It is, I suppose, the pagan equivalent of transubstantiation.

The god is present in the image; or, put differently: The image makes-present the god.

Insofar as pagans agree on anything, I suspect that this is one agenda item on which most of us would concur. Well worth asking, of course, is the question: How, then, is the god present in the image?

Is the god symbolically present in the image?

Is the god literally present in the image?

If symbolically, what does this imply about Who the gods are and how They act?

If literally, what does this imply about Who the gods are and how They act?

I can't answer these questions for you; after years of temple-keeping, I can barely answer them for myself. (I do not, however, think that this Real Presence is symbolic only; and whatever the gods may be, I do not believe that they are "spirits" that "inhabit" an image as one would enter—and leave—a room.) This much, however, I can say:

In some mysterious way, the image acts as a point of contact between the god and the worshiper.

Let me tell you this also: That contact goes both ways.

How these things are so, I suspect, may always remain a mystery.

That they are so, however—as pretty much any pagan can testify—is no mystery at all.