiled cosmic pulsing which he so mortally dreaded. Even now he could detect a low, monstrous shaking whose tempo he suspected all too well. At Sabbat-time it always mounted and reached through to the worlds to summon the initiate to nameless rites. Half the chants of the Sabbat were patterned on this faintly overheard pulsing which no earthly ear could endure in its unveiled spatial fullness. Gilman wondered, too, whether he could trust his instinct to take him back to the right part of space. How could he be sure he would not land on that green-litten hillside of a far planet, on the tessellated terrace above the city of tentacled monsters somewhere beyond the galaxy, or in the spiral black vortices of that ultimate void of Chaos wherein reigns the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth?
~ The Dreams in the Witch House
Out in the mindless void the daemon bore me, Past the bright clusters of dimensioned space, Till neither time nor matter stretched before me, But only Chaos, without form or place.
~ Fungi from Yuggoth: XXII. Azathoth

The Ultimate Mystery

  • As soon as Randolph Carter reaches the Ultimate Void, he is struck with the appalling discovery that individuality is an illusion, and that he is merely one out of infinitely many beings.
And then, suddenly, he felt a greater terror than that which any of the Forms could give—a terror from which he could not flee because it was connected with himself. Even the First Gateway had taken something of stability from him, leaving him uncertain about his bodily form and about his relationship to the mistily defined objects around him, but it had not disturbed his sense of unity. He had still been Randolph Carter, a fixed point in the dimensional seething. Now, beyond the Ultimate Gateway, he realised in a moment of consuming fright that he was not one person, but many persons.

He was in many places at the same time. On earth, on October 7, 1883, a little boy named Randolph Carter was leaving the Snake-Den in the hushed evening light and running down the rocky slope and through the twisted-boughed orchard toward his Uncle Christopher’s house in the hills beyond Arkham—yet at that same moment, which was also somehow in the earthly year of 1928, a vague shadow not less Randolph Carter was sitting on a pedestal among the Ancient Ones in earth’s trans-dimensional extension. Here, too, was a third Randolph Carter in the unknown and formless cosmic abyss beyond the Ultimate Gate. And elsewhere, in a chaos of scenes whose infinite multiplicity and monstrous diversity brought him close to the brink of madness, were a limitless confusion of beings which he knew were as much himself as the local manifestation now beyond the Ultimate Gate. There were “Carters” in settings belonging to every known and suspected age of earth’s history, and to remoter ages of earthly entity transcending knowledge, suspicion, and credibility. “Carters” of forms both human and non-human, vertebrate and invertebrate, conscious and mindless, animal and vegetable. And more, there were “Carters” having nothing in common with earthly life, but moving outrageously amidst backgrounds of other planets and systems and galaxies and cosmic continua. Spores of eternal life drifting from world to world, universe to universe, yet all equally himself. Some of the glimpses recalled dreams—both faint and vivid, single and persistent—which he had had through the long years since he first began to dream, and a few possessed a haunting, fascinating, and almost horrible familiarity which no earthly logic could explain.

Faced with this realisation, Randolph Carter reeled in the clutch of supreme horror—horror such as had not been hinted even at the climax of that hideous night when two had ventured into an ancient and abhorred necropolis under a waning moon and only one had emerged. No death, no doom, no anguish can arouse the surpassing despair which flows from a loss of identity. Merging with nothingness is peaceful oblivion; but to be aware of existence and yet to know that one is no longer a definite being distinguished from other beings—that one no longer has a self—that is the nameless summit of agony and dread.

He knew that there had been a Randolph Carter of Boston, yet could not be sure whether he—the fragment or facet of an earthly entity beyond the Ultimate Gate—had been that one or some other. His self had been annihilated; and yet he—if indeed there could, in view of that utter nullity of individual existence, be such a thing as he—was equally aware of being in some inconceivable way a legion of selves. It was as though his body had been suddenly transformed into one of those many-limbed and many-headed effigies sculptured in Indian temples, and he contemplated the aggregation in a bewildered attempt to discern which was the original and which the additions—if indeed (supremely monstrous thought) there were any original as distinguished from other embodiments.

~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
  • While reeling in the ugly truth of existence, Carter is confronted by something somehow even more horrifying: a nameless presence which simultaneously surrounds him in the Ultimate Void, permeates his individual being, and pervades all of reality. This entity is described as the animating essence of that final unbound sweep of existence which outreaches imagination and mathematics equally. Carter identifies the presence with Yog-Sothoth, but immediately realizes that even "Yog-Sothoth" is but a reduction of something even loftier.
It was an All-in-One and One-in-All of limitless being and self—not merely a thing of one Space-Time continuum, but allied to the ultimate animating essence of existence’s whole unbounded sweep—the last, utter sweep which has no confines and which outreaches fancy and mathematics alike. It was perhaps that which certain secret cults of earth have whispered of as YOG-SOTHOTH, and which has been a deity under other names; that which the crustaceans of Yuggoth worship as the Beyond-One, and which the vaporous brains of the spiral nebulae know by an untranslatable Sign—yet in a flash the Carter-facet realised how slight and fractional all these conceptions are.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
  • The BEING then communicates to Randolph Carter, discussing his ascension from selfish desires to great and noble curiosities, and then mentioning an ultimate secret hidden behind the phenomenal world that Carter wishes to unravel.
“Randolph Carter,” IT seemed to say, “MY manifestations on your planet’s extension, the Ancient Ones, have sent you as one who would lately have returned to small lands of dream which he had lost, yet who with greater freedom has risen to greater and nobler desires and curiosities. You wished to sail up golden Oukranos, to search out forgotten ivory cities in orchid-heavy Kled, and to reign on the opal throne of Ilek-Vad, whose fabulous towers and numberless domes rise mighty toward a single red star in a firmament alien to your earth and to all matter. Now, with the passing of two Gates, you wish loftier things. You would not flee like a child from a scene disliked to a dream beloved, but would plunge like a man into that last and inmost of secrets which lies behind all scenes and dreams.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.
  • Immediately afterwards, the BEING gives Carter the name of this ultimate secret behind all of existence: the Ultimate Mystery. It repeats its description from before, calling it "that last and first of secrets" and even mentioning the Veil from the Necronomicon, officially identifying it as an even greater barrier than the Ultimate Gate.
What you wish, I have found good; and I am ready to grant that which I have granted eleven times only to beings of your planet—five times only to those you call men, or those resembling them. I am ready to shew you the Ultimate Mystery, to look on which is to blast a feeble spirit. Yet before you gaze full at that last and first of secrets you may still wield a free choice, and return if you will through the two Gates with the Veil still unrent before your eyes.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: IV.


  • For even more context, it is stated that the Outer Gods ("the entities outside the Gates") can choose between a limited, changeable perspective or a static, absolute totality beyond perspective. This draws even more of a distinction between the fractional perspective of the Ultimate Void seen in other stories and its underlying true nature that is exclusively depicted in Through the Gates of the Silver Key.
After an impressive pause the waves continued, saying that what the denizens of few-dimensioned zones call change is merely a function of their consciousness, which views the external world from various cosmic angles. As the shapes produced by the cutting of a cone seem to vary with the angles of cutting—being circle, ellipse, parabola, or hyperbola according to that angle, yet without any change in the cone itself—so do the local aspects of an unchanged and endless reality seem to change with the cosmic angle of regarding. To this variety of angles of consciousness the feeble beings of the inner worlds are slaves, since with rare exceptions they cannot learn to control them. Only a few students of forbidden things have gained inklings of this control, and have thereby conquered time and change. But the entities outside the Gates command all angles, and view the myriad parts of the cosmos in terms of fragmentary, change-involving perspective, or of the changeless totality beyond perspective, in accordance with their will.
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: V.
  • Lastly, the Ultimate Mystery is described as the final reality underlying all local and partial conceptions.
These revelations came with a godlike solemnity which left Carter unable to doubt. Even though they lay almost beyond his comprehension, he felt that they must be true in the light of that final cosmic reality which belies all local perspectives and narrow partial views; and he was familiar enough with profound speculations to be free from the bondage of local and partial conceptions. Had his whole quest not been based upon a faith in the unreality of the local and partial?
~ Through the Gates of the Silver Key: V.

Now that I've presented all of these quotes, the Ultimate Mystery should easily reach tier 0, as it is portrayed as the static, eternal totality of existence beyond identification and distinction, holding the Ultimate Void as a mere reduction of itself.

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