Pagan Religion

Religion types

Religion is a system of beliefs, which is intended to explain the origin of life and the universe, and determine the meaning of existence for human beings. There are many religions in the world; most scholars divide them into two main categories: monotheistic religions and pagan religions. In general, religion is defined pagan if it envisages worship of many gods (polytheism), and their respective idols. At the same time, certain religions, for example, Hinduism, are considered not truly monotheistic and not truly pagan, but rather some intermediate form between them.

Historically, there were high level of animosity between followers of monotheistic religions and pagans. Judaism, Christianity and Islam state that only one God can be worshiped, and whoever breaches this postulate, is an “infidel”, i.e. non-believer or an enemy of God, and should be punished, if he or she refuses to become a monotheist. This stance often caused bloody persecutions against pagans and followers of different religions in the course of history.

Historical pagan religions

One of the most famous pagan religions is the ancient Greek religion. Names of gods and goddesses such as Zeus (supreme god), Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite and others are known to almost all educated people throughout the world. Greek mythology as well as renowned poems Iliad and Odyssey of semi-legendary ancient author Homer are the main sources of knowledge about this religion. Mount Olympus was the home of the twelve major gods of the ancient Greek religion. Even today, this mountain is a tourist destination because of its association with the ancient religion and mythology.

Another well-known example of pagan religion is the ancient Egypt religion. It was not a monolithic system but consisted of various sets of beliefs and practices, with different names of deities acting in them. Surprisingly, ancient Egypt religion includes even some kind of quasi-monotheistic religion, among polytheistic systems, typical for ancient Egypt and ancient world in the whole. It was a religion of Aten (Aton), the disk of sun, which became the center of that religion, introduced by pharaoh Amenhotep IV. He later took the name Akhenaten (Akhenaton), associated with the name of deified disk of sun. It is interesting that pharaohs themselves considered divine figures in the Egypt religion, as the offspring of major Egyptian gods. Among these gods, most powerful deities, according to the ancient Egyptian religious scriptures, were Ra, Amon, Set, Horus, and Osiris and Isis.

Neopaganism as a trend

All ethnicities historically had their own system of myths and pagan religious beliefs. Germanic, Celtic, Indian, African and other tribes worshipped numerous types of gods and goddesses, combined in respective pantheons. These religious and mythological systems in most cases lost their influence, mainly due to the spreading of Christianity and Islam in various parts of the world. Nevertheless, starting from late 19th-20th centuries, certain pagan religions are demonstrating signs of revival. This phenomenon is known under the generalized name of Neopaganism. In many countries, religious groups and individuals are active in the field of conducting religious practices and rituals, which are concentrated within the framework of polytheistic or pagan doctrines. Some of these movements accumulated sizeable amount of followers and gained coverage in the mainstream media.

Examples of this are so called Wicca movement, Neo-druidism and others. In some countries, ethnic traditional pagan religious are quite influential and have followers even among the representatives of political and intellectual elites. This is especially noticeable in several parts of Caucasus, as well as in other regions. In Armenia, ethnic religion called Hetanism, has many followers, who are performing rituals at the ancient temple of Garni. Abkhazia and several republics of North Caucasus also are the places, where pagans more or less peacefully coexist with Christians and Muslims, but this peaceful coexistence is sometimes disturbed by tensions between various religious groups.