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Pagan Death & The After Life

Generally, witches believe in reincarnation and that when we die we go to the Summerlands or somewhere similar with a different name. Summerlands tends to be a Wiccan name. Now this is a bit of a generalisation, but I will share my thoughts with you.

Do you ever get that feeling that you are remembering something rather than learning it? I have done that a lot within the Craft, and I firmly believe that it is because I have lived before, many lifetimes in fact. I also know that with some of my friends and sisters and brothers within the Craft that we have met before in other lifetimes, it’s that feeling of familiarity when you meet someone new.

The Otherworld, The Summerlands or the Isle of Avalon are a few of the names. I do believe that it will appear to each person differently. However, we perceive the Otherworld will be how it manifests to us. I don’t personally believe in a hell, I do believe that each soul has been on the planet to learn, to grow – if that person has done something terrible in life they will move on from that once they reach the Otherworld. In some religions it seems that the idea of reincarnation is a chore, a punishment for not living the best life the last time. I prefer to see it as a cycle of learning and growing.

To me the Otherworld is where our spirit, our essence goes once we die, to me it is the Isle of Avalon. The spirit exists there in harmony with others, spirits we have known in the life we have just left and those that we may have known in past lives. Then when the time is right, when there is a suitable ‘new life’ ready for us we live again to learn a new lesson, we have to go through these different lives to learn and grow.

The idea of the Isle of Avalon as the Otherworld makes perfect sense to me. A trip in a small wooden boat, paddled by a dark cloaked ferryman across the water to the magical isle to meet my ancestors suits me fine. But as I say, everyone will see it differently.

Life, death and rebirth is a cycle and for me I see it as a never ending one.

That’s not to say I am not scared of death, because I sure am! But I do wonder if those with a faith, a belief of any sort in the afterlife are perhaps more comfortable with the end when it comes?

Because I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan I am going to mention his fictional Discworld because I think he captures Death in an interesting way. Death in the Discworld is a skeleton, with glowing blue eyes and dressed in a black cloak, with the obligatory scythe of course. He rides a white horse, called Binky and lives in the Otherworld in a house where everything is shades of black, including the garden. He is served by Pixie Albert (but that’s a whole other story). What I love about Death in Discworld is the idea that he has a room full of glass sand filled timers. As a new life comes into being, a timer appears filled with a set amount of sand, once the sand runs out then Death turns up to collect the soul. He also has a room full of books, each person has their own book and their life continually writes on each page…until it stops.

Those that follow a Norse belief may call the afterlife Valhalla (Hall of the slain) or Folkvangr (Field of the Host). Once there you aid the gods in the war to end all wars, Ragnarok.

Tir na nog is the name given for those that follow a Celtic path, which translates as

Land of youth’. It is a realm that lies across the water that a soul journeys to. Once there you can expect a bit of a continual party.

Hellenic practitioners will see it as Hades, which shares the name with the God. Tales tell that this place is a bit dark and dank, others suggest that it is a peaceful resting place.

Each Pagan pathway has its own way into the Otherworld. As I mentioned before, the Celts will journey on a boat, through the mists into the Isle of Avalon.

For the Egyptian pathway you will meet the god Anubis who will decide if you are worthy to enter the Underworld.

For Norse/Heathens then you may deal with Freya, she likes to take on those that die in battle and go with her or walk beside Odin to Valhalla. The goddess Hel deals with people who die from old age or illness, she takes you to her hall Eljudnir.

We had a really interesting discussion on this subject, click the link below to watch the replay


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