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The Coming to America scenes explore how the gods and goddesses arrived in America.

The Bone Orchard[]

Mr. Ibis writes a story of Vikings coming to America long ago.

813 C.E.

The Norsemen discover the inhabitants are unwelcoming yet they are unable to set sail again due to bad winds. They pray to their god, Odin, to give them favorable winds, carving a statue in his image and plucking out their right eyes in sacrifice. It is still not enough to appease their god so they burn alive one of their own. The wind picks up slightly so they know they are starting to appease their war god. They engage in a bloody battle against each other, killing each other until the wind picks up enough for them to set sail again. They never speak of the new world again. Over a hundred years later, Leif Erikson finds Odin still waiting with his war.

The Secret of Spoons[]

Mr. Ibis writes a story of a Dutch slave ship and the shackled people within its hold who are being transported to America to be sold.

1697 C.E.

A man, Okoye, prays in desperation to Anansi, pleading for help and telling him he would give him gifts if he had them. Mr. Nancy manifests from a spider and begins to tell them a story. He informs them that they are Black and will be enslaved by white people for centuries, worked to death, murdered, shot in the back by police. Okoye is angered by what he hears and Anansi tells him to use that anger to go upstairs to kill the Dutch slavers and set fire to the ship. Another man says that it will kill them all and Anansi replies that they're already dead and might as well die in sacrifice instead of subjugation. He frees Okoye and leaves. Okoye frees the rest of the the slaves and they set fire to the ship. A plank of the destroyed ship washes ashore and Anansi the Spider arrives in America.

Lemon Scented You[]

Mr. Ibis narrates a story about the first immigrants who crossed over the land bridge from Siberia to North America. Atsula says goodbye to her dead baby, Aputi, before laying her in the snow. They follow the woolly mammoths at the behest of their god, Nunyunnini, represented by a mammoth skull. In the new lands, they are unable to find food. Nunyunnini shows Atsula what is needed to do for food. Atsula allows herself to be gored by the Buffalo in sacrifice. The gods are made within people's hearts and with Atsula gone, Nunyunnini soon becomes forgotten and dies.

A Murder of Gods[]

Mr. Ibis writes about a coyote leading a group of people across the US-Mexico border. They arrive at the Rio Grande river and wait for nightfall to cross. A woman leads the group in prayer before they attempt the crossing. The coyote warns them that the water is deep and if they can't swim, then they should remain behind. She leads them into the water while one man lingers behind, entering last. The group reaches the other side and one gives thanks to the Lord. The last man flounders in the water and begins to drown. Someone grabs his hand and pulls him up. As he crawls ashore, he looks back and sees Jesus walking on water. An engine revs and the shoreline is lit up by clearance lights on the top of off-road trucks. The coyote yells for everyone to get back in the water just as she is shot dead by one of the border militia. The immigrants are fired upon and murdered by men holding rosaries and guns with Thy kingdom come written on the barrel and loaded with Vulcan ammo. Jesus raises his arms to stop the slaughtering and they shoot him, too. He lays dead on the ground, a blood stain forming over his heart, his hand shot through.

A Prayer for Mad Sweeney[]

Mr. Jacquel puts on a jazz record as he begins his mortician work on a corpse at Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor. Mr. Ibis enters the room, bringing Irish red ale for them to drink at the end of the workday. Mr. Jacquel wants to finish his work because he knows they will have two more bodies coming the next day. He sends Ibis away because Ibis "has a story to tell." Mr. Ibis begins writing when the phone rings to announce the two new bodies. As Jacquel answers the phone, Ibis continues writing his story about criminals being transported to the Americas as indentured servants. He tells how hundreds of years prior, Mad Sweeney approached the porch of a former indentured servant, Essie MacGowan of Ireland.

When Essie was a child, she would wait for her father's ship to return while her grandmother told her stories of faeries, púcas, banshees, and leprechauns. She warns Essie about the leprechauns who are too busy guarding their gold to do anything else but they should still leave the leprechauns gifts to receive their blessings.

As Essie grows older, she continues to leave gifts for the leprechauns while passing along the tales of the merry folk to the children in the house where she works. She shares a story about a time she was walking to a lighthouse and heard a hammering noise. She follows after it and becomes lost in the moors. She offers her bread to the leprechauns and falls asleep. When she wakes up, the bread is gone and she can see the lighthouse.

One time, Essie steals some bread and takes it out to the moors. She cuts a strand of hair and wraps it around the bread before she places a gold coin on top. She is giving an offering to the leprechauns in order to ask a favor of them. After she leaves, Mad Sweeney appears to receive the offering.

Essie begins an affair with Bartholomew, the son of the house, who is about to leave to Oxford. He gives her his grandmother's ring and promises to return at Christmas. The other maids catch her admiring her ring and tell the lady of the house who promptly accuses Essie of theft. When Bartholomew returns, his mother asks if he gave the ring to Essie. He doesn't admit to it so Essie is taken away and tried for theft. She is sentenced to seven years Transportation to the Carolinas.

While Essie is on the ship to the Americas, she leaves a crumb for the leprechauns. To escape being held captive with the other prisoners, she starts an affair with Captain Clark and convinces him to take her back to London. They marry and the Captain brings her home before leaving again eight weeks later. Once he leaves, Essie gathers all the valuables to sell and becomes a thief.

In London, Essie has established herself as a shoplifter and thief. She continues to to leave gifts for the leprechauns who still visit her. As she grows wealthier, the more she forgets to leave gifts. One day, she is caught stealing lace and sent to Newgate, where she is charged for returning from Transportation and for theft.

While in prison, Essie strikes up a conversation with Mad Sweeney who is in the neighboring cell. Essie leaves a portion of her bread for the leprechauns as they chat about Transportation to the Americas. Sweeney reveals that he once had his share of gold and made sure the "King" received his share on time. Essie mentions a woman she met in the Americas named Susan even though that was not her original name. In America, everyone can be whoever they want. Essie longs for a content life with a home and someone to share it with. She tells Sweeney he should go to the Americas and "deliver gold to their king" even though the Americas doesn't have a king yet.

When Essie awakens the next morning, the cell next to her is empty. The warden offers her good food over the next twelve weeks before her trial in exchange for sex and she accepts. She is pregnant by the time she goes before the judge and is spared the noose and sent to the Americas instead. The ship ride over is miserable as people die around her. Essie gives birth to a son and becomes a wet nurse and maid for John Richardson. He is a Virginia farmer whose wife had died, leaving behind a baby daughter. As Essie nurses the babies, she tells them tales of the faerie folk.

On the farm, Essie regales the two toddlers with stories about spirits and why they leave food for the leprechauns to keep their blessings. John has developed feelings for her but she refuses him because even though she has feelings for him, she is his indentured servant. He frees her from her indenture and they marry. They have a son and Essie passes on her tales of leprechauns to their three children. John dies from a fever ten years later, leaving Essie to care for the farm on her own.

Over the years, Essie continues to leave food out for the leprechauns and shares her stories of leprechauns with her grandchildren. The tales frighten them and Essie is told keep the stories to herself. One evening while Essie is sitting on her porch, a man arrives.

Mad Sweeney approaches an elderly Essie MacGowan on her porch. She doesn't recognize him at first so he tells her how he was brought to the New World by her and others like her. He shows her the gold coin she left for him long ago and offers her his hand. She accepts it and dies. Mr. Ibis finishes writing the tale of Essie and closes his journal.

Come to Jesus[]

Mr. Nancy narrates the story of Bilquis's journey to America.

864 B.C., Temple of Bar'an

Bilquis is in her temple, bedecked in body jewelry and diaphanous robes. Her worshipers dance and writhe naked as Bilquis anoints them with a black substance on their foreheads. A king approaches to knock her off her throne. She welcomes him and they have sex with him transforming into a black liquid when she finishes with him. The orgy of worshipers also transform into black liquid for Bilquis to absorb.

1979, Tehran

Bilquis makes her way through a disco club where she encounters a young woman and asks her to dance. Men with guns storm the club and destroy it as people flee in terror. Bilquis is saved by the young woman.

Bilquis is on a flight to America seated several rows behind the woman who helped her escape the disco. She asks the man seated next to her where the bathroom is at and takes him into the bathroom with her. She returns to her row alone. The flight attendant gives her a "Hollywood, California" postcard.


Bilquis visits the woman she followed to America as she lies dying in the hospital of AIDS.


Bilquis has been reduced to homelessness and is pushing a cart along the street when she stops in front of an Ethiopian restaurant named Marib. The menus have drawings of Bilquis on the front, reminding her she was once a queen. The TV in the restaurant shows live footage of her ancient temple in Yemen being destroyed by ISIS. Later, as she is sleeping on the street, Technical Boy pulls up to offer her a new altar, giving her a cell phone. She scrolls through an online dating app, and sees a picture of herself at her most beautiful.


Mr. Ibis uses a praxinoscope to tell Bast the tale of Argus, symbolized by a peacock. Zeus became lovers with the river nymph, Io, so Hera turned her into a heifer and sent Argus to protect her. Zeus sent Hermes to kill Argus and eventually Argus was reborn in America as the God of Surveillance.

Chapter Three[]

813 A.D.

Thirty Norsemen arrive somewhere in North America. They set up a hall to worship their gods, specifically Odin. A giant storm commemorates the occasion and their bard sings Rúnatal, Odin's Rune song of self-sacrifice on the world tree, Yggdrasil. A scraeling arrives the next day, on Odin's day. After giving him food and drink, the Norsemen hanged him from an ash tree as a sacrifice to Odin. The next day, two ravens came to pick at the head and the Norsemen thought it was a good omen from their god.

Eventually, a scraeling war party five hundred strong swarmed the thirty Norsemen, killing them all and burning down their encampment. Over a hundred years later, when Leif rediscovers the forgotten land, the Norse gods are still there waiting.

Chapter Four[]


Mr. Ibis writes in his journal about how many of the early immigrants to America were indentured servants and deported criminals. He recounts the tale of Essie Tregowan from Cornwall who was a con artist, thief, and prostitute and believed her good luck was from leaving a saucer of milk out for the piskies. She is eventually caught for her crimes and escapes hanging because she is pregnant and is transported to America instead.

In America, she marries the widowed father who bought her indenture, raising his daughter and her son and having another son together, all the while teaching them about the piskies and other myths of her old country. Eventually, her husband died, one of her sons killed the other and ran away, and she remained on the land with her daughter and grandchildren. One day, while she was shucking peas, "Cousin Jack" from the old world came to visit and she took his hand and passed away.

Chapter Eleven[]


Mr. Ibis tells the tale of a girl, Wututu, and her twin brother, Agasu, whose uncle sold them into slavery. They are bought and traded as they're marched west from Nigeria toward the African coast. A man shackled with them warns Wututu that they will be sold to the "white devils" who will possibly eat them and that is why they need so many slaves. Agasu tells her that Great Mawu and Elegba will protect them.

They are separated at the Dutch slave ship, with Agasu being put with the men and Wututu with the children. Throughout the horrific journey, they are able to meet and talk of their mother and home. The female slaves are raped repeatedly but Wututu is with the children, who are ignored. One man threatens her and she tells him she is a witch who will bite him off with her "very sharp teeth down there."

They are separated and sold in Barbados with Agasu taken to a seasoning farm and renamed Inky Jack. His toe is cut off and his front teeth are broken before he is sold again at sixteen, sent to a plantation on St. Domingue, and renamed to Hyacinth. He continues to worship the Old Gods of Africa, like Elegba, Damballa-Wedo, Ogu, Shango, and Zaka as they dance the Calinda in the groves at night. When he is twenty-five, he is bitten by a spider and they have to amputate his arm. In 1791, he takes part in the Haitian Revolution, lasting for twelve years until 1804, when St. Domingue gains independence before becoming the Republic of Haiti. Big One Arm, as he became known, however, died in 1802 from a French bayonet.

When Agasu dies, Wututu feels the bayonet slide through her ribs and screams and weeps, disturbing her twin daughters. When she was first sold to the Carolinas, she was named Mary. When she was twenty-five, her right arm had withered and she became a house slave named Daisy. She is now called Sukey after being sold to the Lavere family in New Orleans because Mrs. Casterton was repulsed by her arm. She practices voudon and dances the Bamboula, with people visiting her for charms and spells. She becomes known as Mama Zouzou and is in her mid-fifties by 1821.

The Widow Paris comes to visit and pays her to find her husband, Jacques Paris, who Mama Zouzou knows is cheating on her with a pipi. Widow Paris begins visiting her twice a week and eventually asks to be taught all Mama Zouzou knows. Mama Zouzou teaches her all she knows but Widow Paris is only interested in the practicalities and not the gods. Even though the Widow Paris (who is Marie Laveau's mother) is unappreciative of the true value of Mama Zouzou's knowledge, Mama Zouzou continues to teach Widow Paris. She is grateful to be alive yet feels as if she had died twenty years earlier with Agasu. She has seen too much pain and death from her own children's tortures and murders. One night, an hour after midnight, she takes Widow Paris out to the bayou to collect voudon and reminds her to worship the gods. She is overcome with a vision and sees her brother, old and scarred and smiling. She tells him to stay a while because she will be with him soon.

Chapter Thirteen[]

14,000 B.C.

Atsula is a Siberian priestess with a withered left arm. She has a vision from Nunyunnini, their god housed in the skull and furs of a woolly mammoth. She calls into the holy tent Gugwei, the tribal elder, Yanu, the war leader, and Kalanu, the scout. They hold a ritual with sacred mushrooms and Atsula's frozen urine. Kalanu first takes on their god, Nunyunnini's, mantle to reveal to them his purpose. Nunyunnini tells them there is evil in the land of their ancestors and they must leave. Gugwei puts on the skull and mantle next, warning them of a grave threat that will come from the sky. Yanu takes his turn with the skull and cloak and tells the others they must travel east, where the sun rises. Atsula refuses, saying their god is a bad god who will kill them all. She next puts on the mammoth skull and cloak and Nunyunnini speaks through her, saying that because of her lack of faith, she will die before they reach their new home but the rest will live. The new land would have been theirs forever but now will last "seven generations, and seven sevens."

They begin their long journey, crossing the land bridge between Asia and North America. Kalanu scouts ahead and returns to tell Atsula of the large ice cliffs ahead. Atsula tells her that she will die at the foot of them in sacrifice to Nunyunnini so their people can reach the new lands. A flash of light from behind has them covering their eyes as Gugwei says that is the danger Nunyunnini had warned them of. Atsula declares that "gods are great...but the heart is greater" since that is where gods are created. A percussion wave interrupts her blasphemy, deafening the tribe.

Atsula dies at the cliffs as foretold and the rest of them climb the cliffs and make their way southwest to fertile lands. Dalani, Kalanu's wife, gives birth to three boys starting a big and prosperous tribe of warriors. The new land does not have their sacred mushrooms and over the generations, the tribe spreads out and forgets their origins and forgets Nunyunnini, their mammoth god. They form new tribes with new gods, until one day, Nunyunnini is replaced by their new gods and is entirely forgotten.



Neil Gaiman- What is Coming to America? - American Gods


Neil Gaiman on Vikings - American Gods

Notes and trivia[]

  • Sam reveals to Shadow that in a former life thousands of years ago, she was a "one-armed Siberian Shaman" in reference to Atsula from the Coming to America story in Chapter Thirteen.