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Polytheistic Religions - Doctrine Of Necessity

Polytheistic Religions

 Polytheistic Religions

Polytheism; derived from the Greek words “poly” for “many” and “theos” for “god,” which refers to the belief and worship of several deities.

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Contents 

  1. Introduction
  2. Defining Polytheism
  3. Ancient Polytheistic Religions
  4. Modern Polytheistic Religions
  5. Polytheism Today
  6. Key Characteristics of Polytheistic Religions
  7. Conclusion
  8. Source

 

Ancient Egyptian Polytheism

Introduction:

Religious beliefs and practices have evolved over time to reflect the diverse experiences, cultures, and worldviews of different societies. Polytheism, which includes religions that worship numerous deities, is one type of religious belief system. Certainly, polytheistic faiths have influenced the beliefs, practices, and civilizations of ancient and modern societies equally. We shall dig into the rich tapestry of polytheistic faiths in this essay, studying their traits, historical circumstances, and enduring legacies.

Occasionally, above the many gods, a polytheistic religion will have a supreme creator and object of devotion, as in some phases of Hinduism (there is also a tendency to identify the many gods as multiple manifestations of the Supreme Being); likewise, sometimes the gods are viewed as secondary to some higher goal, state, or saviour, as in Buddhism; and occasionally one god will emerge as more powerful than the others without achieving overall supremacy, as Zeus in Greek religion.

Defining Polytheism:

Polytheism is derived from the Greek words “poly” for “many” and “theos” for “god.” And it refers to the belief and worship of several deities. Polytheistic faiths, as opposed to monotheistic faiths, affirm the existence of a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Therefore, they are each linked with various aspects of life, nature, or specific realms. Eventually, within the religious framework, these deities may have a variety of personalities, powers, and duties.

Ancient Polytheistic Religions:

  1. Ancient Egyptian Religion:

Ancient Egypt’s polytheistic belief system venerated a diverse range of deities. For instance, the sun god, Osiris, the Creator of the afterlife, Isis, the goddess of fertility and sorcery, and Horus the sky god, were among them. Furthermore, Egyptians believed that these gods oversaw many elements of life and provided prayers, rites and offerings in order to obtain their favour and protection.

The majority of gods were typically kind, but it was impossible to depend on them, thus it was necessary to appease them and encourage them to appear in their cult pictures in order for them to accept worship and promote the reciprocity between the divine and the human. Some gods, most notably the goddesses Neith, Sekhmet, and Mut, had very conflicted personalities. In the first millennium BCE, the god Seth began to be viewed as an adversary that needed to be vanquished since he represented the disorderly elements of the organised world.

  1. Ancient Greek Religion:

Zeus was the monarch of the gods,  Athena was the goddess of wisdom, Apollo was the god of music and healing, and Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty. They were all worshipped in ancient Greece. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology were thought to impact everything from weather patterns to personal fortunes. Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Ares, Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Hephaestus, Hermes, and either Hestia or Dionysus were the twelve main Olympian gods and goddesses, though Stoicism and some forms of Platonism used language that appears to assume a single transcendent deity. The majority of ancient Greeks also worshipped Hestia or Dionysus. 

  1. Ancient Norse Religion:

The Vikings’ lives were influenced by the Norse pantheon of gods and goddesses. Norse mythology examined honours of velour, fate, and honour, led by Odin, the god of war. Similarly, wisdom is accompanied by Thor, the god of thunder. And Freya, the goddess of love and fertility.

The polytheistic religion of the Old Norse people involved the worship of numerous gods and goddesses. The Sir and the Vanir, two groupings of these deities in Norse mythology, are stated in some accounts to have fought in the past before realising they were both equally powerful.

Modern Polytheistic Religions:

  1. Hinduism:

Hindu religion, one of the world’s oldest religions, is polytheistic in nature. With its enormous mixture of gods and goddesses, Hinduism represents India’s diversity and geographical variances. Generally, Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver, Shiva, the destroyer, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge are among the major deities of Hinduism.
Hinduism’s multiplicity of gods and goddesses is one of its distinguishing characteristics. Professor Julius Lipner argues that Hinduism cannot be viewed as polytheistic and goes on to analyse how the deities are conceptualised in Hindu culture and sacred scriptures as well as their function in devotional worship.

  2. Shintoism

Shintoism, which originated in Japan, worships a plethora of deities called kami. These spirits take up residence in natural elements, things, and ancestors. Moreover, Shinto rites and traditions emphasize natural harmony and purifying procedures held at shrines.

Shinto is a polytheistic religion that honours numerous gods known as kami, or occasionally jingi. Since there is no distinction between singular and plural in Japanese, the word “kami” can refer to both a single kami and a group of them all.

Polytheism Today:

While monotheistic religions predominate in the worldwide religious landscape, polytheistic doctrines continue to exist in diverse forms. Some indigenous societies, such as Native American tribes, African indigenous religions, and certain Asian tribal communities, continue to practise polytheism. Wicca and Druidry are current neopagan movements that draw influence from traditional polytheistic beliefs and practices.

Key Characteristics of Polytheistic Religions:

  1. Pantheon: Polytheistic religions have a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each with unique characteristics, functions, and mythical storylines.
  2. Diversity: Polytheism is sometimes used to portray a region’s cultural, geographical, and historical diversity, as well as society, by embracing local traditions, beliefs, and practices.
  3. Interactions: Polytheistic deities frequently interact with humans, interfering in their lives and motivating devotion via rituals, prayers, and sacrifices.
  4. Cosmic Order: Polytheistic faiths may develop cosmological narratives that elucidate the origin of the cosmos and the interaction of gods and mortals.
  5. Rituals and Offerings:  Polythonouric worship entails a variety of rites, ceremonies, and offerings designed to honour and appease specific deities.

Conclusion:

Polytheistic faiths offer an insight into the rich tapestry of human spirituality and cultural expression. From ancient Egypt, Greece, and Norse nations to today’s thriving polytheistic traditions, these belief systems demonstrate the range and complexity of human religious experiences. We obtain a better understanding of the various ways in which mankind strives to understand and connect with the supernatural forces that shape our existence by studying polytheistic faiths.

Source

Ancient Religions by Sarah Iles JOHNSTON,  2009.

 

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