I had a notably godless childhood. Or maybe a God-less one, because although there was barely a frankincense-scented whiff of religion, there were plenty of gods around. My mother's world -- and the top of her dresser -- was a metauniversal jamboree of bhagavats, emblems, archetypes, goddesses and totem animals. Candles and flowers and tiny resin-cast foxes at the feet of a little brass Shiva. A foot-long reclining Buddha loomed over a plastic figurine of the Evil Queen in Snow White. No, really.
And her guardian angel, of course. Bringer of parking spaces and protector against ills we know not of. She didn't live with the others, but all by herself on the bedside table. A tiny conical wooden shape for angel raiment, blue, daintily painted with flowers, with a teeny-tiny wooden head and teeny filagree brass wings and the teeniest-tiniest expression of beatitude ever managed by a 000 brush. Even to my five-year-old hands she was light as a feather and smelled like the drawer my grandfather's handkerchiefs lived in. She had been sitting on mum's bedside table, wherever she went, since long before I was born. I think she was from Mexico.
The angel in the picture, though, is mine. Mum made her for me out of Fimo and two little gold-effect fans and some foil moons and a tiny gold shell for her halo. Mum's thumbprint is on her left sleeve.
She stands next to my pencil-cup and my memo-block with the silver X paperweight on it and my Penguin of Death mug, which holds a Great Bustard feather and a crackly, fractured bit of honesty and a magpie feather and an otherworldly, snow-white puff of goshawk down.
Another little talisman clambake, on the other side of the world.