Reasons to like Lovecraft: Mi-go (Fungi from Yuggoth)

If you’re a fan of H.P.Lovecraft you may recognise and hopefully enjoy seeing this. If you’re unaware of H.P.Lovecraft, then peel the rime off your eyeballs and get into this world of ultimate, sanity-blasting cosmic horror…

Mi-go Fungi from Yuggoth surgically removing human brain

Mi-go surgically removing human brain

Image sourced from danial79

The Mi-go are highly intelligent and independent race, renowned for their worship of the Outer Gods: Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep, and Shub-Niggurath.

Also known as The Fungi from Yuggoth, their first appearance in Lovecraft’s work was within the excellent and spine tingling tale The Whisperer in the Darkness, since then they’ve been brought in as “bugs” in CthulhuTech and given some decent exposition in Pagan Publishing’s sourcebook for CoC: Delta Green Eyes Only Volume One: Machinations of the Mi-Go.

Pinkish, with crustaceous bodies, bearing vast pairs of dorsal fins or membranous wings and several sets of articulated limbs, and with a sort of convoluted ellipsoid, bristling with a multitudes of very short antennae, where a head would ordinarily be.

They communicate with each other by changing the colours of their ‘antennae’ and via a sort of buzz; both the spectrum of colours and range of sounds eclipse what normal humans can detect, so there’s a lot more going on than we see or hear.

You could say they resembled man-sized prawns – but this starts to draw parallels with the drone-like entities in the sci-fi movie: District 9.

Personally, I’m wary of creating  just-another-alien-ant-colony for characters to go up against. I think introducing Mi-go into any scenario requires a lot of subtlety in order to preserve their enigma, and their capacity to generate genuine horror.

The Mi-go are very adept at remaining beyond sight, particularly when visiting Earth – which they do on regular occasions to acquire minerals and natural resources.

Although they are from vastly distant realms of Outer Space, they have a ‘local’ outpost on the moon Pluto (called Yuggoth in HPL’s work).

As Humankind has continued to increase its population, to encroach on once remote locations that are valuable to the Mi-go, and as it now spreads into the Solar System and further (Bordendrill Machine Colonies, Dante’s Fool), the existence of the Mi-go has not been exposed any more than in previous centuries.

In my opinion, their ability to remain undetected comes from their ability to travel via portals (using worship of Yog-Sothoth – Opener of the Way, The All-in-One and the One-in-All, The Key and the Gate) thus avoiding the need for long, physical journeys that increase the risk of detection. Also, their highly organised nature and purity of aggression, allows them to target and dispose of individuals or small groups who have either stumbled onto their existence, or are likely to do so.  The Mi-Go typically avoid encounters with large groups – even if this means closing down an Earth-based mining operation.

All the legendry, of course, white and Indian alike, died down during the nineteenth century, except for occasional atavistical flareups. The ways of the Vermonters became settled; and once their habitual paths and dwellings were established according to a certain fixed plan, they remembered less and less what fears and avoidances had determined that plan, and even that there had been any fears or avoidances. Most people simply knew that certain hilly regions were considered as highly unhealthy, unprofitable, and generally unlucky to live in, and that the farther one kept from them the better off one usually was. In time the ruts of custom and economic interest became so deeply cut in approved places that there was no longer any reason for going outside them, and the haunted hills were left deserted by accident rather than by design. Save during infrequent local scares, only wonder-loving grandmothers and retrospective nonagenarians ever whispered of beings dwelling in those hills; and even such whispers admitted that there was not much to fear from those things now that they were used to the presence of houses and settlements, and now that human beings let their chosen territory severely alone.

– From the Whisperer in the Dark, H P Lovecraft (1931)

In  the shared universe of my novels –  there is a massive apocalyptic event (caused by worshippers of Hastur – the King in Yellow) which annihilates over 70% of the human population and leave a couple billion zombies (of Hastur) stumbling around Dead Cities and giving survivors lots of reasons to be scared. This event is called Yellow Dawn (the RPG is called Yellow Dawn – the Age of Hastur). At this point, the Mi-go start to make a concerted return to long-since abandoned outposts on Earth now that most of humanity has been removed from the planet.  However, high overhead, hanging in orbit are thousands of people living in colonies – unaffected by the event of Yellow Dawn.  The mi-go continue to remain ‘below the radar’.

Mi-Go Fungi from Yuggoth

Mi-Go – source Andrew Leman: photo by Gregg Roth

There is speculation that Hastur despises the Mi-Go, and that agents of Him Who Is Not To Be Named actively hunt down Mi-Go to destroy them.  There is some error here because Him Who Is Not To Be Named is not a façade of Hastur.  Regardless – the Mi-go have been known to be thwarted by creatures (and people) devoted to the Yellow Sign, one aspect of Hastur.  This has relevance, for in the world after the event known as Yellow Dawn – the Mi-go may find themselves in greater jeopardy; a world where elements of Hastur have widely (but subtlety) infected human reality.

The speciality of the Mi-Go – in regards to human beings, is surgery.  Here there are parallels to another ancient non-human species, The Elder Things.

The Mi-go don’t just cut up and dissect humans – they remove the brain, intact and alive… and place them inside technologically advanced cylinders where they can remain – conscious but deprived of all sensory input – indefinitely.  Quite often the mind contained within the brain will be induced into a sleep-like state to prevent absolute madness; but, depending on the motives of the particular Mi-go involved, perhaps the mind is left awake.  Sensory equipment can be connected to the cylinder – allowing the brain to experience sight and sound, even speech.  This is a particularly gruesome fate for any character – or NPC that might be close to the characters. Alternatively, it could be a privilege bestowed upon an important individual.

The Pennacook myths, which were the most consistent and picturesque, taught that the Winged Ones came from the Great Bear in the sky, and had mines in our earthly hills whence they took a kind of stone they could not get on any other world. They did not live here, said the myths, but merely maintained outposts and flew back with vast cargoes of stone to their own stars in the north. They harmed only those earth-people who got too near them or spied upon them. Animals shunned them through instinctive hatred, not because of being hunted. They could not eat the things and animals of earth, but brought their own food from the stars. It was bad to get near them, and sometimes young hunters who went into their hills never came back. It was not good, either, to listen to what they whispered at night in the forest with voices like a bee’s that tried to be like the voices of men. They knew the speech of all kinds of men – Pennacooks, Hurons, men of the Five Nations – but did not seem to have or need any speech of their own. They talked with their heads, which changed colour in different ways to mean different things.

– From the Whisperer in the Dark, H P Lovecraft (1931)

The Mi-go are highly sensitive to certain sacred designs, or hieroglyphics, that can be found in complete form at their outpost on Yuggoth. These hieroglyphics are powerful foci for the dark practices (advanced meta-science) described in the dreaded book of arcane and forbidden lore – the Necronomicon.  Anybody in possession of even a sample of these hieroglyphics is in extreme danger because the Mi-go can supposedly sense their existence – and will take all necessary action to hunt them down and reclaim them.

There is a great black stone with unknown hieroglyphics half worn away which I found in the woods on Round Hill, east of here; and after I took it home everything became different. If they think I suspect too much they will either kill me or take me off the earth to where they come from. They like to take away men of learning once in a while, to keep informed on the state of things in the human world.

– From the Whisperer in the Dark, H P Lovecraft (1931)

There is evidence to suggest that the Mi-go have several or more castes within their ‘society’, including worker, scientist and solider. It has been documented by the half-insane scholars of the Mythos that the Mi-go can undergo certain physical metamorphosis – shedding wings or increasing the number of appendages, amongst others.  It is my belief that the Mi-go do not have a set caste system, but rather, they are all independent and capable of making these changes to suit a specific purpose at any given time.

These are incredibly intelligent, sharp, quick and malevolent creatures – most of all, they can carry a large range of technology – even weapons.

Mi-Go imitating a human as in Henry W Akeley Whisperer in the Darkness

Mi-Go imitating a human

One of their favourite tricks is to mimic people – such as in the Whisperer in the Darkness – by using poor lighting, baggy clothing, and a certain amount of mind manipulation (sonic resonance to induce a state of confusion and susceptibility), and even wearing the surgically removed flesh of a human face, as a mask, to reinforce the macabre impersonation of humanity.

Their cynical morals and blunt dissection of human interests, and human tissues, makes them fantastically sinister.  Deliver the encounter in the dark hours, in remote places, with an unhealthy layer of dense fog… and you’ve got players shuddering in their sofa seats.




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2 thoughts on “Reasons to like Lovecraft: Mi-go (Fungi from Yuggoth)

  1. Hi David, and thank you for this article! I just find your blog looking for some Shub Niggurath pictures, could you tell us from where this picture is taken?

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