The All-Mother

The All-Mother takes many forms as she wanders the world she has made, and in each form she takes a lover. She cannot return to Heaven with the anchor of their lovemaking inside her, but she is in no hurry. She knows every corner of the golden realm; there are few surprises there.

All her daughters are heroes. What else could they be? If she is tied to earth, they are dragged toward heaven, and so are strange, and clever, and mighty. To look upon them in their glory is painful. They are not lucky in love, alas: like their mother, marriage is not made for them.

(The All-Mother has but one son, and he the least of all, the little-loved Paul-god.)

Favorite of all her children is the Bear-god, golden, laughing, and beautiful like her father. The All-Mother does not spend time, but for a while they travel together, and many stories are told of that time. How the Bear-god found the All-Mother caged in mortal flesh and tore her free with yellow teeth. How the All-Mother led her daughter into the waste places and taught her there fury and theory in equal measure. How they battled the 700 pound Great Salmon of the Southern River in a battle that lasted four weeks and five days, until the pounding of the Salish Falls stripped the fur from the Bear-god’s back.

(A mighty forest took root where each hair found purchase; you can see it to this day if you go far enough west, beyond the Great Salt Desert and the memory of cities.)

Name of a Name

What you gone do when I appear?
W-when I premier?
Bitch the end of your life are near
This shit been mine, mine

~Azealia Banks

The ancient, pagan gods have been brought to heel, and they do not like it.

“Let us go,” thunders Zeus, thunders Odin, thunders Anu. “Benighted child!”

“Pffft,” says Bradamante, “no way. By David and by Solomon, I conjure thee. By Christ the Son and God the Father, I impel thee. By Mary Who Believed and Thomas Who Doubted, I command thee. Kneel!”

“Aieeee!” they wail, gods of sky and sun, of love and thievery, of war and witchcraft. Kings and queen, children and lovers, they kneel and their mouths are filled with dust and bile. “Command us, o favored of God!”

Bradamante laughs and laughs. “Build me a palace of sugar and of gold. Bring me a stable of mares from the depths of the sea. Fetch me the golden ring from the top of the moon. Do me a thousand impossible things, powerful gods of old, and break in your stubborn pride.”

Gamayun and Minerva, Thoth and Enki bow and depart, smiling, while their fathers and mothers rage. They cry vengeance and long memory in the language of the birds, but meanwhile the disregarded Paul-god bides his time. “Not yet,” he promises in his colorless way, “but not never, either.”

The Goose God

Each feather might as well be a sword against the night. Its feet, black, black and webbed, cover an acre or more. Seven heads, atop seven sinewy necks, eyes turned in every direction.

Each head stands for, stands in for, prefigures or recalls something, some bit of anserine lore.

Head the first; the oldest head. In the first flight; always in the lead. The skein rests upon its broad back, those wings big as churches. Second head, red and sharp, blooded in battle. Bones shatter, skin breaks; we are sailing off to war. Third, for watchfulness. An eye in every direction; half eat while half stand guard. Four, for instinct. Nestbuilding, pathfinding, egglaying. It breeds itself fertile. New geese to replace the old. Five, for death. For age, and birdshot, and dreadful hunger. Time has clouded five’s eye.

Six, for prophecy.

Seven, for hunger. For eating, for growth. For the strength of all against all else. All work: all are idle. They neither spin nor reap, but the goose god provides.

Xenu

They’re all in a meeting and it’s not going very well.

“I don’t like to micromanage you guys,” growls Xenu. “You know what you’re doing. Find something that needs doing and do it.”

Death Traps coughs delicately. “An admirable management style, sir: certainly. But where would you like the slime pits? Or the spike ceilings? What of the delicately weighted walls that smash inward at a feather’s touch, yea, as the Symplegades were wont to do?”

“What am I paying you for? I need self-starters. I’m up to my neck in bullshit. If you can’t figure these things out for yourself–” a gentle threat– “well, there are other contractors. You’re not irreplaceable.”

“Bullshit is right,” mutters Fortifications. Plumbing snickers then coughs when Xenu swings gimlet eyes on him.

“I don’t know why I’m wasting my time with you,” snarls the overlord. “You know what I want. Get out there and make it happen!”

So of course they end up putting all the bathrooms behind miles of fire traps and hidden doors. Vengeance is thine, saith the Paul-god, and is pleased.

The Paul-God

The Paul-god is worshipped by hotel clerks, night watchmen, waiters at 24-hour diners, bartenders and everyone who has to stay up late peering into dark spaces wearing a name tag. He is short and bald and awkward. He carries the book of his faith wherever he goes, which looks like a white three ring binder. He has a hard time making eye contact. He is a powerful god, despite appearances. His powers are three: he curses those who offend against his acolytes, he brings good fortune to his devotees, and he guards them from all harm. He is subtle; often his works go unrecognized as divine.

The Paul-god likes to pair his gifts and his curses. A stingy customer might accidentally leave a twenty instead of a five, or a rude guest might forget their wallet. Honesty is a virtue to the Paulians, but less so than justice, and justice less so than vengeance. The Paul-god frowns on those who are too greedy, however – you may take some money out of the wallet, but not all of it – and none of the credit cards. You are not expected to go out of your way to return the wallet, either, but there is a general feeling among his followers that the Paul-god is sometimes pleased by such efforts. But not always. Generosity of spirit is uncommented on in the binder of the faith.