H. P. Lovecraft's stories include several different, apparently independent ways that a person can become an undead creature after their own natural death (being raised from saltes, being reanimated with an injection of West's formula, using the Spanish doctor's process, etc.). Whether relating to primarily occultic or primarily medical processes, inherent to these situations is the fact that they are unusual - most people don't have the opportunity to get raised from saltes, injected with West's formula, etc. One possible exception to the rule that people only "come back" as a result of an explicit plot token process, not commonly available to most or even many people who have died, is The Outsider, in which

The main character wakes up in what he eventually discovers is the afterlife, from which he "returns" to our world and "rises" from the grave as undead. He's apparently no one special - he had a family, and a home, but wasn't particularly famous, and there's no indication that he was specifically chosen by some mad scientist or eldritch horror as his latest test subject.

Is there anything in the writings of Lovecraft or other Mythos writers that explains whether becoming Undead is standard fare for persons who have died, or whether there is a "standard" place that people "go" when they die, even if they do not become undead?

In other words, for some random person in the Mythos universe - one who isn't on Curwen's radar, one who isn't anywhere near Herbert West's victim research subject hunting grounds, etc., what happens to them when they die? Do they go to their own version of that underground castle? Do they get judged by some Elder God and get assigned to a specific afterlife? Do they simply cease to exist as an independent being unless they are specifically chosen for resurrection?

  • is there a standard agreed upon definition of what works fall under "Mythos writings"? Imo - that feels too broad – NKCampbell Nov 19 '18 at 19:52
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    @NKCampbell we have a lot of other "Does X exist in the Mythos?" questions here on the site. Are those ones too broad as well? – Robert Columbia Nov 19 '18 at 19:58
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    No idea - I've not seen every question on the site. I saw this one though and that's my comment / question and vote. I'm happy to be corrected or remain the only close vote :) – NKCampbell Nov 19 '18 at 20:00
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    @RobertColumbia Anyone whose question was voted out for whatever reason can say "I have seen similar questions that are currently accepted." If you want to make a point, you need to give specific examples that support it. – Misha R Nov 19 '18 at 20:45
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    One of the issues with this question is that August Derleth, who was a major part of popularizing Lovecraft wrote his own additions to the genre... and his have a clearly Judaeo-Christian bent -- so, answers from " writings of Lovecraft or other Mythos writers" won't be terribly consistent. – K-H-W Nov 23 '18 at 2:48

People of a certain aesthetic sort: (successful dreamers) can continue in the dreamlands [The Quest for Unknown Kadath] even after their bodies are dead on Earth.

The dreamlands seem to be an aspect of the total human unconsciousness stretching back to prehistory (which is why Lomar etc are both in the dreamlands as still existing countries and long vanished upon the waking Earth).

This seems to be the closest thing to an afterlife, but if tied to an existing humanity it would not be eternal if Earth were to be cleaned away by the Great Old Ones.

The Curwen resurrection from saltes relies on the completeness of the remains and may be a kind of space/time manipulation [Dreams in the Witch House implies witchcraft is a kind of relativity mathematics]. If so the thing resurrected does not exist anywhere between its death and the calling up. It is part of its past world-line that is pulled into the future.

Herbert West's reanimation is clearly that of the body and brain - a mechanical process again failing when the freshness is insufficient creating in the most part monsters rather than anyone called back from Heaven.

H.P. Lovecraft's own atheist beliefs lead him to write in his letters that “I am, indeed, an absolute materialist so far as actual belief goes; with not a shred of credence in any form of supernaturalism—religion, spiritualism, transcendentalism, metempsychosis, or immortality.” It is therefore not surprising that no immortality or afterlife is presented as definitively eternal in his stories.

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    The postulation of an afterlife is unless the writer is actively religious, deadening to drama. Because whatever happens the good will be rewarded, if not in this life then the next. Ghost stories do not in fact postulate an afterlife so much as a horrible void from which things intrude. I strongly suspect that to include an afterlife in a work of fiction is almost always the product the author's belief unless it is part of a satire on religion. [Examples: Charles Williams, C S Lewis. Satire: Heinlein, Job] Can you cite an atheist who has included an afterlife in his fiction? – Simon Bucher-Jones Nov 23 '18 at 17:40

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