Titles: The Song of the Spheres, The Great Dreamer, Starsong, The Tender of Dreams
Alignment: Chaotic Good
Portfolio: Dreams, Stars, Travelers, Luck
Worshipers: Travelers, Astronomers, Gamblers, Varisians, Musicians
Cleric Alignments: CG, NG, CN
Domains: Chaos, Good, Liberation, Luck, Travel
Favored Weapon: Starknife
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’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. 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 experiencing new wonders when she can.
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, who legends claim she freed during one of her many travels. Cayden Cailean is known to be 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 and their faiths 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.
Appearance and Emissaries
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 oft 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, whom they call Shimye-Magalla. The nomadic Kellids of northern Avistan depict Desna not as the elegant elven woman she is generally seen as in the south, but a stately human woman riding an elk.
Desna and her faithful hold creatures that symbolize freedom and the night sky as beautiful and holy; of particular favor are butterflies, which often appear to signal the goddess’ favor, the lyrakien, and certain fey creatures of the night.
- Nightspear – This black and silver spoted avoral is a fierce ally of the Desnan clergy, prone to singing in battle.
- Sorrowbrand – A dramatic lillend composer with black, star-dappled scales and feathers, she wears many black ribbons and enjoys helping mortals for songs and inspiration.
- The Night Monarch – Appearing as a massive butterfly-like creature the size of a dragon, the night monarch is the herald of Desna, a considered a sign of good luck by both her followers and travellers alike.
Church of Desna
The church of Desna has few temples to it’s name, and its priests rarely settle in a single location. The faithful of the Great Dreamer can be found on the roads of Golarion, among the caravans of Varisians and other who call the roads and beauty of the wilderness home. Other centers of worship include Kyonin, the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Nidal, Numeria, The River Kingdoms, and Ustalav.
Worshipers and Clergy
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 amount of her following, though her domain of luck also makes her a favorite deity among gamblers and thieves. 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 of seeing new sights each day and finding locales unheard of but often dreamed of. The individuals that comprise the clergy usually garb themselves in white robes and silk caps, emphasized by varied decorative elements and usually accompanied by one or more starknives.
Temples and Shrines
Temples of Desna are few and far between, with most locations dedicated to the goddess being no more than roadside shrines erected in her honor; her faithful often leave markings and dedications in newly discovered areas and secluded locales. Those few temples that do exist often serve as observatories and are as open to the night sky as possible.
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 journies.
- Ritual of Stardust – Taking place on both the winter and summer solstices, when the fires burn low the faithful throw stardust 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.
(Art by Hugo Solis)