In real lifeEdit
Hastur was first named by Ambrose Bierce in Haita The Shepherd. The name appears to be entirely his invention and it has been suggested that it may have been inspired by the kingdom of Asturias in northern Spain (not too far from Carcassonne, a possible influence on the name Carcosa) or influenced by 'pasture', as Hastur was the God of Shepherds in the story, although evidence is lacking for either suggestion.
As with all the Great Old Ones, it is difficult to be certain whether the name given for one is its 'real' name or just an epithet supplied by human worshippers; in some cases, the name may be a human attempt to pronounce an alien name almost unpronounceable by the human tongue (a good example is Cthulhu - Lovecraft stated that this was an approximation of the Great Old One's true name, which humans could not actually say).
It is not necessary that a proposed origin for a name be true within the fictional world - it is entirely possible that a gloss would be supplied in an attempt to explain the meaning of a foreign word or name. (The 5th edition Call of Cthulhu rulebook had a good article with suggested meanings for various names of Great Old Ones.) It is entirely plausible that a name might appear in multiple languages, cultures and time periods with each having their own explanation as to its meaning and origin.
The case for Hastur is further confused by his epithet He Who Is Not To Be Named. If he is not to be named, is Hastur his actual name that should not be said, or is it an acceptable epithet in the same that Adonai was used in place of YHWH? Like many Great Old Ones, he has other names in other cultures, such as the variant Xastur and Kaiwan.
The primary association of Hastur with Latin is in the form of the epithet Magnum Innominandum. Soundwise, Hastur would not be out of place in Latin, although the closet word would be Hasta, meaning 'a spear', which has no relationship to the mythos surrounding the deity (although a gloss connecting it to Castro, meaning 'castrated', might work if Hastur was associated with either Saturn/Cronos or Uranus and the castration myth). It could, of course, been influenced by Pastor, 'Shepherd', given certain interpretations of the god.
If Xastur is seen as a transliteration of a Greek form, it is likely that Hastur has its origin in Greek. Although it might appear to be pronounced something like Zastur, it would be pronounced as Hastur or, more properly, Khastur (although it would most accurately be Khasteer as the u-sound is not present and the letter written 'u' is an 'i' or 'ee' sound).
If Hastur has its origin in Greek, it might be related to Xaos (Chaos, a chasm or abyss; sometimes a formless or watery pre-existence; sometimes personified as a genderless deity or, poetically, a goddess) or represent an older name passed down from an earlier age or an attempt to Greekifiy a non-human name. The former association would work within the context of Haita the Shepherd and its flood myth and frequent references to lakes and the possibility that Hastur dwells below a lake.
If Hastur was a Greek form of an older name, it is plausible that it would have its origin in Proto-Indo-European. Backtracking from Khasteer using observed sound changes, there are two possible derivations :
- Gheister (Gheis+ter) meaning 'fearful star' seems especially appropriate to the Yellow Mythos, given the frequent association with various stars.
- Gheistor (Gheis+tor) meaning something like 'fear bringer'.
Two alternative derivations are also possible, if less plausible :
- Ghaustor (Ghaus+tor) meaning something like 'devourer', if the Greek name shared its roots with Xaos.
- Pastor (pas+tor) meaning feeder or protector, or, by extension, shepherd (pastor in Latin) and fitting with a God of Shepherds. However, this is the least likely origin, as the loss of the p-sound is less likely than the mutation of the gh-sound.
An origin from Proto-Indo-European would allow variations of the name to modelled in other Indo-European languages using known sound changes for different branches of the language family.
These possible origins are explored in the poem A Proto-Indo-European Hastur.
Hastur could derive from a Semitic original, possibly the root hsd, 'to be kind, to be ashamed', from which is derived the Hebrew Hasid, 'pious', or ktr, 'to be proper, to succeed', from which is derived the Hebrew Kosher. It could, plausibly, then have entered Greek or Latin in Classical times or at some later point, such as the translation of the Necronomicon.
Ashur was a Mesopotamian god of wind and head of the Assyrian pantheon. The consort of Ashur was Ishtar, goddess of war and sexual love but also of rain and thunderstorms, the principle perils that Haita prayed to Hastur for relief from. Ishtar was also know as Astarte whence the name of the devil Astaroth is derived.
Hastur wouldn't be an implausible sound in Sumerian, but an actual derivation doesn't offer itself, the closest being has tal, 'to rejoice'. However, a gloss from asur, 'sheep' would be plausible given certain interpretations of the deity.
So far, no even vaguely plausible origin for Hastur in ancient Egyptian has been found. This should probably come as no surprise as the name doesn't sound very Egyptian (unlike, say, Nyarlathotep) and the deity is not really associated with Egypt.
It should be noted though, that the original pronunciation of the Egyptian storm god Set is Sūtaḫ, a name that somewhat resembles Hastur.