I am a little behind on the Pagan Blog Project already so am posting both of my A posts together. Hopefully I will then be able to stay on course for the rest of the year.
My second A is for Afterlife, a subject that both interests me and frightens me a little. What happens to us when we die is something that I think most people will consider at some point in their life. If we belonged to one of the ‘major’ religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc) then this question would have its answers all wrapped up with a pretty bow on top. As with most things within Paganism, it isn't so straight forward if you walk a Pagan path. Ask 100 pagans what happens to us when we die and you’ll probably get 200 answers. Some I have heard personally are;
- We go to the Summerlands (kinda like a pagan heaven I believe)
- We are reincarnated
- We are reunited with the ultimate source
I am sure that if I took the time to delve in to some of the reconstruction paths (Kemeticism, Heathenism, Hellenism) I would find answers based on the beliefs of the time. Can we all be right? I read once, possibly in a Terry Pratchett book, that what we think happens to us when we die is what will happen. It would be nice if that turns out to be the case.
It could be my age, at 30 I am still relatively young, but dying frightens me. The idea that one day I will just stop existing is almost too much for me to bear. When I was younger I would lie in bed at night and try to imagine what it would be like to be dead; the answer was never one that left me with much hope. I often think the belief in an afterlife is something we cling to in order for us to feel less afraid of dying, it gives us the hope I couldn’t seem to find in my youth. Even if that is the case, is that necessarily a bad thing? I don’t think so. Anything that makes us feel better can only be for our benefit, and if it turns out we were wrong it’s going to make very little difference by the time we find out.
As for what I believe, I guess that is something I am still trying to work out. I believe in the existence of the soul, the part of the person that makes them who they are, and that it is something separate from the body. I believe the soul is connected to the ultimate source, meaning we all carry a spark of the divine within us. I think it makes sense that as the soul is separate to the body it doesn't ‘end’ when the body does. The question I am still working on is ‘What then happens to the soul when the body ends?’ I am not sure it is a question I am ever going to be able to answer, for myself, satisfactorily.
I would love to hear what others believe. Do you have it all sorted out? Is it a question that still leaves you perplexed and looking for answers? Or do you think it doesn't matter, only the here and now is important?