Polytheism is the belief in or worship of multiple deities, called gods and/or goddesses. These are usually assembled into a pantheon, along with their own mythologies and rituals. Many religions, both historical and contemporary, have a belief in polytheism, such as Shinto, Ancient Greek Polytheism, Roman Polytheism, Germanic Polytheism, Slavic polytheism,Chinese folk religion, Neopagan faiths and Anglo-Saxon paganism.
Polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but can be monolatrists, specialising in the worship of one particular deity. Other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.
Polytheism (belief in one or more gods), is a type of theism but contrasts with monotheism (belief in a singular god), which is the dominant belief in the world today. In certain religions, such as Wicca, the various deities are seen as emanations of a greater Godhead.
The English language word "polytheism" is attested from the 17th century, loaned from French polythéisme, which had been in use since 1580. In post-classical Latin, the term is polytheismus. The word is attested later than atheism but earlier than theism.
It ultimately derives from the Greek adjective πολυθεός (from πολύς "many" and θεός "god"), in the meaning "of or belonging to many gods" found in Aeschylus (Suppliant Women 424), or "believing in many gods" in Procopius (Historia Arcana 13).
Gods and divinity
The deities of polytheistic religions are agents in mythology, where they are portrayed as complex personages of greater or lesser status, with individual skills, needs, desires and histories. These gods are often seen as similar to humans (anthropomorphic) in their personality traits, but with additional individual powers, abilities, knowledge or perceptions.
Polytheism cannot be cleanly separated from the animist beliefs prevalent in most folk religions. The gods of polytheism are in many cases the highest order of a continuum of supernatural beings or spirits, which may include ancestors, demons, wights and others. In some cases these spirits are divided into celestial or chthonic classes, and belief in the existence of all these beings does not imply that all are worshipped.