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Mr. Jacquel: You have a story to tell.
Mr. Ibis: Do I?
Mr. Jacquel: I can see it in your fingers.

A Prayer for Mad Sweeney

Mr. Ibis is one of the Old Gods, and a supporting character in American Gods.

Background Edit

Mr. Ibis runs Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor with his partner, Mr. Jacquel. Mr. Ibis is also the narrator of some of the Coming to America stories told throughout the series.

Significance in narrative Edit

Main article: Mr. Ibis/Novel

Significance in series Edit

"Git Gone" Edit

A black jackal and Mr. Ibis stand in the middle of the road, stopping Audrey's car. The jackal stands up into Anubis, telling Laura that he remembers her. Jacquel and Ibis take Laura to their funeral parlor. Ibis explains they have been in business for 200 years. They repair her with pins and threads and paint her skin. Jacquel asks if it was love that brought her back. She says it wasn't but it is now. Jacquel lets her know that when she is done, he will complete his task and deliver her into darkness.

"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney" Edit

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.

"House on the Rock (episode)" Edit

Mr. Ibis relates the history of the House on the Rock, built by Alex Jordan fifty years prior. He began to charge admittance and used the money to keep building and creating more things for people to see.

"Muninn" Edit

Muninn flies to Ibis and Jacquel Funeral Parlor to let Wednesday know Shadow has been found and is on his way. Ibis is busy putting Laura back together, eating pieces of her as he works. Laura worries about how much longer she will have before her body falls irreparably apart. Wednesday invites her to come with him to find Argus Panoptes, someone who might be able to help her condition while Sweeney invites Laura to join him in New Orleans to meet the Baron. Laura opts to go with Wednesday.

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.

Mr. Ibis is the author of some of the Coming to America stories told throughout the series.

"The Bone Orchard" Edit

Mr. Ibis writes a story of Vikings coming to America long ago and bringing Odin with them.

"The Secret of Spoons" Edit

Mr. Ibis writes a story of a Dutch slave ship and the shackled people within its hold who pray to Anansi to save them.

"Lemon Scented You" Edit

Mr. Ibis narrates a story about the first immigrants who crossed over the land bridge from Siberia to North America.

"A Murder of Gods" Edit

Mr. Ibis writes about a coyote leading a group of people across the US-Mexico border.

"A Prayer for Mad Sweeney" Edit

Mr. Ibis writes the story of Essie MacGowan, an indentured servant from Ireland, and how she helped bring Mad Sweeney to America.

"Muninn" Edit

Mr. Ibis uses a praxinoscope to tell Bast the tale of Argus, symbolized by a peacock.

Physical appearance Edit

Ibis is tall and thin with a small bird's head on a long neck with a long and high beak.

In his human form, he is described as "a cranelike man with gold-rimmed spectacles" and is "well over six feet in height, with a cranelike stoop".

Powers and abilities Edit

As the god of knowledge, wisdom, philosophy, science and invention, Mr. Ibis possesses vast amount of information and knowledge about numerous subjects, whether they are history, culture or art. He seems especially knowledgeable and interested about the arrival of the Old Gods in America. And as the god of writing, and a scribe-god, Mr. Ibis spends a lot of his time telling and writing down the stories of humans and gods, recording their lives on paper. He is the author of many of the Coming to America stories.


Gallery Edit

To edit the Gallery page, go to Mr. Ibis/Gallery.

Pictures

Note: The pictures are shown in episodic order. To see the order of the episodes, please visit the Episode guide.


Video
American Gods - Mr Ibis - Season 2

American Gods - Mr Ibis - Season 2

American Gods - Season 1, Episode 4 Clip- Funeral Home - STARZ

American Gods - Season 1, Episode 4 Clip- Funeral Home - STARZ



Cultural background Edit

Mr. Ibis is the American Gods version of Thoth, or Thot, a god from Egyptian mythology.


Myths don't agree on how he came to be. The Hermopolitan cosmogony claims that Thoth was the original demiurge, existing before all of the other gods, the chief of the primordial divine Ogdoad and the one responsible for the creation of the world (to no surprise, the nome of Hermopolis is where Thoth's cult began). Other texts and legends rather refer to him as the son of Rê/Ra, the Sun God, either born from Rê and the goddess Neith, either manifesting out of Ra's heart during a moment of sadness. Another myth rather claims that he is the son of Seth: during the feud between Seth and Horus, Horus, to humiliate his uncle Seth, put his sperm into Seth's favorite food, a salad. Seth gulped it without looking twice, and from this fecundation was born Thoth, who sprang out of Seth's cranium.

God of intelligence and science, keeper of knowledge, he was highly considered by the other gods. Being the vizir to Ra's pharaoh he was the divine clerk present in every tribunal, from being the arbitrator settling divine disputes (such as the conflict between Seth and Horus) to being the scribe noting down the results of the weighing of hearts in the afterlife. He was considered the patron of sciences and scribes. [1] According to mythology, he created the language, the writing, the geometry, the mathematics, the weights and the measurements, not only as a way to spread knowledge to the mortal beings but also to organize the world itself. As the inventor of writing, it was considered that most, if not all, of the sacred texts had been written by him and then left on Earth for the humans to use. He was said to have been behind the delimitation of Egypt into nomes and the creation of its geographical fronteers. It was also said he was the one to offer the art of architecture to humans. Finally, Thoth was a god of knowledge in its most esoteric form, being known as a healing god of medecine, and as a god of magic and astronomy. [2]

However legends explain that, while Thoth was respected and admired by his peers, he was still a very boring, annoying and prideful god, the other divinities finding his long, complex, flowery and pompous speeches irritating. (A famous sentence was said by Isis when Thot, asked for a cure to save a dying Horus, started a long speech full of digressions: "Thoth, how you are wise of heart, but slow to decide!"). [3]



The other major role of Thoth was to be the moon in the night sky. When Ra, the Sun God, decided to leave the mortal, earthly realm he started his eternal travel, going through the sky during the day and passing through the underworld at night. Since he had to abandon earth to the darkness half of the time, Rê asked Thoth, his faithful advisor, to spread light during night, thus making Thoth the god of the moon.[4]

As a god of measurements, calculations and the moon, he was strongly associated with calendars. A myth even explains how he shaped the modern 365 day calendar. Indeed a year used to be only 360 days long, but Nut the Sky-Goddess was cursed by her father Shu to not be able to give birth to her children during any day of the year. Thoth, wishing to help her, gambled with Iah, a moon god, over a game of "senet" (a popular Egyptian board game), and won portions of Iah's light, that he used to create five additional days during which Nut could give birth to her five children.

Thoth's association with the afterlife went further than him assisting in the trial of the dead. If a dead was judged worthy of accessing Osiris' realm, Thoth, alongside Anubis, was the one charged with giving the dead a "new breath" so that he may begin his new life in the underworld. [5]


Thot usually appeared as an ibis or a man with an ibis head but he could also appear as a baboon or a man with a baboon head. These two animals are actually strong symbols of Thoth's functions: the ibis' beak was associated with the scribes calam, especially when it "wrote signs" while the bird was searching in the earth for food, while the baboon was associated with the cult of the Sun and the light because of how it screams at sunrise. [6]. When it became an habit to associate each god of the Egyptian religion with a wife and a child in order to create a divine triad, Thot became the husband of the goddess Nehmetawy (or Nehemet Aouaï, goddess of law and justice) and the father of the god Hornefer. Other legends claim that Thoth's wife was rather the goddess Seshat, "She who writes", a divinity protecting books and libraries, guardian of the divine archives recording the different rules of the Pharaohs. [7]

Thoth was a very popular god in Egypt, with numerous temples dedicated to him. He was also very popular in foreign lands, such as Nubia and Sudan. His cult included several oracles. The Ancient Greeks identified him with the god Hermes, due to both Thoth and Hermes being associated with intelligence, science and language. This fusion later gave birth to the figure of Hermes Trismegistus. In popular culture Thoth knew a great fame ever since the 20th century. Aleister Crowley created the "Thoth Tarot" or "Book of Thoth" in 1944, a tarot card game inspired by the god. Socrate's "Myth of Theuth", an allegory reflecting on the relationship between writing and memory, science and truth, was reused by the philosopher Jacques Derrida to prove the instability of Truth, and how writing is both a poison and a cure. Finally the current logo of the Cairo University, the oldest university in Egypt, is Thoth sitting on a throne. [8]



Notes and trivia Edit

References Edit

  1. Gods of Egypt, by Sylvie Albou-Tabar
  2. Egyptian Mythology, by Aude Gros de Beler
  3. Egyptian Mythology, by Aude Gros de Beler
  4. Egyptian Mythology, by Aude Gros de Beler
  5. Gods of Egypt, by Sylvie Albou-Tabar
  6. "Atlas of Mythology" Encyclopedia, direct by Eric Mathivet
  7. "Atlas of Mythology" Encyclopedia, directed by Eric Mathivet
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoth
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