Paganism is any of a very broad set of religious beliefs and practices characterized by polytheism and less commonly animism. Many pagan religions are based on nature, and these are also called nature-based religions. Paganism predates modern monotheism, although its origins are lost in prehistory. Ancient paganism tended in many cases to be a deification of the political process, with "state divinities" assigned to various localities (Athena in Athens, for example). Many ancient regimes would claim to be the representative on earth of these gods, and would depend on more or less elaborate bureaucracies of state-supported priests and scribes to lend public support to their claims. In one well-established sense, paganism is the belief in any non-monotheistic religion.

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