The ``cult'' is in fact the conspiracy; the links to China and Arabia are clear evidence of this. The ``deathless Chinamen'' are obviously successful Chinese alchemists, and in the Arabian Nights, Irem (or Iram) is reached by an alchemist with an astonishing ability to perform biological transformations. The ``Cyclopean'' structures in the Pacific of which Lovecraft wrote must be then ruins known as Nan Madol (also called Nan Matol), on the island of Ponape in the Carolines. These were constructed when the Islamic and Chinese branches of the Conspiracy were at their height. The non-alliance with the European witches is also explicable --- those who were not merely a local reaction against Christianity were a splinter group, isolated and thrown on its own resources during the Dark Ages, and detached from the Conspiracy as such.
We may take the identification of the Cthulhu cult and the Conspiracy as established. ``Plunging from world to world'' and the intense interest in the stars and non-Euclidean geometry suffice to show that the project is about interstellar travel, and at speeds greater than c at that. The link with biology is not so strange as it might seem. Evidently the Conspiracy decided against human or mechanical control; instead, it is seeking to create a living starship whose nervous system is already adapted to a wide range of non-Euclidean geometries and the intricacies of space travel, as ours is adapted to Euclidean geometry and throwing things. The "when the stars are right" formula is a misunderstanding; when it is working properly, Cthulhu will plunge from world to world, from the Earth to the stars. When they are not right, Cthulhu is quiescent, inactive, in a state of suspended animation - dead. The possible incorporation of more conventional mechanical elements may have contributed to the notion that Cthulhu is somehow at once alive and dead.
Evidently the Cthulhu project began in Irem, but was forced, for some reason, to relocate to the east --- much further east. The Kitab al-Azif, later known in the west as the Necronomicon, is evidently a product of the research carried out at Irem. The Greek name translates as the ``Book of the laws [or rules or science, etc.] of the dead.'' It may thus either refer to those syntheses which were not fully ``alive,'' or to unsuccessful projects.
Some hundreds of years after the relocation to Ponape, that site too was abandoned, being left to the native (or perhaps encroaching) Micronesians. We believe it unlikely that the Cthulhu project went to Easter Island or the still unexplored highlands of Papua New Guinea. Instead, it is probably that they moved under water. The sea, after all, is a free-fall environment, abundant in resources and energy, and even possesses some insulation against the seismic activity of the Pacific, as the survival of coral reefs attest.
Reports of Cthulhu indicate a tremendous size and an at least partially cephalopod nature. Octopodes are the most intelligent of the invertebrates, and in addition possess dexterous limbs. It is not implausible that the Conspiracy as altered some of them sufficiently to make them valuable graduate students, if not researchers, and may even have incorporated cephalopod elements into the starship. Under water, huge structures may be assembled, such as blue whales, giant squid, and starships, ignoring the constraints of gravity, no more relevant there than in space.
This hypothesis explains some otherwise quite puzzling data. The relationship of the Cthulhu cult to the Deep Ones and shoggoths is now plain as a pikestaff, as is their preference for remote areas, where the Conspiracy could work on them undisturbed by priests, princes and people in general. (There are other, and quite obvious, advantages to situating research facilities in the South Pacific.) The elucidation of a fact which has perplexed scholars for decades - namely, that Nan Matol means in space --- is now trivial. Further, it is in full accordance with local tradition. The common belief of the Cargo Cults that European wealth was due to the migration of their ancestral magicians to England and Holland is, in a sense, perfectly true. So, rightly viewed, are the Ponapean legends about the origin of Nan Matol:
``The story that Hambruch [A German anthropologist who visited Ponape in 1908-10] heard about the building of Nan Matol tells how two young wizards, Olo-Sipe and Olo-Sopa [or: Olo-Shipe and Olo-Shaupa], set out from Jokaz [a nearby island] to build a great cult center to the gods, demons, and ghosts. They tried several places on the coasts of Ponape, but each time the wind and the surf destroyed their handiwork. At last they found their ideal site at Temuen. A mighty spell made the basaltic prisms on Jokaz fly through the air and settle down in the right positions to form Nan Matol....
``Until recent times Nan Matol was used as a center for the worship of the turtle god Nanusunsap. Whenever the Ponapeans caught a sea turtle, they brought it to Nan Matol and kept it in one of the buildings. When the tribe was assembled, the priests anointed the turtle with coconut oil and hung it with ornaments. The priests loaded the turtle into a boat and paddled about the canals of Nan Matol, while one priest stared at the turtle and blinked his eyes every time the turtle blinked. When they arrived at Pan Katera, where a fire had been lit, a priest killed the turtle by breaking its shell with a club. The turtle was cut up, cooked, and served to the priests and the king, with prayers and ritual.
``In the reign of the Nan-Marki Luk-En-Mueiu, about 1800, the ritual was brought to an end in a ridiculous fashion. At one ceremony, a priest got no roast turtle. He walked out in a rage, howling curses, and went off to live by himself on a sand bank and eat eels. [Compare the American children's song: ``Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms.'' It goes on to describe the gastronomic delights of annelidophagy in detail.] The Metalanimians [i.e. natives] feared that he had so profaned the ceremony that they could no longer hold it.
``The Ponapeans also had myths about a dragon or giant lizard. In one version, the dragon lived in Jokaz and gave birth to two girls. When the girls grew up, they married the reigning Satalur and asked their husband to let their mother come to live in Nan Matol. When he assented, the dragon moved into one of the buildings, excavating the canals of Nan Matol in the process.
``Next morning, when the Satalur brought some food for his mother-in- law, he saw the dragon for the first time. In terror he burned up the house and the dragon. His wives jumped into the fire and burned themselves up too; and in his grief the Satalur did likewise. The likeliest explanation for the dragon myth is that Ponape was once visited by the New Guinean crocodile, a large man-eating species often found swimming in the open sea, where one would never expect to see a crocodile.''
(pp. 233-235 of L. Sprague and Catherine de Camp, Ancient Ruins and Archaeology.)
The last sentence of rationalization is easily explained. L. S. de Camp was a protege of Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Howard Carter. Undoubtedly his researches into the roots of these men's ideas lead him to the Conspiracy. If he is not a member, he is at least a pawn, attempting to cover the traces of the Secret Masters of the Conspiracy. The de Camps begin their chapter on Nan Matol with the quotation
And there, in sombre splendour by the shorefrom Carter. Hali is a lake associated with Hastur, full of - need it be said? --- octopodes.
Of Hali dark, an ancient city stood;
Black monolithic domes and towers loom
Stark, gigantic in the starless gloom
Like druid menhirs in a haunted wood.
(The novel The Moon Pool, by A. Merritt, is set (in part) in Nan Matol; the rest of its action takes place in a civilization of astonishing scientific sophistication beneath the Pacific. Cephalopods are specifically mentioned by one character as a plausible form of non-human intelligence. The immediate sequel, The Metal Emperor, deals with artificial intelligences and what appear to be the descendants of participants of the Balkh Conference in the inner reaches of Central Asia --- i.e., Lovecraft's Leng. The Face in the Abyss implies that there is at least one transhuman Secret Master of the Conspiracy in the Andes, while the Dwellers in the Mirage has fascinating parallels with Cthulhu. How Merritt --- an editor for the Hearst papers --- came by his astonishing knowledge of the Conspiracy --- to say nothing of his distinctive, perhaps unique prose --- is a mystery.)
The insanity of Lovecraft's informants is thus quite rational. The creation of a living starship, hardwired to make sense of quantum gravity and general relativity, would have been incomprehensible to any non-Conspirator before this century; and communication with such an entity --- especially a not-fully-debugged prototype --- as good a way as any of frying one's neurons. In fact, the testing of FTL starships appears distinctly hazardous. Things go wrong in unpleasant ways. One of them was the Krakatoa explosion - ominously, right on the Pacific. Another was the Tunguska event. It went up; it came down; it did horrible things to large parts of Siberia and spawned new religions among the aborigines. According to Lovecraft, the later test in the 1920s merely drove thousands of people insane. We may observe that the Conspiracy has been making progress. His published date does not match that of the start of the great stock market bubble, but he may have fudged matters a little. No doubt subsequent tests have been responsible for other instances of wide-spread lunacy --- the re-election of Ronald Wilson Reagan springs to mind.
Lovecraft evidently misunderstood the Conspiracy, if in fact he was not deliberately fed disinformation by its enemies. The divergence between an ancient and unspeakable alien deity and a man-made starship boggles the mind. Nonetheless, he was right about one thing: Nothing will ever be the same after Cthulhu rises.
Incidentally, based on his interest in space travel, the deep oceans and giant squid, we can confirm that A. C. Clarke is a Conspirator.