Lady Mondegreen – small god of mis-heard lyrics

[image description: Medieval portrait of a black-haired woman in green robes with gold embroidery and a red wax seal at her breast stands with her hands clasped. Behind her, a blotter-green field calligraphed with ancient gold words too faint and jumbled to be understood, save for the number 256. Text reads, “Lady Mondegreen small god of mis-heard lyrics”]

• • • • •

Oh, she’s a tricky one, that Lady Mondegreen.

She’ll tell you she’s a tuxedo.  She’ll tell you there’s a bathroom on the right.  She’ll burn the trees off every lawn, and she knows the rumor in the night.  She changes the meaning—she’s not the god of eggcorns, after all—but she doesn’t do it maliciously, and she was born within her own domain.

For once there was a man, the bonny Earl of Moray, and another believed that he conspired against the king.  To prove himself, that other conspired against the earl, until one day he killed him, ran him through and laid him on the green.  And as a king is the land, he bled into the soil, until it welcomed him home, until it loved him like a lady.

Until a girl named Sylvia Wright heard that they had slain the Earl of Moray, and the Lady Mondegreen.  She carried the lady in her heart her whole life, refusing to hear talk of other lyrics, of less romantic ends, and she spoke of her often, she spread her gospel until all misheard lyrics whose meanings changed became the domain of the Lady Mondegreen.  Her rule stretches further than the earl’s does, in this modern world; she is brighter, and better remembered.

She may not always be understood, but she is always bright, and beautiful, and beloved.  She’s very old, but her current form is very new, spoke for less than a hundred years.

Long may she rain, and wrong may she reign.


[image description: A bas relief portrait on copper of a black woman with piercing dark eyes between thick lashes. Her expression is intense, if not actually confrontational. Her the silhouette of her hair is an almost perfect circle until it reaches her neck, whereupon it falls into the Vee shape of her collar like the bottom of a heart. The curved copper lines to either side of her face descend such that they seem to join her squared-off collar. Text reads, “255, ZONA, SMALL GOD OF ART DECO.”]

• • • • •

She is angles and she is elegance; she is truly international, and now, more than a hundred years after her birth, she is timeless.  It takes a miracle for an architectural style to become timeless, but she’s managed it, and now she’s not going anywhere.  Streamline Moderne?  What’s that?  Did that style of architecture inspire a god?  No?  Then get out with your belief that she’s anything other than effortlessly modern and without peer.

She doesn’t need peers.  She only needs a stage, a moment in the limelight, the sweeping arch of her design and the elegance of her angles.  Her sister embraced the lushness of the natural world in all its twists and tangles; she loves the mathematical, the long, graceful line and the perfection of the curve.  She needs nothing more.

Art deco will never die.  Zona will see to it.

Elisabeth deVigne – the small god of Art Nouveau

[image description: The metal bas relief in a gilt frame. The face of a regal dark-skinned woman. Her deep green patinaed hair holds the suggestion of flowers and her translucent tiara might be the wings of insects. Text reads, “Elisabeth deVigne the small god of Art Nouveau, 254.”]

• • • • •

She moves in natural, naturally, and in architecture, cultivated and constructed, a design of such towering beauty that none who look upon her can find the will to look easily away.  She is a timeless god, for all that the thing she represents had its time, its shining moment at the center of the stage.  But when that moment passed, the art it had inspired remained, in lush curves and glorious asymmetry.

She is a god of open spaces and irregular lines, a sense of motion caught in spiraling shapes, beautiful and perfect.  Her most faithful live beautiful lives.  She can’t offer them much more than that, but beauty she provides in plenty, and it feeds them, body and soul, as little else could have done.

She knows she’s lucky.  Most gods of artistic movements fade much more quickly than she has, and while her time might end tomorrow, she will fade knowing she was grand for much longer than anyone expected.

She was perfection, in her day.

She still is, now.

GÜNTHER GHERKIN – small god of Pickles

[image description: A faded art nouveau poster with difficult-to-read type showing the portrait of a mustachioed man with a very full beard made of pickles. His eyebrows and hair are green, and he wears a little small top hat with a pickle on (for?) its band. Text reads “GÜNTHER GHERKIN small god of Pickles 237”]

• • • • •

He’s not a joke god.

People sometimes assume he must be a joke, because they think pickles are funny, and don’t understand the complex history of food preservation and keeping people alive through the long winters; they don’t see how essential pickles and pickling were to proper nutrition, to babies seeing the spring still hale and hearty, to mothers who lived.  They don’t know.

He knows.  That’s enough.

His faithful also know.  They may not have been there when the brine was bottled, when the rules were written, but they’ve read the holy scriptures, the cookbooks and instruction manuals, and they understand what he is to them, and what they are to him.  They keep his practices.  They remember his traditions.  And they pickle, and they pickle, and endure.

Always, they endure.

EVA • small god of FEMMES FATALE

[Image description: A portrait in blood red. The figure of a woman rises over a silhouetted cityscape – a white dress, a smoking gun and bright red lipstick. Her pupils bright red under a wide-brimmed hat. Red flames rise from the black city and her brief reflection lights the docks and barges in the river below. Text reads “252 • EVA • small god of FEMMES FATALE.”]

• • • • •

She walked into my theology like a queen walks into a throne room, or like a knife slides into a wound; making her own space even as she was stepping into it, absolutely certain that the world would yield before her, and she swung that certainty like a sword, guaranteeing her own ascension.  She leaned up against my desk, all red lips and dangerous curves and legs that went all the way up to the promised land, and she whispered, “You’ll be fair, won’t you?”

I think I promised that I’d do my best, and I think she laughed that husky, whiskey river laugh of hers, and said, “That’ll do, doll, that’ll do.”

And then she was gone, and I was here, anchorite in her scriptorium, trying to write out the lives and lessons of all the small gods without getting myself condemned by any one of them, and Eva’s kiss was burning on my brow, and I had a tale to tell.

Sometimes a girl gets tired of nocturnal visits from unspeakable powers.

She’s not just a god of women, although most of her followers are female: she’s the god of a space inside the story, a specific role to be fulfilled.  Her people are mysterious, beautiful, seductive, alluring; they lay traps, planting poisoned seeds throughout the soil of their narratives.  They enchant and enthrall with a look, a kiss, the scent of their perfume.  And all too often, their redemption comes in the form of dying to save the hero, the poor sap who followed them into danger to begin with.

Eva comes for the femmes fatale who choose that role, who select their lipsticks with their heads high and their hearts proud, and she comes for the ones who don’t, the ones who blossom beautifully but without understanding it, the ones who would rather be overlooked and left alone.  She understands that beauty can be just as painful to carry as ugliness, when heaped in too much towering profusion, and she weeps for them, the ones who’ll never know a moment’s peace, the ones who will always be called upon to play the role of instigator in someone else’s story.

Eva loves the ones who call on her, and she smiles with her metaphors painted plainly on her face, and she tries to keep them safe.

She almost never succeeds, but oh, how she tries.

Naja – the small god of Getting Out

[image description: A bride walks out of an old, dark and threatening home into a beautiful autumn day. She leaves behind a bilious green space inhabited by threatening shadows and fiery red light pouring through stained glass. She leaves a bouquet of flowers on the floor behind her. Text reads, “251, Naja, the small god of Getting Out”]

• • • • •

People want things.

They want things that are good for them and things that are bad for them, and most of all, they want the things they’re told to want by the people they trust and believe in, the things that seem like such a good idea from any sort of a distance.  They want what they’re told to want, until the moment they don’t want them anymore.

When that moment arrives, Naja is there, one hand extended, no judgment in her heart.  She knows that not every faith is a fit for every heart, and that sometimes even the things we truly believe will be with us forever—our names, our families, our genders—are the right things for us to carry.  She knows we need the chance to change, and she knows that sometimes what we need more than anything else is an exit.

If you go back far enough in the annals of her faithful, you’ll find that once, she wasn’t Naja, Small God of Getting Out.  She was Naja, Small God of Marriage and Eternal Loyalty.  The day she broke and ran was a small war in the heavens, lightning and thunder.  The clouds wept saltwater for a week, and she took shelter with the gods she trusted until her black eye faded into memory and the cast came off her arm.

She knows, better than most, that sometimes the only true act of faith is getting out, and believing that you can survive without the things you were told you had to want forever.

She believes in you, and she believes in me, and she’ll be there when we need her.

She always is.

黄金の目 – small god of WABI-SABI

[image description: A being stands in front of a shimmering golden pool in an asymmetrical black, red, and gold robe. Her left arm sports a tracery of delicate tattoos, and her torso seem scriss-crossed with fine lines. Are they cracks? her fingernails are gold and black, as is the asymmetrical mask she wears. Her eyes are pools of gold. Text reads, “250, 黄金の目, small god of WABI-SABI”]

• • • • •

Nothing lasts forever.

Not you. Not me. Not the divine. Not this sentence. All things are born only to die one day; all things begin so that they can come to an end.

Wabi Sabi celebrates the period between that end and that beginning. Not the perfect finished product; the missed starts, the imperfect prototypes. The lumpy apples and the irregular cobblestones. And Wabi celebrates the changes brought on by time and entropy, the patina on metal, the way stone can discolor, the shift in fabric from stiff to soft or from soft to stiff. Wabi understands, more than anyone else in the heavens or on Earth, that we are all of us only here to go.

But at the same time, Wabi is not a god of entropy. Wabi celebrates beauty and serenity, the appreciation of the unappreciated, and the love of the unloved. Wabi is a god of beauty and of love, of learning to breathe more deeply when time is running out, to look around and savor the moments that never stay, the beauties that never endure exactly as they are, but change and transform, becoming something unique, becoming something more.

Wabi loves you, whether or not that love is welcome. Wabi always has.

Wabi always will.

Kirra – the Small God of Dietary Restrictions

[image description: A koala bear with a fuzzy nose looks holds a banana they cannot eat (the art style is cut paper and muppety fabric). Text reads, “Kirra the Small God of Dietary Restrictions 249”]

“Hey, are you really gonna eat that?”

“You know, your body needs nutrients. That doesn’t have any real nutrients in it. You should eat something that’s better for you.”

“You eat like a child.”

“You eat like a senior citizen.”

“Do you actually EAT?”

Oh, she’s heard them all. From the shame to the blame to the food’s not a game, people whose diets have never been complicated have so much to say about the way other people eat.

She’s a versatile god. She’s not just here for the people whose diets are restricted by physical medical needs. She’s here for the ones who can’t stand certain tastes or textures, who gag when they think about putting something off their very narrow lists into their mouth, for whom common foodstuffs sometimes register to the brain as “not food.” She’s here for the picky eaters and the voluntary restrictors, the ones who refuse certain things because they don’t feel right, or they don’t like the way their bodies react to those inputs.

She is not a god of disordered eating, but she shares some of her faithful with that god, whose name she will not speak, for to name him is to invoke him: some of hers come to her by way of him, their relationships with food shattered and thrown into disarray, their stomachs empty, their mouths full of rumors and lies. She does what she can to help her devotees find a healthy relationship with food that is healthy for them, and ways to answer the endless criticism of a world that doesn’t want to accept that nutrition is never one size fits all.

She does want people to drink more water, though.

There are very few diets not improved by drinking more water.

Zephyr – the small god of a cool breeze at the perfect moment

[image description: The profile of a faint smiling face forms briefly and a blue and orange-tinged Maxfield Parrish evening sky. Text reads, “248, Zephyr, the small god of a cool breeze at the perfect moment.”]

• • • • •

Most gods of wind and weather are very large. Overwhelming, even. They’re bombastic events that can fill a room with their glory, drowning out everything around them in with the sheer spectacle of their presence.

Not Zephyr.

Zephyr is very young, as a wind god goes, and very small, although these things are not necessarily connected; she has yet to give any indication that she might desire to grow larger, might one day wish to swell into a storm. She does not blow to crack her cheeks or freeze the world. She is the caressing hand at the back of your neck after a day has been long and hard. She is the breeze that knocks inspiration’s apple from the tree, that stirs the precise sheet of paper that tells the author how their tale unspools.

She is the gentle hand of spring against the cheek of a frightened child, and the cooling promise of fall in the sweltering heat of summer, and she loves us, loves us all, as only a still, small breeze is capable of loving.

When people ask her purpose or her portfolio, she only laughs, and blows herself away, for she sees no need in explaining to those who will not see. Zephyr is a god of wind, yes.

She is also a god of hope.

• • • • •

Please join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities:






[image description: A banjo player on a rooftop against an aged-looking copper green sky.. Well, not a human player exactly. And not a banjo. a robot with an instrument that’s got no strings over its clock-dial body. Both have a glowing ‘eye’ (as does the robot’s… heart?).  Text reads, “HALLE 9000 • SMALL GOD OF AUTOTUNE”]

• • • • •

Sing. Sing a song. Sing out loud, sing out long, and if you can’t sing that song in any note the world would recognize, that’s all right, because Halle is there for you. Halle is a very new god, recently born from the tumbling chaos behind the veneer of sweet melody that is the cosmos. Halle depends on a very specific technology that, now that it exists, is likely to continue existing for the remainder of human history, or at least until some sort of crisis drops us all back into prehistory, where the stories told around the fire will include a time when every singer had the voice of an angel, and no melody was too complicated to be carried on the wind.

One day, perhaps, Halle will be the small god of voice manipulation as a whole, may even take the entire category of deep fakes and sounding like someone you’re not. But here and now, today, Halle is the small god of autotune, taking your songs and turning them into something that’s been deemed sweet by the ear of a listener, something marketable, something that can be passed along and profited from.

Is Halle a good god? We don’t really know.

Is Halle a god made for human abuses?

Of that, we are absolutely sure.

• • • • •

Please join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many tiny divinities: