Polytheism

Polytheism takes on many forms. For example, the Egyptians, Germanic tribes, Inca, Native Americans, and Greeks, all had their own polytheistic religion. Generally speaking, there were gods or goddesses of love, war, fertility, and cunning.

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Most of my familiarity with polytheism is in Greek mythology.

There was Ares, god of war; Hades, stern god the underworld; Hephaestus , god of fire; Zeus, king of Olympus and creator of harsh lightning storms;  Poseidon, god of the sea; and Dionysus, god of the vine and gaiety. There were regular Dionysian Festivals held in his name.

Greek goddesses include Aphrodite, of love and beauty; Artemis, of hunters; and Athena, the female goddess of war.

Ancient Greece was a highly intellectual country. Philosophers tended to clash somewhat with religion. There was one man, Empedocles, whose writing could mean that gods and goddesses exist, or that everything is mere science. Please see the Empedocles on the Divine and Science essay for more information. There’s another somewhat polytheistic take on reality, that of Epicurus, that I tend to lean toward. The essay on The Epicurean vs American Final Good details his beliefs, and how they compare to American culture.

Hinduism…

Polytheism

In India, a somewhat unique religion. What makes Hinduism different is that it can be monotheistic, polytheistic, monotheistic and polytheistic, or pantheistic. While each Hindu has their own opinion, they all tend to tolerate each other’s membership in other Hindu practices.

The most well-known Hindu is the polytheistic one, the one who recognizes many gods and goddesses. The main Hindu deities are Brahman (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver), Shiva (the destroyer). They are referred to as “the trinity”, composing Brahman. We see similar beliefs in Christianity. Brahma creates all in the universe. Vishnu maintains these creations for a limited amount of time. Shiva destroys what has been created, in order for it to be renewed by Brahma, in an everlasting cycle.

Perhaps the best-known aspect of Hinduism is karma, the belief that one will be rewarded in the future for ethical actions (called dharma, which varies depending on one’s status) of the present, and punished for acting immorally.

Samsara is the Hindu belief of a cycle of our spiritual soul (atman) in birth, death, and rebirth. Moksha is the goal of being liberated from this cycle.

Some Hindus revere only one god or goddess (monotheism). It could literally be any one of them, not just one of the three major gods or Brahman. Some Hindu sects believe that, for instance, Vishnu is actually Brahman, and that it doesn’t make sense to pray to other gods/goddesses, since it’s just praying to one part of Brahman, whereas one should recognize the whole of Brahman.

There are those who worship all Hindu gods and goddesses (polytheism). Some Hindus pray to the three main gods, and Brahman himself, effectively making them polytheistic and monotheistic believers.

Sources: https://cdeniz.com/en/library/encyclopedia-of-philosophy/polytheism/, https://nameberry.com/blog/zodiac-baby-names-pisces-possibilities