Legacy of Fire
Sarenrae (SAIR-in-ray) is one of the most popular deities on Golarion, and even those of other faiths respect her power, dedication, and generosity. Worshiped originally by Keleshite humans, her faith spread to the Garundi in ancient Osirion and into other human and nonhuman civilizations as well. Like the sun in the sky, she shines upon the entire world as a symbol of good, healing, and redemption.
Eons ago, Sarenrae was not a goddess, but a powerful angel, guiding the energies of the sun and smiting agents of darkness that would quench the day’s light and plunge the newborn world of Golarion and its sister planets into eternal darkness. Her skill and success at these tasks led other angels to lend her their support, and eventually gods as well, making her one of the mighty empyreal lords. When Rovagug sought to unmake Golarion, it was Sarenrae who was first on the battlefield, and she who faced the Rough Beast personally when the other forces of creation were engaged with his hideous spawn. Though the exact timeline is unclear, her willingness to sacrifice herself in this battle so that all could be saved inspired great hope in all of her comrades, and this gave her the boost necessary to elevate her from one of the greatest angels to a full goddess, and with this influx of power she smote him and hurled his broken body deep into the earth. As the gods mended the scars in the world and intelligent life appeared on its surface, mortals turned their eyes upward to thank the life-giving sun, and her faith grew roots in the early primitive peoples.
Sarenrae is a kind and loving goddess, a caring mother and sister to all in need. She joys in healing the sick, lifting up the fallen, and shining a guiding light into the darkest hearts and lands. She brushes off insults and deflects attacks, patiently trying to convince those who perceive her as an enemy that their belief is false. She is no victim, and once it is clear that her words and power are wasted on those who refuse to listen and believe, she responds to violence in kind with swift metal and scorching light. She dislikes cruelty, lies, quenching darkness, needless suffering, and thoughtless destruction. Ancient, timeless, and renewed every day, she has seen much suffering in the world but is bolstered by the inevitable appearance of hope, truth, and kindness.
Religious art depicts the sun goddess as a strong woman with bronze skin and a mane of dancing flame; in some cases this flame trails behind her for a dozen or more yards. While one of her hands holds the light of the sun, the other grasps a scimitar, so that she might smite those who do not change their ways. The church does not teach that Sarenrae is the sun itself; she is its guardian and conduit for its power, not a direct manifestation of the actual orb, and while fanciful art may show her face in place of the sun, the mainstream faithful recognize the difference between the sun and the goddess.
Sarenrae is a popular goddess and worshiped by people of many interests, from the obvious farmers and healers to governors, honest jailors, redeemed evil-doers, and those who wish to make the world a better place. City-folk who have no particular interest in fate, farming, magic, or esoteric philosophy make up the bulk of her worshipers, regular people who believe in honest work, relief from suffering, and the idea that each new day brings hope and new opportunity. Her faith attracts those with kind hearts, but only those willing to harden them when kindness is a dangerous weakness.
Sarenrae indicates her favor with sightings of doves, or through the shapes of ankhs appearing in unexpected places. Other signs of her favor are rays of dawn or dusk sunlight lasting far longer than they should, the discovery of yellow stones or gems, or the sudden soothing of aches and pains. Her displeasure is most often made apparent through unexplained sunburns or periods of blindness that can last anywhere from only a few moments for minor transgressions to a lifetime for mortal sins. She has been known to befuddle the tongues of habitual liars and slow the healing of the unkind and unrepentant. Sunflowers may bloom around the faithful to show her favor, or a dead enemy may sprout them from its mouth.
Formal raiment for priests of Sarenrae includes a long white chasuble and tunic decorated with red and gold thread depicting images of the sun, and officiating priests usually wear a golden crown with a red-gold sunburst device on top. Scimitars inlaid with gold sunbursts or golden gems are common ceremonial implements. This costume has changed over time and varies by region; older illustrated copies of her holy text show priests wearing pointed caps, decorative long-sleeved open-front coats over normal clothing, and even elaborate wings made of wood and feathers.
Rose gold (a mix of copper and gold) is very
popular among the faithful for its color, which reminds them of the dawn’s light. Any church items made of gold may actually be rose gold. Marriage ceremonies, dowries, and other events sanctified by the church may contain one or more finger rings made of rose gold, and in some desert cultures a man is not ready to ask a bride for her hand unless he has a rose gold ring to give her.
Sarenrae is neutral good and her portfolio is the sun, redemption, honesty, and healing. Her favored weapon is the scimitar. Her holy symbol is an ankh, though more stylized versions are a winged ankh or a winged female figure, arms outstretched, with a halo of flame. Her domains are Fire, Glory, Good, Healing, and Sun. Most of her priests are clerics, though there are many paladins and rangers and a smattering of sun-druids and sun-bards. Her titles include the Dawnflower and the Cleansing Light. To her enemies she is the Warrior of Fire.
The church has passive and active elements, and a priest of either flavor can usually find like-minded worshipers at any temple. Sarenrae’s paladins tend to be adventure-seekers, many of them questing in search of penance for past failures or perceived flaws. The more relaxed clergy tend to the sick and injured, though even these are ready to brandish a scimitar in the face of evil that steps within reach of the temple.
Religious ceremonies for the Dawnflower always involve singing (or sometimes ululation or even speaking in tongues) and usually include vigorous dancing, with participants spinning or moving in great circles representing the sun’s path through the sky. Cymbals, bells, and drums are popular instruments, accented by hand-clapping.
The church is very supportive of marriage and a wedding in a temple is always cause for celebration. Because of their stance of forgiveness and redemption, there is no stigma for divorce, and the delight over a second or third marriage is just as joyful as a person’s first. Worshipers reconsecrate their vows every 10 years, though this doesn’t involve an elaborate ceremony with guests.
In Katapesh, Osirion, and nearby lands the harsh sun beats down upon mortals, and the line between survival and extinction is much finer. Thus, it is no surprise that even benign Sarenrae emerges as a more steely, dangerous force. As tribal nomads say, “there are no second chances in the desert,” and here the Cult of the Dawnflower has taken that to heart. These hard-edged priests offer mercy once and only once to their opponents, and if refused they are ruthless in battle, ignoring offers to parley or surrender, unafraid to judge neutral opponents as if they were black-hearted evildoers. This severe stance only applies to enemies of the faith and sinful folk—among their friends, family, and other respectable members of the community, the people of the Desert Dawnflower are kind, generous, and forgiving. As a whole this subset of the main faith tends to fall much closer to true neutral than neutral good, though never to actual evil.