Swallowtail Release

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Desna holy symbol

The swallowtail butterfly is a popular symbol of Desna.

The Swallowtail Release is a holiday in honor of the goddess Desna,[1] and is held annually on the first day of autumn. It serves to commemorate a legend in which an avatar of Desna fell to Golarion after a fierce battle with the goddess Lamashtu. She was discovered and nursed back to health by a blind child. To express her thanks, Desna transformed the child into a beautiful, immortal swallowtail butterfly so that he could explore the wonders of the whole world for all eternity.[2]

To celebrate this event, priests of Desna release a wagon full of swallowtail butterflies in front of a crowd of believers. It is considered a good omen for a worshiper, if a butterfly rests on him or her for a short time. The day is spent in celebration and can include activities such as feasting, storytelling, and singing. In preparation for this event, larger temples of Desna often have enclosed gardens in which they raise swallowtail butterflies year round. In colder climes, where the raising of butterflies is impossible, faithful will sometimes substitute colored leaves or painted corn husks for the actual insects.[3]


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