What gods do pagans believe in?
Most pagans believe in multiple deities…however, we can run the gamut of belief in deity. For example, a pagan can have anyone of the following beliefs:
hard polytheist—-generally believes in multiple, distinct and separate deities…in my experience, hard polytheists tend to fall into one of three categories–those that believe in the existance of ALL gods and choose a specific pantheon(s) of worship (I have seen this called omnitheism, though I favor calling it “inclusive” polytheism), those that believe in the existance of THEIR gods at the exclusion of others (what I call “exclusive” polytheism), and those that fall somewhere inbetween believeing in SOME but not all gods (I call this “selevtive” polytheism).
variations of hard polytheism (or monotheism, depending on how you look at it):
*henotheism–generally, the worship of a single god, but the belief in the existance or possibility of other deities
*monolarity–generally, the belief in the existance of multiple deities, with only one chosen deity as being worthy of worship
*kanthenotheism–generally, the worship of a single god at a time while recognizing the existance/possibility of other deities
soft polytheist—-generally believes in multiple deities as separate facets/personalities of one greater divine spirit or source
variations of soft polytheism that I have encountered:
*All individual deities are literal manifestations of a single Divine (which is what most people associate it with).
*All individual deities are archetypes of a single Divine and are symbolic, rather than literal.
*Feminine deities are a part of the Goddess and masculine deities part of the God and the God and Goddess are both aspects of a greater Divine.
*Feminine deities are a part of the Goddess and masculine deities part of the God and the God and Goddess are NOT both aspects of a greater Divine
*Individual deities are manifestations of greater archetypal type deities, which are separate entities…I find this one a little confusing, but I only know a couple of people that believe it and it works for them…so, to each their own…
pantheist—-generally believes that god is the totality of the universe, can be either monotheistic, or (soft) polytheistic belief
panentheist—-generally believes that god is both immanent and transcendent…that god is within the universe, but also something apart; can be monotheist or polytheist
duotheist—-literally “2 gods”…generally believes in a female and a male deity, duotheists can believe that the male and female are separate sides of one greater divine, or that they areseparate entities, or that all gods/goddesses are facets of the god/goddess…generally, duotheists are Wiccan, as Wicca has, since its conception, an established belief in the Lord and Lady
deist—-the belief of the existence of a creator deity who does not intervene in the universe
monotheist—-belief in one god…for Pagans, this is generally a pantheistic or panentheistic belief, or a belief in one universal consciousness/divinity (henotheism can also be seen as a form of monotheism)
agnostic/atheistic—-some Pagans don’t believe in deity…or they may believe in a connecting universal force, but not see it as divine, or they might see it as not being important, or that there is no evidence for or against, or that there my be divinity, but they do not worship it, or…you get the picture.
Depending on an individual’s personal preference, they may choose to any one of a number of individual gods from a number of pantheons, or may worship the gods of a specific pantheon. Some traditions are specific to a particular pantheon. For example, followers of Asatru honor the Norse gods, while Hellenic pagans honor the Greek gods. Often either a deification or at least personification of the Earth as a conscious being/entity is recognized by many (if not most—but definitively not all) pagans.
Some Types of Pagan Practices:
There are several different descriptors for different types of paganism–for example, Isaac Bonewits’s neo/meso/paleo-pagan categorization…however, these are the ones I hear the most in terms of contemporary Paganism.
Syncretism: The attempt to reconcile separate systems into a seamless and unified new system.
Eclecticism: The selection of elements from different systems of thought, without excessive concern for possible contradictions between the systems in an attempt to choose the best ideas and philosophies.
Reconstructionist: The process of collecting examining the evidence of historic traditions and implementing those traditions in a modern sense, reconstructionists are attempting to reconstruct a historical religious (and often cultural) tradition that is as authentic as allowable.
**I also have to put in a personal plug for an additional category (revival/reform)…for those that choose to follow a specific pantheon (and are therefore not eclectic) but do so in a manner that emphasizes personal gnosis and experience, and may not practice in an historically authentic manner…