In the world I'm building, the characters are facing, allying, opposing, or simply investigating various gods. It pulls from assorted world myths, legends, religions, and culture (and also recognizing modern Gods that aren't generally called Gods anymore).

However, the background, origin, or area of power of the Gods is not so important as their 'biology' (I obviously use the term loosely). For this purpose, I need a decent categorization system.

So far I have the current list, but I cannot help but feel that it leaves a lot out and doesn't cover most of the bases.

So the question is:

What are some classifications of Gods, beyond the ones that I have already come up with, that divide gods based on how they inherently function (but not based on whatever they have power over or what religion they're part of or some act they supposedly committed)?

Gaiatic Gods - Based off of Gaia theory and the Daisyworld idea. Gaiatic gods are those that are a meta-entity created by the interactions of large masses of life itself. Many Earth Goddesses fall in this category, living forests, insect hiveminds, etc. They exist by naturally-occuring living systems following the instincts and patterns they set. Similarly, in modern culture, Corporate Corruption, created by the general interaction of corporations just following their profit-seeking 'instincts' could be considered a Gaiatic God. It's any God created by 'things just doing what they naturally do, but en masse'. May also cover things like "The Stock Market" and "The Internet".

Mementic Gods - Gods that are a 'living idea'. Created by the act of worship, they multiply and spread through minds and social consciousness like animals multiply and spread in forests. They feed on being recognized and worship and gain power the more they are recognized, and lose power the less they are worshipped. Many more traditionally worshipped gods fall in this category, such as the gods of Shinto, fall into this category.

Man-Gods - Humans who accumulate so much power that they become effective Gods with the unique power and influence that they weild. From ancient Pharaohs in ancient eras to modern-day powerful CEOs (for example, Bill Gates) who can radically affect the lives of millions on a whim.

Ethnotheistic Gods - These Gods are to a culture what a hive-mind is to an ant's instincts. Unlike mementic gods that are free-flowing ideas subject to change and constant re-interpretation, or Gaiatic Gods that emerge from collective instincts and biology, Ethnotheistic Gods are entities of identity and rules. The Abrahamic God of pre-Zoroastrianism old testament "The God of Israel" would be an example, as well as Athena - God of Athens. Similarly, "Uncle Sam" could be considered an Ethnotheistic God, pushing the definition a bit and Mickey Mouse could be considered the Ethnotheistic god of the Disney corporation.

Force-Gods - These are natural forces. These are generally unfeeling, natural things that exert huge influence. For example, the Sun and Ocean have been long recognized in many cultures as Gods. And even today, none would doubt their power and influence on the world... it's just so unchanging and unfeeling, we just don't care about it as much anymore. Other natural forces (Gravity, Etc.) would be other forces which could be considered Gods by this definition.

Xenotic Gods - Beings from other worlds that invade ours world. Their power extends purely from their ability to act outside our normal rules of reality. Examples in ancient times could be Demons and Angels to modern examples of aliens and lizard-people.


closed as unclear what you're asking by John, Cyn, AlexP, TheDyingOfLight, Measure of despare. Jul 20 at 12:16

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  • $\begingroup$ So what is the question? $\endgroup$ – John Jul 20 at 3:48
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    $\begingroup$ "Gaiatic" is a curious formation. The adjectival form used in compounds is geo- (Greek γεω-), as in geo-graphy (description of the Earth), geo-metry (land measurement). The "mementic" gods are usually called personified abstractions; the Romans had a ton of those -- e.g. Justitia, Victoria. What is the difference between "ethnotheistic" gods and plain old ethnic gods? And gods and goddesses are almost always personal agents, that is, they have personality and agency; an impersonal ("unchanging and unfeeling") entity is more commonly an elemental force, not a god. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jul 20 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ What are you asking? If we can come up with other categories? If the categories make sense? The current form of this seems better fit for Reddit at r/worldbuilding as you seem to be presenting a system from the world you build. $\endgroup$ – TheDyingOfLight Jul 20 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP Gaia here is used specifically in reference to Gaia Theory - the idea that a combination of living things, acting in their own self-interest according to their own instinct, create a new living thing that is a gestalt of all the combined living things. A mementic God is specifically one that focuses on expanding by awareness and worship, difference than a personified abastraction which is more anthropomorphism. A persononfied abstraction is focused on epitomizing an idea, while a mementic God doesn't matter so much about ideals so much as spreading self-recognition. $\endgroup$ – liljoshu Jul 22 at 18:19
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    $\begingroup$ Demigods: deities born from the procreation of mortal and divine beings. Chaos Gods: deities of nothingness or negative forces. Idols: Gods that are created and live in physical icons. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jul 22 at 21:11

You've already got a good start on your own.

Happily, lots of work has been done by theologians, mythographers and folklorists as far as categorising divine figures goes.

Here might be a good starting place: List of Deities by Classification (Stith Thompson was a renown folklorist who did much to categorise folktales by motif)

Here is a categorisation by iconography or appearance, limited to Himalayan deities.

Your local used book shop or library will probably have a "mythology" or "folklore" section with all kinds of dictionaries of gods.

  • $\begingroup$ A useful list to be sure, although Stith's list does seem a bit more oriented about what the gods do rather than their effective biology, so not quite what I'm looking for... apologies if I wasn't clear enough in my question. I've updated it now. $\endgroup$ – liljoshu Jul 22 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ @liljoshu -- Thanks for the clarification! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jul 23 at 2:32

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