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The Psychopomp

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Author Topic: The Psychopomp  (Read 503 times)
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« on: February 19, 2007, 08:15:49 pm »

Not all Pagans have the same views of what happens after death.
I have found when people are curious about my religion, one of the first things they ask is "What do you believe happens when you die?"
Before I begin, I would just like to point out that there is no set doctrine among Wiccans when it comes to the details of the afterlife. Some other Pagan paths do have a more specific mythology in this regard, which I mention at the end of this article.

Most Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Our souls come back lifetime after lifetime, to learn new lessons and to grow as individuals. Between lives, our souls reside in the Summerlands. It's neither heaven nor hell, but a place for our souls to rest and reflect on the experiences of completed lives. You may be reunited with loved ones as well. What happens when we learn all we can on this earthly plane? I really couldn't say.

People who are unfamiliar with Wicca tend to see the lack of heaven or hell as meaning we live our lives without responsibility.

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We may not consider ourselves doomed to suffer for an eternity in a Christian hell, but we certainly believe that there are consequences to our actions. Those who do 'evil' deeds, will find their punishment in another lifetime. Karma follows a soul from life to life. Our fates are not determined by any one single action, but rather by the overall accumulation of actions throughout our lives.
Since many Wiccans are influenced by the pantheons they work with, their views of the afterlife may come from the culture they work with. In other words, if you are Wiccan but work with Norse Deities, you may feel more drawn to the idea of Asgard rather than the Summerlands, even though you are not truly following an Asatru path.

Asatru / Norse

The realm of the Gods is called Asgard, and worthy souls go there after death. There are many great halls in Asgard, for the many Gods and Goddesses. The greatest of these halls is Valhalla, where fallen warriors go after death. Those who did not live a life of glory would go to the underworld Niflheim, ruled over by the Goddess Hel. Niflheim is a dull and cold place, where you would be separated from your kin. Reincarnation does exist, but not all souls are reborn, and it's typically found within a family line, reflecting the importance of family and ancestors.

Kemetic / Egyptian

After death, a soul would have to journey to the Hall of Judgement. There, the heart is weighed on a scale against the feather of Ma'at (truth and justice), by the God Anubis. If you lived a sinful life, the heart would be heavy, that soul could not enter paradise and would be devoured by the monster Ammut. The ancient Egyptians believed that the physical body was needed in the afterlife, which is why such elaborate means were taken to preserve the body.

Hellenismos / Greek

The dead would be buried with coins, to pay the ferryman to cross the river Styx and enter the underworld. Once there, worthy souls would enter the Elysian Fields (paradise). Unworthy souls were sent to Tartarus for punishment. But even then, a soul could earn redemption and rise to paradise. There was also a region of limbo, called Asphodel for the souls neither good enough for the Elysian Fields or bad enough for Tartarus. The judges at the gates of Hades would decide the fate of your soul, or whether you would be reincarnated into another life.
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