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Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 55 - 8/20/2001
What Lies Beyond?
What does your magical/magickal tradition, belief system, training, religion or Path say about what will happen to you when you depart this earthly realm via what we call 'death'? If your belief system includes concepts such as 'Summerland', 'Avalon' or 'Valhalla' as a final arrival point in the hereafter, what do you envision that place/state will be like? Is it permanent or do you move on from there? If your belief system teaches/advocates reincarnation, what steps does the soul/spirit go through in the process? Why does the belief that you have been taught or have chosen concerning the afterlife appeal to you? Do your beliefs- or non beliefs- in the continuation of the Spirit help you in your life today when you encounter hard times, illness or the physical death of a loved one?
| Reponses: There are 28 responses posted to this question.
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| Choice Lies Beyond - I Have Always Believed This, And I Have Taught... ||Aug 28th. at 4:35:10 pm EDT|
|Dawn Nikithser (Hightstown, New Jersey US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
Choice lies beyond - I have always believed this, and I have taught it to my students. When we pass from this life, and we are granted union with the Great Spirit manifested in the Goddess and the GOd, we are given a choice. We can come back, reincarnated in a new form to live life again. We can remain, and become a part of the Great Spirit, adding our uniqueness to the Life Force that touches all of us. Or, we can choose to return in a non-physical form, to watch over the loved ones we left behind. For those who choose the latter, when they feel their "work" is done, they can decide between the other two choices once again. I also believe that there are those souls who are unaware of their passing, unfortunate ghosts who are stuck. Sometimes they are stuck because their is somethign left for them to do, to communicate, to know. It is up to the living to help these souls, if, of course, they can communicate with or perceive them.
I don't really know how I came by these beliefs - it's simply what I have known, in my heart, since I was a child. Those people who have studied with me have always agreed with these ideas, some of them even agreeing it's what they always believed as well. I know that some of my loved ones choose to stick around - I was lucky enough to feel many of them at my recent handfasting. And I have seen the old souls, the ones who made a choice to come back and live it all again, in the eyes of children; I have even seen those all-too-human eyes staring out at me from animals, and have felt the connection there as well. And there have been ghosts, and I have tried to help.
These beliefs have been of great comfort to me when I have lost loved ones, or when I have become melancholy thinking of those who have passed. My apologies if this answer rambled a bit, and I thank you for offering up such a thought-provoking question. My best to you all.
| What Happens When We Die? This Is One Of The Major Queastions... ||Aug 28th. at 1:49:19 am EDT|
|Di (Adelaide, South Australia AU) ||Age: 19 - Email |
What happens when we die? This is one of the major queastions in our life that can never seem to be answered. It is something that all religions tend to want to beautify to help people become less 'scared' of the unknown. Many people believe in reincarnation. Others believe in mythical lands filled with a person's ideal beauty.
Personally, I believe in reincarnation. I believe that when we die we automatically go into another body. It doesn't matter about what type of physical being, ie. animal, human or plant, we will exist in some shape or form. This allows us to continually be connected with the earth, air, water, and fire. It allows for the spiral of life and time.
I have a favourite quote that I think goes for this:
'Life isn't for anything, it just was'.
I like this analogie, and if you can look closely it can also help.
Two literature aspects also come out - A good movie for this is 'What dreams may come'
- A good fictional novel based on philosophy is called 'Fly away Peter, Fly away Paul' by David Malouf. It has a good death philosophy.
| What Does My Belief System Say Will Happen When We Depart? We... ||Aug 26th. at 12:27:37 am EDT|
|David (OZ, North Carolina US) ||Age: 1 |
What does my belief system say will happen when we depart? We will go to heaven or hell. But most people in the Christ teaching do not follow it very close. If you follow it close no one will like you except God because it goes against societies ways. You challenge the church not through your pagan beliefs but their beliefs written in the bible, most do not follow. The last church I went to worshipped TCT AND TBN. What they said could not be challenged (www.pfo.org). Some people may be getting help for this for cancer and then it might be a scam, do search for cancell Wren. Contacted a women her father made it not first. I asked about NCI saying there was no studies about the 20, 000 mice experiments she did not respond back but I also asked about Agnihotra and she is a Christ person. There is a meeting somewhere that they talk about their experiences with it it can be found on the site, a phone number. I'm keeping an eye on you witches. My belief appeals to me because I feel it is the right one but I don't follow it. A gathering in temples to pay are pentence due, how much do we owe, the ones we slayed for you, religious wars destroy us, blood in sand abounds, Jesus your the answer, we cut you up, and burned your crown. Christ people sometimes are not very nice but that applies to you witches too.
| This One Question Thing Does Not Work Sometimes Because You Have To... ||Aug 25th. at 11:58:57 pm EDT|
|Nury (OZ, North Carolina US) ||Age: 1 |
This one question thing does not work sometimes because you have to test it out to see if your post can go through because for whatever reason sometimes they don't.
| I Believe That We Are All Reincarnated Until We Achieve Perfection. Then... ||Aug 25th. at 2:40:16 pm EDT|
|Vwondola (Waycross, Georgia US) ||Age: 14 |
I believe that we are all reincarnated until we achieve perfection. Then we go to the Summerland(or anything else you want to call it). I'm not sure what it would look like, but i think that it would be absolutely beautiful. I intend to try my very hardest to achieve perfection in this life, then i will know what it looks like :)
| Although I Believe It Most Likely That Our Individual Lives Completely Cease... ||Aug 25th. at 1:47:51 pm EDT|
|Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
Although I believe it most likely that our individual lives completely cease when we die, even if there does prove to be some form of afterlife it is important to realize that this life and this world is an end in itself, not merely a sort of way station or school through which we pass to "something better." The best way to prepare for any subsequent life, whether in an "ultimate" sense or simply in the "mundane" sense of the different stages of our mortal lives, is to live the present life fully, wholly, in alignment with our deepest, truest values. Keep uncovering who you are and simply BE that self, to the best of your ability and knowledge at any given moment. Give what you can to the world, to your community, and open yourself to receive such good as comes your way. In a word, LIVE. Here. Now. For how will you be prepared to live any other life if you haven't been really living this one?
Now if this life is the only one we have, if it proves (of course we won't know if it does!) that death is the cessation of our existence -- and this is what I believe is probably the case -- there is still meaning and pattern and beauty in the cycles of mortal life. We, as individuals, do not exist eternally, but Life, the "Great Life" of which we are all a part, goes on, even as our bodies continue to live through all of the birthing and dying of the individual cells that comprise it. We are born into this world, into the dance, to take our place in it for a time; we grow, we learn, we dance, and, when our part is complete, we pass away, to give other dancers their turn in the Dance.
| I Guess You All Know The End Of The Lord Of The... ||Aug 24th. at 1:12:46 pm EDT|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
I guess you all know the end of The Lord of the Rings, or the end of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. It's a very beautiful and very sad end; nearly everyone we're fond of goes on to the summer country (i.e. dies) but some have to stay behind and keep going. Someone always does have to stay to finish the book, because the summerlands story is the one that no one knows how to tell.
I don't know how to tell it either. Like Agent Mulder, sometimes I want to believe. I imagine this awareness not being lost, or seeing the people who are gone again, and it makes me cry every single time. It's the thing I don't hope for, because if I hoped for it I think it would kill me: to hope for what I can't believe. What I can hope for is for death to come easy, and without long preliminaries, and the near death experiences suggest that it isn't hard. Even if they're hallucination, it's comforting to know that. But no story tells us anything about what's really there; we don't know. We just have to keep going. You know what Darwin said, confronted by the natural cruelty of the world: "Let each man hope and believe what he can."
| To Spend All One's Time Wondering What Will Happen After Death Is... ||Aug 24th. at 12:30:02 pm EDT|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 20 |
To spend all one's time wondering what will happen after death is not only pointless, its anti-spiritual. The truly great spiritualists of history, your Buddhas, Jesus's, Ghandis, Martin Luther Kings and the like, did not spend their time Philosophizing about the nature of the hereafter, they understood the most important lesson which is that spiritual nature is real and we needn't understand it to take strength, comfort, companionship, and wisdom from it. Besides, the answer is moot, firstly no one knows 100% for certain until they get there, crazy mixups, imperfections, and unpredictable occurrences exist everywhere, even in spiritual nature.
That said, I'll lend my vast knowledge of Near Death Experiences to the conversation. Recent medical tests have proven both the unique nature of spiritual experiences, and the validity and unexplainability of Near Death Experiences, as well as presenting somewhat of a profile of the "typical" experience. The "typical" NDE Experiencer does not say anything so blatant as "I felt a pain and then my soul left my body, " anymore than a butterfly wonders why it's not a caterpillar anymore when it leaves that cocoon. They describe a sense of floating, seeing themselves from above, often seeing the Doctors working on them trying to save their mortal lives. Then they see a tunnel of light, or a dark tunnel with a point of light at the end, and a feeling or a voice beckons them into the light, where they encounter spiritual beings like gods, ancestors, and mystical creatures. The other side is consistently described as a natural paradise. No NDE Experiencer I have ever spoken to has said they saw "the Kingdom of Heaven, " with streets of gold and great mansions and blah blah blah blah blah, they sometimes refer to the natural paradise of the otherside as "heaven" because that's the only term they know. To be fair, there probably are Kingdoms in the otherworlds, but those Kingdoms are not the otherworlds themselves. No NDE Experiencer ever says they were asked what religion they followed or what gods they claimed allegiance to, in fact one's morality in a single lifetime has very little influence on whether one enters the light or suffers in ones' own inner darkness. Sometimes NDEs don't involve entering a bright light, but rather crossing a river into the otherside paradise, such as the River Styx in Hades. In some more rare experiences the soul simply remains in the physical realm after leaving the body, which is of course frustrating to the spirit because they're less material than the material world they've remained in. Still other times a soul instantly reincarnates and carries a hugely intact portion of their past-life memories over into the new life, and sometimes these instantly-reincarnated people remember almost everything from their past life by the time they're only a few years old.
In very rare cases people experience a bad NDE, with visions of fire and brimstone and nasty monsters, or simply remembering over and over again all the bad times of ones' life, or the rarest case, utter darkness, total loneliness. It's important to remember that YOU decide almost entirely whether your journeys through the otherworlds will be pleasant or self-torturous.
| I Believe That An Understanding Of Life, Death, And The Various Planes... ||Aug 24th. at 4:05:55 am EDT|
|Big John (South Amboy, New Jersey US) ||Age: 40 |
I believe that an understanding of life, death, and the various planes of existence are probably a little beyond what a human mind can fully understand. For a man (or woman) to look into the cosmic mind of the goddess is a little like an amoeba trying to stare back up at the microscope into the eye of the scientist and trying to understand what is going through his mind.
I've given all this great thought and I have a few ideas. The best of which I'll share with all. Imagine, in the beginning, an empty cosmos except for one great being. Call this being the god/goddess. This being is truely omnipotent having full control of all that is around - yet is alone. Perhaps to better understand itself, perhaps to evolve, or perhaps just not to feel alone the god/goddess splits itself up into an almost infinite number of seperate sentient beings along with many different worlds for them to interact in. All are alive in themselves, but at the same time all are parts of the goddess/god. Think of it like the human body, we have trillions of cells, all alive in themselves, yet all are part of us. We are self aware and intelligent enough to wonder about the world around us but the cosmic consciousness that we are all part of is far to vast for us to see. Again thinking of the human body, we are aware of our finger as being part of our body, but is our finger aware that it is part of us? When we are feeling good, growing, helping each other we (in a small way) add to the whole. When we are feeling bad or hurting those around us we hurt the whole because we are all connected to each other.
In this view of the cosmos death is kind of a strange concept. It's our being part of the goddess/god the gives us our soul and thus allows us to be sentient and connected to each other. When we die our soul is still there because the goddess/god is always there. Our experiences are a part of the goddess/god and always will be. The individual is lost like a drop of water returning to an endless sea, but we will always be a part of every living thing in every world.
Of course, I have no idea if this view of the cosmos is the right one. It's just a thought. But, it's as valid as anyone elses. I have always felt that a heaven/summerland is a beautiful dream. Perhaps it's real, but it sounds too simple to me. Hell, on the other hand, seems to be something created to scare and control people. I no longer believe in or fear hell, but the very concept seems to diminish us all.
Life is many times wonderful and sometimes sad and lonely, but there must be a reason why we are here. Just as there must be a reason that we don't live forever. Perhaps it is so we don't carry too many bad experiences with us or perhaps it's so we don't attach too much value in material things. After all you can't take it with you! But I'm sure there is a reason and from some truely cosmic point of view it's the right way.
| I Like To Think Of It Like Recycling. Changing From One Form... ||Aug 24th. at 1:40:18 am EDT|
|Angie McMullen (Montoursville, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I like to think of it like recycling. Changing from one form to another. I like to think that we are born and die thru the Lady and that the Lord guides us thru this process until we are ready to be born and die again. It helps to ease the pain when someone passes over. It helped me when my father died and when various pets have passed on. The thought that life never truly ends and that the people I love are still here with me is very comforting.
| I Wasn't Yet Pagan When My Father Passed Away Almost Four Years... ||Aug 23rd. at 10:36:41 pm EDT|
|Bryony Ravenwillow (Kansas City, Missouri US) ||Age: 32 |
I wasn't yet Pagan when my father passed away almost four years ago. According to the beliefs of the faith I was raised in, Dad wouldn't go to heaven because he never joined the "one, true faith". Instead, he would be in a kind of boot-camp purgatory. I found this unacceptable. My father was a wonderful man. Soon after, I turned my back on the Judeo-Christian God I had been raised to believe in, and a few months after that I began studying and practicing Wicca.
When I think of the afterlife, I think of a circle. In my pre-pagan days, the concept of the "Circle of Life" held a great resonance for me. I believe that the body returns to the earth at death, and is reborn in another form. The body lives on in the grass and flowers nourished by the earthly remains. There is a piece of the deceased in living things that go on, and so physically we never really die. We continue in other forms, mingled with other forms to make other forms. I also believe that the spirit continues after death, in much the same way. The spirit mixes and mingles with other spirits in the Goddess' cosmic cauldron, and when it's time to be reborn there are fragments of many different spirits reassembled into one physical body. It explains to me why we carry different genders, habits, and personality traits from life to life, different yet same each time. Physically and spiritually, we never really die, we simply change into different forms, a new facet in the jewel, a constantly shifting drop of water in the ocean. Birth, death, and rebirth, in a neverending circle. "We are a circle within a circle, with no beginning and never ending." And I no longer fear death.
| Pagan Irish Tradition Certainly Talks About An Afterlife, Though It Appears To... ||Aug 23rd. at 9:43:32 pm EDT|
|Aedh Rua (New Richmond, Wisconsin US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
Pagan Irish tradition certainly talks about an afterlife, though it appears to take a variety of forms. One of the most common was/is the idea of the paradisical Otherworld, often called Tir na'n Og, or by various other names. Descriptions of it often sound eerily similar to the accounts of people who have had Near Death Experiences.
Another idea was that of Teach Duinn, the "House of Donn". Donn was the brother of Eremon, the first human king in Ireland. He made the mistake of insulting the Goddesses Eire, Banba, and Fotla when the Milesians (ie. humans) first came onto the Irish shore. As a result, he was cursed to die by falling onto the Skellig Rocks, off the Irish coast. As the first human to die in Ireland, he became King of the Dead. The spirits of the dead were said in some myths to stop on the way to the Otherworld to feast at the House of Donn. Usually, the House of Donn was situated on the Skellig Rocks.
These two conceptions are actually very closely related. Both involve the symbolism of crossing a barrier of water to come to another shore, there to be with one's ancestors and Gods. I imagine that I will cross a barrier of water, or darkness, when I die to another realm, one of great beauty, if the ancient accounts can be believed. There I will be with my ancestors, and with the Gods I worship, before returning to this world.
I tend to think of our time in this world less in terms of lessons we must learn, than of deeds we must do, things we must accomplish. I imagine that as we return tothis world we are each given our Dan, our "mission" for each lifetime. The purpose of these assignments is ultimately to make this world better, and to achieve the victory of the Gods over the Fomors, and other similar beings. All of this symbolism has a very militaristic cast, but I like it, and it works for me.
Perhaps if we succeed in many such life assignments, then we can be reborn as a greater spirit, or even a minor ancestral deity, a clan deity, if you will. And, if we ultimately succeed, and the Gods win, then this world will be a very good place, indeed.
Now, I am aware of the research which shows that the brain is extremely important to consciousness. But a lot of people have also reported near-death phenomena. What can this mean? If we don't need a spirit in order to have a mind, then how can the afterworld I have described exist? Well, perhaps the spirit isn't an original part of consciousness, but is added later. In short, perhaps the soul and the afterworld really exist, but are artificial, and somehow created by the Gods.
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