|Titles||The Song of the Spheres|
The Great Dreamer
The Tender of Dreams
Resplendent Goddess of Fortune
Goddess of the North Star
Queen of the North Star
Azlanti period: The Wandering Star
|Realm||The palace Sevenfold Cynosure, in the star Cynosure|
|Areas of Concern||Dreams|
|Worshipers||Travelers, astronomers, gamblers, Varisians, musicians|
|Edicts||Aid fellow travelers, explore new places, express yourself through art and song, find what life has to offer|
|Anathema||Cause fear or despair, cast nightmare or use similar magic to corrupt dreams, engage in bigoted behavior|
|Cleric Alignments (1E)|
|Domains (1E)||Chaos, Good, Liberation, Luck, Travel|
|Subdomains (1E)||Azata, Curse, Exploration, Fate, Freedom, (Imagination), (Revelry), Revolution|
|Cleric Alignments (2E)|
|Domains (2E)||Dreams, luck, moon, travel|
Alternative: stars, void
|Sacred Colors||Blue, white|
|Images of Desna|
Source: Inner Sea Gods, pg(s). 44–51 (1E)
Gods & Magic (Second Edition), pg(s). 20–21 (2E)
Desna (pronounced DEZ-nuh) 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.
Desna is an ancient goddess of freedom and luck, and is credited with the creation of the heavens. According to the Windsong Testaments, she was one of the first eight deities of this incarnation of reality.
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.
Battle against Rovagug
Creating and freeing deities
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. She has a half-mortal son with Cayden Cailean named Kurgess, and together they raised him to godhood. She is said to have accidentally created Black Butterfly by a pattern she unwittingly placed in the stars. The empyreal lord is even known as "Desna's Shadow".
Invasion of the Abyss
- See also: Aolar
A vengeful Desna killed the demon lord Aolar, known as the Lady of the Hunt, and destroyed her Abyssal fortress in 4155 AR after the Lady of the Hunt took control of the body of a recently deceased Desnan priestess to wreak death on the priestess' loved ones. This possession of heroes just after their deaths was Aolar's penchant, especially when the dead person's soul could witness the suffering caused.
Aolar made many enemies in this way, including Calistria, Sarenrae, and Shelyn, who all helped Desna in her vengeance. Calistria's aid especially was key, as Desna's flagrant act nearly started a planar war: Calistria's politicking turned the allied demonic host, the Coalition of Chaos, against itself and averted an interplanar battle.
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.
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. The nomadic Kellids of northern Avistan depict Desna not as the elegant elven woman, but a stately human woman riding an elk. The ancient Azlanti sometimes depicted her as a single star.
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. 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 involved in a polyamorous relationship with Sarenrae and Shelyn, and opposes both Rovagug and Zon-Kuthon for control of the night, which she wishes to be a time of wonder and beauty. Night hags are known to bear an undying hatred for Desna and go out of their way to torment her followers, if possible even trying to steal their souls.
Desna is friendly with Elion, but his worshippers often found hers too flighty and unfocused to make discoveries. Nevertheless, the relationship between the two faiths improved as Elion's followers became interested in space travel. Despite their differences, Desna was friendly with Acavna; their devotees shared a holiday when the full moon appeared near a particular constellation, which was said to represent Desna and Acavna meeting and sharing stories.
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. Her true home Cynosure, a demiplane manifested on the Material Plane as a bright silvery-blue star. Her palace, the Sevenfold Cynosure, rests at the plane's heart, and exists simultaneously in Elysium and Cynosure when Desna wills it to manifest in Elysium.
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.
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 azatas, aliens, cynosomas, star monarchs, and certain fey creatures of the night. Her divine servitor race are the thyrliens, winged azatas who watch over those traveling by night and who are the warrior counterparts of the gentler lyrakien.
Some of Mother Moon's known servants include:
- This black and silver spotted avoral is a fierce ally of the Desnan clergy, and often sings in battle.
- A dramatic lillend composer with black, star-dappled scales and feathers, Sorrowbrand wears many black ribbons and enjoys inspiring mortal songs.
- The Night Monarch
- Appearing as a massive butterfly-like creature the size of a dragon, the night monarch is the herald of Desna.
Church 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.
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. She is also revered by numerous Kellids, Mwangi, Shoanti, Tian, Ulfen, Varisians, elves, gnomes, and half-elves throughout the Inner Sea region.
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.
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. 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.
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.
Ancient Azlanti vagabonds and idealists, who rarely stayed in one place for long, worshiped Desna as a goddess of stars before she was gifted the travel domain. Her faith has otherwise remained largely unchanged from the Age of Legend to the modern day. Itinerant Desnans charted the circuit of stars and interpreted the dreams of wanderers who stayed the night in their shrines.
Shrines to Desna dotted the roads of Azlant and hostels across the empire's cities. Few were large or elaborate, and some congregations even carried their shrines on nomadic wagons.
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.
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.
Temples and 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, with plentiful texts, charts, and instruments to help track the stars and determine astronomical events.
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.
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.
- The Eight Scrolls
- These writings detail Desna's early days and the basic edicts of her faith.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
For additional resources, see the Meta page.
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