Pharasma

From PathfinderWiki
Pharasma
Pharasma's holy symbol.
(Deity)

Titles
Lady of Graves
Lady of Mysteries
Mother of Souls
Gray Lady
The Survivor
Azlanti period: The Spiral of Fate
Adjective
Pharasmin
Realm
Alignment
Areas of Concern
Birth
Death
Fate
Prophecy
Time
Worshipers
Midwives, pregnant women, morticians
Edicts
Strive to understand ancient prophecies, destroy undead, lay bodies to rest
Anathema
Create undead, desecrate a corpse, rob a tomb
Cleric Alignments (1E)
Domains (1E)
Death, Healing, Knowledge, Repose, Water
Subdomains (1E)
Ancestors, Ice, Memory, Resurrection, Souls, Thought
Cleric Alignments (2E)
Domains (2E)
Death, fate, healing, knowledge
Alternate: soul, time, vigil
Favored Weapon
Symbol
Spiraling comet
Sacred Animal
Sacred Colors
Blue, white
Source: Inner Sea Gods, pg(s). 116–123 (1E)
Gods & Magic, pg(s). 38–39 (2E)
SFW compass rose 150.png

This article might have further canon details available on StarfinderWiki.

Pharasma (pronounced fah-RAZ-mah),1 the Lady of Graves, is the goddess of birth, death, fate, prophecy, and time. Gazing across all of time, she judges and shepherds Golarion's recently departed souls to their final fates.2 Upon death, souls migrate via the River of Souls to Pharasma's Boneyard for her judgment atop an impossibly tall spire in the Outer Sphere that pierces the Astral Plane.3

Dogma

Pharasma makes no decision on whether a death is just or not; she views all with a cold and uncaring attitude, and decides on which of the Outer Planes a soul will spend eternity. Pharasma is also the goddess of birth and prophecy: from the moment a creature is born, she sees what its ultimate fate will be, but reserves final judgement until that soul finally stands before her.32

While capable of withholding judgment on a soul, she has never done so, and willfully sends judged souls to their proper destinations even when they benefit deities she personally despises.2

As the goddess of death and rebirth, she abhors the undead and considers them a disruptive perversion of the natural cycle of souls.234 She commands her followers and servants to destroy all undead beings.2

History

Pharasma is the oldest recorded being in all histories of the Great Beyond.2 According to the Concordance of Rivals, Pharasma is the oldest being in creation, the sole Survivor of the previous multiverse's destruction. She was responsible for shaping the new reality in its earliest days and shielding it from Those Who Remain, who have always lived outside the multiverse.5

According to the Windsong Testaments, she appeared alone in this new reality and, through the use of the Seal, willed most of existence into being, including the Outer Sphere, numerous planes and the eight earliest gods. Along with Yog-Sothoth, she became one of the two anchors of creation, and between Pharasma and Yog-Sothoth, the Age of Creation began with the birth of the Great Beyond.6

Pharasma is counted among the original deities who opposed Rovagug. She magically imbued the Dead Vault with potent wards against escape, to serve as Rovagug's prison. Sometime after, Urgathoa's escape from the Boneyard and return to the Universe brought undeath and disease to the world.78

Pharasma was a part, albeit minor, of the Thassilonian pantheon, acting as the goddess of death.9 During the tumultuous exodus of Azlanti refugees after Earthfall, Pharasmin priests oversaw funerals that conscrated the lands and prevented the dead from rising as undead.10

The death of Aroden, the first of the ascended deities, was not prophesied, and once he died at the end of the Age of Enthronement, most other prophecies in the world also went awry, leading to the current and so-called Age of Lost Omens. Many of Pharasma's priests have lost their faith or have gone mad as a result, but those who remain find that Pharasma's hold over prophecy is becoming less important, while her domains over death, birth, fate, and time are growing stronger.[citation needed]

Some legends suggest that Pharasma knew the death of Aroden was approaching, but chose not to tell her followers for reasons unknown.11[citation needed]

Relationships

Pharasma remains neutral and objectively impartial in almost all aspects towards other deities, and has the trust and respect—if not affection—of nearly all of them.2

The Dwarven pantheon deity Magrim, the eldest dwarven deity and brother of Torag and Angradd, is tasked with preparing dwarven souls for Pharasma's judgment.12 She is the only deity he defers to, and Pharasma returns the respect by tasking Magrim with the repair of souls that arrive to the Boneyard damaged or broken.13

Iomedae still bears a slight grudge against her for not revealing Aroden's impending death,3 and fights broke out between the clergy of Pharasma and Aroden shortly after the latter's death for similar reasons.14

Urgathoa and her followers are the closest she has to an enemy.15 The god of accidental death, Zyphus has a fierce rivalry with the Lady of Graves, but it is not altogether clear if this feeling is mutual.16 Pharasma also has a mysterious connection to Groetus, minor god of the end times, who hangs in the sky above her Boneyard as a gibbous moon.17 Pharasma's clergy often worked with those of Aesocar, especially those who delivered Azlanti babies.10

The psychopomp usher Atropos is Pharasma's youngest daughter, and many psychopomps whisper that she is training Atropos to succeed her when the multiverse ends.18

Depictions and symbols

A depiction of Pharasma.

Most depictions of Pharasma describe her as a tall, ashen-skinned woman with unruly white hair and white eyes. Depictions also show her wearing a dark, hooded, robe-like dress and holding an hourglass filled with red sand.32 She is alternatively depicted as a mad prophet, a reaper of the dead, a healer, or a midwife, depending on her current role.192

In the Inner Sea region, she is most often depicted as an ashen-skinned Garundi woman.3

Her religious symbol is a spiraling comet colored silver and blue, its path meant to represent the twisting path every soul can potentially take.20

Realm

Pharasma judges souls at the Boneyard.

Pharasma's domain is the Boneyard, which sits atop a great spire rising out of the Outer Sphere and attracts all souls from the Material Plane who pass it. On top of the spire is a vast necropolis of courtyards, graves, monuments, and forums filled with the newly dead souls awaiting judgement. Each section is styled after a different outer plane and contains celestials or fiends that look over the souls and assist them to their final destination once Pharasma determines their fate. Pharasma herself resides in a Palace, where she judges the most difficult souls that arrive at the Boneyard.2122

Providence

Pharasma's pleasure is often signified through the appearance of scarabs and whip-poor-wills, both of which can serve as psychopomps to guide a departing spirit to her side. Black roses are thought by her followers to bring good luck, most especially if the rose bears no thorns. The goddess can sometimes allow a departing spirit to give witness to her murder, send a short message to comfort the living, or haunt an enemy.

She signifies her displeasure by causing bleeding from beneath the fingernails, an unexplained taste of rich soil, the discovery of a dead whip-poor-will, the feeling that something important has been forgotten, or cold chills down the spine.2319

Servants

Pharasma employs a number of immortal beings as servants. Among them are the psychopomps, who are created from souls whose lives did not pull them toward good nor evil, structure nor chaos. They serve Pharasma by guiding and guarding souls in the River of Souls2 and also work in the Boneyard as advisors, judges, caretakers, explorers, guides, guards, and soldiers when needed.21 Her divine servitors are the ahmuuth psychopomps, humanoid creatures who battle undead and help lost souls proceed to their judgment.24

Her most powerful psychopomps are known as psychopomp ushers, themselves each a demigod who rules part of the Boneyard as subordinates to Pharasma.25 Psychopomps travel the planes using a transitive network called the Dead Roads, which are administered by the psychopomp usher Barzahk the Passage and believed to have been personally created by Pharasma.26

Unique servants

Birthed-in-Sorrow
This servant of Pharasma is a linnorm-like creature who possesses clerical powers, and uses them to fight the undead.27
Echo of Lost Divinity
This minion is a spectral warrior bedecked in expensive Azlanti dress. It bears an uncanny similarity to known renderings of Aroden, and only appeared in Pharasma's service at the beginning of the Age of Lost Omens.27
Endless Gravestone
This servant appears to be an animated, wheel-like being composed of rock.3
Steward of the Skein
Pharasma's herald is a mighty armored and winged warrior who travels the planes to restore the balance of life and death, announce auspicious births, and battle the undead hordes.3

Church of Pharasma

Worshipers

Many of Pharasma's worshipers are closely aligned with either burgeoning life or terminating death. These include midwives, grave diggers, and morticians.3 Pregnant women often carry small medallions bearing her likeness to protect their child.1923

Her followers dress in black for her ceremonies (no matter the local custom), with their clothes adorned with silver, and carry tiny vials of holy water.1923 Pharasmins swaddle newborn children in black cloth, and Pharasma is said to appear over their shoulder to welcome the child until they next meet.28

In the Inner Sea region

In the Inner Sea region, her faith is most commonly practiced in Brevoy, Nex, Osirion, Qadira, the Shackles, Thuvia, Ustalav, and Varisia,1929 and among the Mwangi,30 Shoanti,31 and dromaars.32

Teams of Pharasmin undead slayers joined the Knights of Lastwall, particularly the Crimson Reclaimers, after the destruction of Lastwall and genesis of the undeath-infested Gravelands.33 These slayers often wielded magical daggers known as undead scourges, which they have since shared with the Knights.34 Many Pharasmins within the Knights of Lastwall share a practice known as the Final Epitaph, in which they consecrate undead remains that they destroy and sites they cleanse.35

The Knights have also reported a growing number of psychopomps aiding their work from a distance, though as of 4722 AR even the Pharasmins among the Knights have been unable to communicate with these benefactors.33 Worshipers in this region also use a deck of six cards called the Lady's Hand to communicate with Pharasma in their battles against the undead, and the goddess grants a memory—often tactical in nature—dispatched via whip-poor-will to mourners of those who fall in the conflict.28

In the Mwangi Expanse, the now-ruined city of Holy Xatramba was once a center of Pharasma's worship but was destroyed by demon worshipers from Rastel.3637 The Pharasmin dragon Olohimba remains in the city and seeks to restore it to its former sacred glory.37

Pharasma is also the most popular deity among the strange, death-touched planar race known as the duskwalkers.38

In Tian Xia

Pharasma is also a popular deity on the continent of Tian Xia, where she is known as the Mother of Souls. The name reflects her dual nature as both the giver and the taker of life.239 Her role in childbirth is more strongly emphasized, with many midwives worshiping her and some cultures enforcing a 30-day period of rest after childbirth to give Pharasma an opportunity to meet the newborn child. The grave markers of stillborn and miscarried children are often in the shape of a child bearing Pharasma's spiral on their foreheads.39 (See also Funerary rites.)

Pharasmin priests in Tian Xia battle undead, particularly jiang-shi, and are often opposed by worshipers of Fumeiyoshi. The exorcists of Shenmen's Gloom Warders also often call upon Pharasma.39

Her worship is most common in the nation of Linvarre, formerly known as the Taldan colony of Amanadar; Tang Mai;40 Goka; Shanguang; Shenmen; Songbai;41 and Zi Ha.42

In Arcadia

Pharasma is worshiped in Jolizpan.43

In ancient Azlant

During the Age of Legend, before the death of prophecy, Pharasma was worshipped by those Azlanti who relied on this power. The ancient Pharasmins hated undead as much as modern ones do, and their famous squads of undead slayers were quick to investigate spellcasters seeking lichdom and responded when dangerous undead were discovered within the empire. Azlanti citizens knew danger was near when they saw Pharasma's grim priests.10

On distant worlds

Pharasma's faith has been spread to the Worldscape by champions abducted from Golarion, and has remained strong in the shadows for centuries. Pharasmins believe themselves already dead, and see the Worldscape as a final proving ground, where they could prove their courage or diminish their vices, before they proceed to the Boneyard and receive her judgement. Pharasma's religion was eventually banned in Shareen by Empress Camilla alongside all non-Issus faiths, its clerics exiled or burnt on pyres.44

Clergy

A priestess of Pharasma.

Her priests are typically clerics, diviners (although less so since the death of Aroden), and necromancers who choose not to create undead.3 Her followers view the undead with hatred and consider them a great abomination. Pharasmins view putting the undead to rest as a holy duty.345 The creation of undead is outlawed, and commanding undead rather than destroying them is deeply frowned upon as well.3

Temples and shrines

A Pharasmin cathedral.

The temples of Pharasma have the appearance of dark and ancient cathedrals, usually found close to a graveyard, although a single stone in an empty field or graveyard can just as well serve as a shrine.19 Underneath the buildings are catacombs filled with crypts of the dead, typically priests or affluent townsfolk. Being entombed in these catacombs is thought to bring favor from the Lady of Graves.3

For example, in the Osirian city of Sothis, the Necropolis of the Faithful extends out from the original grounds of the High Temple of Pharasma.46 In contrast to these you find the Serene Spiral, the high rising majestic temple of Pharasma in Lamasara.47

The services held by worshipers include chanting and singing. They are typically considered a joyous occasion, and a celebration of the circle of life and death. Members of the clergy also keep records of a community's deaths and births.3

Holy texts

Pharasma's holy book is called The Bones Land in a Spiral,3 written by a prophet long ago. Its predictions are so vague that no one is sure if they are accurate or if they have already happened. Other sections that were added later contain information on safe childbirth, the proper burial of bodies, performing auguries, and other such matters.19

Funerary rites

Pharasmins of different cultures often have distinct, and sometimes intricate, funerary rites.

Pharasmins in Tian Xia practice cremation relatively more often than in other cultures, and keep the cremated remains of loved ones in their homes near shrines to Pharasma. The fifth day of spring's first month is celebrated as Ancestor's Day or Undertaker's Day, in which people of Bachuan, Lingshen, Po Li, Quain, and Tianjing sweep their relatives' tombs to aid their souls' passage to Pharasma's judgment and deter Fumeiyoshi, god of graves. People also place offerings of the deceased's preferred foods, and soul coin charms that bear Pharasma's spiral and are burned with incense, all meant to aid the deceased's judgment and subsequent passage to a prosperous next life.39

Among the Knights of Lastwall, Pharasmins stage large processions that attempt to fulfill the deceased's last wishes regardless of the cost. A celebratory feast and wake follows, including dance and the burning of effigies from the deceased's belongings to pass them on to their next life. The appearance of a whip-poor-will in the ceremony is considered a good omen for the deceased's judgment and potential rebirth.28

Holidays

In Absalom Reckoning, the third month—"Pharast"—is named in honor of the Lady of Graves.48 Pharasma's followers celebrate the Day of Bones on the 5th of Pharast,49 and in nations where the Lady of Graves is a prominent deity, her priests take part in the Procession of Unforgotten Souls in the weeks leading up to the harvest feast.50

Favored animals

Gods are often associated with certain animals, either because they possess a quality favored by the god, or because the god's faithful feel a special kinship to them. Pharasma's favored animals include whip-poor-wills, scarabs, and elephants.51

Organizations

The Voices of the Spire is a militant wing of the Pharasmin priesthood devoted to the extermination of undead.52

The Pharasmin Penitence is an extremist sect that views worldly pleasures as going against Pharasma's plans and actively seek out those whom they feel upset their beliefs by making life easier, for instance, arcane casters.53

The Casarmetzes are church midwives who are so skilled at the procedures of childbirth that they are able to keep both mother and child alive in dire circumstances.53

Pantheons

In addition to Pharasma's worship as a deity within many regional and ancestral pantheons, she is also worshiped as part of the Gravelady's Guard pantheon alongside Arazni and Gorum.54

References

Paizo published a major article about Pharasma and her church in Trial of the Beast, p64ff.

For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Erik Mona, et al. “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 247. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Paizo Inc., et al. “Gods of the Inner Sea” in Gods & Magic, 38. Paizo Inc., 2020
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 Sean K Reynolds. “Gods of Golarion” in Gods and Magic, 30–31. Paizo Inc., 2008
  4. In Pathfinder First Edition, this fact leads Pharasma to grant modified powers through the Death and Soul domains when they are granted to her followers. Unlike other deities of these domains, spells she grants her followers cannot benefit or create undead. See James Jacobs. (February 10, 2011). Golarion Day: Other Gods and New Subdomains, Paizo Blog.
  5. John Compton, et al. “The Creation of the Multiverse” in Concordance of Rivals, 2. Paizo Inc., 2019
  6. James Jacobs. (October 31, 2019). The Windsong Testaments: The Three Fears of Pharasma, Paizo Blog.
  7. Robert Brookes, et al. “Chapter 3: The Great Beyond” in Planar Adventures, 212. Paizo Inc., 2018
  8. Sean K Reynolds. “Introduction” in Gods and Magic, 2. Paizo Inc., 2008
  9. Robert G. McCreary. The Godsmouth Heresy, 11. Paizo Inc., 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Adam Daigle. “Gods of Ancient Azlant” in The Flooded Cathedral, 73. Paizo Inc., 2017
  11. James Jacobs. (January 6, 2008). More Info on Deities?, Paizo Messageboards.
  12. Kate Baker, et al. Magrim” in Faiths of Golarion, 40. Paizo Inc., 2018
  13. Kate Baker, et al. Magrim” in Faiths of Golarion, 45. Paizo Inc., 2018
  14. Erik Mona. Aroden, the Last Azlanti” in A Song of Silver, 73. Paizo Inc., 2015
  15. Sean K Reynolds. “Gods of Golarion” in Gods and Magic, 40. Paizo Inc., 2008
  16. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 230. Paizo Inc., 2011
  17. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 229. Paizo Inc., 2011
  18. John Compton, et al. “Auditors of the Absolute” in Concordance of Rivals, 4. Paizo Inc., 2019
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 224. Paizo Inc., 2011
  20. Paizo Inc., et al. “Gods of the Inner Sea” in Gods & Magic, 39. Paizo Inc., 2020
  21. 21.0 21.1 James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 243. Paizo Inc., 2011
  22. Robert Brookes, et al. “Chapter 3: The Great Beyond” in Planar Adventures, 182. Paizo Inc., 2018
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 3: Religion” in Campaign Setting, 166. Paizo Inc., 2008
  24. Sean K Reynolds, et al. Inner Sea Gods, 303. Paizo Inc., 2014
  25. Carlos Cabrera, et al. “Bestiary” in Borne by the Sun's Grace, 81. Paizo Inc., 2019
  26. Carlos Cabrera, et al. “Bestiary” in Borne by the Sun's Grace, 90–91. Paizo Inc., 2019
  27. 27.0 27.1 Sean K Reynolds, et al. Inner Sea Gods, 123. Paizo Inc., 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Jessica Catalan, et al. “Chapter 2: Among the Knights” in Knights of Lastwall, 60. Paizo Inc., 2022
  29. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 150. Paizo Inc., 2011
  30. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 17. Paizo Inc., 2011
  31. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 18. Paizo Inc., 2011
  32. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 29. Paizo Inc., 2011
  33. 33.0 33.1 Jessica Catalan, et al. “Chapter 1: Introduction” in Knights of Lastwall, 19. Paizo Inc., 2022
  34. Jessica Catalan, et al. “Chapter 3: Knights of Lastwall Options” in Knights of Lastwall, 91. Paizo Inc., 2022
  35. Jessica Catalan, et al. “Chapter 2: Among the Knights” in Knights of Lastwall, 35. Paizo Inc., 2022
  36. Laura-Shay Adams, et al. “History” in The Mwangi Expanse, 18. Paizo Inc., 2021
  37. 37.0 37.1 Laura-Shay Adams, et al. “Geography” in The Mwangi Expanse, 156–157. Paizo Inc., 2021
  38. Robert Brookes, et al. “Chapter 4: Bestiary” in Planar Adventures, 231. Paizo Inc., 2018
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 Eren Ahn, et al. “Religion” in Tian Xia World Guide, 47. Paizo Inc., 2024
  40. Paizo referred to Tang Mai as Dtang Ma until the publication of Tian Xia Days and the Tian Xia World Guide.
  41. Paizo referred to Songbai as Shokuro until the publication of Tian Xia World Guide, and also referred to its leader Shokuro Akatori as Shokuro Toriaka.
  42. James Jacobs, et al. “Life in the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 61–62. Paizo Inc., 2011
  43. Luis Loza. Xopatl” in Borne by the Sun's Grace, 70. Paizo Inc., 2019
  44. Erik Mona. Worldscape: Vampirella One-Shot. Dynamite Entertainment, 2018
  45. Paizo Inc., et al. “Gods of the Inner Sea” in Gods & Magic, 38–39. Paizo Inc., 2020
  46. Jason Nelson & Amber Stewart. Sothis” in Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, 19. Paizo Inc., 2008
  47. Hilary Moon Murphy. Artokus Kirran” in Legends, 18–19. Paizo Inc., 2020
  48. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 248. Paizo Inc., 2011
  49. Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 5: The World” in Campaign Setting, 238–239. Paizo Inc., 2008
  50. Sean K Reynolds, et al. Inner Sea Gods, 121. Paizo Inc., 2014
  51. Amanda Hamon, et al. Animal Archive, inside back cover. Paizo Inc., 2013
  52. Colin McComb. “Organizations” in Faiths of Balance, 23. Paizo Inc., 2011
  53. 53.0 53.1 Sean K Reynolds, et al. Inner Sea Gods, 118. Paizo Inc., 2014
  54. Jessica Catalan, et al. “Chapter 2: Among the Knights” in Knights of Lastwall, 68. Paizo Inc., 2022