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Who Are The Old Gods From American Horror Story: Roanoke?

Over the course of the sixth season of "American Horror Story," we're introduced to a number of mysteries. Titled "American Horror Story: Roanoke," the season tells the story of a reality television series discussing the paranormal events that afflict Shelby and Matt Miller, an interracial couple who've purchased their dream home and plan to live a life together. But shortly after moving in, things begin to go horribly wrong for the couple. Matt's sister Lee kidnaps her daughter Flora, who then disappears off the property under mysterious circumstances. 

It's then revealed that the land the house is built on is the same land that the legendary lost colony of Roanoke is built upon. The spirits of these colonists linger, and they aren't welcoming to strangers at all, save to use them as sacrifices under the Harvest Moon in a ritual dedicated to mysterious deities called the Old Gods. In the wake of the ominous revelations brought to light over the course of "AHS: Roanoke," a question lingers: Just who are the Old Gods?

The mystery of the Old Gods

In a recent post on Reddit, user telekineticmacy011 asked: "The Roanoke colonists keep saying they're sacrificing people to the Old Gods, but who exactly are [they]? Satan? Or God? I doubt it would be God himself though. And it makes me wonder what happens to the souls of those who are sacrificed."

A number of theories were offered in the course of the Reddit discussion, but few hard facts can be found within the series. We know that at one point the Butcher, the matriarch of the Roanoke colonists, became the acolyte of Scáthach, a powerful Celtic witch in service to the Old Gods. Who and what the Old Gods are is never made wholly clear: They are powerful entities that grant supernatural power to their worshippers and allow for the survival of consciousness beyond death as spirits, but there isn't much more we know beyond that. 

We know the religion is evil and predates Christianity, with a strong emphasis on human sacrifice. It's possible it could be the worship of Celtic gods (Scáthach's namesake from Celtic mythology is a death goddess), but the Celtic pantheon's death deities (such as the Morrigan) were focused primarily on doom, death, or victory in battle, with no mention made of sacrificing people. Another possibility for the nature of the Old Gods exists, however, with deep ties to the horror genre.

The Elder Gods

The Old Gods that Scáthach and her followers worship could, in fact, be the elder gods of the Cthulhu Mythos. Created by horror author H.P. Lovecraft, the elder gods of the mythos are powerful, remote deities with perceptions and thoughts so alien that to even see one of them would either kill a person or drive them irrevocably insane. While cold and distant to humanity, they are without a doubt the antithesis of our sane, rational reality and would be the perfect object of worship for a group of murderous cultists. Given the series' penchant for utilizing beloved tropes and concepts across the horror genre, it's possible that the elder gods are the Old Gods Scáthach worships and that their dark power allows her and her followers to retain influence on the world long after their bodies have died.

While no names from the Cthulhu mythos make their way into the season, it is an intriguing possibility that these dark deities could be the power behind Scáthach in "American Horror Story: Roanoke." Ultimately, the lingering mystery of just what the dark power behind the horror is builds that much more dread and tension, and the speculation makes for ghoulish fun.