🔀 This article is about the fictional book in the Cthulhu Mythos, for other uses see Mysteries of the Worm (disambiguation)

Lovecraft circle Seal De Vermis Mysteriis, or Mysteries of the Worm, is a fictional grimoire created by Robert Bloch and incorporated by H. P. Lovecraft into the lore of the Cthulhu Mythos.

Ludwig PrinnEdit

De Vermis Mysteriis is described as the work of Ludwig Prinn, an "alchemist, necromancer, [and] reputed mage" who "boasted of having attained a miraculous age" before being burned at the stake in Brussels during the height of the witch trials (in the late 15th or early 16th centuries).

Prinn, Bloch writes, maintained that he was captured during the Ninth Crusade in 1271, and attributed his occult knowledge to studying under the "wizards and wonder-workers of Syria" during his captivity. Bloch also associates Prinn with Egypt, writing that "there are legends among the Libyan dervishes concerning the old seer's deeds in Alexandria."

At the time of his execution for sorcery, Bloch has Prinn living "in the ruins of a pre-Roman tomb that stood in the forest near Brussels...amidst a swarm of familiars and fearsomely invoked conjurations." In this forest, there were "old pagan altars that stood crumbling in certain of the darker glens"; these altars were found to have "fresh bloodstains" when Prinn was arrested. (CIRCLE: "The Shambler from the Stars" [Robert Bloch])

Prinn may have a line of decendents including the Salem witch Abigail Prinn (CIRCLE: "The Salem Horror" [Henry Kuttner], EXP: "Wilbur Whateley Waits" Robert M. Price)


The book as contains "spells and enchantments", particularly those that can summon strange entities (CIRCLE : "The Shambler from the Stars" [Robert Bloch]). One such spell, included in a "chapter dealing with familiars," summons the titular "shambler from the stars"--referred to in the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game as a Star Vampire. The story also notes that that book contains references to "such gods of divination as Father Yig, dark Han, and serpent-bearded Byatis"--this last the first mention of a Cthulhoid entity later developed by Ramsey Campbell.

In a subsequent series of Cthulhu Mythos stories connected with Ancient Egypt, Bloch expanded on the contents of De Vermis Mysteriis. notes that Prinn "awesomely implies his knowledge" of Nyarlathotep, "the oldest god of all Egypt" (CIRCLE: "The Faceless God" [Robert Bloch]).

The chapter titled "Saracenic Rituals" is said to have "revealed the lore of the efreet and the djinn, the secrets of the Assassin sects, the myths of Arabian ghoul-tales, the hidden practices of dervish cults" and "the legends of Inner Egypt" providing backstory on the cults of Bubastis and Sebek, and on the Pharaoh Nephren-Ka's worship of Nyarlathotep. (CIRCLE: "The Brood of Bubastis", "The Secret of Sebek", "Fane of the Black Pharaoh" [Robert Bloch])

"Prinn's chapter on divination" as a potential source for information on "The Star of Sechmet", a mysterious crystal. (INFL: "The Sorcerer's Jewel" [Bloch])

[De Vermis Mysteriis is] something...that told you how you could compound aconite and belladonna and draw circles of phosphorescent fire on the floor when the stars were right. Something that spoke of melting tallow candles and blending them with corpse-fat, whispered of the uses to which animal sacrifices might be put. It spoke of meetings that could be arranged with various parties most people don't...even believe in...[with] cold deliberate directions for traffic with ancient evil....
~ Bloch , INFL: "Black Bargain"

"Ludvig Prinn's Grimoire, in the English edition", also contains the recipe for a love potion so powerful that "The meerest droppe, if placed in a posset of wine or sack, will transforme ye beloved into a veritable bitche in heate." (CIRCLE: "Philtre Tip" [Robert Bloch])

Although banned by Pope Pius V, copies may yet be found at the Church of Starry Wisdom in Providence, Rhode Island, at the Huntington Library in California, and at Miskatonic University in Arkham.

De Vermis Mysteriis is one of the books that "repeat(s) the most hellish secrets learnt by early man" (HPL: Selected Letters 4.828).

Disregarding of the book's precautions ("the Pnakotic pentagon, the cabalistical signs of protection...") brings forth the horrors of the story's title--said to be described by Prinn as "the dwellers in the Hidden World". (CIRCLE: "The Invaders" [Henry Kuttner])

It was written by Ludwig Prinn in a prison in Prague in 1542 (EXP: "Darkness, My Name Is" [Eddy C. Bertin], "Lord of the Worms" [Brian Lumley]).

Existing copiesEdit

Other AppearancesEdit

Prinn and his book both appear in Brian Lumley's 1987 short story "Lord of the Worms". De Vermis Mysteriis is featured in a Lovecraftian story by Stephen King entitled "Jerusalem's Lot"—part of the Night Shift collection.

The book is also referenced (as Des Vermis Mysteriis) in the 2004 movie Hellboy.

In the coldest regions of space, the monstrous entities Ogdru Jahad – the Seven Gods of Chaos – slumber in their crystal prison, waiting to reclaim Earth... and burn the heavens.
~ Des Vermis Mysteriis, page 87 , Hellboy (2004)

De Vermis Mysteriis also appears as a deadly tome in the 1992 video game Alone in the Dark.

"De Vermis Mysteriis" also appears in the novel "The Keep" by F. Paul Wilson

Behind the MythosEdit

The tome first appears in Bloch's short story "The Shambler from the Stars" (1935), in which a character reads a passage from the book and accidentally summons an extradimensional horror.

Bloch, then a teenager, corresponded with Lovecraft about the story prior to its publication, in part to get permission to kill off a character based on the older writer. While giving his enthusiastic blessing, Lovecraft also suggested that the book featured in the story, named by Bloch as Mysteries of the Worm, be referred to instead by the Latin equivalent De Vermis Mysteriis.

Lovecraft also provided Bloch with a bit of Latin to use as an invocation from the book: "Tibi, magnum Innominandum, signa stellarum nigrarum et bufaniformis Sadoquae sigilim"--which can be translated as "To you, the great Not-to-Be-Named, signs of the black stars, and the seal of the toad-shaped Tsathoggua".

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