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|CN, NE, CE|
|Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Madness|
Gyronna is one of Pathfinder deities.
Background[edit | edit source]
The goddess Gyronna plays shepherd to wayward hate and coddles the entitlement and darkness in mortal hearts. The superstitious and crass describe Gyronna as both the Angry Hag and the Hag Queen, goddess of scorned women. While her priesthood does consist largely of women used and cast aside by society, she represents a much darker impulse than mere wounded pride. Gyronna is the briar that springs from bitter soil; her purview is not scorn, but the hatred that festers around a wounded heart never allowed to heal and the dread things that grow from small and thoughtless evils. When trust and love fail, her embrace fills that void with the strength of seething vengeance and bitter entitlement.
Few sources agree on Gyronna's origin, and her cults quietly hunt anyone who investigates it. Many place her origins in the First World, as a malicious fey princess who delighted in manipulation for her own amusement. After crossing a powerful rival — Baba Yaga or Magdh, by most accounts — the immortal dilettante was punished with deformities and cast into the mortal realm. Other stories describe her as a trio of bickering sisters who befell the same fate, and were so mutilated that they were forced to lean on one another to even stand, eventually growing together into one loathsome, hateful whole. In the wake of such exile, kindness and civility are, to her, dribbles of poisoned honey, and Gyronna would burn all the world to ash to eradicate such mockery and deception.
Gyronna's complete figure is rarely depicted; she is more often represented as the same bloodshot eye her followers use as their unholy symbol. Her rare manifestations are chaotic, shifting form mid-conversation — sometimes decrepit, other times vibrantly young, beautiful, withered and dead, jubilant, weeping, or raging. According to ancient tales, the Angry Hag has no true form beyond the singular bulging eye through which she sees the shadows cast by even the brightest lights. Only her gender remains constant — though she presents vastly differing images of womanhood — as do the ragged vestments in which she wraps herself.
The Angry Hag's favor is felt in misfortune befalling those who vex her followers, or in small, suffering animals left in one's home by stray cats. Those who earn her ire can expect minor social blunders to grow far beyond their expected scope, premature aging, or for their touch to wither plants and sicken animals.
Order and hierarchy disgust Gyronna, and her faith is one of hidden cults — referred to as circles — spread by hushed whispers and desperate midnight indoctrinations. Her teachings emphasize personal fulfillment and rejection of the hollow trappings of society unless they suit one's needs. Chief among her cultists are women in troubled marriages, who have found themselves either betrayed by the person they trusted most in the world, or punished and exiled from their community for betraying that same trust. The hurt from such encounters, or similar rejections and violations of trust, plants the seed Gyronna's faith cultivates into poisonous fruit. No wound of spite is unjustified and no price of revenge is too high; all past agony demands new suffering from others.
Individual adherents may act openly or in secret, but circles of Gyronnans nearly always meet in seclusion, concealing their identities under hoods or behind masks. Meeting by night in untamed wilderness or in crumbling structures where vermin and rot dominate, her faithful trade secrets, offer prayers and sacrifices, exchange poisons and black magic, and cajole one another into assisting with personal rituals or plots. Leadership is determined by whichever member can cow her sisters into compliance or recruit enough followers to overpower challengers. Hags or cruel changelings often lead a circle, while a full hag coven may command large and influential cults to act as their eyes and ears across a broader area. In such cases, Gyronna's mortal worshipers serve almost entirely as agents for their mistress's whims, helping to enact schemes, secure victims for torture, and kidnap healthy infants to exchange for their own changeling brood.
Gyronna's faith consists almost entirely of women, but is by no means a religion that glorifies or protects her chosen gender. Women outside her faith — and even the unwary within it — are considered apt targets for violence, extortion, and curses. Key among her philosophy is nurturing the entitlement that accompanies a life touched by wealth, beauty, or political power, and her church has little use for the poor or other groups forced to society's margins. While the bitter-hearted among these groups may participate in her cults, they rarely earn the goddess's favor or any measure of influence unless they also wield formidable magical abilities. Her cult has no particular interest in challenging gender-related prejudices or improving the lot of women in general; most would rather use oppressive gender roles or assumptions to conceal their activities or lay a foundation of hatred in potential future converts.
While Gyronna's worship is predominantly practiced by women, this is more because the goddess finds the anger of men to be blunt and clumsy. She is a vintner of malevolence, keen to grow a cold, bitter heart over months or years, and has no use for worshipers who fall prey to the self-aggrandizement or lack of self-awareness she believes men embody. She is known to strike those men who beg her favor with impotence, claiming it calms their temperament. The threat of such a result drives most men away, but a select few find her potential support for their vendettas and resentment to be worth the risk, and eventually find a place within her cult.
As Gyronna is a secretive and paranoid goddess, her followers rarely construct elaborate temples. Instead, they claim sites of great natural beauty that are isolated from prying eyes, and dedicate them to the Angry Hag. Each site is christened with an altar of piled stones, capped with a fist-sized stone painted to resemble an eye, or with an enormous gem, among more influential circles. Followers claim that Gyronna — as well as any hags who serve the cult — can see through these stones to cast judgment and dispense curses. Especially ambitious circles have been known to erect elaborate monuments or rings of standing stones upon sites of natural wonder in mockery of the fey or druidic protectors from whom they seized these sites.
Sites frequented by Gyronna's priestesses develop a dimness and dankness that meld into a sense of looming dread. Venomous creatures and plants flourish in and around her shrines. Adherents of the Angry Hag mark these spaces in ways obvious only to the faithful. In urban settings, these demarcations appear as motifs of three concentric circles — resembling an eye — worked into decorations and stonework, while in rural environs a circle may hang woven spheres or circles from tree branches or paint eye imagery onto trees and rocks. Such territorial markings are intended to warn off other Gyronnans, but cultists consider such subtle and contextual messages to be sufficient warnings for all trespassers, and maintain that any who stumble into their territory deserve whatever fate befalls them.