Desna

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Desna
Desna's Holy Symbol
(Deity)
Titles The Song of the Spheres
The Great Dreamer
Starsong
The Tender of Dreams
Lady Luck
Resplendent Goddess of Fortune
Goddess of the North Star
Queen of the North Star
Mother Moon
Adjective Desnan
Home The palace Sevenfold Cynosure, in the star Cynosure
Alignment Chaotic good
Portfolio Dreams
Stars
Travelers
Luck
Worshipers Travelers, astronomers, gamblers, Varisians, musicians
Cleric Alignments
Domains Chaos, Good, Liberation, Luck, Travel
Subdomains Azata, Curse, Exploration, Fate, Freedom, (Imagination), (Revelry), Revolution
Favored Weapon Starknife
Symbol Butterfly
Sacred Animal Butterfly
Sacred Colors Blue, white

Desna (pronounced DEZ-nuh)[1] was one of the first deities, but while her peers burdened themselves with the task of creating Golarion, she spent her time building the heavens. She knew that there would be plenty of time for her and her followers to explore the many wonders of the world later. She's changed little since those earlier days, and she and her followers delight in exploring the world.[2][3]

History

Desna is an ancient goddess of freedom and luck, and is credited with the creation of the heavens. In her earliest days, the god Curchanus, an enemy of the goddess Lamashtu, was her mentor. Lamashtu laid a trap for Curchanus and stripped him of his beast domain, ripping it from his godly essence. As he died, he gifted Desna with the domain of travel; she has traveled the planes and worlds since, opposing both oppression and Lamashtu wherever she encounters them, and spreading her word while making an effort to experience new wonders when she can.[2][4]

During the Age of Creation, Desna was among the original gods who battled the Rough Beast who sought to destroy Golarion, and were eventually able to contain him in the Dead Vault.[5]

The ancient Azlanti worshiped Desna as a goddess of stars before she was gifted the travel domain.[6]

Perhaps by chance, Desna has been involved in the creation or freeing of a number of minor deities. She is said to accidentally have freed Ghlaunder, the mosquito god of infection and parasites, from his cocoon on the Ethereal Plane.[7] She also is rumored to have raised the brave Kurgess to godhood with the help of Cayden Cailean.[8]

Appearance

Desna is a Varisian goddess often described as a beautiful elven woman, with butterfly wings containing all the beauty of a clear night sky. She is often depicted as having dark hair, silvery eyes, and a coy but distant smile, wearing diaphanous gowns and sometimes accompanied by swarms of butterflies.[2][4]

Additional details vary among the races that worship her; the Bonuwat people of the Mwangi Expanse worship a variant form of Desna, a janiform amalgam with Gozreh that they call Shimye-Magalla.[9] The nomadic Kellids of northern Avistan depict Desna not as the elegant elven woman, but a stately human woman riding an elk.[10]

Relationships

Desna is strongly opposed to Lamashtu due to the murder of Desna's one-time mentor, and wishes to reclaim the domain of beasts. She also actively hunts the demigod Ghlaunder, the Gossamer King, whom legends claim she accidentally freed from his cocoon.[11] Cayden Cailean is known to be a suitor of hers, but she keeps aloof of most godly affairs; past traumas and her desire for freedom lead her into fewer interactions with other deities than most. She is known to have good relations with Sarenrae and Shelyn, and to oppose both Rovagug and Zon-Kuthon for control of the night, which she wishes to be a time of wonder and beauty.[4]

Realm

Unlike most of the other deities, Desna has no true realm in the Great Beyond, although she does occasionally travel to a small castle that floats above the rugged beauty of Elysium.[12] Her true home is among the stars of the Material Plane, where it is rumored she lives in a place called the Sevenfold Cynosure, somewhere in or around the star Cynosure.[13]

Providence

Desna generally communicates with her followers through dreams, sending images, feelings, or even prophecies that stick in the recipient's mind after waking. If there is not enough time for dreams, or they are otherwise unsuitable, she can send swarms of butterflies, sparrows, dragonflies, or geese that fly in a four-pointed star shape. When displeased, she can withhold a restful sleep, make sure the mortal gets sore feet, has a travel accident, or that a messenger animal loses its way.[14]

Servants

Meeting a star monarch: servants of Desna

Desna and her faithful hold creatures that symbolize freedom and the night sky as beautiful and holy. Butterflies are a particular favorite, and the appearance of swarms of them is often seen as a sign of the goddess' favor. Other favored creatures include the lyrakien, star monarchs, and certain fey creatures of the night.[4][15] Some of Mother Moon's known servants include:

Nightspear
This black and silver spotted avoral is a fierce ally of the Desnan clergy, and often sings in battle.[4]
Sorrowbrand
A dramatic lillend composer with black, star-dappled scales and feathers, Sorrowbrand wears many black ribbons and enjoys inspiring mortal songs.[4]
The Night Monarch
Appearing as a massive butterfly-like creature the size of a dragon, the night monarch is the herald of Desna.[4]

Church of Desna

A stargazer cleric of Desna

Desna is the goddess of travel and journeys, and there are few who traverse the roads who wouldn't spare her a prayer or a simple-worded plea for benediction. Scouts, sailors, and those who travel for travel's sake make up a large number of her followers, though her focus on luck also makes her a favorite deity among gamblers and thieves. Whatever their calling, followers of the Song of Spheres search the world for new experiences, and try to live their life to the fullest.[2][4][3]

The church of Desna has few temples, as its priests rarely settle in a single location. The faithful of the Great Dreamer can be found on the roads of Golarion, and especially among the Varisian caravans and others who who call the road their home and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness. Other centers of worship include the elves of Kyonin, the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Nidal (where her worship is forbidden), Numeria, the River Kingdoms, the Steaming Sea, and Ustalav.[16][2][4] She is also revered by numerous Kellids,[17], Mwangi,[18], Shoanti,[19] Tian,[20] Ulfen,[21], Varisians,[22], elves,[23], gnomes,[24] and half-elves throughout the Inner Sea region.[25]

Crown of the World

Hundreds of years ago, a clan of tundra nomads called the Uqtaal worshipped Desna as the Queen of the North Star at the Crown of the World. They believed she protected them during the long arctic nights, that at the time of death, their souls would travel to the North Star to be with her. They built the Uqtaal Necropolis at the base of the Wall of Heaven Mountains with a passage called the Path of Spirits that led souls onto the High Ice, and then from there to the North Pole, guided by the North Star. There Desna would find them and take their soul to their final resting place in the stars. Unfortunately, the Uqtaal clans eventually were corrupted to the worship of Fumeiyoshi and forsook Desna.[26]

Halflings

Desna is held in special affection by many halflings, especially those who travel or seek adventure. Traveling halflings take tokens of the goddess and frequent her shrines along their journey.[27] They attribute their special luck and some halflings' ability to jinx as a gift from the goddess. This luck is personified in the goddess Chaldira Zuzaristan, who halflings believe is Desna's loyal friend.[28]

Nidal

Because of their goddess' adversarial relationship with Zon-Kuthon, worshipers of the Song of Stars have long tried to infiltrate the Kuthonite nation of Nidal. Even though the worship of any other deity in that nation is illegal, Desnans have had some success in northern Nidal, in a region known as the Atteran Ranches. When the central government in Pangolais discovered this and was about to intervene, the great ranching families of the area held them off by promising to take care of the problem themselves. They formed posses of mercenaries called dream hunters to track down and eliminate any Densa-worshipers.[29]

River Kingdoms

The Nomen centaurs of the River Kingdoms worship Desna in an aspect called Mother Moon.[30]

Tian Xia

In Tian Xia, Desna is known as the Resplendent Goddess of Fortune, and the Goddess of the North Star.[31][32]

Clergy

A Desnan priestess

The informal clergy of Desna is primarily composed of clerics, though on occasion bards are called by some song or whisper in the night to follow her path. In addition, spherewalkers are paragons of the Desnan ideal: they see new sights each day and discover unheard of locales.[2][4][3]

Her clergy usually garb themselves in white robes with black trim and silk caps, highlighted by varied decorative elements (especially among priests of high status), and usually accompanied by one or more starknives.[2][4]

Temples & Shrines

Temples of Desna are few and far between, with most locations no more than roadside shrines erected in her honor. Travelers often leave markings and dedications in newly discovered areas and secluded locales. Those few temples that do exist often serve as observatories and are open to the night sky,[2] with plentiful texts, charts, and instruments to help track the stars and determine astronomical events.[3]

Dedicated to the faith of Desna, seven bell towers are believed to have existed at one point throughout the Inner Sea. The seven towers represented the Seven Towers of Desna's palace and each tower housed a sacred Bell of Mercy. Pilgrimages to all seven towers were often undertaken by Desna's faithful.[33]

Holy Texts

Writings sacred to Desna tend to be easily portable, written in simple language and often containing references to exotic, beautiful places and roads containing a shrine.[4]

The Eight Scrolls 
These writings detail Desna's early days and the basic edicts of her faith.[2][4]
Shrine Wall Writings 
Almost all Desnan shrines are covered with the observations and prayers of travelers and priests of her faith, containing the wisdom of the road and hints for the start of new journeys.[4]

Holidays

The spring month of Desnus is named in honor of the goddess, although it is not a holiday.[34]

Ritual of Stardust 
This holiday takes place on both the winter and summer solstices. When the ceremonial fires burn low, the faithful throw sand mixed with gems into the embers and make wishes and pledges for the months to come.[4]
Swallowtail Festival 
Every year on the first day of the month of Rova, the followers of Desna release cages full of swallowtail butterflies, an act that honors a story told by the faithful.[4]

References

  1. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 246. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 162. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 220. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Sean K Reynolds. (2007). Desna. The Skinsaw Murders, p. 66-75. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-037-7
  5. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 216. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  6. James Jacobs, Kevin Kulp, Rob McCreary, and Owen K.C. Stephens. (2010). City of Seven Spears. City of Seven Spears, p. 47. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-274-6
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  10. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 27. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  11. Colin McComb. (2011). Faiths of Corruption, p. 19. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-375-0
  12. Todd Stewart. (2009). The Great Beyond: A Guide to the Multiverse, p. 36. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-167-1
  13. James L. Sutter. (2012). Distant Worlds, p. 50. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-403-0
  14. Sean K Reynolds et al. (2014). Inner Sea Gods, p. 45-46. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-597-6
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  18. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 17. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
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  21. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 21. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  22. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 22. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  23. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 25. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  24. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 26. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
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  30. Greg A. Vaughan. (2010). The Varnhold Vanishing. The Varnhold Vanishing, p. 33. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-234-0
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  33. Jim Groves. (2013). Wrath of the Righteous Treasures. Demon's Heresy, p. 62. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-577-8
  34. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 248. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2