In my, and many other pagan’s beliefs, it seems the gods obtain sustenance and strength through praise, worship, and offerings given to them. Following that logic, then, there must have been a dark time for the gods in the recent past–barring Hinduism and other thriving polytheistic religions of course–brought about by what I like to call the ‘Big Three': Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The time when the gods of the dead cultures were suddenly put aside.
Not to say either of these three religions aren’t perfectly valid. But the evangelizing nature of Islam and Christianity rang the death knell for the indigenous religions of the nations they invaded. The European nations, the Norse people, the Celts, then the people of Mexico and South America–all distinct and valuable religious cultures deemed ‘primitive’ and eradicated. In the Americas by Catholicism, especially. Meanwhile Africa was heavily influenced by Islam.
If the gods are sustained by their worshipers, then certainly this meant that their libations grew less and less, given by those few brave enough to deny the monotheistic culture. And, slowly, as the generations passed, as we became involved in Inquisitions, religious civil wars, crusades, and god knows what else, we gradually forgot about our ancestor’s gods. Even the Japanese, who were capable of resisting the Christian crusaders, modernized more and more. Their Emperor was forced to renounce his relation to the Gods and they gradually pushed their Shinto origins to the back of their minds, a subconscious belief they held but something they rarely actively thought about.
And then we remembered.
The resurgence in paganism and reconstructionism in recent years, in denial of the monotheistic or atheistic culture in which we live, is possibly the end of that dark time, or I at least hope so. I have a great hope that as the generations go by, we can become more diverse in our religious beliefs, and honor the gods older than Christ. I hope that some day, being a witch or a pagan or a polytheist will be just as normal as being Jewish or Christian or Muslim.
We just have to teach our children, and wait.