Growing up I just sort of assumed that all religions believed in only one god. I think it’s because it was all that I was exposed to, I mean Christians only have one god. The only other religions I ever heard about early on were Judaism and Islam and both of those only have one god. I just went through life believing that it was one god or no god, and for some reason it still takes me a little by surprise when I hear about religions with more than one god. I know that it shouldn’t surprise me, there are more polytheistic religions than monotheistic religions however whenever I found out about a polytheistic religion that I hadn’t heard of before it throws me for a loop. So this post is going to dive into some of the many polytheistic religions and describe as briefly as possible their beliefs about god/s. It’s important that it’s noted that this isn’t anywhere near all polytheistic religions nor is it an extensive look into them, this is just a brief overview of them until I get more time to explore them individually.
One of the world’s first religions (that’s still practiced today) is Hinduism. Probably all of you have heard of Hinduism, it was created in India about the same time or earlier than Judaism and is practiced by 900 Million some people. Also, they have 330 Million gods right? Actually, that’s not entirely correct for all Hindus at least. Many Hindus believe in one supreme being that is impossible to understand, so in order to better understand their god they worship different aspects of the supreme being. Let me explain, so if you’re a merchant you’re likely to worship Lakshmi (the Hindu goddess of wealth, health, fortune and prosperity). The reason is because this aspect of the supreme being would be the most involved in your life and you can understand her better because you experience here more. Now, that is many Hindus but not all. There are still loads of Hindus that believe that every god is a different being. It just goes to show that there are different sects of religious thought for every major religion and not just Christianity.
Another polytheistic religion that I find fascinating is Shintoism. Which is a polytheistic religion centered in Japan and its pretty freaking dope to be honest. They teach that Japan is the land of the gods and have very specific offering practices. The Shinto faith is also polytheistic in the truest sense of the word meaning that there are many gods and that they do not all represent the same form. I still don’t know enough to go deep into Shintoism but one other awesome thing about it is how well it has integrated with Buddhism in Japan. Many Japanese people practice both Buddhism and Shintoism in an incredible beautiful way. One important thing to people who practice Shintoism is the creation of shrines or temples to make sacrifices to their gods. If you’re based in the United States you can create your own shrine to the Shinto gods. What you need is a special offering set with two glasses of sake, a glass of water, rice and salt. Shintoism is a neat religion because it’s main tenet is to live a simple and harmonious life with nature and others.
Now, one last thing that I want to touch on are pagans! Unfortunately I have only met two people who identify with some form of paganism throughout my life and both people have some pretty awesome and fascinating ideas about life and faith. One of them is a Celtic Pagan who performs rituals and believes that people should not do any harm (a belief everyone should try to adhere to). The other person that I’ve met that identifies as Pagan has certain ideals and values that he has to uphold in order to please his gods and live a life of honor. One of the things that I find fascinating about this is that there has been a reemergence of polytheism and religions that were practiced thousands of years ago. I mean Celtic Polytheism is ancient and the fact that people are starting to practice it again is really cool. People are even practicing Greek Polytheism again, does this mean we stop calling it Greek Mythology now that people are believing in it once more? I don’t know but I think it’s something to think about.
Anyways, see you later!
Bryce M. Ridley
P.S. If you are curious to learn more about Shintoism there’s a great website called “Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America” check it out!
Also, like I stated earlier this isn’t an extensive nor elaborate examination of these different polytheistic religions but rather an unfairly brief summary before I get more into them. I also try to keep my posts relatively short that way its very easy for people to quickly read them and get information without requiring a large time commitment.