An important thought came to me yesterday morning as I drove to work: that our human minds, which can only comprehend so much, in so many ways, automatically filter new information through certain tropes and symbols based on how we, individually, perceive the world. In the case of malevolent spirits, for example, a Christian might experience them as demons with horns and barbed tails, but a Pagan might experience them as a nightmarish shadow (or anything specific to their individual path).
What if the same applies to experiences we have with gods and spirits? What if I experience Anubis as a father figure because He knows I respond well to compassionate authority? Perhaps Anubis knew, long before I realized it, that He had to establish that kind of relationship with me if He wanted me to serve Him. And what if a friend witnessed a god healing His devotee in a pool of water, like a parent tending to a child, because said friend will be a parent soon too, and she herself is a woman of healing waters? Perhaps that was the best way for that god to show my friend just how deeply He cares for His devotee.
Many different factors contribute to this phenomenon: personality, elemental composition, how one was raised, how one grew up, significant life experiences, preferred themes and tropes… Surely, the list goes on. In my case, I am a very literal person, a being of Earth and Fire. I respond best to directness, physicality, and action. Without a doubt, my gods take advantage of this. Not with any ill intentions, of course — but the gods operate on a much grander scale than any human does, and They see and know more than we are capable of comprehending. They will make demands of us, for both Their benefit and ours, and it behooves Them to know how to manipulate us in Their favor.
Despite how much of this sounds incredibly selfish of gods, it comforts me. What I experience with gods and spirits is valid because it’s just how my tiny, human brain is able to interpret interactions with them. And the fact that gods, especially, might purposefully choose certain themes, symbols, or tropes means that they care. They know what matters to us. They know what we consider important or meaningful.