Many like to think of Wicca as a ‘life-affirming’ religion, focusing more on this life than what comes after it. While this is a noble philosophy, the question of what comes after death is certainly worthy of exploration. It is something I have pondered and studied for years. In this post, I will share my thoughts on the subject.
There is no central authority in Wicca, and therefore no consensus on what happens after death. Many Wiccans believe in reincarnation, the idea that the soul has inhabited many bodies and will continue to do so. When we die, our soul moves on to inhabit another body so that it can continue to learn from life experiences. The specifics of this are contested among those who hold this belief. Can one’s soul reincarnate as an animal? Or are souls species specific? Gender specific? There are countless answers to these questions, and it’s always interesting to read other’s views on them.
It is not true, however, that reincarnation is a tenet of Wicca. Some authors *cough* Scott Cunningham *cough* have written that reincarnation is a core teaching of the religion and is a belief that is universally held. As a Wiccan, you have the right to explore this topic on your own and come to your own conclusion. As personal experience has taught me, it requires a lot of introspection to understand the nature of the spirit and what happens when it leaves the body. Do not allow anyone to tell you that you have to ‘accept’ reincarnation in order to be Wiccan.
I do not believe in reincarnation. A fair number of my fellow Wiccans and Pagans also do not believe in reincarnation, although there are many who do. I will explain why the idea does not make sense to me, and also what I do believe regarding the afterlife.
I am a firm believer in spirits and ‘ghosts’, as well as their interactions with the physical realm. How could a spirit interact with us if they have moved on to inhabit another body after death? This simply does not seem possible.
The main argument in favor of reincarnation is past life regression. This is when an individual supposedly remembers or has visions of their past lives. It is most commonly reported as happening to young children; and there is a reason for this. Children, in a general sense, are easier for spirits to communicate with as they are most open to this form of communication. I believe that when a child (or anyone) has a ‘past life experience’, they are seeing the life of a spirit who is attempting to communicate with them, not a past life of their own.
So what does happen to the soul upon death? First, one must understand the nature of the soul, spirit, life force, etc. There are many different words for this energy that inhabits the physical body, but they all refer to essentially the same thing. When one is born, their physical body is endowed with a soul. At this point, the soul is ‘blank’, a clean slate. For the duration of the person’s lifetime, the soul is attached to that individual, holding onto all the memories and experiences of the person. The body acting as a vessel for the spiritual life force.
Upon death of the body, the soul is released, no longer bound to the physical world. At this time, the soul transcends to the spiritual realm, still holding all of the person’s experiences and memories. Essentially, the soul is still, and will always be, the individual, as the soul is what gives us consciousness. We are still ourselves, only without a physical body.
There are many variables involved in this. For example, the soul is not always bound to the physical world during life (out of body experiences, astral travel, etc.). Sometimes, the soul is also trapped between the physical and spiritual realms due to a traumatic event. The above is only an explanation of what most commonly happens.
Again, these are only my views on this complex matter. I encourage you all to explore the topic yourself and arrive at your own conclusions.