It is also related to animism , ancestor worship , and totemism see totem. Polytheism as an Evolutionary Stage. Unfortunately, no discussion of polytheism can ignore the connotations implied by the Greek word theos , especially as it is the Greek term that has influenced most Western discourse on the subject.

Greek Paganism: Hellenic Religion

This appears to be a result of increased immigration of Eastern cultures and the mainstream popularity of New Age pluralism. Small-scale societies whose members were relatively unconcerned by events outside their social microcosm emphasized the importance of local spirits in their religions.

Nuer Religion. Some Hellenes also follow a ritual described in the works of Hesiod, in which they privately offer devotions in their home on designated days of the month. These religions are widely practiced throughout the world and remain very popular in their ancestral areas. As late as the sixteenth century, the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun, in his remarkably detailed and sensitive account of pre-Columbian Mexican religion and culture, equated various Aztec divinities with their putative Roman equivalents.

Subgroups of the religion may use other names to identify with various schools of thought, traditions, and practices. African cosmologies, he argued, included ideas about a high god , a creator, as well as a multiplicity of lesser spirits associated with specific localities or kin groups.

For the faithful, religious practice provides a link between humanity and the spiritual world, joining people together in communities of worship and service.

It offers training for clergy, adult religious education classes, and other courses for members. Usually such cultures also practice a more sophisticated type of agriculture for example, one in which the plow supersedes the hoe , although, once again, this is not necessarily the case everywhere. Each of them … is God regarded in a particular way; and it may help us if we think of the particular spirits as figures or representations or refractions of God in relations to particular activities, events, persons, and groups.


There is little, if any, systematic literature on the subject. Indeed, too little scholarly attention has been paid to the strange fact that polytheism has gradually disappeared except in some East Asian religions.

God , the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him. Each believer is free to worship the god of his or her choice in the manner of his or her liking. Attempts to systematize the theology and worship of such religions, most particularly Hinduism, are modern outcomes of colonial and postcolonial situations.

In fact, there was a goddess responsible for the toilet and sewage system: When polytheism is superseded by monotheism, the host of deities is either abolished theoretically , or bedeviled i. The relation is one of bipolarity; humans and the gods, though different, are related.

Black Critics and Kings: The Indo-Aryan and pre-Zoroastrian Iranian religions certainly were not primitive. Primitive Culture: For some Hellenistic writers e. No doubt for the urban masses in fourth-century Rome, the cult of the Christian martyrs was merely a kind of transformation of the earlier polytheistic cults, and the same is probably still true of much Roman Catholic Christianity, especially in rural areas. Polytheism, he argued, was the earliest form of religion: As a result, each person is free to behave as he or she sees fit.

It was not, he argued, born out of abstract speculation or contemplation, but rather in response to human hopes and especially fears — of illness, childbirth, war, and so on. After the Babylonian exile, a monotheistic Judaism began to take root among the Jews in Jerusalem, as well as in the Diaspora.

Seen in this light, polytheism is not intrinsically a fixed and overarching system, but rather a highly flexible framework that can articulate local cults within a wider regional or supraregional framework. In addition, the fundamental belief of eusebia piety involves commitment and action to worship the Greek gods. Polytheism characterizes the beliefs of Hinduism, Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism and Shintoism in the East, and also contemporary tribal religions in Africa and the Americas.

Moses and Monotheism. Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Stanford University Press,