2015 was a simpler time. Alan Rickman was still with us; the Ghostbusters can of worms hadn't been opened; everyone was excited for Suicide Squad. This time last year, we knew what our theme for American Horror Story Season 5 was going to be; we'd even been given photos and bios of the main cast of characters. Flash forward to 2016, and all we know about AHS Season 6 is the release date.
To be fair, Season 6 has probably given us the most promotional material of any AHS season- the problem is, most of the teasers & images we've seen are red herrings, designed to throw us off the scent. The sheer diversity of promo material has launched a thousand fan theories, speculating the theme could be anything from 'alien babies' to The Blair Witch Project.
AHS has seen declining ratings & viewership since the heyday of Season 3's Coven, and many see this vast and enigmatic marketing campaign as a ploy to lure back old viewers. As infuriating as it has been to try and piece together the clues and figure out when we're being horribly misled, I've got to say: as one such disenchanted AHS fan, this campaign has certainly piqued my interest.
The latest piece of the puzzle is four new teasers, only one of which is real. Featuring faces covered with cloth, hairy bathtubs and eyeballs in mouths (more on that later), none of these promos provide us with a clear idea of what to expect from Season 6. However, whilst everyone's been focusing on weeding out the fake trailers, this incredibly intriguing poster was released, almost unnoticed. I could be wrong- but this could be our single biggest clue about AHS Season 6 so far.
Naturally, this poster could be just another red herring, and this entire post could be debunked in a matter of days or weeks. However, the rich mythological history of fauns is too fascinating to ignore, so here's how I think this black-eyed goat entity might tie into the rest of the AHS universe.
Theory Number One- The Witches Are Back!
Fauns and satyrs have a rich folkloric history, and were common in Roman and Greek mythology- the most well-known was Pan, the God of Nature, the Wild & Shepherds. Satyrs were often linked to fecundity and rural fertility; given how many of the AHS promos feature remote, rural settings, and the fact we know the series will have 'something to do with children', there could certainly be a link here. Also, satyrs and fauns have been privy to some pretty gruesome happenings. From the raping of maidens to waging war for Dionysus, to being flayed alive, there are certainly plenty of tales worthy of an AHS story arc here.
However, whilst the ancient history of satyrs brings the 'Horror', it certainly doesn't fill the 'American' criteria of an AHS theme. The intersecting history of satyrs and America brings us to the 16th century, where horned beings (and half-man, half-goat figures in particular) became important symbols of American paganism. Various Wiccan and Witchcraft traditions honor the Horned God- an incarnation of the same horned god who has appeared since classical times, often linked with nature, wilderness, and fertility.
Perhaps this horned being is a very subtle allusion to our favorite witches from Season 3. Something else that stood out as uniquely witchy to me was that two of the four promos this weekend involved things coming out of women's mouths- an eyeball and a spider, respectively. Both images are reminiscent of the Season 3 promo, which showed a snake weaving between the painted mouths of three women. Could this be another clue that the clan in Season 3 will be key to the story in Season 6?
We know that the Coven existed for centuries; is it possible that Season 6 will show us an earlier incarnation of the baddest witches ever to grace television? This could be a faun-tastic opportunity for fan-favorite Jessica Lange to make a bewitching cameo; something which fans have been campaigning for ever since Lange hung up her habit and took a break from AHS.
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Theory Number Two: We've Just Seen the Devil Himself
Since Christians believed Pagan and Wiccan practices to be the work of the devil, their Horned God became a popular symbol for depicting Satan himself. If the goat figure is a character in AHS, he could be a pagan deity- or, he could be Satan.
The idea might be a little far-fetched; but don't forget, we've seen aliens, ghosts, witches, vampires, and the Voodoo gatekeeper of the spirit realm. Not to mention, of course, we've seen a Demon before- the one that possessed Sister Mary Eunice in American Horror Story: Asylum.
It seems likely that we'll see possession as a key theme in Season 6, as a recently leaked set photo depicted the word 'Croatoan'. The Croatoan are linked to a popular New England ghost story about the disappearance of a New England tribe- but 'Croatoan' has featured in AHS before. Cast your mind back to Season 1, when Violet sought help from Billie Dean. Billie told her:
It’s difficult to banish a spirit, but not impossible. The most successful attempt I know of happened when America was known as the new world.In 1590, on the coast of what we now know as North Carolina, the entire colony of Roanoke—all 117 men, women, and children—died inexplicably. It became known as the ghost colony because the spirits remained. They haunted the native tribes living in the surrounding areas. Killing indiscriminately. The elder knew he had to act. He cast a banishment curse. First he collected the personal belongings of all the dead colonists. Then they burned them. The ghosts appeared, summoned by their talismans. But before the spirits could cause them any more harm, the elder completed the curse that would banish the ghosts forever. By uttering a single word. The same word found carved on a post at the abandoned colony. “Croatoan.”
It seems that this ghost story has captivated the AHS team for quite some time- and that we can expect to see possession and mysterious disappearances playing a key role in the upcoming series, if that leaked set photo was real. There's no concrete evidence yet to suggest how AHS's Roanoke folks disappeared, but perhaps our faun- be he the Devil or a Pagan God- had something to do with it.
Once again, there's a third key theory here: that this poster is another red herring designed to throw us off the scent, and means diddly-squat to the AHS universe at large. Some have pointed out the obvious visual link between the faun's horn and the Season 6 logo (as seen in the 'Lullaby' teaser above) — it's entirely possible this poster was made because it looks nice and fits visually.
However, given the expansive history of fauns & satyrs- not to mention the multiple possible links with previous series- if this is just a red herring, I think the AHS team have missed a trick.
What do you think- is this poster a red herring, or our biggest clue yet? Let me know in the comments!