Kore ~ the small god of Seasons’ End

[image description: A small dark-haired girl with white butterfly wings and a crown of petals and/or feathers stands in a green tunic against an autumnal ground of gold and red leaves, one cupped hand is outstretched as if to catch one of the huge snowflakes which have begun to fall. Does her expression might suggest ambivalence? Resignation? Wisdom? Text reads, “161, Kore ~ the small god of Seasons’ End”]

In her time, she has been a cruel god and a kind god, a beloved god and a feared god.  She is the god of beans in the bread and blood on the snow, of girls in glass coffins and children abandoned in the midnight wood.  She is also the god of kindness and joy, of warm blankets and warm fires and warm cups held between trembling palms.

Every season ends.  Hers is winter.  She stands and she sings, in her crown of candles and tinsel, and she reminds us that the sun will come again.  She is a bright star in a darkened sky, a memory of warmth, and she never ages, and she never dies, and she will never be forgotten, or forgiven, for what she means to us.

She doesn’t remember when they decided that winter should be the ending of the year.  It makes sense, as humans measure things—we’re born young and bright and innocent, we ripen, we age, and then we die, at the end of our lives.  Winter, the dying of the green world of summer, must thus be the ending of the year.  It makes sense.

But she thinks of herself more as a renewal than an ending.  Every year, she is born when the first frost falls, and she walks with us until the clock chimes midnight at an arbitrary line drawn by arbitrary hands across the calendar, and she fades into silence until the time comes again.  She holds no specific holiday.  She holds all the holidays.  She is deeply annoyed by the ongoing attempts to elevate one winter celebration above the others, by the forays into the territories of other gods, other dominions.  Tinsel and golden balls should belong to her, not crop up in the temples of Amaizing Grace or Goldie Afternoon.  Her power is in her liminality, in the fact that she comes and she goes, reliable as the seasons, dependable as the spring.

One day, she will be invoked when the year is new, and she will hate that day, and she will become a cruel god once again, for a moment is only precious when it is brief.  She represents the temporary and the changeable, and she has moved beyond blood on snow, but she can always go back.

She is sweet and she is kind, and she is still a god for all of that, and we should not try her patience so.


Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

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adora – the small dog of imaginary friends

[image description: A very happy tail-wagging white cartoon hound, whose collar is loose thick and red, and whose single gold dog tag features a crystalline red heart. Text reads, “159 adora – the small dog of imaginary friends”]

Hi!

Hello!

Bonjour!

I know I just met you, but hello!  May I lick your face?  Ha, I almost asked if I could like your face, and I do, I do like your face, I like your face so much, I love your face, and now I want to lick it.  So may I lick your face?  Please?

Oh, I’m sorry, was that rude?  My name’s Adora, and I adore you.  I’m the small dog of imaginary friends, and it’s my job to adore you.  Not you in specific, but most people.  Not everyone!  It’s not special if it’s everyone, and I get to have free will just like everybody else.  Making me love people who are awful to me wouldn’t be very free will-y.  But I love all my friends, mortal or divine, real or imaginary, and I love them all just the same, and I like your face so much, and I want to lick your face so much, and if you’ll let me, I’ll be your friend forever, and if you won’t let me, I’ll be your friend forever anyway, because friends don’t give up on friends.  That isn’t how this is supposed to work.

I love you.

My first friend and my first love were a small god of loneliness who isn’t around anymore.  They made me, and we were together always, and they stopped being so very lonely, and then one day they just faded into nothing, because they had given away their portfolio when they forgot how to be utterly alone.  And they cried when they left me, because they said leaving me meant that they were a god of loneliness after all, but I’m not sorry, and I’m not lonely.

I have you.  I have you, and I have all my other friends, forever and ever and always and I even have A Void, who’s the small cat of being misunderstood, and she’s my very best friend of all, even when she hisses and shows me her claws.  That’s just how small cats say they love you.  I know that, because I love her, and she loves me, and we’re happy.

I’m happy.

Now you can be happy to, if you’ll just believe in me.  I’m imaginary, but I’m here for you, so you won’t ever, never have to be alone.

Not ever.

So hello, new friend, hello, hello, I love you.  Hello.


Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

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Железной Леди ~ SMALL GOD OF BAD MOTHERS

[image description: A series of beautifully painted matryoshka dolls stand in the snow in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral. While most of the dolls ‘open’ horizontally, the largest opens vertically like the Iron Maiden she is. She holds a hollow heart in her painted hands, through which the brutally sharp spikes that line her interior can be clearly seen. The smaller dolls look trapped and alarmed. Text reads, “157 Железной Леди ~ SMALL GOD OF BAD MOTHERS”]

She has so many more faithful than she desires, or than realize their loyalty to her.  Fully half of those who worship her with unflagging devotion would be horrified beyond all measure if forced to clearly confront the damage they have done, if forced to see with open eyes that they betrayed their own ideals.  She despises them for refusing to look at their children without preconceptions, for refusing to understand, for refusing to see as they are seen.

To some, a mother is an architect.  She builds a house, one brick and board at a time, from the substance of her own body, sacrificing blood and bone alike to give her child a place to all their own.  But all too often, those mothers forget that when you give something away, you surrender the right to dictate its every use.  Their children decorate the house as they will.  They build new additions or cut away old construction that doesn’t suit them.  And at some point, a failure to accept this will move the mother into a new religion, as the Iron Lady takes her toll.

To others, a mother is a collector of beautiful things in need of nurturing and protection, and has no part in the original construction, but only and essentially in the ornamentation.  And in those cases, she must still find a way to accept that her child will one day change out the wallpaper, or hang new curtains, or discover rooms neither of them were aware had been built in the original blueprints.  Those mothers, too, must master the art of stepping back and saying “I see you, I know you, I love you even if you are not exactly as I assumed.”

Too many assume the Iron Lady owns only the hearts of those who are actively abusive, intentionally cruel, the ones who hit or deprive or withhold their affections out of malice.  But rot has no morality, and even those who mean the best can damage without understanding the depth of what they’ve done.

She has too many faithful.  She can turn none of them aside.  She only hopes that kinder gods will see the scars of those she does not claim, and take mercy, and lead them to a safer haven, a harbor, and a home.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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AMAIZEING GRACE~ SMALL GOD OF FALL FAMILY FESTIVITIES

[image description: A vast corn maze as seen from above. The circular clearing in the center highlights the central corn figure – a woman with her hands raised. The maze continues through her corn-husk dress,  Text reads, “157, AMAIZEING GRACE~ SMALL GOD OF FALL FAMILY FESTIVITIES”]

Bring the whole family, come for an hour or an afternoon.  She has something for everyone.  Apple-picking and pumpkin patches for the littlest ones; hayrides and bonfires for the teens; scare-show tableaus in the barns out back and a corn maze suitable for all ages.  She’s happy to see you all, happy to accept you all, yearning and burning for the chance to lead you into the rustling gold, into the shadow of the cornfield, into the deep, slow places where the spiders spin and the soil smells of loam and secrets, into the liminal space that exists only when she rises, when her time is come, when she returns.

Her time is very short, year on year.  Her memory is very long.

She remembers fields without fences, soil without sorrow, crops without conquest.  She remembers harvests of blood and bone and body, days when tears ran down to water the roots, and apples that tasted of grieving.  The harvests are sweeter now, if not so open-eyed as once they were.  And still Grace holds sway over them all, ready to welcome the children, the teens, the adults, the innocent and the condemned all into her haylofts and her orchards.

And if not all of them come out again, well.  It’s not like she hasn’t given warning.  Not like she hasn’t always been open about the link between crop and corpse, between corn and consequence.

Bring the whole family, come for an hour or an afternoon.  Come into the shadows of her towering fields, come into the spaces where no one hears the screaming, come into the comfort of her eternity.  She is brief.  She is eternal. She is patient.

She is vengeful.

Come for an hour or an afternoon.  Come forever.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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MARQUEE DE SADE ~ SMALL GOD OF HORROR MOVIES

[image description: A short-haired woman in a grey evening gown stands in front of tied red theatre curtains. She raises the short grey top hat from her head, and blood pours out, splashing everywhere. Though her mouth is open, she seems more excited than alarmed. Text reads, “157 MARQUEE DE SADE ~ SMALL GOD OF HORROR MOVIES”]

No one ever expects her to be happy, but she is.  She is comedy and catharsis, she is merriment and murder, and she is a bucket of blood balanced over a half-open doorframe, ready to fall upon the first person to push it open.  Her laughter is a constant and a genuine delight, and she is truly glad to be here.

And yeah, she’s had her moments.  Sometimes the newest “hot young things” to join her priesthood think she needs to be taken more seriously, and they bring their own opinions to the sound stage, their own angles to the shoot, and you get a batch of gospels that are humorless and hard.  But the pendulum always swings back, whether or not there’s a pit beneath it.  The House of Usher always falls, and people remember it more clearly when it falls in hope and joy than when it falls in grim inevitability.

She wants to be remembered.

Some people say she’s one of the ascended, a former mortal who loved the genre she now represents so purely and so absolutely that she woke one day after dying and found herself divine.  This may not be true—this probably isn’t true—but Marquee encourages the theory, if only because it would be a sort of horror movie in and of itself.  Human woman dies, wakes up divine but also condemned to spend eternity in a waking horror movie?  Oh, the pathos!  Oh, the drama!  Oh, the sequel potential!

Other people say that she’s the natural end result of all those midnight movie festivals, the pinups of Elvira, and the dulcet tones of the horror hosts whispering through the night, and those people may be closer to the truth than anyone can understand.  It doesn’t really matter either way.  Marquee is a sweet, sunshine soul who guides her little slice of creation with an unwavering hand, and she’s going to keep doing that no matter what people want to say about it, or her.

But she does suggest you keep the lights on.

Because that sound wasn’t the wind.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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little miss chief ~ small god of harmless pranks

[image description: A long-haired girl of about 4 smiles mischievously. Hovering over her left hand is red light bulb that lights the scene. The bulb has been colored red with the magic marker she holds in her right hand. Text reads, “155, little miss chief ~ small god of harmless pranks”]

It’s not a joke unless everyone’s laughing.

It’s not a prank unless no one gets hurt.

A prank that ends in pain is something altogether different.  We call it “cruelty” and “abuse” and “malicious.”  Someone who plays pranks that hurt is not a friend.  Someone who plays pranks that hurt is an enemy.

But that laughter in the distance after you open the door and dump a bucket of glitter on your own head?  That giddy giggling down the hall when you grab the bathroom doorknob and pull away a hand covered in whipped cream?  Those receding footsteps running along the sidewalk as banners of toilet paper wave from the tree branches to the evening air?

Little Miss Chief has been here.

Too many who consider themselves her acolytes serve crueler gods, and would know it if they stopped and examined their own motivations.  But by claiming to serve the Little Miss, they can veil themselves in righteousness, can convince themselves that they’re only having fun, even as they’re harming people.

She doesn’t care for those “acolytes,” is happy to foil the antics that do fall close enough to her domain for her to complicate, reveals their location to anyone who opens their eyes to see.

She is the giggle on the wind and the superglue on your shoes.  She is the smile from the darkened hall and the dollar bill on a piece of fishing line.  She is not here to hurt you, but she needs to hear you laugh, and she’ll keep trying until you do.

So let the peeled grapes become eyeballs, and the ketchup on the doorframe become blood.  Surrender to the silliness, and she’ll let you be, and remember, Little Miss Chief will never, ever intentionally do you harm.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Carmilla ~ Small God of Vampirism

[image description: A pale, impeccably dressed figure stands before the stone arch of a fallen castle. Her hair is pale as the rest of her and cut very short. She holds the top of a cane in one gloved hand, and raises a goblet in the other. The goblet, her ruby stickpin, eyes, and lips glow red in the viridian twilight. Text reads, “154, Carmilla ~ Small God of Vampirism”]

There’s no single way to be a vampire.  If you’ve met one vampire, you’ve met one vampire, and even those who have walked the night for centuries won’t pretend to have met them all.

There are vampires in the classic mode, suave sanguivores who only come out after the sun goes down, who sing to the wolves and transform themselves into flocks of leather-winged bats.  There are vampires who reach into the minds of their targets—their prey, if you will—and twist them until all they see is what the vampire wants them to see, all they know is what the vampire wants them to know.  There are vampires who feed solely on the blood of virgins, of infants, of the dying, and vampires who only consume menstrual blood.  And all of them are vampires.

In death, they have found community more complete than any they had known in life.  In death, they have found acceptance.

And in Carmilla’s case, in death, they have found a lot of lesbians.  Lesbians, she must say, like hot dead chicks who smell like roses instead of rot, and have agency and wit and functional credit cards.  Maybe everyone likes that.  The occasional bisexual who has followed her back to her boudoir definitely seemed to enjoy her presence, and when they get down on their knees to worship her, as befits a god, she worships them in answer, as befits a lover.

Divinity was a bit of a shock, she must admit.  Everyone assumed that when the world finally manifested a small god of vampirism, old Vlad would take the shiny trophy and the rest of the undead would be left to do his bidding.  Carmilla hated the idea of doing Vlad’s bidding, the old creep.  She just wants wine and roses and beautiful women, and none of this world conquest or inappropriate luring of strangers.

But here she is, and this is her world, and her night, and all the children of that night are her children.  What beautiful music they make.

What beautiful music indeed.

++++++++++++++++++++++

Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

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CANDY CORNELIA ~ SMALL GOD OF TRICK OR TREAT

[image description: A young girl  stands on your welcome mat, costumed in three colors of seamed foam rubber as befits her name. In her right hand she holds a roll of toilet paper, in her left, a plastic pumpkin-shaped bucket for holding treats. Behind her, past the lawn and sidewalk, a toilet-papered tree is visible against the starry twilit sky. In a 3D candy-corn inflected font, the Text reads, “153, CANDY CORNELIA ~ SMALL GOD OF TRICK OR TREAT”]

Sun’s going down, and now’s where you have two choices: turn off all the lights and go to bed right now, or light the pumpkin and set it out in invitation.

Now, I know it’s been pouring for the last three days and not a child with a lick of self-preservation is going to be out on the streets tonight.  What’s more, even if those children exist—and those children always exist, let’s be realistic here—then they’d need to have parents who were never really all that interested in having children, who just want plausible deniability when they get called down to the county coroner’s office.  No, we’re not looking to attract actual children, or we’d have needed to buy a lot more candy.

You got them, right?  Two full-sized Snickers bars, a roll of dimes, and an old Archie comic from the grocery store?  Good.  I know you promised, but a man likes to be sure, especially on a night like this.

But as I said, we’re not looking to attract actual children.  Wouldn’t know what to do with them.

We’re going to lure in a god.

She walks the world one night a year, as solid and material as any human child, just a child who goes from city to city in the process of going house to house.  She starts in Samoa and stops in New Zealand, and in-between she sees the whole world wide, like some sort of reverse Santa Claus, taking away with her.  If you’re lucky, of course.  Her bag is an infinity of toilet paper and raw eggs, her smile a gap-toothed gateway into darker realms.  She is redemption and she is damnation and she is going to choose the second on our behalf if you don’t get that pumpkin lit before she rings the bell!

She doesn’t hold grudges, but she remembers, and her memory is the long, slow memory of childhood, which never forgets the house with the good candy, or the one with the mean dog.  Her blessing will see your windows unbroken and your tomatoes untrampled by generations yet to come, and her curse…

Well.  You were thinking about moving, right?

Someone’s coming up the walk.  Light the pumpkin!

Rain or no rain, it’s always time for trick or treat.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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MISTER DEAD ~ SMALL GOD OF ALL THOSE DAMNED ZOMBIES

[image description: A horse’s  – well, the animated remains of a horse –  looks disapprovingly out at you from the ember that glows in his ruined eye socket. Upper left, a word balloon: “You’re just beating a dead horse here Wilbur…” Behind him, ruined shapes stand silhouetted against an apocalyptic red sky. Text reads, “152, MISTER DEAD ~ SMALL GOD OF ALL THOSE DAMNED ZOMBIES”]

A corpse is a corpse, of course, of course, And no one can talk to a corpse, of course, That is of course unless the corpse Is the famous Mister Dead!

He walked among the world of the living before his ascension to the ranks of the divine.  This doesn’t make him unique by any standards—the heavens and the hells are filled with horses of a different color—but it does make him well-equipped to understand the trials and travails of the human world.

And one of the things he figured out shortly after he died (on the set of a penny Western) and watched the children of the extras prodding his corpse with sticks—he!  Who had been the hero of Hollywood, the best known of the equine actors of his generation—was that humans, by and large, are dreadful creatures, all the more beastly because they fight so hard to deny that they are beasts.

So he decided to remind them.

His gifts are inner peace, contentment with the world, and a gnawing, endless hunger that will eventually bring even the most pacifistic of humans to consume their neighbors.  He reminds them that they are animal, and then he reminds them that they are dead, even as he is dead, even as all flesh will one day be dead.  He sets them free.

And if he triggers a nice apocalypse in the progress, well, he’s down for that.

The other gods argue over whether he should be considered a god of vengeance or pestilence, or even war.  Mister Dead never gets involved.

He knows, above all, that he is a god of mercy.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Black Friday ~ Small God of False Profits

[image description: A massive serpent (so large that King Kong wouldn’t be big enough to fill its mouth. It looms over the city and coils around the Empire State Building creating – however briefly – the shape of a dollar sign. The top of the snake is gold, but its underbelly is ebon. Text reads, “151, BLACK FRIDAY ~ SMALL GOD: FALSE PROFITS”]

She slithers in through any opening she can find, so much smaller than she looks from the outside, so much larger than anyone wants her to be.  Her coils can constrict empires, her jaws encompass unions, and her venom can kill creatures so much larger than she is that it seems ridiculous.  What is the purpose of any single creature carrying so much potential to destroy?

Some say that she could slaughter gods, if she ever got it into her head to think there would be a benefit to her in the act, and so when she slides through heaven on her scaled belly, no one meets her eyes, and no one moves to attract her wrath, and no one lingers in her presence.

She must be very lonely, this serpent god of the unspent dollar and the unfinished deal.  She must yearn for the company of her kin.

But you wouldn’t know it to watch her moving through the world.  She thrives on the false belief that twenty dollars today is better than ten today and ten tomorrow, sparking the impossible belief that twenty today will mean twenty tomorrow, and not nothing tomorrow when every cent is spent, every dollar is divested.  She puffs herself up to seem threatening, and her faithful point and claim this proves that profit without end is possible, endless growth, endless expansion.

She will swallow the world, given room enough and time.

She will take both those things if no one intercedes.

But look: there’s a sale tomorrow.  And what beautiful things there are to buy, what wonders, what delights…

What a profit to be made.


Artist Lee Moyer (13th Age, Cursed Court) and author Seanan McGuire (Middlegame, Every Heart a Doorway) have joined forces to bring you icons and stories of the small deities who manage our modern world, from the God of Social Distancing to the God of Finding a Parking Space.

Join in each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/