[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.