We are now at Samhain, the Day of the Dead, where the veil between the living and the dead thins-- or so some believe-- and communication from the other side would be easier. Of course, this could only happen if a soul survives the body's death.
Now to get technical here, I have been told that the soul is never in the body, that it's the driving force from elsewhere which could be living more than one fleshly life. They would say the spirit is what leaves the body at death. It's a metaphysical concept; but for the purposes of asking what happens after death, it doesn't matter a lot. The question is more about what happens to what we consider us. Disappear or go on, and if go on, go on where?
Most religions claim they know the answers and can assure their adherents of security-- if they properly follow their rules (too bad they don't agree on what those are). Will it be heaven where we sit in heaven with angels singing the praises of a heavenly father, or will it be hell where we roast forever with the devil and lost souls? Or what about reincarnation, where like the wheel of life, we keep coming back until we finally get it right, which could explain why so many here today don't seem to be getting it right.
I don't know the answers, but I am one who believes there is something that comes after the body dies. I don't have the certainty of what it might be like some of those at a recent burial service apparently had. Do they ever allow themselves to doubt? Doubt is a bad word to many believers. Last week, I saw one of those bulletin boards out in front of a church which said (paraphrasing) to pray without expectation was to pray with disbelief. In short, if you didn't get what you prayed for, it was your fault. Doubt got in the way!
As an adult, the feeling of a warm loving presence with me hasn't given me prophetic messages, no burning bushes or speaking out loud although sometimes there have been dreams that helped me solve problems or see insights. Sometimes there have been things that came together in a way that I can only label synchronicity. That didn't mean always as I hoped by the way, but always as I could later see were for the best. Best isn't always easiest or most popular. I tried to put a name to what this might be at one point in my life, but now am content to not name it.
As an adult, when I became a member of churches (two of them and for about 13 years each time), it was to try and understand that spiritual power, what was behind all of this, and to do what would please it. It was never because of fear of dying. Several pastors were much amazed that fear of hell hadn't brought me to our local church. No, I came into religion out of a desire to live my life fully and as close to the truth as I felt I could.
Since leaving organized religion, my truth has encompassed exploration of Tarot cards, astrology, reincarnation, visiting sacred energy sites (which sometimes can be a church), psychics (not sweat lodges), but none of it religiously. Although I follow no religion now and don't know if I ever will be again, I also don't know that I won't. I accept that I have taken a less traveled road which to some would be fallen away or even evil. To me it has been following my truth as far as I can.
I think for as long as I live, I will be a seeker. I still hope someday to find my answer to what it's all about-- although I recognize that might not come while I am alive. I don't spend hours fretting over it but it's part of my personality to think about spiritual questions. I do not believe churches have the answer for me even though I much enjoyed the experience of both of the ones to which I became part. They can be great social communities, with some wonderful people.
Sometimes I dream about those people at night. After all, I was in the nearby church and very much part of its community a lot of years. When I was there, I believed in what it claimed. I left almost 20 years ago because my belief on what was true changed and my presence there would have been a testimony to believing something I no longer did. Worse I (personally) came to believe it not only doesn't get us closer to the truth of life but might be a barrier when it becomes a substitute or teaches things that work against fully living (and religions can do that).
I hope there is more to life than what we can see... and hope it doesn't encompass hell for anyone (even though that's an important part of many religions). I don't put a lot of stock in hope but do stand on what I believe is truth-- convenient or not. There should be no inconsistency between the two.
By my age, many I have loved have gone on. Someday I will also. I hope that when I do, some of my family and friends, who have gone before me, will be there waiting to help me across-- along with the spirit helpers I have experienced through the years (call them what you will--angels, spirit guides, or god). Perhaps someday I will be the one waiting to help those I love also to cross when their time comes.
The people in this collage, they are the ones whose stories have impacted my life, who I still dream about sometimes, from whom I came and maybe someday to whom I shall return.
"The year is dying," she asks, "am I?" The Hags say it is not her time. She is led to the Altar of the Dead to light candles for her ancestors. She glances beyond the Old Ones and sees her beloved dead gathered on the bridge. They offer gifts: acceptance of her Crone-self, and the slow death of her physical body. She embraces death as a delicious reunion. She weeps with gratitude."Ffiona Morgan © Mother Tongue Ink 2009