Pharasma

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Pharasma
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Details
Pantheon
?
Alignment
Neutral
Cleric alignment(s)
NG, LN, N, CN, NE
Death, Healing, Knowledge, Repose, Water
Favored weapon
Dagger

Pharasma is one of Pathfinder deities.

Description[edit | edit source]

"The Lady of Graves", "Mother of Souls", "Gray Lady", Pharasma is the goddess of birth, death, and prophecy. She shepherds Golarion's recently departed souls to their final reward. Upon death, souls migrate via the River of Souls to Pharamsa's Boneyard in Outer Sphere, which sits atop an impossibly tall spire that pierces the Astral Plane. She is among the most ancient deities in the multiverse, but keeps her knowledge of the fate of all souls closely guarded.

Background[edit | edit source]

Pharasma is the stern observer of life and death, scrutinizing the tangled webs of fate and prophecy, mercilessly cold in the administration of her duties. Having seen infants die, the righteous fall too soon, and tyrants live to advanced age, she makes no judgment about the justness of a particular death, and welcomes each birth with equal severity. At the moment of a mortal's birth, she knows the many possible paths each soul could follow, but reserves her official verdict until the last possible moment. Legends claim that Pharasma saw Aroden's death approaching — and even judged him as she does for all those born as mortals — but did nothing to warn even her own followers, many of whom were driven mad by the event. Though prophecy is no longer reliable, prophets continue to be born, and most of them are rendered insane by their confusing and contradictory visions.

In art, Pharasma is depicted as a midwife, a mad prophet, or a reaper of the dead, depending upon her role. Her visage usually has gray skin, white eyes, and white hair. As the midwife, she is efficient and severe, hair pulled back and arms bare from hands to the elbows. Pregnant women often carry tokens of this image on long necklaces to protect their unborn children and grant them good lives. As the prophet, Pharasma is wild-eyed and tangle-haired, and her words echo like thunder. As the reaper, she is tall and gaunt, with a hooded black gown and an hourglass with fast-flowing red sand, and is often shown seated on her throne and passing judgment on mortal souls.

Situated atop an impossibly tall spire, Pharasma's realm in the afterworld — the Boneyard — looms over the perfectly ordered city-plane of Axis. When mortals die, their souls join the vast River of Souls that flows through the Astral Plane, and eventually deposits them in Pharasma's Boneyard at the top of her spire. Once there, they stand in a great line, filtered through several courts according to their alignment and supposed planar destination. Those who die before experiencing their full fate might be lucky enough to return in this life or the next, either spontaneously or by getting called home by resurrection magic, but more often those who feel that they've met an untimely end discover that their destiny was in fact always leading them to their particular moment of death, however unjust or ignoble. Though she allows resurrection, the Lady of Graves opposes undeath as a desecration of the memory of the flesh and a corruption of a soul's path on its journey to her judgment. She encourages her followers to hunt undead, as the souls of the destroyed undead will then reach her for judgment.

At the heart of the Boneyard is Pharasma's Palace, a gothic structure built over the exact center of the Spire. Psychopomps walk its pathways and quietly fly above its walls, performing the administration of souls, and Pharasma's faithful are housed within. Despite its light color and mood, the Palace is obviously a creation of the goddess. It's unknown whether she made the Spire itself.

Pharasma manifests her favor through the appearance of scarab beetles and whippoorwills, both of which function as psychopomps (both in the figurative sense as guides for dead souls, as well as in the literal sense as manifestations of the outsiders called psychopomps). Black roses are thought to invite her favor and good luck, especially if the stems sport no thorns. Her displeasure is often signified by cold chills down the spine, bleeding from the nose or under the fingernails, an unexplained taste of rich soil, the discovery of a dead whippoorwill, or the feeling that something important has been forgotten. Pharasma also sometimes allows the spirits of those who have died under mysterious conditions to transmit short messages to their living kin to comfort them, expose a murderer, or haunt an enemy.

Pharasma's holy symbol is a spiral of light, representing a soul, its journey from birth to death to the afterlife, and the confusing path of deciphering prophecy.