You may have seen them stalking the streets of downtown. The hooded figures in shadowy black robes induce a feeling of cosmic doom, or confusion, to whomever they meet. They worship the Elder Gods of H.P. Lovecraft’s classic horror stories and enjoy reading their own vile poetry at local events.
They are the Cult of the Yellow Sign, an “equal opportunity doomsday cult and apocalypse provider” headquartered in Phoenix. Individuals in the cult do not identify themselves by names but rather, numbers.
According to its publication available at Lawn Gnome bookstore, “the Cult of the Yellow Sign is not a performance art prank concocted by two high school buddies interested in marrying insult comedy with Lovecraftian horror.”
Despite this claim, the Cult is a frequent act at Lawn Gnome Publishing. In October, the group hosted the Monster Ball on Oct. 27 and featured as poets at Aside of Heart vegan restaurant.
“The group has recruited other artists and writers and are important members of the artistic community,” Lawn Gnome owner Aaron Johnson said.
He explained that while the Cult claims to be thousands of years old, it has only been publishing its pamphlets at his bookstore for about five months. But who are these mysterious figures?
The name “Cult of the Yellow Sign” originates in a horror story penned by Robert Chambers. Later the story was made popular by the influenced works of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft and his contemporaries wrote under the theme of the inevitable destruction of the human race, usually due to cosmic god-monsters beyond our fathoming.
I met with Cultist number 808 and number 138 behind the Angel’s Trumpet Ale House for a harrowing interview. No one else was present and the distant streetlights gave little protection. The night slowly lurked across the sky as the two figures approached for the meeting.
Number 808 was adorned in a conventional cultist’s dark robe with a cloth mask only revealing his eyes. The other, number 138, wore a full black facemask as well as actual pain-spike armor over his shoulders and chest.
Number 138 spoke with a gnarled, rotting voice that one would associate with campy horror movies. Their answers were sarcastic at best though there was always some point they were trying to make.
“Money is a shield against suffering, it will be no good to you when Azathoth descends from his starry prison and reduces this planet into a smoldering core, with lava pouring out of the sides of it and spiders crawling all over the surface,” number 138 said.
Despite their appearance, they are not entirely unfriendly. They enjoy playing board games such as Settlers of Catan and playing the occasional game on Xbox.
Number 808 happened to be the Cult’s public relations officer and noted that it is very open to the community and considers public outreach a primary goal.
“We like to keep one foot in the real world and one foot in all the other more important worlds,” he said.
They have strong opinions about modern issues. In regard to Occupy Phoenix, they described the movement as “poorly organized, and confused.” But then added that their ideals were not unlike their own.
“Our attitude is that the one percent deserves to be beaten with doorknobs just as well as anybody else,” number 808 said. “Have you hit a man with a doorknob before? It makes a very satisfying brassy whomp.”
They said they support other religious cults.
“We love Scientology, but they get all the upper tax bracket. … People with money become scientologists and everyone else becomes us,” number 808 said.
Lately there’s been a lot of talk about the Mayan Doomsday prophecy that supposedly comes to fruition this December.
“We’ve been trying for centuries. … The Mayan thing is just a fad. … If things go our way, the world will end next Sunday. It’s what we’re shooting for,” number 808 said.
Doomsday is a reoccurring theme in their speech, but their approach is far more humorous than the conventional religious extremist. It can be inferred that their shocking display is meant to remind us of our shortcomings in a satirically morbid way.
It was the writer H.P. Lovecraft that stated, “The world is indeed comic but the joke is on mankind.”
The Cult seems to take that to heart.
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