Pagan gods have a history as long and complicated as that of humanity. The term ‘paganism’ wasn’t used until the fourth century and evolved to describe polytheistic religions, ultimately becoming the term for the ‘religion of the peasantry’ or people too poor to know better. It was during the Middle Ages that the term came to describe any religion that was considered to be unrelated to the religions associated with the Bible, and ultimately to describe a belief in a false god or gods.
In the current era, paganism is closely associated, whether by fact or opinion, with witchcraft and the practice of Wicca in particular. Out of the many thousands of pagan gods that exist across the cultures of the world, a few have persisted and remain popular with most Western cultures. Many are seeing an increase in popularity due to their appearances in film franchises, particularly the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology, but also the Egyptian and ancient Greek gods and goddesses.
Popular Norse Pagan Gods:
Odin: Odin shares the same place in Norse mythology and pagan godhood as Ra, Zeus, and Jupiter or Juno in Roman mythology. He is not just powerful but also wise, ruling his people from Valhalla. Fierce Nordic warriors strive to die in honorable battle in order to win a chance to sit his table in Valhalla and join him and their ancestors in a never ending feast.
Thor: The son of Odin, Thor is a strong and noble warrior, though he does tend to be a bit headstrong. He frequently works together with Loki, and spends his days fighting mythological creatures.
Loki: Sometimes hero, sometimes villain, the trickster is known for simply being unknowable. Not even those who have been around him for long are able to tell when his next trick will come to pass.
Freya: Wife of Odin, Freya was viewed by the Norse people as a goddess of fertility and magic.
Popular Egyptian Gods:
Ra: Ra is the penultimate of Egyptian gods; he is the god that pulls the very sun that shined down on the people of ancient Egypt in his chariot.
Anubis: Egyptian mythology was very focused on the afterlife and Anubis was an important part of that. He assisted in judging the dead and helped to guide worthy souls to the throne of Osiris once they had passed all the trials that awaited them.
Osiris: Considered the god of the underworld, it is Osiris that weighs the hearts of the dead and judges those in the afterlife. He is one of the most important pagan gods in Egyptian mythology.
Popular Greek Gods:
Zeus: Zeus is the head of the pantheon of gods that ruled over Greek mythology. He is known for frequently fathering children by women other than his wife Hera and causing them much agony because of it.
Persephone: Persephone was a daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She was stolen by Zeus’ brother Hades because he loved her but didn’t believe that her mother would allow her to live with him in Hades. When forced by Zeus to return her to the above world, he tricked Persephone into eating food from the underworld and this forced her to spend a third of the year with him.
Hades: While often portrayed as a lord of hell, the greek underworld was more a place of waiting than a place of torment and Hades simply was charged with watching over the souls as they awaited judgment.