Independently on how you envision the Divine -or not- there is much to learn from the goddesses and gods of old, those eternal echoes of Spirit's qualities that, just when you thought they have given out their last breath, are popping out like Spring daisies in the modern world. One can discuss for hours, days or years on what benefit is there to worship, connect or at least find out about the gods. But to me, the main one is that they, are us. And when you realize that, you never walk alone.
The gods and goddess show us the full spectrum of possibilities, within and without, that comes with the human experience. They can initially chart our path or inspire us in our quest. Moreover, they remind us that, in spite of evidence to the contrary, we are not on our own. As personal as the experience of our path may be, the gods have gone into our wilderness and crossed our creaky hanging bridges over swelling angry rivers, ages before us. They have hidden in caves with just scorpions for company; they have known lose and desperation; they have been chained to rocks and tortured for doing what's right; they have had doubts in gardens and wilderness; they have lived knowing that Ragnarök will come and they will pass, no matter what; they have shed their skins and old lives, burned in pyres and hang on the pegs of hell, and come back to life again.
The goddesses and gods are teachers, either by action or omission. I can't think a better example of loyalty and dignity than Rama; as a mother, I can see myself in Demeter's pain, in her search, in her anger, in her grief at the lost child to the point of not caring for the fate of any other child; I bow in humbleness at Odin hanging on the Yggdrasil tree in search of wisdom and hold my breath in awe at Jesus forgiving those who are hurting him. Because there will times in my life when I will be asked to show my loyalty to my family, let go of my child, sacrifice something important to knowledge and forgive those who have made me cry. I can look at these aspects of the Divine and find inspiration and strenght in them, to be able to do or refrain from doing what is needed to keep re-discovering the power, wisdom and beauty of my soul and remember my Divine Self.
The gods are the roots who we are. The myths and qualities tell our stories. In Brigit's patronage of smiths, I see the meaning of life. I am the metal rod. I enter into the fire of life; I am hammered loudly and surely; and then I m comforted and cooled in the water, that actually makes me stronger. Is the Divine the water, the hammer or the fire? Or is I? Or is it both? At the end I am mould, no longer a metal rod amid many, but a sword, a locket, a nail, a torc, a masterpiece. And yet, I am still a metal rod of sorts.
The true essence of who I am has not being changed with all this weakening and hammering and shaping and strengthening. Instead I have been given a chance to know a possibility of myself, to learn what is like to become a sword, a locket, a nail, a torc. Whatever the outcome, I'm still the silver, I'm still the iron, I'm still the gold. But knowing the process through Brigit's qualities takes me away from victimhood.
Yes, the fire burns. So does passion, energy, the power of thought, creation, art, endeavor. Yes the blow of the hammer probably hurts. So can working your body to achieve a feat or standing up for your beliefs. But the water, call it Spirit, call it Love, call it Self-Compassion, call it Mystery, will cool all down; it will refresh me, it will heal me; it will grant me fortitude and insight, as does the sweet compassion of Kuan Yin and the sacred healing waters of all the Divine Female manifestations, from Danu to Mary. I am not a victim. I am Hercules and his twelve tasks; I am Isis putting Osiris back together; I am Cerriwen, forcing Taliesin to find his power; I am Psyche going to the underworld to prove I am worthy of love.
So what are good are the gods for? That's a question that can generate many answers. Yet for today, I'll answering this way: they are good to remind us our true nature. They are the holders of sacred mirrors where we find reflections of our divine spark and by connecting to them and their multi-layered stories, we discover a bit more of who we were, who we are and who we are meant to be.