I just cannot get into the spiritual side of it. I dont believe in the kami and/or the gods of war. Dragons and spirits are things that I read in mythology and they all remain in the book after I read them. The universe to me consist of galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, planets, cosmic rays, space debris, comets, moons, etc.
Interestingly enough, I don't think O'Sensei believed in those things the same way you are picturing it. My interpretation of the Shinto aspect of Aikido's "cosmology" or religious side, used to be very much the same as yours. The problem is the interpretation we have of Shinto views. Just as with most things Japanese (and in many religions) there is an "Omote" and "Ura" view to be taken. Shinto actually has a very deep study and understanding of the principles of nature...the diety names (Kami) etc, and language were meant to be metaphorically used as a tool to approach the deeper concepts. Much as in other religions like Hinduism, Bhuddism, Christianity, etc, the metaphors and parables have been only understood and passed on in a shallow manner by many. In other words, the metaphors became to reality to most practioners. A deeper inquiry into the principles and concepts behind all the trappings of Shinto begin to reveal an astoundingly complex, and even scientific, view of reality and concepts of existence. I'm not a practioner of Shinto (it isn't in my cultural background) but it has some great value as a tool for understanding our world and existence and is worth some study and understanding...if nothing else for a way to begin understanding and developing our own beliefs and views. I found William Gleason's book "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" very interesting (thogh not easy) and infomative reading. Mitsugi Saotome Sensei's book "Aikido and the Harmony of Nature" provides an easier approach in terms that aren't cloaked in Shinto terminology.