Enquiring Mind says "I have a question about Gods - not the Source (that's whole different question) - but about Gods of antiquity - like Greek or Indian or Celtic Gods and Goddesses. Who are they? Every culture in the world worshipped multiple Gods at some point, and they seem to be teachers/guides of sorts, shaping civilizations and choosing prophets and heroes to support and breeding with humans creating bloodlines of kings and queens...Are they actual beings of higher dimensions - or archetypes of human psyche - or something else?"
Gods and goddesses are thought forms. Just like everything else. They come into being the same way heroes and saints do. Except that heroes like King Arthur or Joan of Arc start with real people who capture the imagination of many people and many people invest their thoughts and emotions and energy and the original person becomes sort of like a corporation with lots of investors. Gods and goddesses usually start with a natural phenomenon that people care about but don't understand. Like Donya's Delta Breeze.
When a great many people get together with the same intention and pray to a volcano or a storm god or an ocean god they can actually influence the behavior of that entity. That is, they can influence the weather or whether or not the volcano will erupt at a particular time. They are putting energy and intent into what they want and in a sense pushing in that direction. When what they want to happen happens it seems like the designated deity is granting the request. People could do this a lot more if they all agreed on what they want. But in any given location there are likely to be people who want a sunny day for their parties and outdoor weddings. And there are farmers who need rain for their crops. And there are people who are afraid it will rain on their parade and farmers who are certain the rain will be too little too late. With all those different intents and dis-intents it's no wonder weather appears to be random.
Since gods and goddesses tend to be invisible and they often start out being rather abstract, certain people have discovered it can be to the benefit of the believers, and often to their own benefit, to become the person who speaks for the deity.
Having such spokesperson can be good because it helps to keep everyone focused on the same outcome and helps to direct the energy that is put into their prayers, sort of a like a cheer leader directing the worship activities. Prayers can become extremely powerful and effective when many hearts and minds are united with the help of effective leadership. In this sense, clergy or priesthood or oracles are a good thing.
On the other hand a very powerful priest can make good living from all the tithes, offerings and yummy food offered to the deity, perhaps a disproportionately good living. Sometimes priests are con artists, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. They can be like the Music Man who turned out to be benevolent. Or they can be power grabbers and dictators. And they can reinforce their power by demanding blood sacrifices.
Q: But what about miracles they perform with the help of gods?
BEN: Sometimes there is trickery and deceit. But when people agree on a collective desire and direct all that energy and all that intent toward the common goal, of course things will happen that the people want to happen. And if you are surprised enough you can call it a miracle.
One of the funny things that happens in the world of religions is that sometimes there is a con artist, like Marjoe Gortner, who achieves a position of leadership and people believe in his ability to manifest miracles more than he does. Having been trained in childhood as an Evangelist, Marjoe knew all the tricks of the trade. As an adult with no other marketable skills, he decided to be a fake preacher and healer. But to his amazement he found that when he fake prayed for them and fake healed them, people got well for real. Asked about that surprising phenomenon, he said, “If God wants to heal people he isn't going to let me stand in the way.”
Q: So, no 'ancient aliens" or 'fallen angels"?
BEN: All those sacrifices are forms of energy. They are ways of investing in the gods. They are also ways of feeding the priests and other temple personnel. They are also ways of demonstrating intent. Intent is essential to manifesting. If your intent is not clear your outcome could be delayed or muddled or stuck in the mud with its wheels spinning. One of the ways you can be sure, and everyone else can be sure, what your intent is would be to invest in it. Take action in the direction you want to go. For example if you aren't clear whether you want to go to the mountains or to the ocean, start driving. In CA if you start driving west, chances are your intent is to go to the ocean. And chances are you will get there. Offering sacrifices to the rain god (for example) shows that you really mean it when you say you want rain.
Q: What happens to these thoughtforms when people stop worshiping them? Do they just dissolve?
BEN: Pretty much. Sometimes bits of them stay around in the form or superstitions that people insist they don't believe in, but really sort of do. The best explanation for what happens to obsolete deities is in The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul by Douglas Adams. (Spoiler from Donya. The old gods become homeless people and hang around Kings Cross Station)
Q: Do thoughtforms have their own consciousness? Like does Santa Claus actually exist because all the kids believe in him?
BEN: Santa Claus is an excellent example. The real and visible Santa is not exactly the way the kiddies imagine him or the way he is depicted in books or on TV but all that energy that has been invested in Santa Claus has definitely made him real. Ask Donya; she knows all about Santa.
Donya: It's true. I've been a Santa's helper for the last five or six years with a local organization, and I've seen the real Santa Claus. One Santa in many bodies, many trucks, SUVs and vans, hauling load after load of gifts to kids and their families. There are no reindeer teams flitting through the sky, but what you see at that secret warehouse called the North Pole at an otherwise undisclosed location, will make you believe in magic.
BEN: Santa Claus is a thought form that has taken on a great deal of power. When something possesses power that people don't understand it looks like magic. Certain forms of technology look like magic until someone explains how they work. The organization that harnesses the desire of thousands of people to do something good looks like it is run on magic. It's really the accumulation of the energy and the intent of thousands of people over many centuries. Everybody who puts on the suit or loads the trucks or answers the phones or plans the routes or makes the maps or wraps the gifts or brings potluck dishes to feed the crews becomes part of Santa Claus. Many people and many consciousnesses become a single entity.
Not all thought forms are as powerful as Santa Claus but he is one that has captured many people's imaginations and he is greatly loved. Even though the men in the suits are ordinary men they participate in something bigger than the sum of its parts. Even if you count all the people who work behind the scenes all year long and the people who donate gifts and money and the corporation that lends a warehouse to be the North Pole and the teachers and social workers who pass on the names of needy families, there is still a powerful inexplicable force that pulls it all together and makes it work. And if it looks like magic, well maybe it is. Magic is really just the very efficient management of energy.