Pagan Gods

Well-known Pantheons of Gods

With the advent of Christianity, pagan gods in Europe gradually vanished, or, at least, this was the situation at the beginning of Renaissance. However, after the end of “Dark Medieval Times”, gods of Greco-Roman pagan pantheon again became very popular in Europe. They were being pictured on paintings of famous painters and animated in writings of European authors. Iliad and Odyssey, poems of semi-legendary ancient author Homer were published in wide circulations. Names of Zeus (Jupiter), Aphrodite (Venus), Ares (Mars), Poseidon (Neptune) and other Olympus gods became familiar for millions of people in various parts of the world and not only in Europe.

Later, in 19th-20th centuries, gods of other pantheons were partially revived too. Especially it is true for Germanic paganism. In general, Germanic paganism consists of three main branches: Norse religion, Anglo-Saxon and continental Germanic paganism. Norse religion has the best documented description among these versions, because there are well-known literary sources about it, written mostly after the Christianization of the North Europe countries. Majority of these sources come from 13th-century Iceland where famous chroniclers created brilliant texts such as Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, Poetic Edda and others.

In 19th century, music dramas of German composer Richard Wagner played a significant role in popularization of Germanic folklore, mythology and ancient folk religion. Names of Germanic gods and goddesses – Odin (Wodan), Thor, Loki, Freya, etc. – are much in the same way known as Olympus gods. Along with gods, mythical heroes are important personages of Germanic folklore, particularly Siegfried, Sigurd, Brunhilde (female personage), etc. Artistic works of Wagner inspired many well-known musicians, writers, philosophers and even politicians in 20th century.

Regional Gods

There are numerous regional folk religions in the world. For example, Caucasus region is a birthplace of Nart sagas, which is the mythology and heroic ballades of tribes in North Caucasus. Ossetia, Circassia, Abkhazia and territory of Chechen and Ingush people is the main area of their circulation. Some names of Nart sagas’ characters are popular names among the local population.

Nart epic poems are significant factor in the process of neopaganism revival in North Caucasus region, where Sunni Islam and Orthodox Christianity maintain positions of main denominations. Abkhazia, Republic of Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia and North Ossetia have especially diverse composition of religious groups, and folk religions are gaining some popularity. This situation creates syncretic cults, in which mix of Christianity and paganism can be observed. For example, Uastirdzhi is the deity from Nart epos, and, at the same time, is associate with St. George, Christian saint. Weeklong festival of Djiorgwyba is celebrated in Ossetia in November each year, which coincides with the feast of St. George, celebrated in neighboring Georgia on November 23 (Gregorian calendar).

Modern pagan gods

Historically, every pagan usually had a belief in many gods, but only one of them was usually chosen as the object of worship, which was considered as the senior god for this individual. Throughout of his/her life, this person was offering sacrifices to this particular god. However, many modern Neopagans have eclectic beliefs, which means they may have a reverence to a god of one pantheon beside a goddess of another. In some cases, they may choose to ask a deity for help in a problem solving or for other assistance. There are questions about what is the proper sacrifice to offer to the gods or goddesses; and how we should honor them when making those sacrifices. In many Neopagan and Wiccan traditions, it is appropriate to make some kind of offering to the gods. These people think that their relationship with gods can be described as following: “I respect you, so I'm giving you this sacrifice to show you, how much I appreciate your help and assistance in my life”. Rather than material offerings, a prayer is considered a common and appropriate way to obtain a goodwill and mercy from the deities.