Friday, January 25, 2008

How do I sort these souls?

Death is a common subject for me. I like to think that I embrace life and cherish the life that I have, but the yearning for balance I carry around causes me to focus on death quite a bit.

I don't fear death. I fear that the people I love who have died won't be available to me. I don't know how to classify my thoughts on the afterlife. I was raised Catholic but could never identify with the concepts of 'heaven' and 'hell'. I have been Pagan for roughly the past 15 years; what I practice is closest to Wicca, but even the Wiccan concept of Summerland doesn't resonate with me. When I read about it or discuss it with others I feel like I'm speaking about a place that doesn't exist, a place I can't get to. I may as well be planning a trip to the outer ring of Saturn.

After Colin's suicide I was speaking with a friend about the concept of afterlife. I was confused and tormented. Being Catholic, I learned that those who commit suicide do not experience peace after death, that their souls don't ever rest. I was concerned that Colin would not even experience peace in death, a peace I believe he desperately wanted. I was also confused because I knew that he did not believe in the Christian concept of heaven and hell, and I hoped that meant he wasn't subjected to that harshness.

I was left wondering what happens to the souls of people who have no beliefs about the afterlife. What happens to the souls of those who don't have a 'heaven' or a Summerland? Do people go to 'hell' because they feel they deserve to? What does hell consist of for people who do believe? Is it their worst fears? If I believe not in a horned devil lording over captives with a pitchfork, but an eternity being surrounded by crying babies, and I feel I deserve to go to hell, is this what I'll get? People say "Life is what you make it". Can that be true of heaven and hell, too?

I don't know what Colin really believed, except that he wasn't Christian and he scoffed at the notion of heaven and hell. It seems wrong to me that his soul would be subject to the rules of a religion he didn't believe in.

While talking with Colin's best friend weeks after his death, I was told about an ancient Native American tribe who conceptualized the dead as still among the community, only in an altered form. It's a common concept among many different cultures, and I connected with the idea that Colin's energy is not lost in his death; his influence and his personality and the things the made him uniquely beautiful are still all around me. I carry bits of him around with me and everything I know about life and death today is shaped by his continued presence in my life. I actually do carry bits of him around with me; after he was cremated I was sifting through his ashes, feeling the texture of it, thinking of my conversation about the changed form of a dead person. In doing so I found minerals, or stones ... little bits left over that didn't burn up. I keep them in a locket and carry them with me everywhere.


Aerolin said...

When I read this, I think of the question of whether or not our beliefs affect or determine reality.

My personal take on the afterlife and the cycle of life, death, rebirth is that reincarnation simply is. It exists whether we believe in it or not just as gravity exists whether we acknowledge or deny its presence. An individual's views on what happens when we die, IMO, does not necessarily impact what happens to them just as I can jump off a cliff, not believing in gravity, but more than likely, I'm still going to die from the fall.

All that being said, I don't think that every soul automatically begins resting once they have died and before they reincarnate. They can still 'hang out' on earth.

Wherever Collin's soul is, I'm glad that you are able to carry him with you and feel comforted. Love to you.

Jade said...

Reincarnation is a concept I've struggled with my entire life. I don't disbelieve but I'm not quite to the point where I believe. I think I'm still deprogramming from the religion of my childhood, and on this one facet I get tripped up time and time again.

Anonymous said...

One of these days I'll have to share with you what I believe happens to us, and how I believe we come and go through the Universe's 'energy recycling' program. :)

Anonymous said...

The above comment was posted by Rhg...

Jade said...

I'd love to hear it, Rhg. It doesn't come up much, and there's so much of your brain I've never had the pleasure of picking. :D

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