A while back, ddmoonsong said: “why don’t you write about the afterlife/Elysian fields/re-incarnation?”
I used to talk about the Summerlands as the place I would go after death, while waiting for my next incarnation. I don’t know if I ever really believed it, or if it was just something convenient to take the place of Heaven once I left Christianity.
I do believe in reincarnation, but I believe in it because of my own experiences. Even those have come into question, at least the experiences facilitated by other people. But I’ve also had experiences that weren’t, that were completely my own, and I believe those.
I’ve read books about reincarnation. The two that come to mind off the top of my head are Journey of Souls by Michael Newton, PhD, and Past Lives, Future Lives by Jenny Cockell. It’s been a while since I read the second, and the thing I remember most from it was Cockell talking about not only being able to connect with her past lives, but also with her future lives. She explained it basically as being the past life that a future reincarnation sought through meditation and/or hypnosis, only being enough in tune with the universe to be aware of the connection. It’s a good book, from what I remember. I always like books in which the author talks about their topic in relation to their own lives. It makes everything so much more personal.
Journey into Souls is an incredibly detailed explanation of the afterlife, and of what occurs after we die, and in the time before we enter a new incarnation. I found the book because there’s a movie loosely based on its teachings, called Defending Your Life, starring Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks. I’d seen the movie years ago, remembered it, watched it again, and researched it to find the book. It’s quite an interesting book, with very interesting things to say about reincarnation and the afterlife, and if you’re interested in these things, then I would definitely recommend you read it.
But… for me, it’s a little too detailed, a little too pat an explanation, and I cannot definitively say that I believe what Newton wrote. Do I believe he believes it? I believe it’s possible. I also know he’s written more than one book (I started but never finished the next one, Destiny of Souls), and I believe that he has sold quite a few of them, and continues to sell books, and I believe that selling books is important to him.
To be very honest, beyond believing in reincarnation, I don’t think much about the afterlife. I believe something must happen; if we are reincarnated, then unless we go straight to a new body there must be something that occurs between death and new life. But I can’t say what that is, and I don’t really want to try. It isn’t something I spend much time thinking on, and probably won’t until I’m older, or if I find out I have some kind of terminal disease (which I’m really hoping not).
Right now, I’m concentrating on my current life. Which I believe we are supposed to do, and that delving into past lives can be useful, but only for understanding our purpose in this life. We’re not meant to dwell on the past, only learn from it. I have goals I’m trying to reach, and I want to become a better person as who I am now. I can’t do anything about the lives I’ve lived before, and I can’t do anything about potential future lives except live this one the best way I can.
Through writing these posts for this blog, I’m coming to understand that I’m not at all the sort of Pagan most people think about when they think about Pagan. Well, I’ve known that for a while, but it’s mainly been defined by what I don’t believe, how my beliefs and practices aren’t like those of other Pagan paths. What I really should be doing is defining my practice by what it is, rather than what it isn’t.
So now I just have to figure that out.
When it comes to the afterlife, I suppose that right now the best way I can define my belief about it is… it doesn’t matter. It is what it is, and what happens when we die will happen. It’s something to consider for people far more concerned with the big questions than I can be at this time. Right now, all I want is to be the best Pagan I can be (and figure out what that means for me along the way), and the best person I can be, bettering myself and helping others. The afterlife will have to take care of itself, and I’m pretty sure it’s more than capable.
Tomorrow, I start classes for the new semester! I’m excited! Good luck to everyone else starting with me, we’ll make it through.