Thursday, May 08, 2008

T Peter Park: Speculation on Colour Out of Space

The ever thoughtful Fortean, T Peter Park sent this out to his Mythfolk Group.


I just thought of one possible inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Colour Out of Space," where a mysterious meteorite landing on a New England farm poisons the soil and the well water, causing all living things on the farm including the farmer and his family to be permeated, possessed, and eventually killed by luminous, weirdly colored alien entities from the meteorite.The meteorite and its luminous malign entities might have been suggested in part by the legend of the luminous "pearl" or "carbuncle" allegedly responsible for the seismic "Moodus Noises" of East Haddam, Connecticut, supposedly found and removed by an English wizard or alchemist, "Dr. Steel," in the 1760's.

For centuries, the vicinity of East Haddam CT has been plagued by mysterious booming noises, nowadays usually explained by geological causes, but attributed to the demon "Hobomoko" by the Indians, and to Satan himself by the Puritans. The name "Moodus Noises" is derived from the traditional Indian name of the locality, Mackemoodus, "Place of Bad Noises." Anyway, a local legend claims that "Dr. Steel" made the noises stop by removing the "carbuncle" supposedly responsible for them.Here is the legend as described in a website on "The Moodus Noises" at:

All of these notions pale, however, in comparison with the imaginative theories inherent in the legend of Dr. Steel and the "carbuncle." As the story went, there arrived in East Haddam sometime in the 1760s a mysterious stranger who claimed that his name was Dr. Steel. They say he was an Englishman possessed of strange and magical powers, who had been sent to Connecticut by King George to lift the curse of the Moodus Noises, which had lately been reported to the monarch.The learned and aged physician built a crazy-looking house in a lonely spot on Mount Tom, near a cave that some said gave direct access to the realm of Hobomoko. Dr. Steel had determined that if he could find and seize the "great carbuncle" -- a pearl of gigantic size -- which blocked the mouth of the cavern, the Noises would temporarily cease and the countryside would have peace, at least for a time. After he retired behind the walls of the house, closing every window, crack and keyhole behind him, Dr. Steel and his research became mysteries as deep as the Noises themselves.While no one was admitted to the odd little building on Mount Tom, curious observers were intrigued by the clang of hammers issuing from the house all night, the endless showers of sparks from the chimney and the sulphurous odors emitted from within. Then, one night, all activity ceased. Dr. Steel emerged from his house and, walking along a path marked by a faint light which moved before him, made his way to the closed entrance of the singular cave.They say that as the ancient alchemist fell to his task of digging at the immense pearl that lay across the mouth of the pit, loud grew the Moodus Noises that night. Finally, with near superhuman effort, Dr. Steel pried the carbuncle from its resting place and removed it from the cavern mouth. What followed would be long remembered by astonished witnesses. From the depths of the cave a blood-red light shone forth, streaming into the heavens like a crimson comet or a spear of the northern aurora. It was, they believed, the flash of the great carbuncle, and all who looked through it said that the stars beyond appeared dyed in blood.When the sun rose the next day, the people of East Haddam discovered that both Dr. Steel and the monstrous pearl had departed earlier that morning on a ship bound for England. Later, news reached Connecticut that the magnificent stone had continued to bring evil to its surroundings, for the galley carrying the pearl and Dr. Steel had sunk in mid-ocean, with the loss of all hands. Ever since, so they say, from the depth of a thousand fathoms the crimson rays of the carbuncle have occasionally shone forth, lighting up a morning sky and striking fear into the hearts of sailors who have seen it.But in East Haddam, the residents were pleased that Dr. Steel's prophecy had come true. Before he sealed himself away in the funny house on Mount Tom, he had told the people that removal of the offensive carbuncle would quiet the Moodus Noises for years to come. And so, indeed, it did. Even decades later, when the sounds and shocks occasionally recurred -- and the Indians said the mountain was trying to give birth to another stone -- things never were as bad as they were in the days before Dr. Steel delivered them from evil.

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