By Jason Mankey
When people ask me to describe Paganism I often use the term “polytheism.” Even while saying it I know that what’s coming out of my mouth is a half-truth. Not all Pagans are polytheists; I know a good many atheist Pagans, and there are a lot of Pagans who believe that all the gods throughout history are manifestations of an Ultimate Power, or one god. In some ways, that might make those folks monotheists. There are also hard-core duo-theists, worshipping all the gods of history as “The God” and all the goddesses as “The Goddess.” So yes, Pagan and polytheist is a gross over-simplification.
What makes polytheism such an effective term when describing Modern Paganism is that we use the language of polytheism in ritual. Most of us call to goddesses and gods, and those deities often change from ritual to ritual. Even at our simplest we call to “the Lord and Lady” or perhaps the “Triple Goddess.” So while we all might have conflicting perceptions of deity; within ritual most of us use a language steeped in polytheism.