In the Palatine Eye
“The Lady of Graves”, Pharasma, (pronounced fah-RAZ-mah) is the goddess who shepherds Golarion‘s recently-departed souls to their final reward. Upon death, souls migrate to Pharasma’s Boneyard, which sits atop an impossibly tall spire that pierces the Astral Plane. 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 plane of existence 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. As the goddess of death and rebirth, she abhors the undead and considers them a perversion.
Pharasma is counted among one of the original gods that opposed Rovagug. Sometime after, Urgathoa earned Pharasma’s eternal ire with her escape from the Boneyard and return to the Material Plane, thus ushering undeath and disease into the world.
The death of Aroden, the first of the ascended gods, at the end of the Age of Enthronement 100 years ago was extremely unexpected. His death was not prophesied, and once he died, most of the other prophecies in the world started to go bad as well. Many of Pharasma’s priests have lost their faith or have gone mad as a result, but those who remain, are finding that Pharasma’s hold over prophecy is becoming less important, while her domain over death, birth, and fate, are growing stronger. It’s a time of change for Pharasma and her faith. Some legends say that Pharasma knew the death of Aroden was approaching, but chose not to tell her followers for reasons unknown.
Pharasma remains neutral in almost all aspects towards other deities. Iomedae still bears a slight grudge against her for not revealing Aroden’s impending death. Urgathoa and her followers are the closest she has to an enemy.
Pharasma is most often depicted as an ashen-skinned female humanoid with white eyes. She wears a dark, hooded, robe-like dress and holds an hourglass filled with red sand.
Church of Pharasma
Pharasma is alternatively known as the mad prophet, the reaper of the dead, or the midwife, depending on her current role. Her followers dress in black for her ceremonies, their clothes adorned with silver, and tiny vials of holy water. Pharasma’s pleasure is often signified through scarabs, beetles and whippoorwills. Black roses are thought by her followers to bring good luck, most especially if the rose bears no thorns. Her displeasure is signified by bleeding from beneath the fingernails, an unexplained taste of rich soil, the discovery of a dead whippoorwill, the feeling that something important has been forgotten, or cold chills down the spine.
Worshipers and Clergy
Many of Pharasma’s worshipers are those closely aligned with either burgeoning life or terminating death. These include midwives, grave diggers, and morticians. Her priests are typically clerics, diviners, and necromancers that choose not to create undead. Her followers view the undead with hatred and consider them a great abomination. They view putting the undead to rest as a holy duty. The creation of undead is outlawed, and commanding undead is not much liked either.
Temples and Shrines
The temples of Pharasma have the appearance of dark and ancient cathedrals. They are usually found close to a graveyard. 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. For example, in Sothis in Osirion, the Necropolis of the Faithful extends out from the original grounds of the High Temple of Pharasma. 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.
Pharasma’s holy book is called The Bones Land in a Spiral.