This is a lazy person's blog post to begin a discussion of polythea/ology. Not only will I quote a famous Pagan author, but I will quote a passage found on this website. Call it a notebook entry to inspire later conversation.
A useful term for the faith we practice is the "Old Religion," which includes both the uninterrupted tribal religions of native peoples all over the world, and contemporary attempts to recover native traditions interrupted by Christianity, and to combine religious elements from a variety of sources into a faith suitable for our pluralistic society. The various traditions of the Old Religion share a belief that Divinity may be worshipped in many forms and addressed by many names; that the physical world is as holy as the spiritual realm; that humankind should live in harmony with nature; and that magical or sacramental practices are effective. Most of these traditions also believe that both women and men have spiritual power, and that individual inspiration is as valid as inherited traditions.
An additional characteristic of the Old Religion is that its symbols are imprinted in the collective unconscious, and many of its practices come from the most instinctive levels of the mind. This gives us an advantage in recovering our traditions, since some material can be accessed by developing channels of communication between the conscious and unconscious minds. Our sacred book is Nature Herself. We are at a disadvantage when discussing with people whose sacred authority is the written word, for those are the people who have written most of the books by which people judge religion. Most religious writing assumes the inherent primacy of monotheism and masculinity, and the inherent inferiority of the physical world. Without allowing ourselves to fall in the opposite trap of assuming that everything monotheistic and male is bad and everything female or polytheisitic good, our study of the history of religion must be informed by intuition, and we must read as much, written from as many points of view, as we can.
- Diana Paxson