Polytheism

Polytheism is the belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religious sects and rituals. Polytheism is a type of theism. Within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular God, in most cases transcendent. In religions that accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses may be representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles; they can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies).[1] Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally; they can be henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity, or kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.

Egyptian gods in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Polytheism was the typical form of religion before the development and spread of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,[2] which enforce monotheism. It is well documented throughout history, from prehistory and the earliest records of Ancient Egyptian religion and Ancient Mesopotamian religion to the religions prevalent during Classical antiquity, such as ancient Greek religion and ancient Roman religion, and in ethnic religions such as Germanic, Slavic, and Baltic paganism and Native American religions.

Notable polytheistic religions practiced today include Taoism, Shenism or Chinese folk religion, Japanese Shinto, Santería, most Traditional African religions,[3] various neopagan faiths, and most forms of Hinduism.

Hinduism, while popularly held as polytheistic, cannot be exclusively categorised as such as some Hindus consider themselves to be pantheists and others consider themselves to be monotheists. Both are compatible with Hindu texts, since there exists no consensus of standardisation in the faith. Vedanta, the most dominant school of Hinduism, offers a combination of monotheism and polytheism, holding that Brahman is the sole ultimate reality of the universe, yet unity with it can be reached by worshipping multiple gods and goddesses.


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Polytheism, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.