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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.
|| Reverse Sort
| I Hope That When I Die My Body Will Deteriorate And Return... ||Aug 23rd. at 3:37:26 pm EDT|
|LadyGaia (Twin Cities, Minnesota US) ||Age: 15 - Email |
I hope that when I die my body will deteriorate and return to the Earth. I don't hope for any continuation of my spirit and I instinctively feel that there will be none, although maybe there will be one because there are so many afterlife theories and believers. I do hope that death is peaceful and that it doesn't happen until I'm ready, when I've experienced and completed everything I need to do.
| Like Nelli, I Think That The Elements Which Make Up My Body... ||Aug 23rd. at 1:46:07 pm EDT|
|Aeldwulf (Rockford, Illinois US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Like Nelli, I think that the elements which make up my body will return to the Earth, and that the energy which make up my mind and soul will return to the Universal Spirit. I tend to think of this a return to the Goddess, or to the Cauldron of the Goddess, where I will become the raw materials from which new souls are made.
I do think that all of the memories, perspectives, and experiences which once were me will be remembered by God/dess, and that they will constribute to the evolution of the whole.
I do not, however, believe that my consciousness or individual self will survive death. I believe that death will "feel like" an eternal, dreamless sleep, a state of nothingness. Unlike some posters, I don't feel that there is anything wrong with this. Death will no doubt be peaceful, and certainly will be absolutely painless. However much I may enjoy the pleasures of this life, when I am dead I will not miss them, or even remember them.
This does not mean that I do not enjoy the pleasures of life or find life meaningful. Far from it! Life can be filled with beauty and joy. And the meaning of my life is to be part of the evolution of that which is greater than me: the Goddess, the God, the Craft, the universe, and the human race. Without such a greater meaning, my life would be pretty empty with or without an afterlife.
This means that those who have passed on are simply sleeping away eternity, but at least I know that they are at rest, and free from care. Most ways of dying hurt a lot, but once dead, no one is troubled any longer by the pain of dying, or indeed by death itself.
| Energy Cannot Be Created Or Destroyed; It Can Only Change Form." This... ||Aug 23rd. at 1:17:29 pm EDT|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
"Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change form."
This is a basic law of physics, and I think it applies to death just as well as to everything else. My "self" - my body, my mind, my thoughts and emotions, everything that is me - is a specific form of enegy at the moment, and we call that form human. When I die, the energy that makes up "me" will change form. Some of it will become pure carbon, and return to the soil. Some of it will drift off to join the greater streams of wave (or wave-particle) energy that are unseen (mostly) but are a great part of the universe; I believe that these streams of energy are what we influence or manipulate when we do what we call magick. They also make up "vibes", sound waves, light waves, etc.
As far as my "self" is concerned... I'm going with the Zen buddhists on this one - self is an illusion. It is a product of the mind, and when the mind is gone, the self is gone. I think that the mind, like the rest of our bodies, is made up of matter and wave-particles. The matter of my body/mind will return to pure carbon form as I am cremated, while the wave-particles woven into my "self" will be released into the greater whole of the infinite universe. I have a suspicion (or a hope) that the last thing my "self" will perceive as I die will be a sense of "light" as energy is released, and a fleeting sense of awesome and total immersion in and connection with the whole. And then the self lets go, and there is only energy. An ultimate and instant return to the Source, if you will.
Those energies that made up my body/mind will probably be incorporated into some other being or organized system, and perhaps those energies will still bear an imprint of "my" actions, thoughts and emotions. That is how I see reincarnation and Karma. And ghosts, actually.
Like an earlier writer, I don't fear death itself, but I am often mortaly afraid of dying violently, or before I'm done with what I want to do in life; and I am afraid to leave my loved ones behind. And my greatest fear is to die, not having lived at all. The answer to that, I think, is exactly what Wren wrote about in this weeks article - living as if it is the first day of my life (thank you, Wren, for pointing it out to us!!!). I see this as a way of living in the present moment - enjoying life for the first time, every minute! The wonder and vastness and richness of all-that-is is always there for us, each moment as wondrous as the last... but we are so wrapped up in our "selves" that we rarely take the time to really live, to be present not only for our life, but for life as a whole, and for the universe as a whole. By living as if this is the first day of our lives, we are constantly immersed in the wonder that surrounds us, and we are truly awake to the world.
| In My Late Forty's And Having Lost My Parents Early On And... ||Aug 22nd. at 11:51:29 pm EDT|
|Jan (Canton, Michigan US) ||Age: 47 - Email |
In my late forty's and having lost my parents early on and many other friends and relatives, I've struggled with this question.
Sadly, my intellect tells me that death is the end.
Being human, my hope is that I'm wrong.
| This Is A Topic That Has Popped Up In My Life A... ||Aug 22nd. at 6:33:36 pm EDT|
|Silver Butterfly (Edmonton, Alberta CA) ||Age: 18 |
This is a topic that has popped up in my life a lot recently with my great aunt having just passed away. My family heard the news of her death after the funeral because we had been on holidays when she actaully died. For my grandmother and mother this was devastating. For me it was less devastating perhaps because I could see that she had lived a full life and was ready to move on. I think that after we die, our spirits move on to a very peacefull and safe place where we can come to terms with what we've accomplished and learned in this lifetime. For me, all spirits go to this place no matter what faith they are. For the ones that didn't believe in reincarnation, this is thier final restin place. For the ones that believe in reincarnation, once they have come to accept what they did in their lifetime they are reborn so that they can continue to learn. I don't believe that we ever stop being reincarnated until perhaps we get to a lifetime in which we no longer believe in reincarnation.
This isn't a belief that someone has taught me, it is something that developed around the same time as my interest in Wiccan or shortly just before while my grandfather was slowly wasting away in the hospital. These beliefs have helped me deal with the physical death of a few relatives as well as the serious illness of others.
| When By Best Friend's Best Friend Passed Away A Few Years Ago... ||Aug 22nd. at 4:38:45 pm EDT|
|ƒowyn (Western, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
When by best friend's best friend passed away a few years ago, we gave this a lot of though. She and I are Pagan. Some of our friends are Catholic. Others are Protestant. Some are Jewish. We thought 'Well this is bad. We won't get to see each other in the afterlife' Then we thought about day passes from one afterlife to another ... you know, like train tickets from Heaven to the Summerland and vice-versa ... so we could see each other once in a while and have coffee. THEN we thought 'but what if we want to get an apartment together?' So Caryn came up with ÒCasablancaÓ Heaven. This is a place where all people came be together in the afterlife and be safe, even if they aren't all friends. We all liked that idea. We like to think of Larry there setting up shop and waiting for us to get there. It's very reassuring.
What do I personally believe? I believe that we are reincarnated, though maybe not right away. Some people are either ready to come back right away or the Universe dictates that they have to hurry back because of some great Cosmic plan. Other times, the spirit lingers watching over those left behind. I believe that we have to learn lessons in each life, but that since we cannot know everything there is to know, the lessons can go on forever. I think it has to do with the spirit's hunger for life too. I don't believe that we pass on into oblivion when we have learned all there is to learn. Like I said, we can never know everything. I think the spirit passes into the Universal Energy when it gets tired. And when the spirit has rested, it can break from the Universal Energy back into a corporeal form. Call that resting place anything you want É the Summerland, Heaven, Nirvana É whatever. For me it is simply the Source of all Creation and it welcomes us home like our own parents would offering us shelter and a place to relax (and maybe do some dirty laundry too, if we are lucky)
| I Belive That When You Die You Must Spend A Time Reveiwing... ||Aug 22nd. at 2:14:19 pm EDT|
|silverlotus (morenci, Michigan US) ||Age: 13 - Email |
I belive that when you die you must spend a time reveiwing your life and feeling the pain/joy you caused in others. then you are reincarnated to your next life. this goes on till you have learned all lessons and reached perfection on this physical plain. then you move to the next plain and must repeat the process. i dont know if this ever ends.
| I Actually Think That What Lies Beyond Is Our Real "life." I... ||Aug 22nd. at 12:57:27 am EDT|
|Alex Archer (New York, New York US) ||Age: 27 - Email |
I actually think that what lies beyond is our real "life." I think we incarnate into this "earthly" existence as a learning experience. That is to say that at the time we incarnate, we have certain things we are supposed to learn (i.e. justice, mercy, compassion, empathy, etc.). When we die, we review our life experiences. If we succeeded in reaching our goals, or, rather, if we learned the lessons we set for ourselves, we go to Heaven (a/k/a Summerland a/k/a Nirvana a/k/a whatever --- I think we all end up in the same place regardless of our religious beliefs. Consequently, I don't think there's any "right" religion or any "wrong" religion. What counts is how we treat others and live our lives). Heaven is another dimension (super-imposed on our own, so that we can contact spirits in that dimension when we need to), which is charaterized by union with God/Goddess. God/Goddess is pure energy comprising only love. You retain your memory and unique personality, so that you are in that dimension, very much the same person you are in this dimension. However, because that dimension only has love energy, ego and selfishness are absent. This is what makes that dimension "paradise." All human-made problems stem from ego and selfishness. Life continues on the paradise plane, you continue work you did on this plane (i.e. if you're a writer, you keep writer; if you're a musician, you keep performing; etc.), you have the opportunity to keep creating/growing and can help others do the same. This "Heaven" dimension is a permanent place, although I believe you can return to the "earth plane" if you need to (i.e. to comfort a grieving loved one, to warn someone of danger, etc.). In the event that a person doesn't fulfill his/her goals during this lifetime and/or in the event that a person did some great wrong/harm to another, he/she must return to the earth plane to learn the lessons they failed. In this regard, while I believe in Heaven, I do not believe in Hell. I believe that the earth plane IS Hell since it is the ultimate state of separation from God/Goddess (and, we are very separated/isolated from each other on this plane --- just think of how hard it is to make real connections with people). The idea of a judging and vindictive God is absolutely impossible for me to accept since it doesn't make logical sense. (i.e. if God/Goddess is love, then how can He/She be vindictive? That's a petty human quality that traditional religions have tended to impose on God/Goddess.) Simply put, if you make mistakes in this lifetime, you get a chance to make amends and/or correct your mistakes in another lifetime. I don't think it's instant, however. When you die, you have a chance to review your life and see where you went wrong. I believe you then have a chance to receive additional instruction and guidance before selecting another life in which to incarnate. I have formulated these beliefs after years of study and research. I have attended schools that taught different religious beliefs and found that many tend to use guilt or fear to manipulate their followers. Others ask that you accept things on "faith." I have faith in God, in that I trust that the Universe will provide the things I need, and, if I ask for direction, will provide me with guidance. However, I do not believe that God/Goddess asks us to accept Him/Her on faith. I think it is possible to know God on the basis of reason (after all, we were created as rational, thinking beings --- why would any less be expected of us?). It seemed to me that many beliefs that point to a Heaven/Hell system that operates on fear and guilt neglect to answer the question of purpose, namely, "Why are we here? Why are we alive in the first place?" They stress that if you're "good" (whatever that means) you go to Heaven, if you're "bad" (again, whatever that means) you go to Hell. They never bother to explain WHY. (So you go to Heaven, then what? What do you do there? If the whole end is to go to Heaven, why was I born in the first place?) In that regard, I think the incorporation or reincarnation as a belief is essential. That provides a process and an end. Life on this plane is the process through which we learn, the end is union with God/Goddess in which we can continue to grow in our specific areas of interest. I believe we also have the opportunity to help others as guides after we die. That is to say, we can share our experiences and wisdom from our own life-events with others after we die. I have been fortunate enough to speak to and receive messages from spirits for quite some time. In that regard, they have convinced me of the continuation of the Spirit after death. Consequently, I do not have a fear of death. (It always amazes me how people will choose to hook themselves up to wires and machines in the vain hope of staying alive. I would much rather prefer to die with some degree of dignity, and not be kept alive by machinery.) While I appreciate life and endeavor to live life to the fullest possible extent, enjoying every minute of every day with gratitude that I am alive, I have no fear of dying. I know that when I die, I will continue the work I started on this earth, and hope to help others who will listen. Because of my beliefs, I am able to weather many storms. I take difficulties in my daily life in stride, knowing that they are only temporary. I am certain that there is plenty of "other worldly" help available to me (and have always received help when I asked --- although not always in ways that I expected). I am also comforted by the knowledge that I will see my departed loved ones again. In that regard, it is less difficult for me to deal with deaths. I know that when people die, they are actually being released from all the problems and negativity of our world, so that they can enter a peaceful, loving state. Hence, I am certain that they are truly going to a better place --- and I'm certain that I will join them one day.
| I Knew This Question Would Come Up Eventually! My Father Died When... ||Aug 21st. at 1:11:53 pm EDT|
|Ciarrai (Somewhere in Somerset County, New Jersey US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
I knew this question would come up eventually! My father died when I was just two months shy of my fifth birthday. At night, my mother would sit with me, and I'd say an Our Father, A Hail Mary, and then "God Bless Daddy IN HEAVEN, God Bless Mommy, etc." so I just thought Heaven was a place, you know, like Hoboken! (Family joke!) So my Dad is in Heaven. And when Mom died when I was 24, she went there to join him. Then I figured out that I was a Pagan at heart; probably better defined as a Christo Pagan. I know that I will reunite with my parents again, but I also know that my father and I knew each other in another life, and that was told to me by my mother. I called him by another name, I had a whole dialogue with him, at age 4 1/2, and he allowed this dialogue to go on, and it only made sense to the both of us.
So yes, I belief in the continuation of the Spirit, and it helps me during good times and in bad times.
| The Idea Of What Comes After Death Means Having To Examine The... ||Aug 21st. at 11:39:08 am EDT|
|Gray Jay (Labrador City, Newfoundland CA) ||Age: 26 |
The idea of what comes after death means having to examine the whole issue of
death itself. Most people do not want to think about death on specific terms
(ie death of loved ones, yourself etc) so have only vague ideas and beliefs about the "next world." I had been the same. I held a very vague belief of reincarnationand that's about where it stopped. Not very useful, really. Three things happened that made me come to formalize my beliefs.
First, I had an encounter of the ghostly kind. My mother has a strong ability to see ghosts, but I had never seen one. I was 21 when this happened and it was independantly confirmed (another girl had seen him too, but not in as much detail). This posed a problem...if ghosts were "real", then some souls either didn't get reincarnated or there was another step beforehand. So I had to rethink a little. Reincarnation still sounded good, but maybe some souls were so attached to places or the way they died was so violent that they refused to continue on until some sort of resolution was reached. So far so good, ghosts explained.
The second event was the death of my grandfather a year later. This was the first death of someone very close to me. It was hard, but I felt confident that my pagan beliefs allowed me to be confident that death was not somehing to be feared, but to be approached with respect and that pop was no longer suffering. I felt that I had come to terms with death and its definitions and that by having these straight in my head, I could grieve healthy.
The third event happened two years after that... it was the true test of my faith. My mother was diagnosed with cancer. My best friend, my mother was suddenly very mortal and I was scared. Suddenly my acceptance of death and the comforting thoughts of reincarnation were on trial as I grappled with the reality of the situation. (NB I am happy to say that after two bouts of chemo, my mother still continues to do well and the prognoses is good). I have since come to realize that being pagan means being able to maintain a certain amount of control while still being able to accept that sometimes the gods are not "fair". It becomes easy to blame the gods for this, but that does not help you through it and it of course isn't their "fault". I still believe in reincarnation, and ghosts but my mother has taught me a valuable lesson to be filed away under grief management. She is confident that when her time is up, that's it, there will be nothing she can do about it. But that does not mean that she can just give up, it's just that she doesn't think that her time is now and she fights. So in clarifying my beliefs on death I find a typically pagan outcome: a lesson about life. Deal with death, but live life.
| Since I Tend To Ramble On Incessantly, I'll Try To Keep This... ||Aug 21st. at 6:39:14 am EDT|
|Mandrake .....the Bard (Tucson, Arizona US) ||Age: 31 |
Since I tend to ramble on incessantly, I'll try to keep this short.
First, I refer you to a translated quote from Julius Caesar's "De Bello Gallico" on the subject of druidic (Celtic) practices and beliefs: "..they wish to inculcate this idea, that souls do not die, but pass after death from one body to another; and they think that by this means men are very much instigated to the exercise of bravery, the fear of death being despised." Of course, this is an outsider's interpretation of Celtic belief, but as Celtic written works from the period are hard to come by (i.e. non-existent) we'll have to make do.
A lot of people, based solely upon this passage, have come to believe that the Celts believed in reincarnation, and as I follow the Celtic path as best I can, the answer to this is important to me. Lemme tell you how I and others answer this riddle (disclaimer: this is my opinion, not an argument)... the Celts (and I) believed that the spirit or soul, upon death in this world, passed into another one. That's why they did all the excessive burial preparations, to make things easier for the departed in the next world. The next world is not a final reward or punishment, but a whole new world to experience, with both joys and sorrows, problems and solutions. Our spirit is eternal, and our struggles (and successes) are eternal as well. If there is a final destination somewhere down the road, the remnants of the Celtic world say nothing about it, and frankly..I don't want to know. I'm much happier with things going on the way they are.
Have a nice life. ;)
| Hi, Since Childhood I Have Had Virtually The Same View On What... ||Aug 20th. at 5:51:42 pm EDT|
|Lynne-Renee (rural, STL area, Missouri US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
Since childhood I have had virtually the same view on what happens when we die. I remember distinctly having family discussions on this topic and sometimes one on one with family members. As spiritual people who see Spirit in all life, this is necessary. It never has helped my pain knowing a truly close loved one is dying nor for some time afterward...perhaps years.
Many have accused beliefs similar to mine as "just what suits you without having to apply anything messy." Well, I disagree.
When I die, my Spirit/Soul will leave my body. It may hang about for a bit or even be in a state where it's somewhere else but can make itself apparent to living people. I have been contacted in dreams: "goodbye" from one of my grandmother's ex-husbands and my grandmother still comes to me when I'm stressed, usually when I'm in denial about the stress. I've also seen whatsits now and then and definitely had some antagonistic energies in a house where I was housesitting. These are proof enough to me.
Next, I'll "ascend" and go to the light. I believe this step can also be the first, especially if one is prepared to go or not holding on for some purpose. There Spirit/Soul is a fish in the sea of Divinity and energy. I believe one retains karma and has to make choices of what comes next.
The next is in regard to your innermost beliefs-the stuff you wouldn't share with your priest or maybe did but it is very personal. Someone mentioned the movie "What Dreams..." That is certainly a possibility. For Fundamentalist Christians, I have great pity as I see them setting themselves up for much torment for an unknown amount of time until they decide they've "paid."
I believe in reincarnation. I believe I'll reincarnate very quickly or perhaps after a short rest. For me, this isn't a Summerland but more of a complete immersion in the deepest meditation of light. When I've decided what lessons I still need to learn or work on, I'll reincarnate.
I look forward to meeting some again and others I sadly shake my head. I have no regrets but jeez, the past 10 years have shown me a lot. I know I'll continue to grow and learn through this life and my others.
I always say a charm:
The Departed to the Light and Light to the Bereaved
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