Eldatha - The Great Physician
This is deity 5 out of 6 in my series called “The Church of the Light”. LInks to the other deities can be found on r/DnDBehindtheScreen.
Panther’s Note- I stole the name from "Eldath" from an established deity, but other than the name, this is an OC goddess I have designed after reading the original Hippocratic Oath. The section on "Telial Half-Elven" is based on the character of a tablemate who was lost to depression before he could finish his quest to find The Hawthorn Staff.
In keeping with Telial's character, I recommend Eldatha as a patron deity for anyone who seeks to share compassion, mercy and a passion for learning at their D&D table.
The Lady of Compassion, The Healing Light, The Great Physician.
Older depictions of Eldatha show an elven or human woman carrying a staff. Generally speaking, the oldest depictions show Eldatha as an eladrin, and the more recent depictions show a human with a solar crown. However, modern Church of the Light aesthetics shy away from depictions of The Light as mere mortals, so most depictions of her are allegorical. She is commonly depicted as the 4th ray of the Holy Sun, or by her personal sigil, a single winged snake entwined around a hawthorn staff. Hawthorn flowers are sacred to Eldatha. She is heavily associated with Couatls.
Eldatha is a very ancient deity that certainly predates The Church of the Light, so there are many disagreements over Eldatha’s divine origin. Within The Church of the Light, Eldatha is largely believed to be a human, who was raised by Tatiana after being abandoned in the woods as a babe. Unfortunately, this means that Eldatha’s grandson, Prince Nuada, is a half-elf, and raises many uncomfortable questions for elves who have not treated half-elves kindly.
Elves are far more comfortable believing that Eldatha is a flesh-and-blood Elven child of Queen Tatiana, because it side-steps the issues of half-elven legitimacy surrounding the Elven deity, Prince Nuada.
Despite the difference in opinion regarding where Eldatha came from, the rest of her origin is fairly consistent across national and racial divides. Whether she is Tatiana’s flesh-and-blood daughter, or an adopted human daughter, Eldatha is held in very high esteem by her mother, The Queen of Summer.
Originally, Eldatha was the sole deity who could resurrect a mortal after The Reaper had claimed them. However, after the sundering of Death's scythe, this power was extended to almost every other deity under the stars. With her primary domain no longer necessary, she refocused herself as a patron of healers, and those who prevent the pain of death. Eventually, she became identified as the faithful bride of the young solar deity, Pelor.
Healing, Mercy, Physicians, Resurrection, Snakes and Freshwater Springs.
The common folk regard Eldatha is a guardian spirit of the Earth that ascended to become the bride of Pelor. Eldatha’s worship predates the Church of the Light by at least a millennia; modern worship of Eldatha is likely an amalgamation of several pre-modern traditions that were incorporated as The Church spread. Eldatha’s tenets may vary considerably between locales, depending upon the social mores of the area.
Eldatha is a very popular deity that is “casually worshiped” by much of humankind. She is the patron deity of doctors and healers. Any who are afflicted with illness, or concerned for the health of another, may come to her temple to offer something in return for Eldatha’s blessings.
The Holy Order of Physicians are priests of Eldatha who have graduated from a lengthy and rigorous apprenticeship in the arts of healing. The Dogma of Eldatha is a closely observed code of conduct that every Physician must swear to at the beginning and at the completion of their apprenticeship. Upon reaffirmation of their oath, and completion of their apprenticeship, a Physician is granted an amulet depicting Eldatha’s sacred Hawthorn staff. Eldatha’s Physician-priests commonly practice alchemy, herbalism, surgery and whatever other arts may lend themselves to healing the suffering of mortalkind.
It is widely believed that someone who harms a Physician of Eldatha will bring ill fortune, sickness and injury upon their household. Physicians of Eldatha are afforded a great degree of trust, respect and fear within their own community. Most Physicians guard this trust very zealously; any abuse of that trust is an affront to their own personal honor as well as an affront to Eldatha’s honor. A Physician who violates the strict code of conduct may quickly find themself being “corrected” by other members of the order.
Eldatha is the wife of Pelor, and the “Fourth Ray of the Holy Sun”. She is closely allied with the other members of The Church of the Light.
Pelor, Lord of the Sun and Sky - Pelor is Eldatha’s beloved husband. The exact nature of their relationship is left up to the interpretation of local mores, but all sources agree that it is a happy and productive union. Eldatha either defers to Pelor’s paternalistic authority, or she does not care to take a hand at leadership, because her concerns are elsewhere. Either way, the worship of Pelor and the worship of Eldatha are fairly intrinsically entwined. Together, they are the embodiment of an ideal marital couple.
Aurora, Lady of Rainbows - Aurora is the daughter of Pelor and Eldatha; she is the Lady of Rainbows and the Light of Hope. Aurora is also the Guardian of Children, and she is the one who escorts the spirits of children into a peaceful afterlife. Aurora and Eldatha share a large overlap of their domains; however, Aurora is sometimes regarded as a deity of death. Aurora’s priests are not above making suggestions of quantities of toxic plants that a terminal patient may ingest in order to bring about the end of pain. This is a small point of contention between Eldatha’s priests and Aurora’s.
Nuada, Light of the Elves - Nuada is the Light of the Elves, and the watchful guardian of the Elven Afterlife. Prince Nuada has an extensive knowledge of herblore and alchemy that he learned at the feet of his grandmother. Priests of Eldatha that operate within Elven lands are also said to be under Prince Nuada’s watchful protection.
Ilmater, The Patient Lord - Besides Pelor, Ilmater is Eldatha’s closest ally. Ilmater’s priests are frequent patients for the priests of Eldatha. Although Ilmater demands that his priests eschew divine healing for their wounds, he does not forbid them from receiving naturally-made medicines, or healing surgeries. Temples of Ilmater will often host a resident Physician, and a apprentices who need frequent practice of their arts.
Helios, The Light of the Law - Helios and Eldatha are only the loosest of allies. Although they maintain a cool relationship that is only held together by Pelor and Ilmater’s guidance. Helios is uncompromising, and unwilling to overlook the indiscretions of mortals. Meanwhile, Eldatha is adamant that her physicians hold their tongues and seal their senses if they witness evidence of criminal acts performed by their patients. This is a point of contention between the two deities that is unlikely to ever be resolved. Because of this contention, Eldatha’s physicians are reluctant to lend their skills towards the devout of Helios, unless absolutely necessary.
Outside of the Church of the Light, Eldatha is still fairly widely worshipped. She is a fairly ancient deity, and may have extensive associations that predate her marriage to Pelor. In many places, she is heavily associated with healing springs, and whatever deities that the locals may have invested in those springs. Among the Elves, Eldatha has a few small fertility cults, due to her relationship to Queen Tatiana and Prince Nuada.
Eldatha considers The Grim Reaper to be her chief enemy. Eldatha hates any and all who would worship the concept of Death, or those who practice necromancy. Raising the dead, and puppeting corpses about in a facsimile of life, is a grave offense to her. Note that this enmity does not necessarily extend towards The Raven Queen, who is merely a judge of The Dead, not a bringer of Death.
Like every member of the Pantheon of Light, Eldatha is no fan of Asmodeus and the other infernal Lords of Baator. Her chief issue with the Infernal Lords is that they tempt the desperate, and take advantage of the fragility of mortals.
The Physicians of Eldatha have already been thoroughly discussed in the “Dogma” section. They are, by far, the most numerous of Eldatha’s clergy.
Eldatha’s temples are houses of healing. There is very little resemblance to a traditional temple, other than the presence of a shrine where supplicants may make offerings in return for healing. Where climate allows, snakes are given the run of Eldatha’s temples; they are creatures heavily associated with Eldatha’s healing power. As a bonus, the snakes seem to be quite capable of keeping rats and other pests out of the herb gardens.
Eldatha is heavily associated with natural springs; her temples are usually built around or near them. The primary purpose of a dedicated Temple of Eldatha is to treat the ill, and to educate apprentice Physicians.
There are “sick house barracks” where the ill and injured may rest, and be tended by Physicians. In very large cities, these barracks are large and sprawling; reflective of times when epidemics have swept across the city, and the extra beds were needed.
There is usually a library, located very closely to an apothecarium where healing potions and salves are mixed. At a very large or important temple, the library may be quite extensive.
Most dedicated temples have a mortuary, where unclaimed corpses are solemnly dissected, analyzed and studied by Physicians and their apprentices. After a corpse has completely examined and studied by all of the resident doctors and apprentices, it is burned with ceremony, and interred among the ashes of Physicians and other patrons of the temple.
All temples of Eldatha have an extensive garden, where healing herbs and fungi are cultivated.
Eldatha is celebrated in the springtime. This is reminiscent of her origin as a handmaid of Queen Tatiana; a powerful, primal spirit of fertility. The return of life to the earth in springtime is highly symbolic of the moment when an ill patient has finally begun to recover from the depths of their illness. Additionally, with the warming of the ground, Physicians may begin cultivating their gardens and restoring their stockpiles of healing herbs. The beginning of Spring is a sigh of relief for beleaguered doctors who have labored during the winter to keep their patients well.
The First Day of Spring is a day when Physicians give thanks to Eldatha for the survival of their patients. It is also a day when many recovered patients come forth to offer thanks to the Physicians who have ministered to them over the course of the previous year. Gifts of liquor, seeds, eggs, fattened young animals, and gold are traditionally offered to the resident Physicians at Eldatha’s temples.
Physicians are mandated to graciously accept any offerings that their patients may provide. As the sun sets on the first day of Spring, most Physicians will share their offerings with one another and celebrate generously together.
Eldatha’s messengers are specifically said to be serpents. Eldatha’s Solar is a large cobra-like couatl named Paean (pay-yan). Paean is said to be capable of curing any affliction with the venom of his fangs.
The greatest mortal champion of Eldatha is, or was, a half-elf named Telial.
Telial was a Physician who took it upon himself to find the broken pieces of Eldatha’s staff, and return the power of resurrection to His Lady. He assembled a virtuous cadre of companions, and set out to hunt the lich responsible for the staff’s sundering. Although he died in the attempt, due to a Curse of Doom inflicted by a fel demon, Telial’s companions would later assemble the completed staff and present it, in Telial’s name, to Eldatha.
Telial’s ghost wanders the world, with Eldatha’s Hawthorn staff in-hand, and grants second chances to those who have died with their quests unfinished.
Usually, when a Physician is stripped of their rank and status, they quietly retire, or they seek out some other trade. However, occasionally, a heretical physician will skip town and hold themself as a true Physician.
Although Eldatha was originally regarded as a Goddess of Resurrection, it is generally against current teachings for a Physician to attempt to resurrect a patient after they have died (the only exception to this is when The Hawthorn Staff is properly involved).
Sometimes, a heretical Physician will stray too close to necromancy, and will be summarily stripped of their status, and shamed within the community of Physicians. Other times, a Physician who assists in torture, or unnecessary surgery may also be stripped of their status. Such physicians will frequently gravitate towards other communities, or deities, that welcome their “alternative medical solutions”.
Most actual Physicians regard heretical physicians as lower than beasts; they are traitors to the sacred code of conduct, and dangerous to the community at large. It is an unspoken rule among Physicians that “curing” a community of a heretical physician is a way to prevent harm to future patients.