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Religion Library: Paganism

Ultimate Reality and Divine Beings

Written by: Carl McColman

In contrast with pantheism, another approach to divinity within nature religion is polytheism, the belief that the earth (or the cosmos as a whole) is the material home to a multiplicity of gods and goddesses and/or other spiritual beings. Integrally connected to the material world is an "otherworld" - a spiritual realm - that functions as the home of the deities and other spirit beings.

Yet another Pagan belief system, animism, holds that spirit or consciousness pervades all material things - that every animal, plant, and inanimate object has its own spirit worthy of respect if not veneration. This view of nature holds that all things are enchanted, and are alive, even if at a very low level of consciousness (e.g., rocks) - and, therefore, are sacred.Yet another perspective emphasizes the idea that humanity is divine, and nature is holy simply because it is home.

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather to demonstrate the tremendous diversity of beliefs that can be anchored in Pagan spirituality. The most common factor is the notion that nature is sacred, regardless of what mythological or metaphysical beliefs may justify that core belief. Even those Pagans whose beliefs may be entirely oriented toward spiritual beings rather than toward nature veneration usually do not reject nature as "fallen" or somehow inferior to the spiritual world.

Study Questions:
     1.    Why do Pagans reject a monotheistic worldview?
     2.    Why is nature seen as holy?
     3.    How does thinking about nature as “the body” contribute to Pagan spirituality?
     4.    What is animism, and why is it a part of a Pagan belief system?


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