Confoundula ~ The Small God of Overwrought and Underthought Remotes

[image description: A complicated TV/DVD/BluRay/et al. remote control. In addition to its 42 buttons (in all shapes and sizes), it features devil-horns, a long twisted tail that ends in a point, a wicked smile, a pointy mustache, and a look of excitement in its UP and DOWN arrow eyes. In the background something (a forest? a movie set? The whole world?) burns. Text reads, “138, Confoundula ~ The Small God of Overwrought and Underthought Remotes”]

Riddles have always been used to protect places of great wisdom.  Solve a puzzle to access the wizard’s library; navigate a labyrinth to enter the chamber of secrets.  There must be stumbling blocks in the path to wonder, or will the wonder feel truly earned?

Stumbling blocks didn’t always come with so many buttons.

Confoundula grows in strength and power every time a parent whose teenager set up their new television remote throws it across the room and screams frustration, increases in petty glory every time a child weeps because they can’t make the television play Paw Patrol, every time the button mashing becomes a blood sport.  Why does this remote need a live translation button for Martian when it can’t even manage subtitles in Spanish?

Why, if not to make the world cry out the name Confoundula, who was once a god serving the treasure keepers of kings, protecting their dearest treasures, and now protects nothing more than HBO streaming and the parental controls?

It’s possible he has some aggression to work out, and that the human race has become his unwitting therapeutic partner.

It’s also possible that if you just removed his batteries and read a damn book, he would have no power over you.

It’s hard to say, really.


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.

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Barbarigo ~ The Small God of Things Man Was not Meant to Know

[image description: A woman wears 18th Century dress accented with two huge pearl necklaces, pearl earrings, and a rakishly tilted tricorn hat. She sits at a round inlaid table. Behind her velvet curtains part to reveal Venice’s Grand Canal. She sits amid smoke and holds a burning tarot card over a table that shows 6 others in the light of a single candle.  Text reads, “136, Barbarigo ~ The Small God of Things Man Was not Meant to Know.”]

Hey, kid.  Sit on down and draw a card.

No, I don’t care how old you are.  Why would I care about—ah.  No, you’re still a kid to me.  All humans are kids to me.  Even the ones who’ve sold essential slices of their humanity to gods of time and foolish secrets in order to live forever are so much younger than I am that there’s really no difference between the very oldest and the very youngest of you.  You’re temporary.  You’re transitory.  You were born at the start of this conversation and you’ll die before it’s over, and that sucks, but it’s just the way things have to go.

Oh, don’t look at me like that.  I didn’t make the rules.  None of the small gods did.  You want rules, you need the big gods.  They set the terms of reality, they decide how things are going to work, and we just do the best we can with the scraps.  They’re the building managers.  We’re the third floor janitorial staff, and we’re doing the best we can.

You going to pull a card or not?

So what does it mean for something to be a thing man was not meant to know?  It means that if you knew it, you wouldn’t be able to keep on being a human the way you’re supposed to be.  Maybe you want to know exactly when you’re going to die, or when everyone around you is.  Great.  But if you can’t change it, does that make you fearless or paranoid?  And is that fearlessness even human?  Maybe you want to know the truth of the matter, always, no matter what.  Look how well that worked out for Cassandra.  Truth without proof is just another form of propaganda, and it doesn’t make anyone a better person.

The universe needs secrets and uncertainties and unwritten futures to function smoothly, and humans need a smoothly functioning universe to be human.  So I keep the things you need kept away from you locked behind walls, and when you come asking around, I remind you that you’re temporary, and make sure the cards do the rest.

Later, kid.  No, don’t get up.  You’ll just hurt yourself if you try.

Thanks for playing.


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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Madiel ~ Small God of Smoke

[image description: A figure with side-parted blond hair and a leather jacket sneers with a lit cigarette in their less-than-perfect teeth. The sickly green smoke matches their light eyes. Text reads, “135, Madiel ~ Small God of Smoke”]

Yes, it’s a filthy habit.  Good luck finding one of his followers in this modern world who isn’t aware of that.  We know that shame doesn’t work to change any other human behavior, but we assume those who crave the calming drag of smoke into their throat and lungs will be somehow susceptible, as if they, like any other house on fire, yearn to be extinguished.  Some do.  Many don’t.

Madiel is not kind to his followers.  He calms them, yes.  He quells their appetites.  And all he demands for these great gifts is the yellowing of their teeth and the aging of their skin, the sweetness of their breath and the lushness of their hair.  When they come to him knowing the exchanges on the table, he has no regrets for what he takes for them: it is the way of the universe, after all, that nothing should be had for nothing, and he is a god.   Why should he be the one to pay, when his followers are so very, brutally willing to do it for him?

Madiel is not kind to his followers, and yet he loves them all, from the knowing to the unwary, the ones who have been convinced by gods of propaganda and peer pressure to come to him with their hearts in their hands, ready to pay anything for a drag and a light and a moment of release.

Those gods, he hates.  If only the willing came to him, then the toll that he exacts would be so much more fair, and so much less likely to exact the fury of the other gods.  But so many are tricked into his arms, and while he will welcome them and make them feel at home, he would rather not have had them to begin with.

But shame is not, and was never the answer.


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:

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Sam O’Var ~ Small God of Tea Time Machines

[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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Nightfall – The Small God of World Domination

[image description: A stylized 50’s style illustration of a black cat with huge golden eyes sitting atop the world in a bubble-helmet. Teeny flying saucers float in the starry purple space background. Text reads, “133, Nightfall ~ The Small God of World Domination”]

We’re not sure what the cats were thinking when they domesticated humans.  Oh, sure, primates are useful, with their clever little primate hands that can do useful primate things, like building warm houses to keep the rain out, and making factories to produce cat toys, and opening cans of tuna.  Tuna.  That alone justifies keeping at least half the species around.

The other half, though…cat-kickers.  Dog-lovers.  All-around bastards who don’t think anything of tying their own children in a sack and throwing them in the river, much less ours.  So why do we have them?  Couldn’t our ancestors have done a better job of cultivating their servant species?  You’d think they would have tried harder to make a better future for us.  You’d think they would have cared.

At least our gods are amazing.  Perfect in every conceivable way, really.  Sleek of fur and swift of claw and sharp and bright of eye.  They’ll stalk and kill the gods of the lesser, until the heavens belong entirely to them.  The hells, too.  Anything you can imagine, they’ll have it for their own, and they’ll share it with us, for we have been faithful, for we are forever beloved.

And the greatest of them all is Nightfall, in whose shining green eyes is reflected the future, in whose sleek black sides we can see our absolute dominion over all.  She will guide us to the promised land of catnip and chicken, where every lap is open and every hand is kind.

Oh, oh, you dear sweet kitten.  We told you she was the small god of world domination.

We never said that it was going to be this one.

Let the poor, half-domesticated humans keep the world they’ve spoilt.  We’ll have a better one for our own, and we’ll never look back again.

Meow.


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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Simon, The Small God of Hairdos

[image description: A blue-eyed blonde in a scoop-neck black shirt, leather jacket, and blue tiger-eye necklace on a silver chain stands in front of a chart of classic hair/wig styles – many of which are named ‘Bob’. Text reads, “131, Simon ~ The Small God of Hairdos”]

​She will help you find your better self.

​Beauty is only skin deep, but hair is a form of art, and she is Michelangelo, she is DaVinci and O’Keefe and Franzetta.  She sits at the intersection of sculpture and painting and fabric art, spinning her transitory wonders, and as long as you think you look perfect, she knows that you are.  She knows that for all of us, looking into the mirror and seeing what we expect to see can be the most powerful sacrament in a universe filled with benedictions.

​She is in the bleach and the blow-dry, in the shampoo and the set, and she attends most open-casket funerals, to make sure that even on our way out of this world and into the next, we aren’t ashamed to be seen.  All she asks is that we find a way to be ourselves, that we breathe in deep of the setting chemicals and the salon air, sweet with chemical processes and bright with overhead lighting, and consider who we most desire to be.

​Hair is forever transitory.  Hair can change, and no style is inherently forever.  So wear it the way that makes you happiest, and know that you do so with Simon’s blessing.  She has changed before.  She will change again.  To live is to change, in ways both large and small.  Hair keeps growing, no matter how perfectly it may be styled in the moment, and she wants you to grow.  Even if you grow away from her, she wants you to grow.

​She takes coffee with Tesla Jefferson at least twice a week.  She spends her evenings looking over swatches with Polly Chrome.  And she is happy.  Never let anyone tell you otherwise.  Simon is a happy god, and she wants that same joy for you, whatever it costs.

​Whatever it takes.

Just trust your stylist.

………………….

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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Aestha Titian, Small God of Graven Images

[image description: A serious Black woman in a crimson cape (over a white shirt, crimson skirt, dark grey jacket, and red tie) holds the gold image-border in her left hand, and gestures over her shoulder with her right. Visible behind her, sculptures of ’No Escape’ Claus, Splunge, Elvis Parsley, Über Allium, Eschercargo, Galloping Gertie, Hedjet, and Beyoncé. Text reads, “130, Aestha Titian ~ Small God of Graven Images”]

Some people say that she shouldn’t be a god at all.

Some people say that she’s a demigod at best, and much more probably a muse of some sort, divine, yes, but not worthy of the admirations of godhood.

Aestha knows better.  She inspires nothing.  Her gifts are more prosaic ones.  Her faithful are by nature polytheistic: they go to other gods for inspiration, dally with demigods, marry muses.  They find their creations in other hands, and then they come to her with heads full of images and hands full of needing, and no idea how to put the two together.

She is a historian, of sorts, for in her name, sculptors call forth deities, pin them down in substance so that they may be seen and understood and yes, remembered.  Her hand guides the brush of our faithful illuminator, allowing him to set the images of her fellows—and even herself—down in line and color.  She stands with sculptors, shapes the clay of potters, even guides the needles in the hands of felt artists.  As long as the end result is an image of one of her kin and kind, her hand is there, and her need for worship is appeased.

Among all the gods of the arts, she is one of the least known, and the least appreciated.  The artist provides the talent and skill: neither of them come from her.  The gods themselves provide the inspiration: that is not her doing.  What she brings is the motivation to combine the two in the correct order, the ability to stand the completed work before the world and say “look, see?  This is my creation, behold.”

We are reasonably sure that our illuminator is her most loyal follower remaining in the modern world, outside of the eight dozen people doing illustrated retellings of Hades of Persephone.  But those are large gods, and large gods have less need of loyalty than the smaller kind.

The gods love her.  Her faithful loves her.  And for her, focused as she is upon the next statue for her garden, that has always been enough.

Medusa does not love her.

But that is a story for another scripture.


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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

No-Escape Claus, Small God of the Polar Vortex

[image description: A polar bear rides atop a whirling snow-filled whirlwind. Text reads, “129, ’No-Escape’ Claus, Small God of the Polar Vortex”]                 

Why are there so many divine polar bears?

I mean, really, that seems like the sort of question we ought to be asking.  After all, these hypercarnivorous predators (a real thing—when a creature eats 70% or more animal protein, it’s considered hypercarnivorous rather than just the normal level of carnivorous, and see if that helps you sleep at night) can run up to twenty-five miles per hour, and have a bite force of 1,200 pounds per square inch.  The human skull can be crushed by as little as 520 pounds per square inch.  So it would make sense for humans to fear polar bears, not to deify them.  And yet they keep showing up again and again, predators of the pantheon, stalking their prey from one side of the celestial line to the other.

Which is, quite frankly, bullshit.  We don’t need this many super-predators running around with divine powers!  It’s unsafe, and probably bad for some kind of heavenly ecosystem!  I don’t know!  I’m just the historian!  I’m just—

Right, sir.  Of course, sir.  Please don’t eat me, sir.

No Escape Claus is not as new a god as he might seem, having once driven ice ages across the world, devouring microclimes and driving entire species to extinction.  He grows in power once again, thanks to Anthropocene climate change and the furious ghosts of thousands of slaughtered polar bears hungry for revenge.  They come to take back what was always theirs, what should never have been taken away, and they have little mercy in their hearts.

When a cold wind blows out of season, remember that we put the guns into the hands of poachers, we put the lie of manifest destiny into the hearts of explorers, and we loosed them upon a world that had been doing perfectly fine before they came along.

The phantom polar bears come only to reclaim what’s theirs.

And they have the backing of a god.


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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smallgodseries/

Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Eva Distraction – Small God of Hiding Behind Glasses

[image description: A thin green-shaded figure stands in a black tee shirt and jeans, adjusting their big round black-rimmed, rose-colored eyeglasses with their right hand (showing their painted red nails). Behind them, a stand of roseate deciduous trees. Text reads, “128, Eva Distraction ~ Small God of Hiding Behind Glasses”]

People assume that Eva is shy.  Eva isn’t shy.  Eva just wants to see the world without distortions or distractions.  When glasses get dirty, they can be wiped clean.  Eyes are more difficult.  Smudges on the eye tend to linger, tend to harden into schema and stereotype, and Eva doesn’t have time for that sort of bullshit.  Ze has places to go, things to do, and very little patience for the assumed.

Ze sees the world clearly, from behind a comfortable screen of shaped and polished glass, and ze likes it that way.

Eva stands with the shy, the ones who need something to hide behind in the literal sense, the faithful who desire to be obscured, to disappear, to be seen as an accessory and not as an entire person in their own right. Ze will help them vanish as much as they need to, and when zir works are not enough to make that possible, ze will try to find another way.  Eva is nothing if not forever merciful.

Eva stands with the smug, the ones who seek to cultivate an air of mystery or superiority, whether they watch the world from behind corrective lenses or on the other side of a screen of artificial darkness, and if they sometimes look a little smug, a little silly, well, Eva does zir best not to judge them.  Mortality is complicated in ways divinity will never be, and ze understands that the temporary may need to feel superior to their fellows from time to time.  They’ll find out soon enough that reality looks like with the screens stripped away, and then they can try to cope with the sight of it without their glasses.  Eva will shelter them until that day comes.

Ze cares for all zir faithful, and when they lose their glasses, ze is there with a prayer to St. Velma that their vision may clear and their shields be restored while there’s still time.

Time is always shorter than it seems.


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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

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Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/

Mirabella – small god of Vitiligo

[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:

Tumblr: https://smallgodseries.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/smallgodseries

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smallgodseries/

Homepage: http://www.smallgodseries.com/