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American Gods - A Message from the Old Gods - STARZ

The Old Gods are the gods of religion and culture that were brought over to North America by human activity (immigration, slavery) and survived there even after their worship stopped.

Characteristics of the Old Gods[]

Black Phoenix Becoming Thunder.jpg

  • "Old Gods" is a term used to refer to the numerous supernatural entities that the immigrants, slaves and travellers brought with them to North America. Not all of them are "gods" in the usual sense of the term - several are supernatural entities from folklore or mythical figures - but all were born of belief and worship. The television series reinforces the cohesion of the term "Old Gods" by establishing what was merely implied in the novel: all of the "non-divine" supernatural entities among the old gods used to be gods or goddesses in the past of their homeland, but belief (or lack of) degraded them into smaller entities. While the deities coming from Southern and Central America are considered foreign entities in an hostile land, and thus equal to the other old gods, the beings native to North America are not considered the same as the "old gods" (see American entities).
  • The Old Gods are American incarnations or avatars of a given deity and entity. Bound by the shores of North America, they cannot leave the continent, while their "original self" still exists and evolve in their homeland, distinct and separate from their American counterpart. (For the original incarnations of the deities, see Original gods).
  • The old gods feed on belief and worship. Those whose religion is still active in America (such as Hindu gods and Vodou loa) are said to live quite well, while those whose true believers and worshippers are long gone (such as the Egyptian or Nordic gods) need to find alternative ways to claim worship (adoration, prayers, dedication, sacrifices...). Without regular worship, the old gods weaken, lose their powers and sanity, grow old and sick. When weakened, they can even die like regular human beings. On the contrary, regular worship allows the old gods to not die of old age, sickness, hunger or other natural causes (though several of them appear old due to their ancient nature reflecting in their human appearance). While the weakened old gods can die of lethal wounds or old age, death does not work for them like for human beings: they can manifest as ghosts or spirits soon after their death, and even be resurrected with enough worship and sacrifices. The only "true death" for an old god is utter oblivion (see below).
  • Without worship or belief, the old gods fade away, a fate considered "worse than death". When a god completely stops receiving worship or belief in any form, they will eventually disappear and a statue of them appears in the Hall of Forgotten Gods. Knowledge of the god and the popularity of their legends, plays an important role in the survival of the old gods: well-remembered old gods usually stay alive longer than obscure legendary figures, and the Hall of Forgotten Gods separates the gods whose name and aspects are still known from those whose names and stories have completely disappeared (the former having a chance at being resurrected, the latter being doomed to oblivion). The case of Easter also reveals that, even if a god's celebration is popular, as long as the deity itself is not remembered or known the worship will feel empty and unsatisfying.
  • While weaker than their original counterparts, the old gods are still quite powerful beings able to use magic and an array of supernatural powers (each god's abilities depending on their functions, roles and attributes in their original mythologies or respective religions).
  • The old gods usually have one given human-looking appearance, that they can alter or change as they desire, though never for too long. When the old gods weaken, they seem to lose control over their appearance, such as Bast who is too weak to manifest as a human being (except in other realms such as dreams, the afterlife or the backstage). In the "backstage", the old gods regain their divine and mythical shapes - while they usually choose a default appearance for the sake of convenience, they actually have at their disposition numerous aspects reflecting the entirety of their characters throughout history, cultures and religions.
  • In the novel, Shadow describes the essence of the Old Gods as "the old world, a world of infinite vastness and illimitable resources and future".


The chronology of the Old Gods[]

The universe of American Gods slightly alters the historical chronology of the discovery of America. In this universe, most of the theories of "early Pre-Colombus contact" with the American continent are true, explaining the presence of gods belonging to very ancient civilizations. As Mr. Ibis explains it: "This country has been Grand Central station for ten thousand years. [...] Columbus did what people had been doing for thousands of years. There’s nothing special about coming to America."

Chronology in the book:

  • 14 000 BCE: Siberians tribes arrive in America through Beringia, the land bridge that connected Siberia to present-day Alaska. They brought their gods with them (such as the mammoth-god Nunyunnini), but their descendants abandonned them and developped their own gods. These tribes were the ancestors of Native Americans (see American Entities).
  • 7000 BCE: The Ainu, the Japanese aboriginal race, came to America. The skull of one of them was found in the 20st century.
  • 5000 BCE: Polynesians came to what is known today as California. The skull of some of them were found in the 20st century.
  • 1530 BCE: Egyptians came to America to trade. They exchanged with the Natives animal skins, food and copper from "what would later become Michigan's upper peninsula". They stayed long enough to believe and worship the Egyptian gods and to bury the few of them who died of a fever, but realizing America was not a good trading land they left. The Egyptian gods that came during this era were Mr. Ibis, Mr. Jacquel, Bast, Horus and Set.
  • 7th century: Welsh people came to America and brought with them Gwydion.
  • 800: The Basque established their secret sacred fishing grounds on the coast of "Newfoundland".
  • 813: A group of thirty Norsemen discovered North America, built there a hall for their gods (specifically Thor, Tyr and Odin, to which they sacrificed a Native American), but left after starting a war with the local "scraeling" people.
  • 900s: Leif the Lucky, son of Erik the Red, re-discovers America, which he calls the Vinland. Their presence reinforces the Nordic gods. It is possible that Loki came during this era, since he was not mentionned among the gods brought in 813.
  • In the Dark Ages, the Irish went to America. During the same era, Africans from the West Coast traded with South America, and the Chinese visited "a couple of times" what they called Fu Sang (today's Oregon).
  • The European colonization of America (from the 16th to the 19th centuries) brought numerous European gods and entities, notably gods and creatures from the Cornish, British and Germanic cultures. See Essie MacGowan.
  • The Atlantic slave trade (from the 16th to the 19th centuries) brought numerous gods from the African continent, most of them surviving through new religious practices such as the American forms of West African Vodun (Haitian Vodou, Louisiana Voodoo...). See Loa
  • The Great Famine of Ireland, from 1845 to 1852, caused a wave of Irish immigration towards the United-States. Said Irish men and women brought with them several entities, such as Mad Sweeney.

Chronology in the television series:

  • In the 1970s, Bilquis came to America with those that fled the Iranian Revolution.
  • Tu'Er Shen, the Chinese god of homosexuality, mentions that he came to America in the mid-19th century.


Main Old Gods[]

Notable Old Gods[]

Other Old Gods[]

The Anchorites[]

A group of nine Old Gods living as anchorites in Montana (anchorites are religious persons who isolate themselves from society). They were killed by the New Gods during the "cold war" of the first Interludes, poisoned with carbon monoxide by an old furnace. The Caretaker mentions them in Donar the Great, revealing that their death was the work of Black Briar agents.

Banshee[]

Also called Bean Sidhe. Mentionned three times in the novel: listed among the gods brought to America by Odin in Chapter Six, mentionned as one of the numerous tales told by Essie Tregowan in the "Coming to America" section of Chapter Four and finally listed by Mr. Ibis as one of the spirits brought by the Irish immigrants in Chapter Eight. Several Banshees appear in the episode Treasure of the Sun as a trio of female mourners.


Frau Holle[]

Frau Holle is a Germanic fairy tale version of Frau Holda, the Germanic protectress of agriculture and women's crafts. She may derive from older, Scandinavian forest creatures known as the huldra, one of whom also make an appearance in The Monarch of the Glen. She appears at the meeting at the House on the Rock and at the Motel America diner in "House on the Rock (episode)"

Lion-god[]

The Lion-god, also known as Narasimha, is a Hindu avatar of Vishnu with a human body and a lion face. He appears at the meeting at the House on the Rock and at the Motel America diner in "House on the Rock (episode)".

The lobster[]

In the first of the Interludes, it is mentionned that during the "cold war" the New Gods smashed a lobster tank in an Atlanta seafood restaurant - probably aiming at an Old God reduced to the shape of a lobster. The same attack is mentionned by the Caretaker during Donar the Great, revealing that the attack was the work of Black Briar agents and that their target was indeed the lobster.

Seth[]

Seth is a god of chaos, desert, storms, disorder, violence, and foreigners in the ancient Egyptian religion. He is mentioned in "Treasure of the Sun" by Mr. Ibis.

The trucker[]

An Old God acting as a trucker in Denver was killed by the New Gods during the "cold war" of the first Interludes. He was killed in his home, the back of his head bashed with a hammer, and words of a "foreign alphabet" written on the mirror of his bathroom with brown lipstick. He is mentionned by the Caretaker in Donar the Great, his death revealed to have been the work of agents of Black Briar.

The 1920s comedian[]

During Chapter Seventeen it is mentionned that a famous comedian who was thought to have died in the 1920s arrives at Rock City in a rusting car and removes his clothing, revealing goat legs and a goat tail. He might be either a satyr of the god Pan from Greek mythology, or their Roman equivalents, a faun or the god Faunus. The Annotated Edition identifies the comedian as Larry Semon (also nicknamed Zigoto, Ridolini or Jaimito), a major movie comedian of the silent film era who was the son of a travelling vaudeville magician (Zera Semon, rumor claiming he had inherited his powers) and his assistant. He died in a sanatorium in 1928, of pneumonia and tuberculosis.


Albanian gods[]

Mr. Wednesday meets with gods from the Albanian mythology in Dallas during Chapter Twelve. However, he cannot convince them to join his war against the New Gods.


Antinous[]

"Beautiful Antinous" was the young lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian. After his death in the year 130, he was deified by Hadrian and became the center of a very popular cult spread throughout the Roman Empire, from Greece to Egypt, identified and syncretized with numerous other gods from Osiris and Hermes to Dionysos. He became a cultural symbol of homosexuality in the 19th century Europe. Antinous appears during the battle at Rock City in Chapter Eighteen, leading a "company of leather queens", "their arms and chest steroid-swollen and sculpted into perfect shape".

The apelike creature[]

In Chapter Seventeen, at Rock City an "apelike creature" with a "tangle of orange fur" is offered a Marlboro cigaret by an elderly wampyr.


The Apple-Tree Man[]

Mentionned as one of the numerous tales Essie Tregowan told during her life in America. It is a British creature said to be the spirit of the oldest apple of an orchard, and the guardian of said orchard's fertility.

Ashtaroth[]

Mentionned by Mr. Wednesday as one of the gods brought over to America in Chapter Six. Astharoth is another name of the Middle-Eastern goddess Astarte or Astoreth, a divinity of sexuality, fertility and war.

Bacchus[]

Bacchus, also known as Dionysus, is the Greco-Roman God of the vine, grape harvest, wine and wine-making, intoxication, fruitfulness, ritual madness, religious ecstasy, frenzy, resurrection, fertility, prophecy, festivals and the arts. He is mentionned by Mr. Nancy in Chapter Fourteen.

The bear[]

In Chapter Eighteen a "bear with flowers twined into its fur" is mentionned in the ranks of the Old Gods.

The Black Dog of the Moors[]

Mentionned as one of the stories told by Essie Tregowan. The "black dog" is an archetypal creature present in the British Isles through numerous names and variations, to the British Black Shuck to the Welsh Gwyllgi.

Blue-caps[]

Supernatural mine-dwellers from British folklore, considered either fairies or ghosts. Mentionned as one of the stories told by Essie Tregowan.

Bucca[]

Described by Essie Tregowan as "the trickiest spirit of the land [Ireland/British Isles]". The Bucca is a male sea-spirit, a merman from the Cornish folklore.

Saint Bride[]

Mentionned by Mr. Ibis in Chapter Eight as one of the entities brought over by the Irish immigrants. Described as formerly being "Bridget of the three Brigid sisters". Saint Brigid of Kildare, also known as Brigid of Ireland, is one of the patron saints of Ireland. She is considered to be the christianization of the Irish goddess Brigid, a Tuatha Dé Danaan representing spring and fertility, healing and poetry, as well as blacksmithing. Christian monks mentionned that there were actually three Brigid sisters - the goddess of the poets, the goddess of the healers and the goddess of the smiths, leading to the theory that Brigid was a triple goddess.


Chinese gods[]

In Chapter Seventeen, seven Chinese men and women arrive at Rock City in a Toyota Previa, wearing "dark suits that in some countries are worn by minor government officials". One of them carries a clickboard and checks the inventory in the car: golf-bags filled with ornate swords with lacquer handles, carved sticks and mirrors, all weapons that are "distributed, checked off, signed for".

Cluracauns[]

Cluracauns or Clurichauns are alcohol-loving trickster spirits from Irish legends, related to leprechauns. While in the original version of Mr. Wednesday's speech to the Old Gods in Chapter Six he mentions "Leprechauns and Kobolds and Banshees" among the gods brought to America, in the Author's Preferred Text version the Kobolds were replaced by Cluracauns.


Conan the Bald[]

Also known as Conan mac Morna, a troublemaker and comic figure member of the Irish fianna. Mentionned by Mr. Ibis as one of the figures brought to the United-States by Irish immigrants in Chapter Eight.

Comic Cousin Jack.jpg

Cousin Jack[]

The "Cousin Jack" is one of the piskies Essie Tregowan brought with her to America. Described as a young man with a moon-face, freckled hands and carroty red-hair, wearing dusty green trews, a green jacket and a dark green coat, he appears to Essie in Chapter Four, right before her death, presenting himself as "a Cousin Jack" (not his true name, but a common nickname for Cornish men living oversea). He was the one who received Essie's offerings of milk and bread in America, and rewarded her with "good and ill" fortune, since as a piskie he is "like the wind [...] We are blowing both ways."

The cyclop[]

In Chapter Eighteen, one of the fighters in the Old Gods side is described as a gray-skinned man with one cyclopean eye like a cabochon emerald. The use of the "cyclopean" adjective seems to indicate that it is a cyclop from Greco-Roman mythology, but it might also be others one-eyed mythological figures such as Balor from the Irish legends or the Tepegoz from Turkish mythology.

Dactyl[]

An "iron-fingered dactyl" is mentionned walking side by side with the minotaur in Chapter Eighteen. Dactyls were a mythical race of magical smiths and healers said to live in Crete and Rhodes. Said to be the apprentice of Hephaestus and associated wth the "Great Mother" (Cybele or Rhea), they originate from archaic Greek mythology.

Dwarfs[]

When Shadow looks at the battlefield of Rock City's Backstage in Chapter Eighteen he mentions seeing several dwarfs.


Finn[]

Finn MacCool, a hunter and warrior from Irish mythology. One of the figures said to have been brought to America by the Irish immigrants in Chapter Eight.

Ganesh in the graphic novel

Ganesh[]

Ganesha is a Hindu god known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom.

While Shadow is hanging on the World Tree in Chapter Fifteen, he falls asleep sporadically and dreams of creatures like mammoths and spiders and a giant mouse who an elephant-headed man rides on. The elephant-headed man tells Shadow he should have invoked him before the start of his journey. He performs a coin trick with the mouse (which has shrunk by this point while seemingly remaining the same size) and passes the mouse from hand-to-hand-to-hand-to-hand before revealing the mouse has disappeared. Shadow sees the mouse's tail disappear up the elephant-headed man's trunk and is told to remember that it's in the trunk.

"Hey," he said. "Is there a god with an elephant's head?"
"Ganesh? He's a Hindu god. He removes obstacles, and makes journeys easier. Good cook, too."

Shadow to Mr. Nancy, Chapter Nineteen


Giants[]

When Shadow looks at the Backstage's battlefield at Rock City in Chapter Eighteen he notices several giants.

The Gorgon[]

A Gorgon from Greco-Roman mythology is seen among the ranks of the Old Gods. She first appears in Chapter Twelve, living in a Rhode Island cottage. When Shadow and Wednesday visit her, she stays bedridden in her darkened bedroom, refusing to let Shadow see her face, and the latter finds in her kitchen's refrigerator two plastic bags filled with crickets and dead baby mice. She later reveals her true nature during the battle at Rock City in Chapter Eighteen, her hair being described as coils of green snakes. She might be Medusa, the most famous of the three Gorgon sisters.

Gwydion[]

Gwydion is a Welsh magician, trickster, and hero. His name can be interpreted to mean "Born of Trees". In the novel, he came over to American in the 7th century and works as a stockboy at a supermarket in Humansville, Missouri in Chapter Fourteen. He is described as a young ("little more than a boy") and fair-haired man, with pale blue eyes and a tarnished silver bracelent around his wrist. The Author's Preferred Text adds that Gwydion has "an eruption of acne" on one cheek and his forehead, and changes the description of the silver bracelet, not tarnished anymore and now "high on one forearm".

The Head[]

A disembodied head "the size of a VW bug" mentionned as part of a group of Old Gods coming from the South-West to Rock City (the Mayan Hero Twins are also part of the same group). It might be a reference to the Olmec colossal heads, human heads sculpted from basalt boulders by the Olmecs and whose exact purpose is still debated today.


Ifrits[]

Outside of the Jinn, Shadow mentions that several ifrits take part in the battle of Rock City in Chapter Eighteen. The Jinn himself mentions that a few other jinns live in New-York City.

Isten[]

Isten "of the Hungarians" is mentionend in Chapter Eighteen discussing with the other Old Gods about the upcoming battle with the New Gods. He is described as having a fine black mustache, a large dusty black hat and "the grin of a man who makes his living selling aluminum siding and new roofs and gutters to senior citizens but who always leaves town the day after the checks clear whether the work is done or not." Isten (Hungarian word for "God") is the head of the Hungarian pantheon, god of the sky and lightning, who created the world and shapes the fates of humans.


Knockers[]

Supernatural mine-dweller in the Cornish, Welsh and Devon folklore. Listed among the tales brought by Essie Tregowan to America in Chapter Four.

Kitsunes[]

Supernatural foxes from Japanese religion and folklore. A kitsune appears during the battle at Rock City. It is considered that the five Japanese women Mr. Wednesday and Shadow meet in Boulder during Chapter Twelve are kitsunes. In Chapter Eighteen several kitsunes are seen in the ranks of the Old Gods as white foxes. One is the first victim of the battle at Rock City, killed by a sniper - her corpse turns into the one of a young woman before fading away.

Kobolds[]

Sprites from Germanic folklore. They are mentionned by Mr. Wednesday as one of the gods brought to America during his speech to the Old Gods in Chapter Six.

Kubera[]

Hindu god of wealth, mentionned by Mr. Wednesday as being among the gods brought to America during his speech at the House on the Rock.


The man with a sword of eyes[]

In Chapter Eighteen, a man with a golden chainmail and a sword of eyes is mentionned fighting alongside the Old Gods. The Annotated Edition reveals that Neil Gaiman actually forgot who this character was supposed to be.


The Mexicans[]

In Chapter Seventeen, there is a mention of "four Mexicans", "all smiles" with shiny black hair, drinking from a bottle in a brown paper-bag a mixture of powdered chocolate, blood and liquor. These four are Aztec gods, for whom chocolate was a sacred beverage and who required to drink the blood of human sacrifices in order to maintain the world alive. Them being four in total may be a reference to the "four Tezcatlipocas", the four children of the primordial god Ometeotl, and considered the four most powerful beings in the world, who created together the world: Tezcatlipoca (Black Tezcatlipoca of the North), god of night, sorcery and strife ; Xipe Totec (Red Tezcatlipoca of the East), god of fertility, spring, renewal and gold ; Huitzilopochtli (Blue Tezcatlipoca of the South), god of war, sun and human sacrifices ; and Quetazlcoatl (White Tezcatlipoca of the West), god of wind, air and mercy. They might be the same beings as those described in Chapter Eighteen as "squat and swarthy men" with "impassive faces" like "Aztec carvings" who know the "secrets the jungle has swallowed".

Minotaur[]

A "bull-headed minotaur" is mentionned twice in Chapter Eighteen during the battle at Rock City. The minotaur is a monster from the Greek (and later Roman) mythology.

BPAL illustration of Mithras

Mithras[]

Mithras is the Roman-era god of the Mithraic mysteries. He is based on Roman perceptions of the Zoroastrian god, Mithra.

Morrígan[]

The Morrígan are three Irish warrior goddesses who are able to foretell the fate of battles. The three Morrígna are comprised of Badb, Macha, and Nemain/Fea or Anand. The Morrigan first appears as Macha, in Chapter Twelve, as a young woman with short red hair and bleu spiral tattoos living in Seattle, and in Chapter Seventeen, where it is mentionned that she has has a black crow's wing tied in leather to her shoulder and a crow's foot dangling from a chain her neck. In Chapter Eighteen Macha multiplies herself to become the triple-goddess Morrigan, three warrior women standing so close together in the shadows that they become an "arrangement of blue-tattoed limbs and dangling crow's wings". As a war goddess, she is eager and impatient for the upcoming conflict with the New Gods, and very sure of the Old God's victory.

Oisin[]

Son of Fionn mac Cumhaill, a warrior of the Irish fianna and recognized in legends as the greatest poet Ireland ever knew. Mentionned by Mr. Ibis as one of the figures brought over to America by the Irish immigrants in Chapter Eight.

The Pilgrims to the West[]

Three of the four pilgrims from the Chinese classic literary work "Journey to the West" are mentionned among the Old Gods in Chapter Eighteen. "Journey to the West" (epic novel published in the 16th century) is considered one of the four greatest works of Chinese literature, and a compilation of numerous myths, legends and folkloric tales of China about the pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang to obtain the sacred sutras of the Buddha. While Xuanang does not appear in American Gods, his three companions do: Sha Wujing ("Sandy", a sand-dwelling man-eating demon), Zhu Bajie ("Pigsy", a lustful and gluttonous pig-like being) and Sun Wukong (the legendary Monkey King). Sha Wujing appears at first alone, during the bickering between the Old Gods - presented as a very tall Chinese man with a necklace of tiny skulls and a staff with a curved blade at the end, he claims that the "first head" of the battle with the New Gods will be for him, and he is the first Old God to march towards the battle. Later, the three pilgrims are mentionned during the battle as "a pig, a monkey and a sharp-toothed ghoul".

Piskies[]

Also known as pixies, mythical beings from British folklore living in the moorlands and near stone circles and menhirs. They are one of the stories Essie Tregowan told the most often during her life in America, describing piskies as funny and squinting men, with red hair, turned-up noses, clothes and eyes as "green as the rivers". To obtain the piskies favors, one must leave outside the house at night a bowl of creamy milk. A fresh loaf of bread left for them in a field ensures a good harvest, and the first fish of a catch must always be left for them. Having salt or a little bread in your pocket prevents the piskies from leading you out of your way when you walk outside. Some piskies later appeared in Chapter Eighteen during the Battle at Rock City. Also see "Cousin Jack".

The Rabbi of Prague and his Golem[]

They appear at Rock City in Chapter Seventeen. The Rabbi of Prague is the 16th Jewish scholar and mystic Judah Loew ben Bezalel, who was said in the 19th century to have created a Golem, a living being made of clay, to protect the Jewish from persecution. The Rabbi appears as a small and dark-bearded man with a dusty black derby on his head, curling payess at his temples and a ragged fringed prayer shawl. The Golem is described as the gray color of "good Polish clay" and twice the height of the Rabbi. In the first versions of the text, the word written on the Golem's forehead was the word for "life" (Haim), however it has been pointed out to Neil Gaiman that according to the legend, the word written on the Golem's forehead was rather "Emet" which means truth. Neil Gaiman corrected this detail in later editions. [1]

Rakshasas[]

Demons from India, ferocious shapeshifters and man-eaters, they are mentionned in Chapter Seventeen, arriving to Rock City by cab. They first go towards Mama-Ji, the only one familiar to them among all of the Old Gods, before hesitating, "remembering the old battles". However Mama-Ji greeting them "like her own children".


Rawhead and Bloody-Bones[]

A duo of mythical British and Cornish boogeymen, sometimes considered one same creature. Mentionned as one of the creatures Essie Tregowan shared the tales of during her live in America.

Rusalka[]

Malicious and female water spirits from Slavic folklore, known to seduce and drown men. Several of them appear in Chapter Seventeen, travelling with vilas in a battered U-Haul truck, their "makeup smudged, runs in their stockings, their expressions heavy-lidded and tired".

Selkies[]

Mentionned as "seal women of the Channel" among the other creatures brought over by the Irish immigrants to the United-States in Chapter Four.

Spriggans[]

Fairies from the Cornish folklore, mentionned as one of the creatures brought to America by Irish immigrants in Chapter Four.

Terry "The Troll" Evensen[]

A troll from Nordic legends, Terry Evensen was a reclusive and morbidly obese man living in a trailer in Phoenix, Arizona. Working at a postal sorting station, he was shot dead by an agent of the New Gods during the "cold war" of the first Interludes.


The train driver[]

An Old God acting as the driver of an Amtrak passenger train was killed by the New Gods during the cold war of the first Interludes when an UPS truck hit his train in Idaho.


Trimurti[]

The Hindu triumvirate consists of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. They are responsible for the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. They are mentionned by Mr. Nancy in Chapter Fourteen. During Chapter Eighteen, a blue-skinned man with a flaming bow is described during the battle between the Old and New Gods. It seems to be Rama, one of the avatars of Vishnu, an exiled prince who became an heroic warrior fighting the forces of evil. Rama is often represented as a blue-skinned man holding a bow (which might be Sharanga, the divine and celestial bow of Vishnu himself).

The twins[]

In Chapter Seventeen, it is mentionned that two small boys "each the size of an apple tree" came to Rock City from the South-west. They are the Mayan Hero Twins, Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who travelled to and came back from Xibalda, the Mayan Underworld.

Vaukalak[]

A vaukalak (or volkolak) is the Russian werewolf, either a man cursed by a witch into becoming a wolf-like being, either a sorcerer turning into a half-beast monster with his own powers. One appears in Chapter Eighteen as "something that looked a little like a wolf and a little more like a man", speaking with a mix of English and Russian, advising the Old Gods to attack the New ones when they expect it the less.

Vila[]

The vila are nature spirits in Southern Slavic folklore, living in the forests, waters and clouds, able to take the shape of animals or whirlwinds, spending their time dancing, hunting, helping young men in battle or playing a music that curses anyone who hears it. They appear in Chapter Seventeen, travelling with several rusalka in a battered U-Haul truck, "their makeup smudged, runs in their stockings, their expressions heavy-lidded and tired".

The wampyr[]

During the reunion of the Old Gods at Rock City, a elderly wampyr is mentionned sharing a Marlboro cigaret with an ape-like creature. The wampyr is an older form of vampire, coming from the folklore of Eastern Europe. This wampyr or another may be linked to the vandalized crypt in a Key West cemetery mentionned as one of the attacks of the New Gods against the Old ones in the first Interludes.



Ahura Mazda in House on the Rock (episode)

Ahura Mazda[]

Ahura Mazda is the creator and the highest spirit of worship in Zoroastrianism. His name means "Lord Wise" or "Lord of Wisdom." He appears at the meeting at the House on the Rock in "House on the Rock (episode)"

Ame-No Uzeme in House on the Rock (episode)

Ame-No Uzume[]

Ame-No-Uzume is the Shinto goddess of dawn. She appears at the meeting at the House on the Rock and at the Motel America diner in "House on the Rock (episode)"

Dvalin in "Donar the Great"

Dvalin[]

Dvalin is a dwarf who works with Sindri in the mall where Wednesday takes his spear, Gungnir, to be repaired in "Donar the Great".

Freyja[]

Freyja is a Norse goddess of love, sex, beauty, fertility, war, death, gold, seiðr a type a magic and sorcery who is mentioned by Mr. Wednesday in "The Ways of the Dead"


Sindri in "Donar the Great"

Sindri[]

Sindri is a dwarf who works with Dvalin in the mall where Wednesday takes his spear, Gungnir, to be repaired in "Donar the Great".

Slavic gods[]

In Serious Moonlight a group of Old Gods from Slavic culture are seen attending the funerals of Zorya Vechernyaya/Series.

Tu'er Shen The Rabbit 🐰 god.png

Tu'er Shen[]

Tu'er Shen, the "Rabbit God", is a Chinese god, patron of homosexuality. Acording to legends, he was a human soldier who fell in love with an imperial inspector and beaten to death after bein caught spying on the naked inspector. For the injustice of his death, the divine officials of the afterlife rewarded him with the post of patron deity of homosexuals, and ever since a cult has been dedicated to him. As seen in The Rapture of Burning, Tu'er Shen came to America around the mid 19th century. In 1951, he fled from the police (who wanted to arrest and kill him for the crime of sodomy) into the Grand Peacock Inn where he was protected by the transgender owner, Tony. To reward her kindness, Tu'er Shen blessed Tony with a long life (she has not aged in more than sixty years) and made the Peacock Inn his temple, ensuring it financial prosperity and making it a refuge for "his people", what is seen today as the LGBTQ community. He then left the Grand Peacock Inn.



Mythological beasts[]

These creatures are not gods or god-like beings, but beasts, animals and creatures existing alongside the gods in mythologies or supernatureal realms.

Comic Ammit.jpg

Ammet[]

Ammet, the Eater of Souls, lives in the Egyptian afterlife, its function being to devour the heart of those judged by Anubis if the heart is too heavy. It appears in Chapter Sixteen when Shadow is judged.


Ratatosk[]

The squirrel living in Yggdrasil in Nordic mythology. It appears to Shadow while he hangs from the World-Tree in Chapter Fifteen, repeating "Ratatosk! Ratatosk!" and brings several times water to Shadow, in a nut shell, to ease his fatigue, pain and calm his hallucinations.


Anansi Boys[]

Bird[]

Bird is one of the Old Gods in the Anansi Boys novel and appears in Anansi tales, where Bird and other animals including Tiger and Monkey are frequently tricked and embarrassed by Anansi. She is a villainous goddess of all birds.

Tiger[]

Tiger is one of the Old Gods and appears in Anansi tales, where Tiger and other animals including Bird and Monkey are frequently tricked and embarrassed by Anansi. He is the main antagonist in the Anansi Boys novel and is the god of all big cats, savagery, and the hunt.

Gallery[]


Video[]

Out_With_the_Old_-_American_Gods

Out With the Old - American Gods

See also[]

Trivia[]

  • Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab created a perfume oil based on the character of Mithras, described as: Oblations of milk, oil, honey, and blood. They also created for their "American Gods III" line a perfume oil based on the Forgettable God: A faint impression of scent, a memory slipping like water through a sieve.
  • When asked about the "absence" of the Abrahamic God in the novel, Neil Gaiman explained on his Tumblr that technically He was everywhere and yet did not appear as any character of the book - due to the belief that the God of Abraham is "invisible, insubstantial, beyond all understanding, and revealing himself through his works". [2] [3]
  • The Annotated Edition of American Gods mentions that, in his first ideas for the novel, Neil Gaiman wanted to explore a group of "retired circus people" living in Florida. It is unknown if this group would have been some of the Old Gods or not.
  • In the context of American Gods, American means "North America". As a result, the Old Gods include not only coming from outside of the American continent per se, but also deities coming from Southern or Central America (several Mayan and Aztec deities are seen among the ranks of the Old Gods).

References[]

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