[image description: A beautiful black woman stands in a pastoral setting lit by the morning sun, a single blooming rose to her left. She wears a homespun green skirt, a mustard and brown plaid scarf wraps around her shoulders over a white shirt with its sleeves rolled up, and poses with her walking stick over her shoulders. Her face and arms show the symmetrical white patches of nonsegmental generalized vitiligo. Text reads, “127, Mirabella, small god of Vitiligo”]
She is beautiful. She has always been beautiful, throughout all of time, throughout all of space, she is beautiful. But beauty, as they say, is only skin deep, and as she is a god of appearances, she focuses so much on the surface that it can seem like she knows nothing else.
That isn’t so.
She knows the innocent delight of a child seeing a person with patterns on them, wondering why they don’t have patterns of their own, wishing at night to see the oracular markings form on their own skin, believing in some abstract way that the swirls and scrimshaw are the badges of age, that puberty will be followed by a second, even more intricate, transformation, skin turning as individual as a fingerprint.
She knows the heartbreak of a teen whose childhood wishes, made or unmade, are answered by the structure of their skin, who finds themselves mocked and outcast by their peers for being in some way different, for being marked. She knows how often she is repudiated, how often those she touches hate and reject her. She knows every form of foundation and pancake makeup, and how deeply the shadow of the surface can cut.
She knows she is beloved, and she knows she is unwanted, and she carries both these burdens both gracefully and gladly. She is what she is. She is what she is, and she is the small god of a human condition; she cannot change, even if she wanted to.
And she does not want to.
She is a god of beauty and a god of understanding, and she would not change if she were given the opportunity. Her faithful, willing or no, still need her, and as long as she is needed, she endures.
And she loves.
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: