Some weeks ago, I've got the possibility to exchange some emails with an american blogger interested in paganism (actually within a very naturalistic perspective). One of the concepts I tried to explain was the idea tha Gods and Goddesses are "super-existential" forms of the Being. In that occasion I was unable to better clarify this concept so fundamental for the Roman Traditional Religion (finally it's the main focus of our cults): so I would like to devote space and time to clarify this concept now.
I'll try to be as brief as possible even if it's necessary to make an introduction highlighting again that the Roman Traditional Religion has nothing to do with politics, carnival and folkloristic festivals, intolerance and fundamentalist approaches to a past which cannot be reconstructed in its original shape: what we can do is to learn from a great spiritual and cultural heritage to interpret and live in a World as it is now (with its goods and bads).
That said, when I talk about an introduction, I want to say that the World, Nature, the Universe in the past were not seen and perceived as we do today. Our present visions and views about reality are neither universal nor ethernal. In the past reality was perceived and lived in totally different modalities having completely different meanings. The first "breaking point" to the traditional visions has been created by the imposition of montheism which concretely moved the Divine Dimension (and the meaning of the existence itself) "somewhere else": surely not here on Earth and in this Time. God is "somewhere else", the real life is "somewhere else", everything has a real value is "somewhere else". This approach depreived the World, Reality, Nature, Life of their Divine essence becoming "mediocre" when compared to this "somewhere else".
This "deprivation", making the reality only a "raw matter", paved the way for the scientific view of the reality where everything is a "phenomenon" which can be divided in small pieces and expressed by numbers. A tree, a cow, a human being, a galaxy, the social relations, the individual psyche are seen as "aggregates" of elements producing phenomena which can be analyzed separately and described through a numerical expression. Anything cannot be expressed through a chemical-physical formula actually doesn't exist. The present society of Technology has funnelled these concepts for the creation of "objects": anything can be decribed as an "object" which can be designed, built, sold, bought, used and, above all, thrown away as a waste.
As cited above, this perspective is completely different from the Ancient vision of the World and the great heritage of the Traditional Roman Religion can help us to see the world and the reality again as experiences of a different dimension rather than mere "chemical-physical" phenomena. There is therefore something more and more complex.
The possibility to develop an inner new and different perception of the world implies the possibility to live and act in a space, in a time, in a dimension qualitatively different from those typical of the profane mankind. Today we live as blind people in a deep fog which made difficult (an sometimes impossible) to see the world as it really is. This fog is made only of appearance and "materiality" without any symbolic and sacred values. We are thus continuosly deceived by material things.
The Roman Traditional Religion is a "Via", a Path to re-activate the living perception of the reality. Re-activating our own "attention", our own condition of wakefulness, our own "awareness and consciousness" are first steps to activate our perception: it expresses the capability to perceive and feel in certain phenomena, situations and conditions the presence of an immaterial power, a "numen". A numen is a "naked force" having no name expressing a "power". Here the main thought is: "I can feel You. I know that You are here".
From this step it is possible to develop the ability of identification or (thanks to traditional Roman heritage acting as a "dictionary", a "compass" to decode-to be oriented) the capability to overcome a perception defining who these forces and powers effectively are. The Traditional Roman REligion provides us with one of the possible languages to "inflect" these forces. We move from the premonition of the presence of forces from some exterior signals to the personal inner assumption of these forces. Here the main thought is: "I know who You are. I recognize You".
At this stage rites surely play a critical role because the mere natural appearance of these forces can be overcome through symbols, formulas, signs, Divine Figures. When I talk about symbols, I do not refer to "profane signs", but rather to modalities of representation of the deeper sense and meaning of forms and manifestations of the Deities. All this can be done to semplify the perception of the implications and meanings of these forces corresponding to phenomena, situations and conditions of the World, the Nature, the Reality. Here the main thought is: "I know how You can manifest yourself. I know your power"
The physical representation of Gods/Goddesses can have thus the role of tool of materialization of the "sacred imagination or the sacred form of the gesture". These representations can become the way to "project" an invoked Force: he/she can be called and then dismissed. Here the main thought is: "Illuminate"
These steps are directed to stimulate and live an experience of a divine power during which mateirality and appeareance are progressively removed. And this experience can be perceived during all our existence.
All this can drive to a real revolution in the personal values' scale: appeareance and material things re-acquire their real role and "essentiality" (the essence) becomes again the central focus of the life. This is something different from "animism" because it requires a continuing "fine" and quiet perception of those (super-existential) forces and powers around us. It important to learn how to live together with these forces for our physical and mental integrity and health.