I have wondered about how deities can exist, and for a while I have been open to the idea that gods exist as both metaphoric, psycho-spiritual projections from the mind or self, and as divine spirit world entities, and then a question came to me: If gods spring from the psyche, how do they start in mythology? Perhaps someone’s idea or image of one is expressed, and strikes a chord with others, thus attaining a memetic existence.
What if gods start out as expressions of something? A force of nature, a concept, an ideal, anything. And then they are taken by those who they may relate to as personal gods or otherwise? And are they drawn from the spirit world, the mind, the self, or all three? The image would come from the original artist’s imagination, but the idea represented could be external, but the image would have been inspired by something. Just like in art, the image must be inspired by something. Even if it isn’t something you could directly see, it could be something that comes to you, or even a force.
I think it’s possible that gods are personifications of not just forces of nature, but also parts of the mind, while also having a kind of spiritual existence, possibly as thought-forms or egregores. In the world before Christianity, gods were commonly seen as avatars or different individual aspects or personifications of Nature as a force.
And what of gods that aren’t favorites of mine, or personal deities, but still generally symbolic to me? Do they mean something? Of course they do. We generally choose some symbols over others. It is our nature. We do favor others because they mean much more to us. Kinda like the idea of the Ishta-deva. In Hinduism, Ishta-deva refers to the favorite deity(or deities) of the worshipper. It does relate to how I take deities from mythologies and identify them with my own persona. It also relates to why there cannot be a God, or One True God, and if deities related to the psyche, or parts of you that are the most striking and individually true, then one cannot have just one deity.
All-in-all, I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in deities, but not in the traditional sense. My concept of deities is that they exist, but as beings that exist both as projections of the self and/or avatars of something, and as spiritual beings. We relate to deities via our personal qualities, and deitiess to us, and we relate to via world via these deities. But it is important to remember that these gods are essentially our creation, even if they exist spiritually or by our own will, or if they have a life of their own. Deities we personally favour and relate to our personalities are the Ishta-devas I spoke of earlier. I think I’ll call my position Egregorism.
Also, I’d like to clarify a difference between deities and godhood (or godlike). While deities are entities, to be a god is to achieve a supremely empowered state beyond the mundane state where nothing is beyond your grasp and the full potential of the self is complete reality. Godhood is the highest potential achievable by those who travel the left hand path. So to be a god is not necessarily to be a thought-form.