[image description: A scary looking light blue face sneers. It might be a puppet face from an unknown Rankin Bass Christmas animation. Its eyes are glowing embers, its nose and chin pointed, its black cloak and ragged hair are filled with stars. The 10 wooden shadowbox sections frame the portrait to either side and contain: a Victorian era lock, a woman’s burnt sculpted face, an old electrical outlet, a left-facing seahorse, an ancient cylindrical ivory box in front of an equally-aged telescope, A two-legged clay pot with a protruding horned face from Mexico, A traffic light turning amber, an ovate sedimentary stone, a curious URL, and a sculpted silver globe. Text reads, “199, Sleep MISER, the small god of INSOMNIA”]
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“Man, you look like hell. Up all night playing video games?”
“I wish. I went to bed at nine-thirty.”
“So what happened?”
“I just didn’t sleep.”
He is not a nice god. We try to see the positive of even the unpleasant entities we document, to present them in a fair and measured light, to avoid attracting divine vengeance down on our own heads, but in this case, we have to come out and make a clear statement: he is not a nice god. He does not have your best interests at heart, and his worship is better left avoided.
Oh, his faithful—for he has them; every god has them, or they would no longer have their godhood—will try to tell you that he serves the ambitious, the creative, and the determined, that if you can work when the world is sleeping, you will have a greater life. What they don’t tell you is that “greater,” in their eyes, means a life of irritability and exhaustion, of slow psychic poison as your brain fails to reset itself through dreams, of withering relationships and lost compassion. To them, all that matters is that when your life is done, you’ll have made the most money, worked the most hours, refused the most indulgences. In their eyes, sleep is a luxury to be earned.
Lulah Bye, small god of a good night’s sleep, says that sleep is not a luxury: sleep is a gift given to you upon your birth, to be treasured and enjoyed. It is the one thing you have that costs no money, is forbidden by no king, and is not socially shameful to speak of. She would drive the Sleep Miser from the pantheon if she could, for he brings no blessings, and torments her faithful when they have done nothing to deserve it.
Sleep Miser himself has no regrets about his position. He enjoys it. He’s not getting any sleep.
So why should you?
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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: