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Coming to America

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

The Bone Orchard Edit

813 C.E. Mr. Ibis writes a story of Vikings coming to America long ago. 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 Edit

1697 C.E. 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. 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.

Chapter Three Edit

813 AD

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" (skræling) 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 Edit

1721

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 Edit

1778

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 slave revolt, lasting for twelve years until 1804, when St. Domingue is made independent 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 Edit

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.

Notes and trivia Edit

  • 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.

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