[image description: A steaming silver teapot with a robot’s face. Boiling water is visible through its comically round eye-holes. It rests and reflects on a white surface in front of window of deep blue sky and numberless stars. Text reads, “134, Sam O’Var ~ Small God of Tea Time Machines”]
Out of Russia they arose, victor in the remarkably genteel race to become representative of the many and glorious ways for the people of the mortal world to take their tea. Out of Russia, out of the steppes and the snows, all the way to the modern day and the modern world, and countless households therein.
Their earliest forms were open to the fire outside, a unification of elements: earthen or metallic shell, air to carry the fire, fire to warm them, and water to boil in their bellies. They heated the tea, they warmed the belly, they gave life and strength to armies and artisans alike. And now, today, they carry the electric fire in their own hearts, even as their artisanal ancestors still pass hand to hand, treasured heirlooms of older days, which look so often better in the cracked glass of memory.
They are beautiful. They are beloved. And for all of that, they are humble, recognizing that they hold their place through chance, when it might be better held by Tea Potter. But Tea is content to be small god of the high tea, enjoying the ceremony and the circumstance more than the art of brewing, and so Sam holds their place for the time all but unchallenged.
It cannot last. There is always a challenger to come. They hold their place against the marching armies of the coffee chain, which spawns gods almost as quickly as the technology can be updated, divinity sparking into being and fading away in almost the same instant. Sam O’Var has watched the rise of gods of French press and cold brew, gods of steam and foam, and waited for the day when they would try to take dominion over all hot beverages brewed to stimulate the mind. That day has yet to occur.
If ever it does, they will be ready. And they will offer their challenger one last sweet cup of tea.
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: