Theism – not what I was intending to write about today.
I was originally going to write today’s post about magic. But as I was getting ready to do that I realized I’m not currently developing my magical practice so I wasn’t all that inspired.
And while I want to provide you with useful information, especially the important basics like defining magic, I also need to learn about topics that will help me on my own journey.
So I decided I’d write about theism today.
I’ve been focusing a lot more lately on my beliefs rather than on my practice. I feel that I need to sort out what I believe a little better before I can form a magical practice that is the most beneficial to me.
That’s just what I’ve decided for myself, I’m sure there are many people out there who find it more effective to do just the opposite!
Anyway, on to today’s topic…
Theism - What is it?
Root: Theos = God
Theism is the belief in at least one god. It does not attempt to define what makes a god, give an origin story for the world, or tell you if/how you should worship your god(s). Theism is independent of religion.
Not all theists are the same, the only qualification to be a theist is believing in one or more god(s).
There are many types of theism, I’m sure there are many more that aren’t on this list!
Atheism isn’t really a type of theism, it’s the opposite – the belief that there is no god.
Just as with theism, not all atheists are the same. They may hold different beliefs on the origin of the universe and the afterlife, and come from all walks of life.
Mono = One
This is one of the most well known theisms, the belief in one, often all powerful, god. This is what is seen in today’s Abrahamic religions like Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Monotheists will sometimes believe in lesser spirits that from an outside view appear to be followed or worshiped as gods. They are actually usually viewed as servants to or even parts of the one god. Think Catholic Saints or Voodoo Iwa.
Deism is sort of a branch of monotheism. Deists believe that there is one creator god, but that this god will not interfere with his creation and does not want to be worshiped.
Poly = Many
Polytheism is the belief in multiple gods. The beliefs of many pre-Christian cultures were polytheistic like the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Norse.
In addition to believing in many of their own gods, most polytheists are also accepting of the idea of other gods from outside cultures.
There is even documentation of ancient cultures adopting gods from each other!
In polytheism you often see similar characteristics portrayed from culture to culture. Many polytheist pantheons include a god of war, a god of fertility, a god of knowledge, etc.
*Deities in polytheism, and in general, are not exclusively male, I use the term god as a way to keep things simple.*
Pan = All
Pantheism is the believe that everything on earth is one and the same with god. Every bit of nature is part of one being, but this one being is not concretely identifiable.
People who are pantheists will often speak about The Universe in place of referring to god(s), they think of god as more of a force or energy than as a personification you can interact with.
Similar to pantheism, but with an added twist – the belief that not only is everything part of god, god is greater than our own universe.
A panetheistic god tends to be personified more than a pantheistic one – this god is a single being that reigns over our universe and whatever is beyond.
Di = Two
Ditheism is the belief in two equally powerful deities. Often you see this in the form of a God and Goddess, as is usually seen in Wicca.
Other terms related to theism
While these are not theistic faith systems, they are related ideas that can help you further define your beliefs
Monolatry – The idea that there may be more than one deity but they are all actually parts of one supreme god
Henotheism – One god is supreme, but there may be others as well.
Kathenotheism – multiple gods exist but only one should be focused on at a time.
Dystheism – the idea that god(s) exist and is (are) evil.
Animism – The belief that everything has a spirit or soul.
My beliefs as of now
It has taken me quite some time to figure out what type of theist I am. I’ve known for a while that I believe there is some sort of force out there.
When I was younger that showed as a belief in the Christian version of god.
When I decided I no longer believed in that, I shifted to a general agnostic attitude, I believed that there could be something out there but I have no knowledge of it.
In my recent pondering I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been a bit more of a pantheist even in my Christian days. I am one of those people that talks about “The Universe” and feel that everything is inherently connected with energy.
As I develop my spiritual beliefs more, I think they will go in the direction of monolatry.
I may one day follow a pantheon of multiple gods but I don’t think I will ever be a true polytheist because to me they will always be personifications of branches of the energy of the Universe.
The biggest thing I hold true is that theism can be fluid. Your beliefs and feelings can change and grow as you do.
Let me know where you are when it comes to theism! Do any of these terms work for you?