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Cosmologies Glossary

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A glossary of terms commonly used in traditional witchcraft. By Alarun.

Because I often use theological jargon here's a list of a few cosmological terms. Do note that these definitions deal with generalities, not specifics.


Agnosticism
From the Greek agnosis , meaning "without knowledge".
Agnosticism is the view that certain religious and spiritual truths exist, but that the agnostic person is uncertain about the nature of these truths. Agnostics tend to be unsure about the existence of spirits or deities.

Atheism
From the Greek atheos , meaning "without god(s)".
Atheism is a worldview that rejects gods, deities and spirits, most especially in that they do not exist. Atheists tend to view the belief in deities as irrational and seek after scientifically measurable truths. They hold that one can lead a good life without the need for worship.

Animism
From the Latin animus , meaning "soul" or "life".
Animism is the view that the land and all things on and in it, for example rivers, trees, animals and birds, etc, possess spiritual intelligence, or souls. Animism sits within other religious beliefs, such as Hinduism, Shinto, Jainism, and of course various Pagan paths. Animism can also be practiced outside of a religious framework.

Duotheism
Duotheism is the belief in two deities of roughly equal power and influence, usually characterised at a Goddess and a God. This is the most common cosmology adopted by modern Pagan paths, especially Wicca, with their veneration of the Horned God and Moon Goddess. This tends to be coupled with Soft Polytheism in that "all gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess".

Henotheism
From the Greek heis , meaning "one", and theos , meaning "god".
Henotheism is the worship of a single god, but the belief and acceptance of the existence of many gods that are equally deserving of worship.

Monotheism
From the Greek monos , meaning "single", and theos , meaning "god".
Monotheism is the belief in a single, transcendent god. This is mostly the God of the Abrahamic faiths; Christianity, Judaism and Islam, though is also seen in Baha'i, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism etc. Monotheists tend to view the belief in other deities to be either misguided or devilish, depending on their personal beliefs.

Polytheism (Hard)
From the Greek poly , meaning "many" and theoi , meaning "gods".
Hard Polytheism is the view that the many gods and spirits of ancient myth and folklore are real existent beings of power, completely independent of each other, and with an interest in mortal life. These gods are like mortals in temperament, if of much greater ability, and have a wide variety of concerns and attitudes (some being kindly towards humankind, others less so). Ancient cultures, such as the Greeks, Romans, Celtic tribes, Norse and so on were largely Hard Polytheists. Today Hindu, Shinto, some West African traditions and some modern Pagan paths subscribe to a Hard Polytheist cosmology. This differs from Soft Polytheism (see below).

Polytheism (Soft)
Soft Polytheism is the view that the many gods of ancient myth and folklore are aspects or personalities of a single being. This is a "all Gods are one God" cosmology.

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This article was contributed by Shadows of Solitary Witches.
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