Rhea – small god of reuse

[image description: A tiny big-eyed butterfly-like being with stained glass wings and a gadget-adorned metallic body sports a hat made from a discarded T-Rex toy, looking up hopefully. Behind and blow them, gears spin. Text reads, “Rhea small god of reuse, 221”]

• • • • •

Much like her sisters, Rhea and Rhea, Rhea believes, all the way to the bottom of the bones she may or may not have (being a god, and hence nebulous in form and physicality) that there’s no reason anything should be thrown carelessly away.  A shoe, too worn out to be worn, can become a clever pot for a small plant; a bra, past its use date, can be turned into lockpicks and wound covers and even shell fasteners for an injured turtle.  The world is full of reusable things!  And if we regift and reuse everything until it’s really and truly used up beyond discussion, we can recycle it then, when it’s finally finished.

She is the small god of upcycling and repair, of reuse and repurposing, and she knows what she wants, and what she wants is for you to use that milk jug as an irrigation system.  What she wants is for you to understand your possessions so completely that you can think of a hundred ways to use them.

What she wants is for you to respect the items that devote their lives to making your life better.

Sometimes her position overlaps those of her sisters, and that doesn’t bother any of them.  They know how to share.  An item which passes through all three sets of hands will be an item which is honored, cherished, and truly understood in its time, before it inevitably passes into the palaces of memory, where the gods of the inanimate will gather it close, respecting what it is, what it was, and what it never had the opportunity to be.

Rhea is a god of change and transformation, and she welcomes us as we chart new life paths, as we find new means of being entirely ourselves, as we discover our destinies down paths surprising or familiar.  She will help us to remake ourselves if that is what we desire.  She is always happy to help.  She just wants everything—and everyone—to be used to the very best possible effect.

She cares for the things she protects.  She will protect you too, if you allow her.

She will also hang a windchime made of forks from your porch rail while you’re not looking, but that’s a small enough thing.  That can probably be ignored.

• • • • •

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Rhea – small god of regifting

[image description: A wrinkled creature with large black eyes, multicolored wings, and a gigantic green hat wearing a blue robe-like garment stands amid a pile of wrapped presents. Text reads, “220 Rhea small god of regifting”]

• • • • •

Much like her sister, Rhea, Rhea believes, truly and completely, that there’s no reason to throw anything away. An object, given once with love, can be given twice; and by giving the same thing twice, you put more love and less waste into the world. She isn’t quite as hardline about things as her sister: “less” waste is not the same as “zero” waste, and bits of ribbon and wrapping will always be destined for the wastebin. Let other gods worry about those things. She’ll worry about making sure her followers understand the rules.

Because yes, regifting, when done under the auspices of Rhea, has rules. Every church comes with its commandments, after all.

There is no shame or crime in regifting something given. No one can read your mind. Sometimes even you can’t read your mind: how often have you yearned for something, begged for something, even bought it for yourself, only to discover that it wasn’t what you wanted after all? Keeping an uncluttered life sometimes requires pruning even the most beloved of objects, and giving someone an object they admire can be a gift in and of itself—a moment of true and radiant joy shared between two friends.

The first rule of regifting is: Remember where it came from. There is no shame in regifting…unless you try to give something back to its originator.

The second rule of regifting is: Hurt no feelings you can avoid. Some people do not care for antiques or used items. Some people will feel you love them less if the object you supply has ever been handled by another being outside the store. Those people may or may not be wrong, but if you are gifting them, consider their hearts before you make your choices.

The third, and most important rule of regifting is: Only regift things you would be happy to receive. Nothing damaged, nothing stained, nothing missing pieces. This is not a means of disposing of trash. It is a way of honoring the inanimate, moving it to a more suitable home than the one where it does not belong.

Rhea is, in some ways, a god of age. As we grow older, she grows closer, reminding us that a gift given now is not an object squabbled over in the will.

She cares for your possessions. She hopes that you will, too.

• • • • •

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Édouard de Rochambeau ~ The Small God of Bloodless Dispute Resolution

[image description: A friendly-looking character with short cropped black hair is shown in a classic oval frame. He makes scissor-hands while a Rock and a piece of Paper make faces outside the frame above him. Text reads, “132, Édouard de Rochambeau ~ The Small God of Bloodless Dispute Resolution”]

• • • • •

You don’t have to fight.  It’s okay.

Seriously.  Fighting isn’t going to make you serious, or a badass, or whatever you’ve decided it means to be a “real man”—and why are people still getting hung up on that, anyway?  You ever met anyone you think is a “real man”?  Is that the guy you dream about growing up to be?  Huh?

Yeah, yeah, kid, I know you’re a big scary adult.  But all you humans, you look like kids to me, because the ones of you that stay around the longest, you don’t manage a tenth of the time I’ve been here, and since you keep beating the ever-living crap outta each other down there, I don’t think I’m going anywhere any time soon, if you get what I mean.

And anyway, you humans get to keep growing up for your whole lives, and that’s pretty amazing.  Except for a few of the amphibious gods, we don’t manage that sort of thing.  The chance to grow up to be someone different tomorrow than you are today, now that’s divine.  Miracles are nothing compared to maturing.

I believe in you.

So yeah, we play games to settle scores.  We talk things out.  We roll dice and we negotiate and we argue and we do everything but fight, because you’re too good for that.  You got that?  You’re too good for that, you constantly growing, constantly changing little spark of eternity.  So c’mon.  Let’s dance it out, or if that’s not conclusive enough, we can play Scrabble to decide who’s right and who’s wrong.  Whatever makes you happy.  Whatever keeps you from bleeding on the street.

This is the way we do things, among the divine.  You don’t have to fight.

I promise, it’s okay.

• • • • •

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RHEA ~ small god of recycling

[image description: A tan, winged creature with large black eyes is frowning. She is made of paper bags and her hair, compost and trash. Text reads, “219, RHEA ~ small god of recycling”]

• • • • •

Rhea believes, truly and completely, that there’s no reason to throw anything away.  Everything can be recycled, reclaimed, turned into something new: a plastic bag can become a tire, a tire can become a road, a delicious dinner can become a compost heap can become a whole new garden.  Zero waste may or may not be something that can be accomplished, but she’s willing to give it the old divinity try, and with the powers of the universe behind her, she might well be able to get there.

If more people followed her, we would waste less.  We would save more.  We might make a better world for ourselves.

Sadly, her message, while a good one, is too easily twisted and misrepresented by people who want to turn it into a form of piousness, who want to claim that recycling, as an act of personal responsibility, can absolve them from the need to do things on a larger level.  They paint pretty lies in the language of sustainability, claiming that all things can be recycled so perfectly that they heal the world.  They say paper can always be remade, and say nothing of harsh chemicals needed to ease the process along.  They say all plastics can be reclaimed, and say nothing of the complications or the risks.

Rhea is looking forward to the day when she can recycle them, body and soul, into something of more use.  Or perhaps she’ll pass them to her sisters, for their own purposes.  Sharing is the one thing they all keep in common, after all, and she loves to share.

Next time you have a can or a bottle in your hand, think of Rhea.  Find the nearest recycling bin.  She, and the world, will thank you.

So will your children, and tomorrow. 

• • • • •

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The Small God NIMBY

[image description: A curiously curvy stands with one hand on hip and the other forward in the gesture of ’stop’! This pale and angry character has a curiously angled forehead and his left eye is a pinwheel of fury. He stands on well-tended bright green lawn under a bright blue sky with light fluffy clouds. A bright white picket fence separates him from the trees of a greenway in the background. Text (in a puffy comical font) reads, “218, The Small God NIMBY.”]

• • • • •

Everyone needs to live somewhere.  This isn’t a perspective, a point of view, or a radical idea: this is a fact.  If a person exists, they need to live somewhere, and no attribute or point of demographic data will make that any less true.  The rights of existence have long been the subject of greater minds than ours, but the needs of existence are clear and immutable.  People have to live somewhere.

Yes, agrees NIMBY, they do.  There is no denying that they do.  But not here.

They are not a god of empathy or consideration, of love or compassion.  They are a god of the status quo, a god of convenience for the small demographic sliver that believes itself to need a sheltered world that can be controlled from the inside, never subject in any way to outside forces.  Yes, it’s very sad that people are suffering, that people are hungry, that they need to go somewhere.

But not here.

They are not a malicious god, although they are a cruel one.  They simply don’t see the cruelty.  For NIMBY, someone else’s backyard will always suffice. Someone else’s purpose, someone else’s problem.  As long as they can keep pretending everything is perfect and unchanging, mired in a past that grows farther from the present with every passing year.

Everybody has to live somewhere.  Power plants and garbage dumps have to exist somewhere.  Everyone’s life will be better if that happens.

But not here.

• • • • •

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Stitch – Small God of Inexplicable Technical Glitches

[image description: A manic-looking bald man in a rust red shirt, black tie and diamond earring looks at the viewer with an open mouth, as if to say, ‘Ain’t I a stinker?’. In his left hand, the prongs of an (extension?) cord spark and glow. Text reads, “217, Stitch, Small God of Inexplicable Technical Glitches.”]

• • • • •

He has no church.  He has no congregation.  He has no followers nor faithful.  Even those who might seem most inclined to worship him—the bored, the destructive, the preschoolers—do not, for the glitches they cause are very explicable.  If you find your control panel covered in peanut butter when you have a toddler in the house, you can be pretty sure you know what happened.  The inexplicable, however, requires an absence of such easy explanation.

No.  He walks all but entirely unloved, and those who speak of him with any fondness speak in regards to fortuitous failures, ATMs dispensing extra funds and slot machines hitting unprogrammed jackpots.  The majority of his accomplishments are derided and degraded, unwanted by the people they impact.

Stitch doesn’t seem to care.

There are more than a few small gods who exist out of the collective belief that SOMEONE must be in charge of that thing nobody likes, and most of them are sorrowful figures, wandering through the world bereft of companionship, lonely and ashamed of their own existence.  Not Stitch.  He takes glee in his portfolio and his duties, and in the fact that he is a living contradiction.  If the glitch is inexplicable because of his presence, then the glitch is entirely explicable—Stitch did it.  No other answer can be asked or needed.

He is a bitter god.  He is a brutal god.  He is a limited god, but he is a deadly god: when the glitch is in your pacemaker or your automotive steering system, you may not survive your brush with him.  Stitch doesn’t seem to care about that, either.  He leaves a trail of destruction in his wake, and that has always been enough for him.

He’s not a very deep god.  But then, he doesn’t need to be.

• • • • •

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The Small God Saṃ Sāra

[image description: A Graceful Chameleon floats in space, holding onto his own curled tail and giving the viewer a thumbs up. the chart of the cosmos whirls behind. Text reads, “216, The Small God Saṃ Sāra.”]

• • • • •

Everything begins.  Everything ends.  Everything begins again.

This chronical began.  At times, during its progress, it has ended for a day, a week, an hour, while the scribes were otherwise occupied.  Then, as is inevitable, it began again.  When this iteration ends for good, some other hands will pick up the task of recording the small gods who keep and shape our world; some other eyes will find the art of capturing their likenesses.  So it is.  So it shall ever and always be.

And as all begins, ends, begins, Saṃ is there.  Watching.  Making sure the turns are smooth and seamless.  Keeping the wheel going around.

There are those who would argue, and not incorrectly, that Saṃ is not a small god: that Saṃ is, in fact, the largest god of all, being a god of all existence and thus largely outside our purview.  Saṃ doesn’t comment either way.  Saṃ does as Saṃ desires, and appears as Saṃ wishes to appear.

Saṃ is not a small lizard.  If it currently amuses Saṃ to appear as one, however, who are we to disagree?

We know our place.  We are in the space between the beginning and the end, while Saṃ is the beginning and the end, and all the space between.

We show our worship in our silences.

• • • • •

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FASTEDDIE – small god of CYBERPUNK

[image description: A punk with a reddish blond mohawk, wraparound shades, a pendant earring in the shape of silver wolf’s head, a tight choker, and a prison tattoo of a bat in a spider-web flexes his left arm, showcasing his mechanical wrist and fist. A full moon hangs low over the giant Zaibatsu HQ and lights the low fog beneath the bridge that runs horizontally through the scene. Text reads, “215, FASTEDDIE, small god of CYBERPUNK.”]

• • • • •

This is the technofuturistic hellscape he promised us.  We just didn’t want to listen.  We thought we could have the neon and the chrome and the aesthetic, and still keep having those fragile, communally agreed-upon things we like to convince ourselves are inalienable human rights, as if the state of being human somehow made us immune to the abuses of the world at large and our kind at small.  We thought we could have the flash and the cash without the burn and the slash, and that’s on us, that’s on us all the way to the biomechanical bone, because Fast Eddie never lied to us.

Fast Eddie said “hey see this shiny chrome shell, it’s here to cover up the rotting flesh and putrefying soul beneath,” and we heard, “look how cool this is, look how stylish, look how easy it would be to hide your sins beneath a gleaming mirror, reflecting your critics back upon themselves.”  Fast Eddie said, “look how the race to commodify and exploit everything will inevitably erode our souls and make us numb to the tears of those around us, making us the architects of our own dehumanization,” and we heard “money good, power better, neon best.”

It isn’t Eddie’s fault that we, by and large, refused to listen.

He told us a cautionary tale, and he forgot that humans will always be attracted to that which sparkles and shines.  He promised us a future.  He just didn’t promise, if we followed him, that it would be a good one.

Lu Topia offered us something better, but we told her she was “childish” and “outdated” and “boring,” and now look where we are.  When the sky’s on fire and ocean’s gone, at least we can say that we looked cool from the cradle to the grave.

At least we can say that Eddie was proud of us.

• • • • •

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Mattie Trumbull – the Small God of Practical Effects

[image description: A ghostly woman floats above the stage amid a swirl of dry ice. She holds a big vase of tulips in her right hand. Because the background consists of tall vertical windows, the wires are more difficult to see. Text reads, “214, Mattie Trumbull, the Small God of Practical Effects.”]

• • • • •

CGI isn’t easy.  Telling a computer to paint a picture, designing every aspect and angle of that image, and spinning it in a three-dimensional space until it becomes as close to indistinguishable from reality as the technology currently allows, that’s hard.  That’s a task fit for a god.

That’s not the god we’re talking about today.

From the beginning, humans have been telling stories.  That’s how we got gods in the first place.  And from that beginning the storytellers have been looking for ways to transport their audiences more completely into the tales they tell.  A stick, brandished in the right light, becomes a sword; a handful of ground quartz, blown into the air, a gust of magical wind.  The special effect followed the story by only a matter of sentences, human ingenuity finding more and better methods of holding an audience.

From this innovation, Mattie arose, models and puppets and Pepper’s ghosts held in her open hands, intricate costumes and distorting makeup in her dressing room.  She was everything and nothing, and ready to make the storytellers the same.

As time passed, her portfolio thrived.  She welcomed new technologies, mechanical monsters, animatronics and perfect replicas of things that never were.  Jim Henson was one of hers from the cradle to the grave, as was Millicent Patrick, as have been so many puppeteers and circus workers, carnies without number, LARPers and theatrical productions.  She thrived, and so did the stories in her care, uplifted to new and greater heights by her art and the art of her adherents.

Then came the rise of CGI.  Cheaper, faster, easier to pivot on a dime.  (All of these statements are lies, when you speak to the people behind the computers, many of whom still worship at Mattie’s altar when the lights are low: there are always costs.)  Even franchises which had always belonged to her began to shift their allegiance, turning from the puppet to the pixel.

But Mattie, whose effortlessly practical makeup has always left her age open to interpretation, is a patient god.  Patience is not often the province of the divine, and yet in her case, it serves her well indeed.  For as CGI ages quickly, becoming obsolete, an animatronic dinosaur sculpted thirty years ago looks as alive today as it did the moment it first opened its great mechanical jaws and roared.

When the age of CGI is ended, when storytellers once more sit around the fire and tell their audiences tales of movies their grandparents saw, they won’t reach for supercomputers and technologies they don’t understand.  They’ll reach for sticks and handfuls of quartz.

And Mattie, patient Mattie, will be there.

• • • • •

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Aly Thesaurus – small god of Heavy Reading

[image description: The room is lit with violet light, but by the fire, where Aly sits – in a comfy chair, feet up on a soft footstool – orange light spills out. To Aly’s side, a small table with curved legs supports a shallow bowl of nuts. and its tabletop, the remains of broken shells. The room is cozy and well-appointed, its mantle supports glassware and photos. More photos line the walls, and the tall bookcase behind Aly is inscribed with the words ‘ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS’ across its top. Text reads, “213, Aly Thesaurus, small god of Heavy Reading.”]

• • • • •

Some stories are sweet and easily swallowed, candy for the mind.  There is nothing wrong with candy, consumed in moderation; all things are fuel for the eager brain, for the lofty thoughts of dreamers.  We need our chocolate-coated happy endings, our spun-sugar fables, to give us the energy to work through an often dismal and dismaying world.  We need the light to get us through the times when we can’t quite lift the heavy.

But when that hunger has been properly satiated, there is Aly, waiting patiently as ever, a book dense as flourless chocolate cake in his hands, offering it over to you like the gift that it is.

Aly’s treasures do not always need to be long: a fantasy doorstop, heavy enough to serve as a murder weapon, can still be light reading if written in the correct voice, penned by the correct hand.  A novella, slim as a sigh, can be pressed lead, words tumbling over words, so thick with poetic imagery and complicated vocabulary that it takes a week to puzzle through.  He doesn’t care.  As long as the work is challenging—as long as it’s heavy—he’s at home.

Not everyone loves Aly.  Some people call him pretentious, claim he discriminates against slow readers, say he’s the reason they fell out of love with literature.  He sighs at the first, mourns the second, disagrees with the third.  If someone chooses the work they read according to their mind’s needs in the moment, nothing can steal their love of literature away.  He doesn’t discriminate against the slow readers; some of his dearest advocates are people who can take a full year to consume a single story.  If people feel he stole their love of reading, it wasn’t him, it was people who claimed to speak for him, who tried to insist that only “heavy” works were true literature, that stories sketched quickly in gossamer sheeting were not worth their time.

He just wants everyone to read.  He would prefer that everyone read things to challenge and inspire them, but if he can’t have that, he just wants you reading.

All the better if you need a dictionary close to hand.

• • • • •

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