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Question regarding Anansi's power *Warning*(references to American Gods)
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Yahr, fear the power of the elf-man!
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It was my understanding that the Gods portrayed in American Gods were brought to America by immigrants. The scope of their power and influence were limited by the varied belief in them. That belief could be abstract or direct. I was also under the impression that Gods in America were either stranded in America or could not travel back to their homeland because their original aspect resided there. With that being said my question is where does Anansi get his power? Does he seem to have more influence than many of the other American Gods because he has been more Incorporated into American folklore and culture? Also it seems that his sons can travel anywhere in the world they want to. Is their power linked to Anansi's or is it separate from him?
Is there an original Anansi in Africa according to Neil's universe?
 
Posts: 15884 | Location: The Cenotaph road and Oh-Hi-Oh | Registered: October 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Interesting questions. Let me put a different perspective in:
Is Anansi a God?
Not the same way Odin is. Anansi is more... folklore? All the stories are his. I don't think he was ever worshipped, was he? I should mention I haven't read American Gods since 2001 (though I restarted it yesterday) so don't recall the details it said about him in that book.
What powers do we see Anansi using?
The power to make names stick (Goofy, Fat Charlie) and the ability to die/pretend to be dead. The other powers you refer to (influence, teleporting*) are Spider's. Spider, to my knowledge, is not a new version of an old god. He is not a version of Baldur Moon, for example. In the old stories, sometimes Anansi had children, sometimes he didn't (according to Neil, I haven't done any research). He is a new offspring. If you want to call him a god then, wouldn't he be akin to the new gods in AG? (But, he still isn't really a god in my opinion.)

*which is limited to places he has seen, so not quite anywhere)
 
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wouldn't Spider be more a demigod? he's half human, right? And that would probably be why he can travel. Shadow can travel, too, but Odin/Wednesday can't.

and it seems to me that Anansi was indeed not worshipped as such, but was still (and there is an important distinction) believed in. If (loosely defined) gods get their power from people's belief in them, then Anansi definitely fits the bill.


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I remember Anansi stories from when I was a child. I remember they were my favorite stories compared to other folk tales and such. And I remember some editions said Anansi was a rabbit and others he was a spider. So, uh, I guess his power is fueled in that semi-belief, I think.

And I think it also goes back to that part in American Gods when Shadow dreams about the buffalo headed man. Shadow says it's impossible for all these gods to exist. And then the buffalo headed man replies "and what is a god?"
And Shadow is left without an answer. So I guess it depends on your belief. It's more fun that way.
 
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I've been relistening to (unabridged) American Gods. In it, Nancy says he is left food now and then, so I suppose he is given sacrifices of sorts.
 
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Right. Yes. Exactly. And perhaps Miss Higgler and Miss Bustamonte and the rest have something to do with fueling Anansi's belief.
 
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well, they certainly believe he's a god, and just as certainly do not worship him.


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Posts: 16373 | Registered: December 22, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Yahr, fear the power of the elf-man!
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People love to tell the stories that are his to this day. I imagine he must derive some power from that. They are not just stories about him but stories he owns. I am far far from an expert on mythology but I don't know another Go or being that owns stories. I suspect that this might make him unique.

We know that his stories inspired the Brer Rabbit stories and West African slaves spread his stories to Jamaica and other islands. This could give him quite a power base. I still would like to grasp the exact nature of it.

*Not really but I like trying* Smile


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Posts: 15884 | Location: The Cenotaph road and Oh-Hi-Oh | Registered: October 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My 2p worth (more like a buck twenty five):

As I see it, god, folk hero, or otherwise, Anansi derives his power exactly from the strength of the continuation of the Anansi tales in any form. As long as his name is still uttered, be it from the bedside of a small child or from the lectern of a comparative mythology class, Anansi continues to have the powers that are ascribed to him in the tales as long as they're being told and are fresh and strong in the minds, hearts, and imaginations of persons anywhere. This does fit comfortably in continuity with AG, particularly when you compare Anansi to Whiskey Jack's and John Chapman's roles. The most waning gods in AG were not just gods that were no longer worshipped or to whom sacrifices were no longer made. The weakest and most diminished of all the gods were the ones whose names were no longer uttered. Sacrifice and worship are simply stronger exemplars of belief and thereby instilled their recipients with greater strength. However, those whose tales were still continually told still maintained a level of power whether as gods, demigods or heros.

Who do you think gets more airplay in classrooms and bedtime stories, folk heros like Johnny Appleseed, Robin Hood, and Ol' John Henry, or ancient gods like Odin, Bran, and Thoth? In the vivid imaginations of children the world over, the folk heroes are very much alive and empowered, yet in the ritual circles of modern practitioners, these ancient gods are very much alive and powerful.


***An rud a scríobhann an púca léann sé féin é.***
 
Posts: 14 | Registered: September 12, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by St.CountZero:
wouldn't Spider be more a demigod? he's half human, right?


Well, Spider and Fat Charlie used to be the same person, so I guess he/they were a demi-god at that point. But Spider was the "godly" part of that, and Fat Charlie was left being merely human after they were split. But like starfish, Spider "grew" more human-like, and Fat Charlie eventually grew into his own, too.
 
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Folklore is what allows ancient religions to survive. The African (and Caribbean) lore is in certain terms, fresher than the European one. Anansi is not the only God who owns stories: Coyote, another wonderful trickster, in the Native American folklore, is the same. I remember one poem where the Woman of the Sky makes the stars and the sun and the moon - but Coyote runs in the darkness scattering all of them - and that is how we still see them. Anansi and Coyote are part of an oral tradition that remained alive untill very recent times, until african and Native American people were christianized, and the stories written, testifying the culture from which they came, more than keeping together people. Spoken word and written one could be similar but signify very different things. A mythological/folklorical story do this: it tells you who you are. The gods of Europe, died officially centuries ago, when the new Christian religion arrived, though re-shaping the old gods, more than destroying them. They survived mostly as little creatures of mischief, or fairies, suc as in Ireland. I can't think of an European god who tells stories, but the power of the stories was well known in the continent: the Celtic people considered the bards more powerful than gods, and so the people from Iceland (think of the Edda).
Also we had the fate goddesses (Greek, Norse, Roman, Celtic mythology), that could also be represented as the weavers, which spins destinies and stories (Mother Holle, for example and the Greek ones) which are not really under the control of any god, and that in my opinion have some points of union with the four old witchy ladies.
For the problem of travelling: Anansi can travel to where people believe in him: in London there's his family that's why he can reach the hospital. His sons are half human like Shadow himself is, that's why they can move.
I don't think Anansi is more powerful than other gods, he simply surivived more in the oral tradition, in the power of the word: the greatest of all, that belogs to human beings.


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Posts: 30 | Location: Hidden inside the Battersea Power Station, London | Registered: October 24, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In American Gods, Easter gets quite a bit of power from the fact that her name is used and celebrations echoing the old celebrations carry on; although as Wednesday graphically points out there is nobody who buys easter eggs who has any idea what goddess they are actually "remembering"

So, I guess that the telling of Brer Rabbit and Anansi stories do some good for Nancy. That's where he draws his strength from. Although he doesn't actually seem to want to do a lot with his god-like powers, just tell stories, sing songs and romance women. I suppose that's why he's the sort of God that appeals to Neil after years of writing Morpheus, who was all about duty and responsibility.
 
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i was under the impression that karaoke went quite a ways to sustaining Anansi. i seem to recall in AG (like most of you, i haven't read it in a while, so my memory's hazy), towards the end, when Anansi's in a bad way he and Shadow go to karaoke and the singing peps him right up.
or maybe i dreamt that bit.
my point being, getting up on stage and having a roomful, or even a handful of people hanging on his every word was enough "worship" to keep Anansi going.
 
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I didn't have a problem accepting Anansi's power -whether god or folklore or whatever, he is not as forgotten in America as, say, Odin/Wednesday, so it makes sense he could have more power than him. About Spider and Charlie travelling around, Shadow learns (from Wednesday?) how to "move", I don't remember, between the shadows, or behind the curtains (like at the end when he gives Sam the flowers, for example).

But, the thing that kept bugging me: when Charlie visits the caves, and he face Tiger, and tlaks to the Bird Woman and Hyena and such... are they the American versions of Tiger, Bird Woman and Hyena? Are they the original ones? Coz Spider and Charlie are sons of the American Anansi, not of the original one. Odin says at the end to American Gods, on Wednesday "He was me, but I am not him". So, Fat Charlie and Spider are sons of Anansi? If they are, still, the original Anansi is not their father. nd why don't the other naimals notice/mention that?
I imagine all this is quite complcated, and to explain that in an independent novel is pointless, but it bugged me that it was totally ignored. And that I don't seem to see the answer...


 
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quote:
I can't think of an European god who tells stories, but the power of the stories was well known in the continent: the Celtic people considered the bards more powerful than gods, and so the people from Iceland (think of the Edda).
Also we had the fate goddesses (Greek, Norse, Roman, Celtic mythology), that could also be represented as the weavers, which spins destinies and stories (Mother Holle, for example and the Greek ones) which are not really under the control of any god, and that in my opinion have some points of union with the four old witchy ladies.


Apollo protected gods and stories. (Thoth did 'Libraries'!)http://www.circleamaurot.com/Deities-html/Celtic-Gods.html
http://www.daire.org/names/frames/deities.html
maybe Ludd?
Interesting where Frank Lloyd Wright got 'Taliesin' - but that would fit . . .

quote:

For the problem of travelling: Anansi can travel to where people believe in him: in London there's his family that's why he can reach the hospital.


I'm not sure that's quite true. Spider travels anywhere he can visualize (old photos or magazine pictures help) - as long as he can focus on something that is still there.


'Seanachaidh to the Elvish Horde'
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Posts: 56 | Registered: November 22, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I can go a couple of ways on this. I agree that because Anansi has all the stories that that gives him power, so yeah when we tell a story theyre really anansi stories. Then you gotta think Anansi is also like a totem or I dont know the word eludes me but hes the original spider yes? Soo... When people think of spiders people think of Anancy. Plus theres kareoke. Mmm Anansi spider god of kareoke
 
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Here!
http://www.anansi.org/webwalker/story1.htm

Also, he's HUGELY known in New Orleans, home of all kinds of juju...

Often called "Aunt Nancy" in Southern US, hence Mr. Nancy in AG.


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i've just finished Anansi Boys and have yet to make it past the first chapter of A.Gods. and immediately, after reading the quote regarding the "gods" being afraid of traveling across the ocean i remembered that Anansi was alive and well in florida....which made me think he was an exception to the rule....

and then there's the MERMAIDS!..Neil mentions them three times in the book...once in the beginning and end: the peculiar father and son moment shared between anansi and his son and eventually Charlie and his son.

another time in the middle. remember Charlie's access code: MERMAID...

without reading A.Gods all the way thru to be sure, i think Anansi is an exception to the rule because he was carried over by people who were FORCED to come here...slaves and the like...making their beliefs a bit different in a way...
 
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o yeah the MERMAIDS...mermaids are a part of the same mythological culture as Anansi...they are both popular in several of the same coastal communities such as the Gully Islands of Florida and New Orleans...

i find that the reference of mermaids in Anansi boys makes a mockery of the "rules" several of the other gods must abide by...just as mermaids themselves make a mockery of the several superstitious notions early settlers and seamen had about the ocean...

also, it should be noted that Neil focused on a very specific "perception" of Anansi which is not neccessarily "American" but "Carribean" in origin...references to St. Andrews and Jamaica...and characters such as the "old women" being notably carribean...
 
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1. Gaiman is playing with the trickster archetype... in a way, he is giving anasi the power of the Endless: He is a Concept, rather than a God, although he does tend to manifest as a God (probably because it's more fun to do that than to go around as a Concept all the time).

2. The animals in the cave present in a way most familiar to the ones doing the watching, much like Dream does. Since Charlie & Spider are American Nephilim, the animals would present themselves in reflection of that.

2b. Gaiman changes the rules in each book. making comparisons of the universe's game rules between books is unwise.

3. Mermaid = half woman, half fish. two opposites joined. The point of the book ist to bring Charlie & Spider together. To be honest, it's clumsy symbolism.
 
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