In today’s article, we will focus on Wicca and its vision of the afterlife.
If you’re interested in Wicca, you’re probably wondering what do Wiccans believe happens after death? Because Wicca is not an organized religion, there is no real answer to this question. Each Wiccan will think about this question and decide what they believe. Most of the Wiccans, however, tend to believe in reincarnation.
There are quite several opinions expressed on what beliefs individual Wiccans have.
In this article, we will take a look at some of them and discuss them.
We will also take a closer look at Wicca so we can see the context of this question.
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Cynthia Lovejoy, a Wiccan reports that it is really up to each Wiccan to decide about what they believe.
The Wiccans do not have any firm structure giving guidance on this.
She personally tends to favor reincarnation as her chosen belief.
This view was shared by Amber fry, another Wiccan who also favors reincarnation but explains that some Wiccans have a very personal belief that may be unique to them.
She describes these views as artistic.
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Devala Rees is a practicing Hindu, but a student of pagan religions and gives a more detailed answer.
Once again she said that MOST Wiccans, not all, believe in the transmigration of the immortal soul, Reincarnation, from lower animals to higher animals/humans.
The new body is a result of Karma and the choice of the soul that is seeking the best way of progressing.
Between these various existences, the soul lives in Summerlands, however, a soul can get trapped by negative energies and become a ghost.
Devalla goes on to say that some Wiccans believe that the reincarnation cycle eventually results in uniting with the Divine source.
He quotes a popular song to support this theory.
We all come from the Goddess, and to Her we shall return,
like a drop of rain flowing to the ocean.
A place called Summerland was mentioned by several Wiccans when asked about beliefs in the Afterlife.
Ann Agard explains a little bit more about her particular belief in reincarnation, which I have also heard of elsewhere.
Her belief is in a place called Summerland where the soul of the departed goes to rest and meet previously departed family members.
Once the soul has rested there for a while the soul goes off to join another body. This belief is also shared by some Druids.
Johanna MacLeod, who describes herself as a Wiccan High Priestess, claims that when we die we go to Summerland where we grow young again, and review our life, before pairing with our next body.
Marcus Anderson who is a Dip. Min. Christian Ministry, Australian College of Theology stated that many Wiccans have beliefs very close to folk religions that have ancestor worship, and beliefs that when we die that taking up residence in a tree might be possible.
What druids REJECT is any form of belief that involves God (or whatever you care to call it) judging you when you die. Many Wiccans made vehement comments rejecting this possibility.
All of the above views are simply individual opinions of different Wiccans.
This serves to demonstrate the diverse nature of beliefs within the Wiccan community.
Nobody seems particularly sure of what they are supposed to believe as Wiccans, in the same way, that a Christian is supposed to believe in heaven.
I now turn to Patti Wigington, who is a pagan author, She is also a licensed clergy as a pagan.
Pagans, Death and the Afterlife
As the author of Pagans, Death, and the Afterlife Patti Wigington is someone who can add what is perhaps a more definitive view of these beliefs.
Non-Pagans see death as an ending whereas most pagans see death as the beginning of our next stage of existence.
Pagans regard the cycles of birth, life, death, rebirth as something to be regarded as spiritual, as an ever-turning wheel.
Most Pagans have some sort of belief in the Afterlife. Mostly it involves going on to Summerland.
Scott Cunningham the author of the book “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner,” states that Summerland is “a non-physical reality that is much dense than ours.”
He went on to say that “This realm is neither in heaven nor the underworld.”
Patti Wigington says that some Wiccans describe this reality as a land of green grass, flowing rivers, very much like Earth once was before humans came.
The Origins of Summerland
Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772, a Christian theologian, and mystic is credited with the concept of Summerland.
His ideas were taken up by Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910), an American Spiritualist. the concept was taken up by Theosophists and The Summerland was a place where humans who had been good in their earthly life went to the Summerland until their next incarnation.
This concept was adopted by the early Wiccans and neo-Pagans.
More about Wicca
All of this uncertainty about what the beliefs of Wiccans may seem somewhat confusing for members of religions with clear-cut beliefs on the Afterlife.
It may be wise at this point to take a deeper look at Wicca, to understand this religion better.
Wicca is predominantly a western-based religion whose followers practice witchcraft and nature worship.
Wicca is very much related to the religions that existed in northern and western Europe in pre-Christian times.
It appeared in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and then spread throughout Europe and the United States.
The resurrection of this religion was primarily due to one man who brought the religion to life, Gerald Brousseau Gardner (1884-1964).
Gardener’s career kept him in the East most of his life where he studied various religious paths.
He also studied the occult and the writings of Aleister Crowley.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Gardener founded a new religious movement that revered nature, practiced magic, and worshipped a female deity (the Goddess).
He also took a lot of material from various witchcraft practices.
Following 1951 when Great Britain repealed its ancient witchcraft laws, Gardener published “Witchcraft Today” (1954).
He formed his first coven, and with their help, what was to become the new religion of Wicca was born.
This new movement quickly expanded into Europe and the United States.
Despite variations in the beliefs of Wiccans, as we have seen in the case of the Afterlife, Wiccans have a loosely organized set of beliefs and practices.
The majority of them accept what is called the Wiccan Rede.
This is an ethical code that is very much related to the “Golden Rule”, and states “If it harms none, do what you will.”
Perhaps the one thing that causes the general public to notice them more than they would otherwise is that Wiccans refer to themselves as Witches.
Most people in the west make the connection between Witches and Satanism.
Wiccans respond to this by denying that they have any connection with Satanists and devil worship.
By the 1980s there were in the region of 50,000 Wiccans in Europe and North America.
By the 1990s the growth rate had started to slow down.
As Wicca became less controversial groups started to emerge that were becoming distant from the original Gardnerians.
Two of the larger independent Wicca organizations were the Dianic Wiccans, who saw Wicca as a religion for women, and the neo-pagans who stopped calling themselves witches (although they still practiced witchcraft).
Controversially, the Gardnerians believed that clothes interfered with the magical process and worshipped naked.
A group in America discarded this naked worship and introduced special robes.
They also claimed that their beliefs were based on traditions that were pre Gardener. This group called themselves the Traditionalists.
This nudity together with something called sex-magic has served to attract more attention to Wicca than the movement might otherwise have gathered.
Sex Magic involves the high priestess and the priest invoke the God and goddess to possess them before they have sexual intercourse during the Great Rite.
Very few covens still perform this rite and do it symbolically instead.
Wiccans are very anxious to avoid sensationalism of this sort from the tabloid press.
In an organization that is so free to innovate its practices and where breakaway groups frequently are formed there is a lot of opportunities for individuals to create a platform where they can carry out abuse.
Bearing in mind that some covens practice rituals “Skyclad” (without clothes), the wrong sort of person can obviously twist this to serve their personal needs.
Potential Witches need to be very careful that they are joining a reputable coven, and that they fully understand initiation rites in advance.
Originally Gardener had put forward the idea that the movement he started had inherited practices and a creed that had been passed down since the pre-Christian religions.
However, the second generation of Wiccans doubt this and see their movement as starting with Gardener.
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The views and practices of Wiccans are not something that is shared by all Wiccans.
The Wiccan religion is a collection of diverse groups that may practice a large variety of rites and traditions.
The views of Wiccans on the Afterlife are just as diverse as their views on everything else.