|Not actually Sharess|
The Dancing Lady, the Tawny Temptress
Domains: Life, Trickery
Symbol: A pair of luscious lips
The history of Sharess is long and twisted. In brief, the cat-goddess Bast wandered away from the Mulhorandi pantheon, merged with the obscure and dying elf deity Zandilar the Dancer, and eventually was tempted by and partially integrated into the goddess Shar. For centuries, Sharess existed as an aspect of Shar – a reminder that secrets can be enticing, that longing and loss are intimately related – and was worshipped as the patroness of festhalls and sensual fulfillment. Sune helped Sharess regain her independence during the Time of Troubles, but the long, strange road from the Spellplague to the Second Sundering seems to have ended with Sune absorbing Sharess and becoming the goddess of hedonism.
In truth, the worship of Sharess has gone underground. Crusades against Shar (instigator of the Spellplague) resulted in demonization of the goddess who shared her name. Sharess became the center of a small but loyal mystery cult; no longer the goddess of sensual pleasure, she became instead the goddess of desire. Her cult practices a demanding devotion, walking the sword’s edge between gratification and overindulgence, between the enlightened self-interest of hedonism and the selfishness of decadence. Initiation into the cult requires rigorous physical and spiritual testing, weeding out the romantics who would be happier with Sune, the sadomasochists who belong to Loviatar, and the infiltrators in the employ of Shar.
While still the (secret) patroness of festhalls – where her clergy attend the less-pleasant healthcare aspects of festhall work as well as provide spiritual guidance to the employees – her role as goddess of desire makes Sharess the favored goddess of the dissatisfied and dispossessed. Artists and poets who wish to depict the grotesque and sublime – instead of merely the beautiful – are drawn to her worship; philosophers and rebels who dream of nations without kings and cities ruled by the consent of their people find solace in her ever-hungry, never-satisfied desire. If less happy than in bygone ages, if less light of heart than she was before, Sharess now finds greater purpose in this new age.
|Symbol of Sharess|