Traditional Western theology doesn't always have much relevance for modern
pagans. I took a wonderful class my first year in college on "The
Philosophy of Religion," and while it was a very interesting class which
stretched my mind, I also was constantly thinking "This has nothing to do
with the philosophy of my religion..." Even the word "theology"
refers to "the study of God and God's relation to the world"
(Merriam-Webster); what about the Goddess?
For this reason many feminist religious thinkers and pagans refer to
"thealogy" (from the Greek root thea, Goddess, rather than
theos, God). (Lynna
Landstreet uses the word "polytheology") Anyway, keeping all that in
mind, here are some terms for talking about divinity which do relate to
The belief that there is one (and only one) god. While this is an
important aspect of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim doctrine with which many
pagans disagree, there are neo-pagans who believe only in one goddess and
are therefore technically monotheistic. (There is a difference between
these practitioners and those who also believe in the existence of a male
divine but choose not to honor/ work with him.)
However, there are a couple of problems with assigning this label to
pagans. First of all, pagans tend to favor immanence (god is
within the world) over transcendence (god is outside of the world),
immanence to my mind implies plurality (god is within each of us).
Second of all, since most of these pagans see their Goddess as having many
faces (Isis, Astarte, Diana et al.), it could be argued that they are not
in fact practicing monotheism but rather...
The belief that there are many gods. (Check out this essay: Five Reasons Why I
Am A Polytheist.) I would say that most pagans fall
into this category in one sense or another. Some pagans believe that there
are many, many different deities but choose one god/dess or one pantheon
to work with. (Choosing to worship one deity while acknowledging the
existence of others is called henotheism.) Others call upon
whomever seems appropriate at the time. Others feel that we are ourselves
As you can see, this category does tend to overlap with...
The belief that the universe/ the totality of all things is god. We
are god, animals are god, gravity is god. Divinity is alive in us.
One kind of pantheism is...
The belief that everything in nature is alive, having its own spirit. Most
pagans that I know are at least somewhat animistic, often feeling that
they are able to communicate with/ relate to trees, rivers, places, etc.
Incidentally, this is one aspect of modern paganism which really was
of most pre-Christian pagan religions.
OK, so all nature is alive. But is there something more? Let's not forget
The belief that god is the universe but is also more than that. God is in
everything, but god is also more than everything; the whole is greater
than the sum of its parts. Most pagans that I know fall into this
category, being both pantheistic (god is within) and polytheistic (gods
are actual entities).
But do all pagans believe in god, whether within or without? Some prefer
to stick with...
The belief that there may or may not be gods; most agnostics consider that
they don't have sufficient evidence one way or the other to judge. Some
feel that it is impossible for anyone to have sufficient evidence, others
just feel that their personal experience does not give them sufficient
So how can someone be both pagan and agnostic? Easily. You can believe
that nature is just a really cool thing, which deserves to be honored and
may enable you to do magick, but does not necessarily imply the existence
of any sort of divine being. Or you can believe that "gods" are simply
archetypes which can be useful to us in better understanding ourselves
and creating change in our lives. (This is also a common belief among
This page is still under construction, and more relevant
theological/thealogical/polytheological terms will show up as I think of
them... Meanwhile, some links: