So the other day, my good friend Ruth (the Arkham Archivist) was complaining that there were no extant conspiracy theories “tying reptoids and Machen-esque little people to Punxatawney Phil,” I suspect in a fit of pique over the increasingly winterish weather assaulting the mid-Atlantic United States this week. Not one to let so blatant a challenge lie, I picked up the gauntlet and threw together a secret history connecting all three concepts, in what is effectively the conspiratorial version of news-hacking (which we have previously discussed). It’s worthwhile to note that the whole thing is unmitigated nonsense dependent on shoddy scholarship, poor research, and only a dim understanding of science and history: essentially, it stands with the giants of the conspiracy genre.
I note this so that, when creating your own conspiracy theories and secret histories, you remember to never let a good fact keep you down. And you remember that sometimes too much detail can interfere with mythic resonance, particularly when the whole thing is impossible to begin with.
The Groundhog Conspiracy
In the dim and forgotten past, when Lemuria still stood high above the ways, the serpent people ruled without peer, and made slaves of apes. Some of these apes would of course evolve to become the clean-limbed ancestors of Arias, but those the reptiles loved best were small, stunted. Though clever and much-abused, these proto-men were fiercely loyal to their masters, and fled with them into the tunnels of Shambhala when the great, twisting towers of Lemuria fell, and the great island sunk beneath the waves.
In the great halls of Shambhala, the serpentmen devolved into still greater cruelties, forcing their servants to rise up and drive them into still-deeper fissures of the earth, using the same forbidden sorcery once employed by their masters.
In those days, of course, the continents had not settled into their familiar shapes. New lands thrust from the seas, great Atlantis rose (and then fell), and the descendants of the little, clever, servants of the serpent men emerged from their underhill halls to glimpse again the sun.
It was in this time that the stunted, sorcerous sons of Lemuria first encountered their cousins, true Men, in the shadowed woods. A trade, of sorts, began between them. The little men of the hills, as they began to be called, traded ancient knowledge and treasures for the sweet things of the earth: not least milk and honey…and occasionally children, for their appetites were strange and terrible.
Nevertheless, in the days when Men first began to plow the earth, the wisdom of these strange, pale little creatures was often sought. For though they had long lived beneath the earth, the little men knew the movements of the stars. They could say when to plant and when to sow, but the light treated them harshly, particularly when refracted through the crystal prisms like those that once powered the earth-quaking engines of Mu.
(This, one suspects, is why some say their treasures can be easily taken from beneath a rainbow, but I digress.)
As the race of Man spread over the earth, the little leprous sons of Lemuria were driven further and further into the wilderness. Some few remained apart from their brethren, willing to continue to trade treasure for knowledge; eyes milk-white and blind. Desperate supplicants would leave them sacrifices both great and small, and they would emerge from hollows and tree-stumps and foretell the turning of the seasons. Even though blind, it is said that even these degenerates so feared the light that they would flee any luminescence bright enough to cast a shadow, giving their supplicants nothing, still taking the painful sacrifice with them to the depths of the earth.
And so as Men traveled from the Old World to the New, they took tales of the tiny prophets with them. It comes as a surprise to no one that the dark and blasted fields of Penn’s heretic colony attracted at least one coven that had long traded with the under-hill men for secrets best forgotten, and who understood better than most the secrets behind the stars. Their sons formed an Inner Circle that survives to this day, masking ancient rites and dark sacrifice in pleasant ceremony; the little men of Lemuria for over a hundred years replaced with an innocent woodland creature, a false prophet groundhog named “Phil.”
One need not look long in the hearts of the groundhog’s inner circle to find blasphemies, nor far to find evidence than a coven lives. Witchcraft is never far in the pre-dawn hours of ancient Imbolc, and our supplications to the groundhog only seek to call the cruel, powerful, and ancient little Men of Lemuria back from their under-hill halls.