I made a deal with myself years ago in regards to religion... they're all equally correct. Every single god, deity, anthropomorphic representation, saint, demon, devil, goblin, gremlin, kobold, psychopomp, cultural hallucination, creator, avatar, and atheist denial is all 100 percent equally real in my book.
Lately, as summer loses its grip on our fair city I've started wondering what gods and monsters are responsible for all the unexpected and inexplicable things that go on here in Houston. I have decided that there are at least ten that simply must exist to maintain our unique order.
St. William of Chill: There's really not much we can do about the weather here. It's hot, and if you don't like it all you can do is move. However, there are strange days in April, May, September, and October where the clouds hide the angry sun, and a cool breeze soothes the foreheads of the populaces like a soaked-rag on a feverish brow. These are prayers answered by St. William, unexpected calendar entries where we all get a little less sweaty. St. William is also responsible for the rare snowfalls, and is therefore our kindest and most benevolent of our gods.
Prayer to St. William: "St. William, chillest of protectors, please poke the yellow hurting thing in the eye with a cloudstick and stir the still air to refreshing briskness for my underpants are soaked with nutacular moisture and my genitals do wilt."
Urfuqued: Urfuqued is the trickster god of standing water in the streets after a rain storm or hurricanes. By his will does the drainage flow or not, and he can be a malevolent illusionist. Nonetheless, he is not out and out evil, and rather seeks to teach Houstonians caution and respect for the power of nature when they chose to brave the roads and think, "I can totally make it through that puddle." He is also the patron deity of Houston city rescue workers, and clears path to those who do not heed the whole, "Turn around, don't drown."
Prayer to Urfuqued: Most worship of this god is done through screaming while mashing the accelerator of the car.
Om Nom and Honker: These twin deities oversee the Whole Foods on Alabama. Om Nom dictates whether or not the deli in the store will still have whatever it is that you desire (Seriously, who is eating all the tofu spring rolls), while Honker tests your worthiness in what is possibly the bitchiest parking lot in all of the city. Ironically, their feast day is Thanksgiving, where they bless those of forethought by providing a really cheap and excellent feast you don't have to cook.
Prayer to Om Nom and Honker: "Oh wholly organic and cruelty-free twins, please part the be-stickered bumpers that block my path to strangely addictive and calming macaroni and cheese."
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Mallit Lage, The Stone Kraken: It is commonly believed that the freeways of Houston are ruled by bloodthirsty devils that subsists on the corpses of accident victims and the tears of people made late to work. This is false. It's actually one enormous capitalist titan whose body lives under the bowels of the Galleria and whose cement arms form our roadways. Its powerful magic draws thousands towards the mall at all times of day for no reason they can clearly recall. Mallit Lage also sports a second mouth located at the 610/59 interchange, which is as good an explanation for why we let that deathtrap continue to exist as anything else I've ever heard.
Prayer to Mallit Lage: "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Mallit Lage Galleria wgah'nagl fhtagn"
Anticiopeia: Getting Houstonians out to concerts and other events can be an exhausting ordeal sometimes. We're great when we get there, but a lack of a central music scene combined with traffic and a somewhat anti-public transport culture has led many a band to play to smaller crowds than they'd hoped. Aspiring rock stars would do well to light a candle for Anticiopeia, the goddess who counteracts rampant apathy for going out instead of watching all of Breaking Bad on Netflix. She's a fickle force, but the rewards are very sweet if you win her favor.
Prayer to Anticiopeia: You have to send her an invite on Facebook... which is difficult because she hides her face behind a shifting series of profile pics featuring her cats John Meower and Sir Ozzy Batheadbiter.
The Line: Not all traffic in Houston is the work of Mallit Lage. A forgotten, rusting remnant of the mighty days of rail travel still lumbers through the city, hunting with safety orange eyes. This powerful entity makes its home along the rails that divide Montrose from The Heights, and also reaches as far as beside Hempstead Highway. Malicious and stupid, The Line causes trains to stop at busy roads such as Shepherd and Durham, and compels their drivers to mindlessly move back and forth, back and forth, with neither purpose nor hope.
Prayer to The Line: "Finally it's going pas... wait. No. No. Nononononono c'mon! It was almost past the crossing."
Mecom Fountain Nymphs: Have you ever wondered why you get lost in Hermann Park and the Medical Center? Doesn't it just seem like your sense of direction completely flees? This is the work of the family of nymphs that reside in the Mecom Fountain at 5800 Main Street. Though capricious, the nymphs aren't spiteful. They just want us to see more of a lovely part of the city by driving around more. They get particularly active (And angry) after idiots pour dishwashing liquid in the fountain so STOP DOING THAT!
Prayer to the Mecom Fountain Nymphs: "I beseech thee, comely water sprites, to lead me true to the Houston Zoo for I desire to greatly to gaze upon the unspeakable cuteness of Toby the Red Panda."
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The Count of Montrose: The neighborhood of Montrose has represented art, gay acceptance, and counterculture for as long as anyone can remember. Step by step, though, misplaced gentrification and greed seeks to remove its unique charm and replace it with as many condos and Starbucks as possible. Stalking uneven sidewalks amidst the bricks buildings, clubs, and independent stores is a dark, vampiric figure known only as the Count of Montrose. He is a boogeyman sent to frighten invasive yuppies back to their homes. Those who would keep the neighborhood weird have no fear. He feeds only on the most vanilla-flavored of blood.
Prayer to The Count of Montrose: "Your Excellency, take up fang and cloak and do chortle and jape and hiss until these soccer moms and ballet dads make lemonade in their khakis."
Mosquitor: Who is the great beast of Houston? It is Mosquitor, seen here portrayed in one of the many strange plastic idols found in boardrooms all over the city. His is the will in the many flying insects that blanket Houston, drinking the blood of the living and seeking to return us to the swamp. It is not mere annoyance, though. He is the bringer of heat and storms and poverty (Standing water from foreclosed homes with pools is a significant source of mosquitoes). He delights in the chemicals and environmental damage done to combat his lowest minions, and laughs at every illness contracted from their bites. When a greedy mogul razes neighborhoods or crashes the local economy, beware the proboscis of Mosquitor.
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Prayer to Mosquitor: I'm not sure now... it used to be you had to sit on the board at Enron.
Baba Voro: Houston is known for a lot of things, but food is rapidly becoming number one among them. We now consistently make national lists of the best and most interesting cities to eat in thanks to places like Goode Co., Oxheart, and a fleet of innovative food trucks. The blessing of fine cuisine and deep fried everything is thanks to Baba Voro, a motherly figure that entices food entrepreneurs from all over with the promise of low taxes and a very appreciative customer base. Entreaties to her sweet and salty bounty rarely go unanswered.
Prayer to Baba Voro: "Dearest patron of fried meat and other proofs of good, lead my vehicle through twisting, turning streets till at last I reach a Valhalla from whence afterwards I shall not be able to buckle my belt."