On Past Lives, Soulmates, and Living in the Now
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Article ID: 11836
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lupa [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: June 24th. 2007
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Recently I got into a conversation with a person online who was involved in an apparently unhealthy relationship. Now, this isn’t an uncommon thing (sadly), but s/he justified staying in the relationship because s/he had been involved with the other person in a past life.
“It’s so romantic, ” another person in the conversation added, “carrying on the relationship from life to life!”
Needless to say, several people got angry with me for daring to be unromantic.
There is an aesthetic ideal, in American culture, of “true love forever”. For most people, who are in faiths that teach that we each only get one life, the assumption is that your significant other will be waiting for you in Heaven/Paradise/etc. and you’ll be together happily ever after (life).
For pagans, most of who believe in reincarnation of one form or another, the idea that you could be reunited with a lover from a past life is ever so romantic (and apparently more special than finding a good match the first time through this life).
Drop the term “soul mate” into a pagan conversation and I guarantee you’ll get at least one person who, despite the incredible odds (especially if you consider the possibility of life on other planets), managed to find the same person (or people) s/he has been with through other lives, and somehow despite all the changes can still get along with him/her.
Unfortunately, the idea of love isn’t just blind, but also judgment impaired. (Note that this isn’t actual love—I’ll address that more in a bit). People like to be in love with the idea of love, mostly the happy surface traits like not being able to be around another person enough, sharing all kinds of light-hearted talk, and being so annoyingly sweet and adorable that the people around you all have to take a hit of insulin when you’re together.
There’s the misconception that if you’re really in love, everything will be perfect, and that if there are problems it means you’re not doing something right. Therefore some people will come up with any excuse to deal with the problems that crop up in any relationship.
See, that’s the difference between love, and the idea of love.
Love is realistic. It sees the flaws, and it gets irritated and angry and yells at people for leaving socks on the floor or pokes them in the ribs for snoring at night. Despite all this, it still enjoys good company and partnership, and often is still absolutely crazy about the same people it was chastising for spending too much.
But Love isn’t afraid to dig into the really tough issues—like insecurity over appearances and sexual performance, jealousy of other people, arguing over money and children, and other things that can tear a relationship apart.
The idea of love, on the other hand, would stay in an abusive relationship just to not have the appearance of failure. “I can change him/her”, it promises. In terms of the topic of this article, the idea of love can’t get enough of soulmates and true love literally forever. So past lives can become a greater issue with the idea of love than is really healthy.
This isn’t to say that there’s no such thing as soulmates, or that you can’t run into someone from a previous life and even hook up. However, when judging the health of a relationship, what’s going on here and now is infinitely more important than what happened way back when. Heck, even stuff that happened five years ago is no match for the present time. (Once you bury the hatchet, don’t dig it up!)
So let’s look at a hypothetical relationship. Say we have a pair of people who, in a past life, were the perfect couple. Completely in love, had it all, legendary status. Now, fast forward to this life.
Say one person is abusing the other—maybe not physically, but emotionally. The person being abused is entirely stuck on the idea of soulmates, and that eventually this will change, and they’ll go back to that idyllic time, only in a new setting.
Yes, it seems far-fetched—but I’ve heard much worse justifications for staying in an abusive relationship. I’ve also seen less drastic problems in relationships justified by past life interactions.
One person may be a bit of a parasite, financially or otherwise. Or the relationship may simply be failing, and instead of trying to work out the problems or put it to rest for good, the participants keep holding onto the idea that “love will find a way” (without getting its hands dirty, of course).
What this all comes down to: It doesn’t matter one whit what your situation in a past life was. You aren’t the exact same people you were back then—you aren’t even the exact same people you were ten years ago. Time changes us; we grow, and evolve. Some people change enough that the relationships they were in at an earlier point in this life (let alone another one) no longer suit them.
That’s the way it is with lives in general. Our past lives may influence us to an extent, but this life isn’t those lives. It is a unique junction in space and time, and who we are in this life is specific to it. We are not solely internal creatures; our environment and the people around us shape who we are as much as our personalities and other inherent characteristics. It’s like playing a song on different instruments; the melody may be more or less the same, but both the individual instrument, and the person playing it, leaves their marks on the music.
As a bit of a side note, this may sound a little odd coming from someone who identifies as Otherkin; the stereotypical Otherkin-identified person is one who obsesses over his/her past lives and attempts to tie everything s/he is in this life to who s/he was in that life—even down to saying that s/he doesn’t like salad because s/he was a dragon in a past life!
However, even in this community in which past lives play a prominent role for many people, the most well-adjusted and successful Otherkin are those who take who they were (assuming they explain themselves through reincarnation; there are several theories), balance it with who they are now, and live comfortably in this life, in the here and now, regardless of how we got here.
That’s the most important thing to keep in mind with past lives, whether you’re Otherkin or not, whether you think you’ve found your soulmate or not. It can be fun and even useful to figure out where you’re coming from, both in this life and in others.
However, if you’re reading this article, chances are that physically you’re not in ancient Egypt or Britain, you’re not physically an elven princess or thirty-foot-tall dragon, and your only choice is to interface with this world through the body and environment that you have.
Sitting around and wishing you were someplace else, in a different body, isn’t going to make your life here any better. By falling prey to escapism, you’re just as responsible for your misery as any outside influence—more so, in many cases.
If you find yourself putting more emphasis on other lives while living in this one, it’s time to stop and take a good look around you. So your life sucks. So what? Lots of peoples’ lives suck. It won’t get any better if you don’t focus on what can be done in the here and now.
There may not be any easy answers, but then again, there aren’t always easy answers in relationships. And if you find yourself in a bad situation in this life, whether with a supposed soulmate or not, trying to fall back on what worked in another place and time won’t do you a bit of good.
You are right here, right now, in the here and now. And that’s what’s most important.
Copyright: Copyright Lupa, 2007. Please only reproduce by posting a link to this page.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lupa - Click HERE
Bio: Lupa is a recent transplant to Portland, OR, with her husband, Taylor, Sun Ce the cat, and entirely too many books and art supplies. She is the author of "Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic", "A Field Guide to Otherkin", and is a contributor to the "Magick on the Edge" anthology of experimental occultism. She and her husband are cowriting "Kink Magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla" (November 2007) . Lupa may be found online at http://www.thegreenwolf.com
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