[I]n Wiccan theology we are not a "lower" life-form than the Gods; we are in fact considered to be of the same species as They -- a very often-used and much-beloved Wiccan Ritual saying is, "Thou art God/dess".
The idea that the Gods "existed before our ancestors were born and which will exist long after our descendants have returned to the dust" seems to ignore the idea that many of us have -- that we ourselves are Eternal, and though we may incarnate in many successive lives/ bodies, we DO re-incarnate, and therefore though our bodies "turn to dust", we ourselves do NOT."Thou art God/dess" is a very interesting theological statement. On one hand I can see it being used as the impetus for greater accomplishments i.e. "since I am God/dess I had best behave accordingly." But I can also see it degenerating into narcissism and even solipsism. ("Since I am God/dess, I deserve to be treated like God/dess.") Combined with a structure that distinguishes between the Court and the Cowans or the Wizards and the Muggles, this could lead to a back-patting society that never really accomplishes much of anything save ego-stroking talk about how much more enlightened they are than those poor non-divine fools. I should hasten to add that this is NOT the case in all, or even most, Wiccan or Pagan groups with whom I have interacted. But I've definitely run into this issue on more than one occasion.
I think it 's well and good and entirely appropriate to have awe for the Gods -- but not because they are "greater" than us; for we are of the same Species as They.
I've heard from some practitioners of Lukumi that "the Orisha who owns your head" can be interpreted as "the Orisha whose spark you carry" - in other words, an Omo Obatala is an incarnation of Obatala, an Omo Oshun is an incarnation of Oshun, etc. On a deep metaphysical level this makes sense: if we are all roads of the Orisha then we are all directly involved in Their work in this Material world. I also like Orion Foxwood's idea that we are "co-Creators" who work with the Gods and the Spirits in this manifestation. I think these are theologically rich ideas which emphasize both our connection with the Divine and our divine responsibilities.
I would tend to agree that there is an eternal spark within us which survives our bodily death: I'm even inclined to believe in reincarnation, since I've had a few experiences which strongly suggest I've retained at least a few past life memories. But I think that our incarnations are temporary while the Gods are closer to eternity. I may be embodied in a thousand different forms before I reach my final destination: during all that time, Legba will remain at the crossroads and Loki will continue commenting sarcastically on the foibles of the incarnate, discarnate and transcarnate alike.
Perhaps one day I shall reach the place where They are, or shall awaken to discover that I was always a God who chose to incarnate for My own reasons. (It's been done before...). But for now I see myself as something quite different from those who have attained to or been born into Godhood. And one of the lessons which I need to learn in this incarnation is to recognize my limitations and act within them.
(As an aside, I apologize for recent delays in responding and posting. We are in the midst of an enormous painting project at my house and my time has been limited. Hopefully things will return to normal over the next few days).