egyptian gods in the carnegie museum of natural history
polytheism (from greek πολυθεϊσμός, polytheismos) is the worship of or belief in multiple deities, which are usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals. in most religions which accept polytheism, the different gods and goddesses are representations of forces of nature or ancestral principles, and can be viewed either as autonomous or as aspects or emanations of a creator deity or transcendental absolute principle (monistic theologies), which manifests immanently in nature (panentheistic and pantheistic theologies). most of the polytheistic deities of ancient religions, with the notable exceptions of the ancient egyptian and hindu deities, were conceived as having physical bodies.
polytheism is a type of theism. within theism, it contrasts with monotheism, the belief in a singular god, in most cases transcendent. polytheists do not always worship all the gods equally, but they can be henotheists, specializing in the worship of one particular deity. other polytheists can be kathenotheists, worshiping different deities at different times.
polytheism was the typical form of religion during the bronze age and iron age up to the axial age and the development of abrahamic religions, the latter of which enforced strict monotheism. it is well documented in historical religions of classical antiquity, especially ancient greek religion and ancient roman religion, and after the decline of greco-roman polytheism in tribal religions such as germanic, slavic and baltic paganism.
important polytheistic religions practiced today include taoism, shenism, hinduism, japanese shinto, santeria, and various neopagan faiths.