Pantheons Around the World
An Artistic Expression of Celtic Pantheon
What is a Pantheon?
The term 'pantheon' is a descriptive expression from the Greek meaning "a temple of all gods." As cited by Dictionary.com (2012), a pantheon is, in essence, "the gods of a particular mythology considered collectively."
A pantheon is best described as "a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology," (Wikipedia, 2012). When expressed in the form of a construction designed to show reverence to all deities, a pantheon may be built in the form of a temple, a shrine or any building intended to be embraced as a sacred space in dedication to all deities in general rather than to only one particular deity.
At the same time, a pantheon may also be expressed artistically. It may be manifested as a collection of gods/goddesses combined into a beautiful form of art or woven within the written word. In the musical aspect, a pantheon may also be expressed via the utilization of various Gods/Kings of Rock, etc.
There is essentially no limit to how a pantheon may be expressed so long as it contains a collection of deities a particular people, culture, tradition, or even a solitary Witchcraft practitioner adhere their principle beliefs to, hold in great reverence and plan on worshiping and/or honoring as a whole rather than in the aspect of only one supreme god, deity or rock star. Such a belief, inclusive of more than one supreme god, is categorized as a polytheism philosophy and is held sacred by many, many, many world religions inclusive of Wicca, Buddhism, shamanic and tribal traditions and Paganism to name a few.
Below, you will find some of the most prominent pantheons around the world as well as some interesting artwork used to express various pantheonic collections as well. It is important that we walk our own individual paths and hold in reverence those Gods/Goddesses that we feel strongly about as individuals. If you are Christian and choose to worship the one supreme God, I support your decision and I love and embrace you for who you are. This, however, is my walk and I'm finding all of this quite fascinating. I didn't realize until I began researching architectural pantheons that I had created my own pantheon right above my desk where I spend a great deal of my time writing.
The Pantheon of Rome
A grand example of a pantheon, in the terms of a construction, is the Pantheon of Rome. Constructed in 27 B.C., according to Wikipedia (2012), "the building was dedicated to all gods as a gesture embracing the religious syncretism in the increasingly multicultural Roman Empire, with subjects worshiping gods from many cultures and traditions."
Initially designated by statesman and general, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, the Pantheon of Rome is a circular construction, embellished with a piazza constructed of sixteen very large Corinthian columns made of granite. Connecting this piazza to the entrance passageway is a rectangular foyer which receives visitors welcomingly, just before they step into the interior of the Pantheon's concrete dome. The Pantheon's interior hosts the magnificence of a huge dome with a central opening, allowing sunlight to enter the building directly from the sky overhead. Within this central opening lies the reasoning for a grand debate. Some scholars seem to think that the construction was dedicated as the Pantheon of Rome because of this opening to the Heavens, rather than for its dedication to many gods.
The Pantheon of Rome was initially a temple designed and built in dedication to all of the major Roman gods/goddesses. Included within this beautifully constructed architectural dedication was reverence to Mars, the God of War; Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom, Intelligence and Learning; Vulcan, the God of Fire; Jupiter, the Master of the Gods and the main God of the Romans; Juno, the Goddess of Women and Fertility; Venus, the Goddess of Love and Beauty; Neptune, the powerful God of the Sea; Ceres, the Goddess of the Harvest; Diana, the Goddess of Hunting and a Goddess of the Moon; Bacchus, the God of Wine and Partying; Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods; Vesta, the Goddess of the Hearth and Home; Pan, the Greek God of the Mountains; Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of the Earth; Mithras, the God of Light from Persia; and possibly more. There are statues of many, many gods/goddesses situated all around the construction of the Pantheon of Rome.
Archaeological evidence has proven that the original Pantheon of Rome, constructed by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was completely demolished with the exception of the building's front. According to Wikipedia (2012), "the Augustan Pantheon was destroyed along with other buildings in a huge fire in 80 AD."
However, the Pantheon was once again brought to life by Roman Emperor, Domitian; but was destroyed by fire once again in 110 A.D. According to archaeological research in relationship to the aging of the bricks within the existent structure, it is said that the responsible party for the latest construction of the Pantheon of Rome is most likely Greek engineer, Apollodorus of Damascus under the authority of the Roman Emperor, Trajan.
Very unfortunate for those who live by polytheistic religious beliefs or who seek the preservation of our ancient treasures, the latest construction was redesigned to hold reverence to the Christians' God under Pope Boniface IV in 609 A.D. As cited by John the Deacon (1848), Pope Boniface is quoted with " the old temple called the Pantheon, after the pagan filth was removed, a church should be made, to the holy virgin Mary and all the martyrs, so that the commemoration of the saints would take place henceforth where not gods but demons were formerly worshiped."
The Pantheon of Rome is currently home to the tombs of the Italian painter and architect, Raffaello Sanzio de Urbino; the Italian Baroque painter, Annibale Carracci; Italian violinist and Baroque musical composer, Arcangelo Corelli; Italian architect and painter, Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi; two Italian kings, Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and Umberto I of Italy; and the tomb of Margherita of Savoy who was the Queen consort of Umberto I of the Kingdom of Italy, among others.
The Pantheon Paris
On the Left Bank, within the Latin Quarter of Paris, France, stands the magnificence of the Pantheon Paris. The original construction, put into manifestation by King Louis XV, was intended to become a church dedicated to the St. Genevieve, whom the king credited for his recovery from a period of illness.
Apparently, while he was very ill, King Louis XV had appealed to St. Genevieve to cure him and vowed to build a grand abbatical if he was to in fact recover from his illness. In 1744, King Louis XV did recover from his illness and the grand abbatical was dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris.
However, over many years and with the implementation of extensive changes, the construction now fosters the combination of a multifunctional religious worship center as well as a renowned burial place.
The Pantheon was designed and constructed under the supervision of Abel Francois Poisson or Marquis of Marigny, "a French nobleman who served as the director general of the King's Buildings," (Wikipedia, 2012). Abel Francois Poisson just happens to be the brother of Madame de Pompadour, who was the king's most prominent mistress.
Although the Pantheon Paris was not completed until 1789, the very location where it stands today has been noted as a sacred site since 507 A.D. In 512 A.D., the St. Genevieve was firstly laid to rest at this location, after having protected "Paris from barbarians," (World site guides.com, 2011).
Since the construction of the Pantheon Paris was only just reaching completion at the start of the French Revolution, as cited by Tripod.com (2012), it has "been traded like a baseball card between the forces of the church and the forces of liberty, equality and fraternity numerous times." Two years after the construction's completion, in 1791, a ruling by the Constituent Assembly commanded that the abbatical be made into a temple to foster the tombs of "the nation's greatest," (World site guides.com, 2011). However, since this ruling, the construction has been rededicated as a church again twice. The shuffle betwixt church and temple did not cease until writer Victor Hugo was laid to rest here in 1885. Since this time, the construction has fulfilled its overall amended purpose as a sacred burial place for "the nation's greatest."
The construction's crypt is renowned for the "free thinkers" laid to rest here. Included among those laid to rest in great honor here are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Emile Zola, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie and a total of over 70 prominent French citizens whose remains may be visited within the Pantheon's crypt.
To Be Continued
Our trip around the world in search of pantheons shall continue with additional information over the next few days. Thank you for reading!