There will be unmarked spoilers from American Gods here.

Pretty much the first job Mr. Wednesday and Shadow pull together is the ATM job; before it, Wednesday asks Shadow to cause a snowfall - by thinking about snow. Shadow does so, and it does indeed snow.

The major thing about gods in the novel is that they're powered by belief, specifically by belief of ordinary people (which is actually a recurring theme throughout Gaiman's other works) - when I read that episode I thought this was the case.

However, later in the novel we learn that Shadow is not a mere man, but a son of a god.

Does that mean Shadow was able to cause the snowfall, do the coin trick (putting the golden coin in place of Sun in Iceland), and influence minds (like with Chad and Sam), only because of his heritage, and not because anyone can focus their belief to shape reality?


1 Answer 1


Although it is likely that the only reason Shadow was able to cause the snowfall was because of his inheritance as a God's son, at that point in the book, I think Wednesday was just leading Shadow to believe that his belief was what caused the snowfall so as to not reveal who he really was.

If anyone Could in fact focus their beliefs to alter reality, I doubt the people of Lakeside would have chosen to spend their lives freezing, for the most part.

  • Doesn't your last paragraph amount to "if anyone could focus their beliefs to alter reality, there would be no hardship in the world?" Since of course there is hardship in the world, clearly it's not that easy to alter reality. However, this doesn't prove that nobody else could do it after appropriate training from a god like Shadow gets.
    – Rand al'Thor
    May 7, 2017 at 15:48
  • The problem is that the people of Lakeside probably didn't know they could alter reality. Shadow was contacted by the Buffalo man and told to "believe" which makes him somewhat special already. May 7, 2017 at 15:56
  • @Rand al'Thor I don't think Shadow being "trained" alone was the trigger. I think (and I understand where @Gallifreyan is coming from) that Wednesday nudged Shadow, sure. But Wednesday had the inherent ability to do it and that's why he was able to. @Gallifreyan - I thought that might be a valid counter coming, but if Hinzelmann, who was a kobold ( i.e. not a normal human being) needed to strike a deal with God to keep Lakeside prosperous, I don't think mortals would have been capable of doing what Shadow could do, even with belief.
    – lightsong
    May 7, 2017 at 16:13
  • Did Hinzelmann strike a deal? I thought it was just him, getting power from occasional child he'd murder. May 7, 2017 at 18:51
  • @Gallifreyan Yup, he struck a deal. He says so in Chapter 20.
    – lightsong
    May 7, 2017 at 19:11

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