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Author Topic: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.  (Read 1796 times)

AnnaEtAl

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Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« on: June 24, 2013, 09:13:10 pm »
Alright, so, I'm just kind of going off of what I read on various sites over the internet...so bear with me.
From my understanding, pagans generally believe in multiple gods/goddesses (which is called polytheism, right?), but they don't HAVE to...correct?
Are there certain paths of paganism (is that the word? >.>) that usually only believe in one god/goddess/other entity or being?
Are there certain paths that don't believe in any gods/goddesses/other related?
 

Sorry...I know next to nothing about pagan beliefs, so I'm just trying to sort it out little by little.

Sage

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2013, 09:25:02 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113553
Alright, so, I'm just kind of going off of what I read on various sites over the internet...so bear with me.
From my understanding, pagans generally believe in multiple gods/goddesses (which is called polytheism, right?), but they don't HAVE to...correct?
Are there certain paths of paganism (is that the word? >.>) that usually only believe in one god/goddess/other entity or being?
Are there certain paths that don't believe in any gods/goddesses/other related?
 

Sorry...I know next to nothing about pagan beliefs, so I'm just trying to sort it out little by little.

 
There are no rules for what you do or don't have to believe as a Pagan. There are polytheists, pantheists, monotheists, atheists, animists, and others who all feel comfortable under the Pagan label.
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I shall embrace the light. I shall weather the storm.
I shall endure.
What you have created, no one can tear asunder.

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AnnaEtAl

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2013, 09:37:30 pm »
Quote from: Sage;113554
There are no rules for what you do or don't have to believe as a Pagan. There are polytheists, pantheists, monotheists, atheists, animists, and others who all feel comfortable under the Pagan label.

Okay. So, could someone be Hellenist, but believe in only one of those gods/goddesses? Or a certain amount? Or maybe they only worship one/certain amount of those gods/goddesses?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:38:12 pm by AnnaEtAl »

Aster Breo

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Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2013, 09:42:17 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113555
Okay. So, could someone be Hellenist, but believe in only one of those gods/goddesses? Or a certain amount? Or maybe they only worship one/certain amount of those gods/goddesses?

There are pagans who believe in many different ways. Including those who *believe* in multiple god/desses, but *worship* just one.  

F'ex, I'm a polytheist, so I believe in the existence of every god/dess.  However, I'm dedicated to and worship just Brighid (although, I do *honor* other gods in a passive sort of way when necessary).
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Jack

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2013, 09:44:50 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113555
Okay. So, could someone be Hellenist, but believe in only one of those gods/goddesses? Or a certain amount? Or maybe they only worship one/certain amount of those gods/goddesses?

 
I think you're confusing "believe in" and "worship" - I believe that lots of beings that I don't worship exist.

There may well be someone out there who identifies as a Hellenist but doesn't believe in the existence of any of the Greek gods besides, say, Zeus, but I haven't met them.
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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2013, 09:51:46 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113555
Okay. So, could someone be Hellenist, but believe in only one of those gods/goddesses? Or a certain amount? Or maybe they only worship one/certain amount of those gods/goddesses?
One could believe in multitudes of Gods but only worship one God! But being Hellenist it would be hard to ignore thousands of year of mythology to say only Zeus exists and not Ares.
"In Hell, everybody loves popcorn."

AnnaEtAl

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2013, 09:57:20 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;113556
There are pagans who believe in many different ways. Including those who *believe* in multiple god/desses, but *worship* just one.  

F'ex, I'm a polytheist, so I believe in the existence of every god/dess.  However, I'm dedicated to and worship just Brighid (although, I do *honor* other gods in a passive sort of way when necessary).

Is there a reason why some people believe in many gods/goddesses, but only worship one of them?

@Jack:
Nono, I think I just worded it wrong. I know you can /believe/ in many gods/goddesses, but can also /worship/ only one or two of them...or, however many said amount.

Thanks!


@Cryfder:
Oh, yeah, I get that, I was just using that as an example.

But this also makes me wonder: Could someone believe in many different gods/goddesses from different cultures(or...other term that's probably more correct than that one)? For example... Could someone believe in some of the Greek gods/goddesses, but also Norse gods/goddesses as well?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 09:58:00 pm by AnnaEtAl »

Leanan Sidhe

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2013, 09:59:35 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113553
Alright, so, I'm just kind of going off of what I read on various sites over the internet...so bear with me.
From my understanding, pagans generally believe in multiple gods/goddesses (which is called polytheism, right?), but they don't HAVE to...correct?
Are there certain paths of paganism (is that the word? >.>) that usually only believe in one god/goddess/other entity or being?
Are there certain paths that don't believe in any gods/goddesses/other related?
 

Sorry...I know next to nothing about pagan beliefs, so I'm just trying to sort it out little by little.

 
Sage is right -- there aren't hard and fast rules about being pagan. You can believe in any Gods -- or none -- and still be pagan.

But to clarify:

Yes, polytheism is a belief in multiple deities.

With soft polytheism, the belief is that all Gods might be aspects of one deity, or that they are archetypes.


Hard polytheism is a belief that deities are separate, specific, and distinct from each other.

Duotheism is a belief in two deities. Often this is seen in the sense where one is male and one is female.

These definitions are very simplistic, and partially because of that, they can be messy. There is also a lot of middle ground. Lots of people are somewhere between hard and soft polytheism.

There are lots of paths that don't believe in any Gods and Goddesses. In fact, there are several people on this forum who do. I'm not one of them, so they can probably give you a better idea of what their path looks like than I can.

But: A lot of pagans are atheists or agnostic. Additionally, there are things like witchcraft and shamanism which don't necessarily require a belief in divinity to be practiced.

For example, I'm a witch (not Wiccan). I perform spells and rituals and use divination methods. Sometimes, my Gods involved in this. But sometimes they aren't. So, if I were to do, say a full moon ritual, I wouldn't need to invoke or involve my Gods in the ritual. Because of that, that particular practice wouldn't require a belief in deities at all to be performed.

There are also paths like Druidry. Most Druid orders (with a few exceptions) do not require a belief in any deities in order to participate in the order.

Then there are combined paths, often classified as eclectic. Sometimes this translates to beliefs in the divine (or lack of them) as well. There are Christian witches and people who celebrate the Sabbats, and follow the Dao, but don't subscribe to a belief in Gods/Goddesses.

I hope that helps, and I'm sorry if it's more confusing. Paganism is such a huge umbrella, and a lot of different paths fall under it.
"Modesty is an illusion" -- de Sade
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Fier

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2013, 10:03:49 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113555
Okay. So, could someone be Hellenist, but believe in only one of those gods/goddesses? Or a certain amount? Or maybe they only worship one/certain amount of those gods/goddesses?

 
Well a Hellenic reconstructionist would believe in and honor all the Greek deities, by definition.

Someone might call themselves a Hellenist and only worship/honor some of the deities, but they probably still believe in all of them.

And others might only worship one or a few of the Hellenic deities but not call themselves a Hellenist.

Aster Breo

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Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #9 on: June 24, 2013, 10:06:14 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113560
Is there a reason why some people believe in many gods/goddesses, but only worship one of them?

*snip*

But this also makes me wonder: Could someone believe in many different gods/goddesses from different cultures(or...other term that's probably more correct than that one)? For example... Could someone believe in some of the Greek gods/goddesses, but also Norse gods/goddesses as well?

To answer your 2nd question 1st:  Sure.  Why not?  I believe in *people* from different cultures; why shouldn't I believe in *god/desses* from other cultures?

To answer your 1st question:  Different people's reasons will be different.  I can only speak to my own.  I believe in many deities because I've experienced more than one, I accept what other people have told me about their experiences with many deities, and I have no reason NOT to believe in them.  

I worship only Brighid because of my particular relationship with Her and what She has specifically asked of me.  It's a very personal reason.  Other people's relationships with Her are different.
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Fier

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2013, 10:07:18 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113560
Is there a reason why some people believe in many gods/goddesses, but only worship one of them?

They only have limited hours in the day.
They are only interested in working with a select number of deities.
Only a select number of deities are interested in working with them.

Quote
But this also makes me wonder: Could someone believe in many different gods/goddesses from different cultures(or...other term that's probably more correct than that one)? For example... Could someone believe in some of the Greek gods/goddesses, but also Norse gods/goddesses as well?

Yes. I think you'll find that many members on this forum feel that way.

Leanan Sidhe

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2013, 10:12:25 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113560
Is there a reason why some people believe in many gods/goddesses, but only worship one of them?



There are probably tons of reasons. Some of the reasons, why I, personally, only worship a few deities is because 1. I honestly don't have enough time/energy to worship every deity I believe in. 2. Even if I did, my deities would probably get fed up with me, because I would be so busy worshiping different deities that I wouldn't have time to do what my deities wanted me to do (besides worshiping them). 3. Because not every deity wants to work with me. 4. Because I don't want to work with every deity -- sometimes there is just personality conflict or a lack of shared areas of experience/interest. 5. Because sometimes I know absolutely nothing about a particular deity and therefore wouldn't feel qualified to worship them.

Quote


But this also makes me wonder: Could someone believe in many different gods/goddesses from different cultures(or...other term that's probably more correct than that one)? For example... Could someone believe in some of the Greek gods/goddesses, but also Norse gods/goddesses as well?

 
Sure. Lots of people do. I do. But a belief in deities from multiple pantheons doesn't mean that you have to worship deities from multiple pantheons -- although you can.
"Modesty is an illusion" -- de Sade
"The call of death is a call of love. Death can be sweet if we answer it in the affirmative, if we accept it as one of the great eternal forms of life and transformation." -- Herman Hesse

AnnaEtAl

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2013, 10:19:48 pm »
Quote from: Leanan Sidhe;113561
Sage is right -- there aren't hard and fast rules about being pagan. You can believe in any Gods -- or none -- and still be pagan.

But to clarify:

Yes, polytheism is a belief in multiple deities.

With soft polytheism, the belief is that all Gods might be aspects of one deity, or that they are archetypes.


Hard polytheism is a belief that deities are separate, specific, and distinct from each other.

Duotheism is a belief in two deities. Often this is seen in the sense where one is male and one is female.

These definitions are very simplistic, and partially because of that, they can be messy. There is also a lot of middle ground. Lots of people are somewhere between hard and soft polytheism.

There are lots of paths that don't believe in any Gods and Goddesses. In fact, there are several people on this forum who do. I'm not one of them, so they can probably give you a better idea of what their path looks like than I can.

But: A lot of pagans are atheists or agnostic. Additionally, there are things like witchcraft and shamanism which don't necessarily require a belief in divinity to be practiced.

For example, I'm a witch (not Wiccan). I perform spells and rituals and use divination methods. Sometimes, my Gods involved in this. But sometimes they aren't. So, if I were to do, say a full moon ritual, I wouldn't need to invoke or involve my Gods in the ritual. Because of that, that particular practice wouldn't require a belief in deities at all to be performed.

There are also paths like Druidry. Most Druid orders (with a few exceptions) do not require a belief in any deities in order to participate in the order.

Then there are combined paths, often classified as eclectic. Sometimes this translates to beliefs in the divine (or lack of them) as well. There are Christian witches and people who celebrate the Sabbats, and follow the Dao, but don't subscribe to a belief in Gods/Goddesses.

I hope that helps, and I'm sorry if it's more confusing. Paganism is such a huge umbrella, and a lot of different paths fall under it.

 
Actually, that wasn't all to confusing. The only thing I find confusing about this is why some gods/goddesses would be involved in some rituals and why others wouldn't...but I guess that's for another thread. And maybe it's been answered already, so maybe I'll look around.


I used to identify as Eclectic, but then I realized how broad of a term that was, and that I should probably do a little bit more research. Though, that still might be my best bet - to identify as eclectic - so far, but I still have lots of research to do.

Thanks for clearing that up! I appreciate it (:

@FierFlye:
What's a Hellenic reconstructionist?

&Yeah, I don't really quite get how people know when a deity is interested in working with them. I'll read more up on that, too.

@Aster:
Okay, I think I'm getting it now...maybe. It really doesn't matter what gods/goddesses you believe in, as long as you have the right idea of them, and the right reasons to believe in them?
« Last Edit: June 24, 2013, 10:20:40 pm by AnnaEtAl »

Aster Breo

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2013, 10:33:37 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113568


 
Before I answer the question you addressed to me, which I will in a separate post:

A Reminder:

AnnaEtAl,

Just a quick note: Please remember to quote, even if you're just replying to the first message in the thread. It makes the discussion easier to follow, and it's required by our rules.

To reply to more than one poster, please create separate posts with the appropriate quotes.  Unlike many other forums, we prefer that you make multiple posts in a row to address different posters, rather than include many replies in one posts.

This isn't a formal warning, just a reminder. No reply is necessary, but if you have questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact a member of staff privately.

Thanks!
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Aster Breo

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Re: Believing in multiple gods/goddesses.
« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2013, 10:53:09 pm »
Quote from: AnnaEtAl;113568

@Aster:
Okay, I think I'm getting it now...maybe. It really doesn't matter what gods/goddesses you believe in, as long as you have the right idea of them, and the right reasons to believe in them?

 
Now, to answer your question:  That depends on what you mean by "it doesn't matter what gods/goddesses you believe in".  There is no "Pagan Authority" policing what pagans believe, so if you mean that it doesn't matter *to anyone else* what any particular individual believes, then, yes, that's correct.

There's also the question of what you mean by "believe in".  Do you mean "accept the existence of"?  Or "worship"/"have a relationship with"?  Or something else?  Because words mean things...

Either way, again, since there is no Pagan Police, it doesn't matter to anyone who/what anyone *else* believes in or worships.  Or anything else about somebody else's practice.

However, it matters a great deal to the individual in question.  I *believe* in the existence of many, many deities (and other beings, too), as I explained upthread.  That is, I believe they exist and I believe they are deities (or whatever other kind of being).  That does not necessarily mean that I know much about them.

However, who I worship is a different question -- and it matters a great deal *to me*.    Although I have had contact with a few deities, Brighid is the only one I've chosen to dedicate myself to.  And, for me, that dedication is exclusive.  Part of my "deal" with Brighid is that I don't reach out to other deities.  On the rare occasion that I'm in a situation in which simple manners require me to acknowledge another deity, I will show the appropriate respect.  But I do not seek out other deities or petition them for assistance or make offerings to them (beyond the basic offerings that might be necessary in certain situations, as a matter of basic politeness).

About having the right idea about a deity:  I'm not sure what you mean by that.  If you mean doing the research, learning about their culture of origin, reading their lore, etc., then, yes, that's always extremely helpful.  But not always absolutely necessary.  Depends on the specific deity and the specific person.

Or did you mean something else?

And having the right reasons:  Again, I'm not sure what you mean by that.  Every person has different reasons for *believing* in deity in general and in specific deities.  And every person has different reasons for having relationships with whatever deity/ies they have relationship(s) with.  

I'm not sure I'd want to be the one to decide what reasons are the "right" reasons.

~ Aster
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

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