In every culture there are gods, And these gods all have a said appearance. This appearance is, I think, based on the beliefs and Ideas of the religion. What I'm asking for is a decent, detailed answer for what goes into the theological appearance of a god.

All Culturally Correct Questions

  • $\begingroup$ A God is an all powerful being that can do everything and anything regardless of our laws of physics. By that definition, i'd say that the god in question can appear however he wishes $\endgroup$
    – Notaras
    Aug 19, 2015 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Just as an example from Greek mythology, Zeus is usually depicted as a bearded immortal with thunderbolts, but he also manifested himself oftentimes as animals such as a swan or a bull. $\endgroup$
    – Notaras
    Aug 19, 2015 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @kapetanios God (the Judeo-Christian deity) is an all-powerful entity, but a god need not be. There are plenty of deities that aren't all-powerful. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Aug 19, 2015 at 2:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre very true. I dont think it possible to mesh all religious ideas about God into one concept and then try and attempt to visualise a physical manifestation of it however. If we did, then we'd get something pretty close to an all-powerful diety anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Notaras
    Aug 19, 2015 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ If you are looking for inspiration, or want to understand how gods representations are related to the culture and environment of a civilization, you should watch some of these videos: youtube.com/user/crashcourse/search?query=religion+history. I think the video about the Indus valley civilization (if I remember correctly) could interest you. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2015 at 12:00

2 Answers 2


Most religions (but not all) start from a figure similar to the followers of the religion - i.e. human like.

They then make them larger, to suggest more power and presence.

They often then add animal or other non-human features (A Jackal's head, extra arms, etc) in order to emphasize that they are not humans but a completely different order of beings.

But really this can go in any direction. They may be smaller (fey), larger (titans), abstract (holy spirit), animal spirits, etc. So you have a lot of freedom.

Start from the religion itself, work out what that religion wants. Do they want a fearsome god to make their enemies tremble? Then think of ways to achieve that. Do they want a god of peace and love? Then how do you achieve that?


Adding to Tim's answer,

When you have a single god, the expectation is the god looks similar to the worshipers, mostly larger and awe inspiring.

However, when you get a pantheon then their appearance generally starts to take on characteristics of what they are the god of. A god of black smiths will likely be a huge muscled man, maybe with the head of a bull since bulls are often a sign of strength or virility.

The gods of alcohol are often jolly partyiers. The gods of death take on aspects that the culture associates with death. Fertility is almost always a woman. etc.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm curious. You mention fertility is almost always a woman. Were you just (wisely) covering your bases, as there's usually at least one religion which surprises you, or do you actually know of a religion which has a male fertility god? I'd love to know the counter example if you happen to have it handy. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @CortAmmon I was using IT speak to cover my butt! I don't know of any, but you never know. $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Aug 19, 2015 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ In Norse mythology Thor was both a god of thunder as well as fertility and the protector of man. $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Aug 19, 2015 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Uncle Tres, fertility or virility? $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2016 at 22:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps pretty sure fertility $\endgroup$
    – TrEs-2b
    Sep 12, 2016 at 22:58

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