A goddess is a female deity with supernatural powers in polytheistic religions.<ref>The Encyclopedia of World Religions, p. 181.</ref> Goddesses most often have female characteristics that are apotheosized in their pure form, and some cases they have rather general for all humans characteristics, both men and women, like Sofia (wisdom), and other times they can have characteristics that are rather not specific for women like battle and hunting success (Artemis). Thus while they have been, are and may be associated with as wide a range of phenomena as male deities, including war, creation and sometimes destruction (and death), life-giving, healing and compassion, they have been especially associated with beauty, love, motherhood and in prehistoric religions and also later with the Earth, fertility (Mother-goddess cult in prehistoric times).
In some religions, a sacred female figure holds a central place in prayer and worship. Shaktism, the worship of the female force that animates the world, is one of the three major sects of Hinduism. In Tibetan Buddhism, the highest advancement any person can achieve is to become like the great female Buddhas (e.g. Arya Tara) who are depicted as being supreme protectors, fearless and filled with compassion for all beings.
The primacy of a monotheistic or near-monotheistic "Great Goddess" is advocated by some modern matriarchists as a female version of, preceding, or analogue to, the Abrahamic God associated with the historical rise of monotheism in the Mediterranean Axis Age.
Polytheist religions, including Polytheistic reconstructionists, honour multiple goddesses and gods, and usually see them as discrete, separate beings. These deities may be part of a pantheon, or different regions may have tutelary deities. The reconstructionists, like their ancient forbears, honour the deities particular to their country of origin.
Intro Etymology Earth or mother Goddesses Historical polytheism Folk religion and animism Hinduism Abrahamic religions Feminism Metaphorical use Neopaganism See also Notes References
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