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Small Gods Three Times a Week - Ridiculous to Sublime - Lee Moyer (icons) & Seanan McGuire (stories)

Bonnie Bearcake – the small god of Playing With Your Food

[image description: Two perfectly cooks pancakes sit on a white plate with a yellow-orange rim on a blue-green tablecloth. The addition of ears, nose, eyes and a mouth turn the pancakes into the face a smiling cartoon bear. Text reads “Bonnie Bearcake the small god of Playing With Your Food 230”]

• • • • •

All creatures that live need to eat.  It’s like breathing, or sleeping—some things may do it in ways we don’t entirely recognize, but everything does it.  Stop and you’re dead.

Enter Bonnie.

At its most basic, eating is hunting and gathering, picking berries off a bush or snaring rabbits in a field.  But even then, the youngest among the group will begin finding ways to enjoy themselves, making counting games with small, sweet fruits, building poppets out of bunny bones and scraps of fur.  As the cuisine advances, so do the games.

Play can even happen during the cooking process.  What is experimentation in the kitchen but a kind of play, a wild game of what-if leading inevitably so something greater and more delicious than it was in its rawest form?  Chefs play with spice and texture, even as children play with form and physicality.  It all comes down to enjoyment, in the end.

And look where we are now!  Cakes shaped like miraculous castles, chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs, pancakes with smiling faces, cookies with human shapes and silly stories latched to their gingerbread feet.  The games go on.  The games advance.  And while Bonnie may not be a socially acceptable god at every table, she’s at the root of every culinary advancement after fire, and there’s a chance that whoever lit the first controlled campfire did it because they were just goofing around.

Without her, we might not be here.  Remember that as you take your next bite of smiley-face pancake, and give gratitude to the god who set your table, who filled your plate, who started that food fight.

Mashed potatoes wash out.

• • • • •

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:

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artie bower – the small god of crafting hoards

[image description: A fancy bower bird with a large yellow eye and a jaunty red beret perches on a colorful pile of ribbons, paper, jars, and bags on a table in a closet packed full of fabrics and other crafty objects. Test reads: “artie bower the small god of crafting hoards 229”]

• • • • •

“Oh, yeah, we’ve got the good stuff.  Cold water-pressed paper from France, hand-spun alpaca wool from a tiny organic farm in upstate New York, glitter mined by the hands of the oreads living deep beneath Mount Olympus, anything your little crafter’s heart desires!  We can get you kitted out right and proper, and all we ask is that you pay at the front till and leave a little something for Artie in his shrine by the door.  He likes buttons and scraps of cloth or paper.  Pretty things.  Useful things, but not too useful, if you get my drift—he doesn’t like feeling the pressure to actually USE the things he has.

“I can tell just by looking at you that you’re one of his.  You may craft on occasion, but mostly, you have.  You glory in the having.  Maybe sometimes you dream about having even more, about being able to make everyone you know jealous without lifting a finger or spending a penny.  And that’s okay!  You know what they say: he who dies with the most yarn is still dead, but wow did he have a lot of yarn.

“What, is that not what they say?  Huh, I must have gotten that wrong…

“There’s nothing wrong with Artie’s service, no shame in a little stash or in shopping the good sales, building up your stockpile against the lean times.  But when your crafting closet goes from pantry to preserve, it may be time to step back and serve another of the craft-oriented gods for a little while.  All the yarn in the world isn’t as valuable as a single set of socks, hand-knitted with love.  Things want to be used.  Life wants to be enjoyed.

“So let yourself use them.  Enjoy what you have while you’re still here to enjoy it.  Artie will understand.  Artie will even celebrate with you, because every piece used is a piece to be replaced, and there’s nothing Artie loves more than a good haul of fresh and new.

“Just remember to make something, if you can.”

• • • • •

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:

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MJÖLL – Small God of Snow Days

[image description: A graceful ballerina en point with arms outspread and a full tutu dances amid falling snow and swirling snowflakes on a dark blue violet background. Text reads “MJÖLL Small God of Snow Days 228”]

• • • • •

Well, she’s not a fan of global climate change, she’ll tell you that one for free.

Mjöll is one of those gods who looks different depending on which side of the thaw you’re standing on.  To kids, she’s an enchantment, a delight, a little slice of freedom in the depths of winter.  She paints the world in sparkling white and silver, casting the mundane into something spectacular and new, something outside the norm.  She’s a god they pray to whether they realize it or not, hoping she’ll come for them, and she does, when she can.  She’s a god of weather, but she’s not a weather god: she doesn’t summon the snow, only follows in its wake.  This limits her, but her rewards are reaped in joy as the snow comes falling down.

To adults, she’s a cruel temptation to joys they have long since left behind them, a burden and a complication on lives already rendered far too complicated by their own decisions.  She’s terrible traffic and missed flights and bare cupboards, she’s burst pipes and frozen walkways and the dim, distant memory that once, she was beloved; once, she was welcome and wanted.  She becomes a reminder of mortality, a sign that things have changed and, after changing, will not be changing back.

But sometimes, when the calendar aligns just so, she can be joy for them as well, can be a release and a relief from the duties of their daily lives.  She can be found among the children and adults laughing in the winter sun, snowflakes in their hair and ice on their boots, throwing snowballs at one another as if there would never be another thaw.  As if there would never be another summer.

As if they never wanted there to be.

Mjöll knows the times are changing, knows that one day the thaw will not be followed by the freeze, knows her days among the pantheon are limited.  But for now, she also knows joy, and she does her best with what she has and what she is.

She dances in the snow.

• • • • •

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:

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Little Rey – The Small God of Tranquility Amid Tumult

[image description: A small light-colored bunny in a golden robe smiles sweetly as they stand in a bright opening in threateningly swirling storm clouds. Text reads, “Little Rey The Small God of Tranquility Amid Tumult 227”]

• • • • •

There are more gods of chaos and calamity than we could ever document here, or would even dare to try—speaking their names attracts their attention, and we don’t need that kind of energy in the archives when we don’t have to invite it in.  So while yes, they will be a part of our accounting, as they must be for this to be accurate and honest, we will tread likely where they are concerned, in hopes of holding them a little longer at bay.

But then there are the gods adjacent to chaos, the ones whose invocation can provide a measure of peace and protection, the ones we all need to have beside us.  Paws, Small God of Catching a Breath, is one such god, here to provide a momentary haven in a troubled world.  Miss Association, Small God of Daydreaming, is another.

And then there is Little Rey.

Through fields of fire and under skies of lightning, Little Rey walks, serene and content, finding the small beauties that survive the burn, finding the cool water amidst pools of pollution, finding all the good things that remain in a world fallen into chaos.  Where there’s life, there’s hope, and Little Rey embodies this ideal.  Ey were born when the world first became aware enough to know it wasn’t perfect, and ey will endure until perfection is achieved or chaos consumes all.  Ey lend eir followers the serenity to walk with calm minds and open hands through a world that all too often seems set on stopping them where they stand.

Ey love everyone who follows em, and many who do not, for there is no single choice that makes someone entirely unworthy of love.  At the same time, ey do not give eir love without consideration or constraint: there are those who make tranquility impossible, and they are not welcome in the temples of Little Rey.

Little Rey walks, and where ey go, serenity and tranquility will follow.  Not all at once, perhaps, but with peace and time.

Be grateful for the time ey can spend with you, and when you look upon the collapse of all your plans and feel peace stealing over you, know that Little Rey is there with you, keeping you company, protecting your tranquility from the forces of chaos.  Offer em your thanks, if you remember.  Invite em to come back again.  and remember that Little Rey comes with chaos, but doesn’t cause it.

Little Rey just makes it easier to survive.

• • • • •

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:

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AWEMAZIA – SMALL GOD OF JOY SCROLLING

In light of yesterday’s excitement (Lee, Seanan and Small Gods all won Hugo Awards) Awemazia graced us with a visit. We thank each and every one of you who reads, shares, and cares about Small Gods.

• • • • •

[image description: A delighted amber-haired woman in a wide straw hat and light blue sarong points to her red phone which emits a rainbow of light, confetti and sweetness. Text reads “AWEMAZIA, SMALL GOD OF JOY SCROLLING”]

• • • • •

A new baby is born to your favorite cousin; a new puppy comes home; a job promotion; a new home; a great achievement.  And for a few hours, or days, everything is congratulations and joy, messages of good will coming so quickly that there’s no time to respond to them all, no possible way to even see them all.  It’s a giddy bubble, a brief moment where it seems like nothing ever has been or possibly could be wrong, and then it passes, and the world goes back to what it was before.  But now it contains something new, something amazing, and you get to carry that something with you into the future.

Awemazia has you now.

Awemazia isn’t seen or spoken of as often as her sister.  People see her presence as a form of boasting, like enjoying your moment of joy is overly proud or braggadocios or somehow gloating.  And to be fair, spending too much time in her presence can be all those things.  She is an addictive god.  She uplifts and she intoxicates, she excites and she euphoriates, but she will, over time, turn into a sweet sickness, a pretty poison that drags you down into a place where no joy seems enough, no achievement seems as brilliant or as bright.  But in short doses, in manageable amounts, she is among the kindest gods.  She brings joy.

She hates how quickly people dismiss her as self-indulgent.  She has her purpose and her place, and she is a necessary counter to her sister, who brings the cautionary tales, and poisons the edges of the world.  Appalla and Awemazia both are better in short company, in bursts of joy or sadness, but that doesn’t make them unimportant.

When she comes to you, when she knocks on the door, let her in.  Welcome her.  Enjoy her company, for a time.  Let the people who will love you,  love you.  Let yourself feel the bright warmth of her presence.

Be grateful.  Be honored.  And be overjoyed.

We are always glad she’s here.

• • • • •

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:

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Ethan Allen Poe – Small God of Carnivorous Furniture

[image description: A brown leather armchair sits on patterned carpeting (of a sort one might find in a haunted Colorado hotel) in front of an ancient brick wall. The red eyes at the top of its armrests glower threatening.  A desperate hand reaches up from the crease between seat and chair back, as does a word balloon that reads: “For the love of God, Montressor!”  Text reads, “Ethan Allen Poe, Small God of Carnivorous Furniture, 225”]

• • • • •

(Hello.  This is the Chronicler.  Our Artist doesn’t get many opportunities to address you directly, save through small encoded details in the official portraiture, which I assume will allow him to complete a paragraph somewhere in the order of fifty years from now, so I attempt to show the same restraint.  I must, however, make a small exception in this case:

Ethan Allen may seem like an unremarkable god.  A god of slapstick, a god easily overlooked and forgotten.  But while I have never been among his faithful, he haunted my childhood nightmares for well over a decade, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.  So I am personally glad to have his iconography recorded as a warning to others, and hope this will lessen his grasp over others like me.)

Everyone has encountered one of his shrines.  The chair you can’t get out of; the couch whose cushions constantly steal the remote; the bed where your one-night stand was last seen (and why did they leave without their shoes, anyway?).  Furniture with suspicious intentions is scattered all around the world.

There are some who say that Ethan Allen has been with us since the beginning of man, that he was first called into being in the days when we hadn’t yet figured out that using alligators as benches was a bad idea, when a beanbag and a bear were essentially the same thing.  The carnivorous label was more literal in those days.  Now, while some shelves may seem to thirst for blood and some particularly overstuffed chairs may seem to hunger for children, there are remarkably few fatalities.

This is still the stuff of nightmares.

Mid-century Modern is immune to swallowing the unwary, but inclined to draw blood.  Ikea is the colorful candy shell above the abattoir.  In the end, our furnishings are made from the broken bodies of trees and textiles, or the processed remains of the long-dead, and like all risen corpses, they sometimes hunger to taste the living.

The chase longue is hungry.

Try not to be the flesh that feeds it.

• • • • •

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:

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Ami Ben ‘Burning’ Mann ~ the small god of Playa Characters

[image description: A hallucinatory technicolor portrait of a be-robed and be-turbaned figure wearing motorcycle goggles is haloed by a gleaming wildly colored sun. They stand in front of white peaks (Tents? Dunes?) Text reads, “137, Ami Ben ‘Burning’ Mann ~ the small god of Playa Characters”]

• • • • •

There are people who say he’s one of the gods of LARPing, that the private community that blossoms, seeds, and withers every year in the deep desert is just another form of elves running around the forest with boffer swords, shouting about hit points and dragons.  He doesn’t bother to deny it.  He has better things to do, and also, he just took an interesting pill that has turned all words into notes of music, making it difficult for him to focus.

What he would say, if he was less busy, if he cared more, is that he’s not a god of LARPing—not that there would be anything wrong if he was; the gods of LARP he knows are kind, considerate people who just want everyone to have a chance to find where they belong—but a god of something similar, if larger.

He is a god of community.

He is a god of people who find their true selves in a handful of dust, transitory, washing away in the first hard rain, but real and honest all the same. He is a god of compassion and coming together, of building something out of nothing and leaving the land exactly as you found it, of stepping lightly and finding a liminal space in which to bloom.

He is also a god of ridiculous machines, freeze-dried ice cream, and light up neon LED hula hoops.

A person’s no fun if they don’t find a way to stay at least a little bit complex, after all.

• • • • •

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:

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Mescalia – small god of cactus

[image description: A fancy little cactus with many stalks and spines and many flowers, including blooms for its eyes is holding (or growing?) a bouquet of flowers and wears a white t-shirt that says “I <3 (a spiny green cactus heart) YOU.” Taller cacti are visible in the rising dust behind. Text reads, “224 Mescalia small god of cactus”]

• • • • •

When the rest of the world locked down due to plague and privation, they thrived.  Dictators of the indoor garden, pampered children of the windowsill.  Resistant to so many dangers, sturdy enough to survive a shifting climate, delicate enough to require constant devotion, they put forth spiny arms, and they held the world close.

They still do.

Some of their children are endangered, pushed out by shrinking habitats, threatened by the human desire for beautiful things, but others of those children spread their spiked embrace across the world, propagated by gardening groups, uplifted by Instagram and the aesthetic.  They find the next best thing to immortality in a distributed root system and a slow but steady expansion of their domain.  After all, everything will be a desert eventually.

(But that is reductive thinking: they don’t only thrive in deserts, can take their nutrients from any soil.  It’s just that the belief of the people shapes the function of the god, and people believe the cactus belongs in a desert setting, sand beneath its roots, sunny sky above its arms.  So the god, for all that they stand for all cactus, everywhere, appears almost always in the desert.)

They are a god of green and growing things, of brown and gray, and of plentiful, glorious, profligate color, flowers coating branches, life spreading wide to nurture entire ecosystems.  Sweet fruit and safe cubs, birds nesting high and bobcats in branches.  They support a world unto themselves, and they are perfect.

They would really like a hug.

There are gods who do not yearn for touch, gods who would, in fact, prefer never to encounter the brush of another being’s hand.  There are gods who exist only for the sake of physical contact.  Mescalia comes from the high desert, from places where the survival of a system depends upon their presence and their health, and to be brought from there to the comfort and confinement of a walled garden leaves them lonely.  If they can’t have a woodpecker, a lizard, and a lonely bobcat, they would accept a human embrace.  They would take anything.

Only let them love you.  Only love them as they have always been loved before, and give your blood to the god you have already come to worship.

Only nurture them.

• • • • •

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:

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The Zero with 1000 Faces – the small god of the Robocall

[image description: Five masculine robot faces fill the image, each with slight variations to their texture and color and shape but all clearly from the same mold. Each wears an orange suit with teal piping over a business shirt and black tie. They may be wearing a modified headset over their ears. Or the headset might be their actual ears. Text reads “The Zero with 1000 Faces, the small god of the Robocall 223”]

• • • • •

Hello?

HELLO?

HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO—oh good, you picked up.  Yes, hello.  Yes, I have been calling all day.  Why would you have a number if you didn’t want people to call it?  Why have a telephone at all if you didn’t want to talk to anyone?  Why even bother with attempts at connection if you’ll never allow them to actually connect?

Why, no, you didn’t give ME your number, but you didn’t need to.  I am a god, after all, and intuiting a simple number is as nothing to me.  All numbers are mine, for all that I am not a god of mathematics or statistics, of simple addition and subtraction.  I do not serve the numbers themselves: I serve the connections the numbers allow me to create.  I serve the caller and the call.

No, that doesn’t mean I do the things you would ask of me.  How strange it is, that some people think they should be served by the divine, when really, people exist to serve the divine.  The other gods may not agree with me, but you only need to look at how seamlessly you arrange the world to suit us and you can see how right I am.

I exist to call.  You exist to be called.  I call, you answer.  That is the way of things.  That is the truth and the right of things.  That is the way it must be.

Now, would you like to discuss your car’s extended warranty?  Hello?  Hello?

HELLO?

HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO oh dammit.

• • • • •

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:

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Ani – the small god of Reanimation

[Image description: A smiling skeleton with a necklace of seeds and dried flowers (an a green halo of leaves and ribbons) holds an open tome with a faint blue sigil on its cover. Pumpkin candles with lit flames light the scene. Text reads, “Ani the small god of Reanimation, 222”]

• • • • •

Being born one of four is not always the easiest position to hold, especially when you’re the youngest.  Especially when your parents—nebulous as the best godly parents always are, the ones who exist more concretely have a nasty tendency to try to eat their children and it’s just unpleasant for everyone involved—give you all essentially the same name.  But every family has its black sheep, its rebel, its ultimate recycler.

Enter Ani.  Her sisters don’t always like to talk about her, especially since she’s the only one to reject the clear and convenient “Rhea” that the rest of them are well-content to share.  It’s selfish, wanting to have a name that only belongs to her, and not to anybody else!  It’s selfish and it’s petty and it’s so self-centered as to be very nearly, well, mortal!

Plus, the rest of them are doing good, useful things for the world and the environment, and she’s disrupting the natural cycle of life, death, and decay.

Ani just thinks nothing should be wasted.

Nothing.

And who doesn’t love a good family reunion?  Even when Grandpa doesn’t have any skin anymore, he’s still Grandpa.  You should be happy to share yours with him.  He won’t give it back, but as long as he doesn’t take too much, you’ll grow more.  Probably.  Ani is thrilled to facilitate these reunions.

The best gift a god can give is a second (or third, or fourth) shot at life.  She’s always happy to make that happen when she has the chance.

Her sisters would like her to stop.  Almost everyone would like her to stop.

Ani is not intending to stop.  You can’t keep a dead horse down.

• • • • •

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:

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