Frater Barrabbas and I chatted at Pantheacon. He asked me if I thought the Helpful Deity was internal or external.
Part of me wants to respond with Crowley's line about spirits when he said it doesn't matter if they are real the universe tends to work as if they are. From a practical point of view, I cannot argue with that.
To my mind, there are two approaches to this question. The first revolves around our external reality. The second involves ritual perceptions and internal realities. There is a third thing that reconciles these two.
Externally, yes I believe any deity that exists does so external to that which I normally define as myself. If you view time as linear, this is obvious. The cheesy argument goes like this. There is no way Zeus cannot exist external to me because this me was born long after he became known. More germane to my point of view is that I do know that she that I call the Helpful Deity and Hermes have caused change to come about through other persons. This appears to make them external to me.
Internally, yes I believe those deities I work with are inside of me. When I work with them I can feel and perceive their thoughts and emotions. I can feel them move my physical and astral bodies with little or no control on my part. They present ideas and knowledge I do not believe I possessed a moment before. My partners have remarked how my physical form changes in ritual. All these things tells me the deity is within me during rituals or when I focus on them in a certain way.
The third thing is the Qabalistic idea of the Neschemah. This is part of the soul associated to the sephiro of Binah, Understanding. This is what connects us to everything else. From this point of view, my Neschemah is open enough that I can perceive and interact with them from both points of view. While the first two opposing approaches to the question involve their state of being, the later involves my own and the particular condition of my soul or spirit at this time.
This question, though appearing to be about the gods or my intellectual understanding of them, is really about my abilities as a magician and, as I said, the current state of my soul. I hope this answers the frater's question.