The over-arching Shakti, “the formless course of everything”  – a definition that’s strikingly similar to the concept of Tao – is believed to take the form of various gods and goddesses, which personify the “different energies that make up the multiple dimensions of existence and of our own consciousness”.
Cassandra Lorius gives further food for thought on the distinction between Shakti and other goddesses: “In fact, Shakti is not so much a goddess, as the creative force behind existence, who manifests in different forms. That’s why she’s not depicted as a single deity, but as a number of goddesses who represent the various qualities of this primal energy.”
Bearing in mind that abstract concepts are fluid and subject to perception, and as a neophyte to Tantra, I am tempted to situate the all-encompassing Shakti in the transrational sphere and put the various personifications of Shakti – for example, the different tantric goddesses like Durga, Parvati and Tara – within the transpersonal plane in the form of archetypal energies. “When [Tantric adepts] invoke a particular deity, they mentally bridge the gulf between the personal and the impersonal.”
In contrast to my own viewpoint, however, Georg Feuerstein suggests that the gods and goddesses of Tantra aren’t solely archetypal energies: “The Tantric worldview affirms the existence of deities – long-lived higher beings on subtle planes who are endowed with extraordinary powers. […] The gods and goddesses are powerful but not liberated. […] The Western mind tends to hastily dismiss this aspect of Tantra as mere superstition or, at best, as a projection of archetypal imagery resident in the human psyche. For the Tantric practitioners the deities are very real, however, each corresponding to a particular energetic presence that can be palpably felt in meditation and even at other times.”
Sally Kempton clearly agrees with Feuerstein when she writes: “Gods and goddesses are ‘real’. They are actual beings who exist in eternal forms in the subtlest realms of consciousness.” However, she also affirms a view similar to my own: “…within the human psyche, these cosmic beings also exist as psychological archetypes.”
Excerpt from “Looking for Tantra – living the tantric dream”
 Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti. Sounds True: Boulder, CO, p.7.
 “An archetype is a subtle blueprint that both transcends individual personality and lives in it, connecting our personal minds to the cosmic or collective mind”: Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti. Sounds True: Boulder, CO, p.9.
 Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, pp.71-72.
 Lorius, C. (1999) Tantric Sex. Thorsons: London, p.22.
 Feuerstein, G. (1998) Tantra: the Path to Ecstasy. Shamballa Publications: Boston & London, pp.70-71.
 Kempton, S. (2013) Awakening Shakti. Sounds True: Boulder, CO, p.9.