What Happens When We Die

Blessings Of The GreenThe Process of Life and Death

While we were on our summer break I received a lot of great emails. Quite a few of them caught my attention and in particular I found myself writing a novel to answer. I decided; this might be better answered on the blog. Surely this isn’t the only time someone has asked this question. Perhaps we can help others who are seeking to understand and cope with their own loss.

I’m not going to post the entire email and it’s contents, our friend deserves privacy. But I do want to share the question and put it in context so we’re all on the same page as I share my view and answer from my perspective.

Our friend asked:
Can you explain to me what really happens after death? I come from a Christian background [and recently lost my husband].  I was told that he is asleep and waiting resurrection.  He is asleep in Jesus’ presence.  I have also been told that when you die you are judged and go to Heaven or Hell. Where is he really? I am more confused more now than ever. What is the truth of the matter.  Is there another truth?

And here is my answer:

We’ll start with where “truth” comes in. All religions have varying practices. A religion sets the foundation of belief and the denominations of that religion put those beliefs into practice and sometimes further define them. A Baptist and Methodist are both Christian, but they practice their faith in slightly different ways. And with slightly different interpretations of Scripture.

The same is true in Paganism. Metaphysics sets the foundation of belief for several religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Pagan Metaphysics. But we all have a slight difference in our interpretations and as such, our denominations hold different perspectives in the implementation of those beliefs. My Deborean Clan views things pretty much the same as Wiccans. But our two traditions, hold different implementations of some of those beliefs.

This means that what’s true for one Christian may not be what’s true for another Christian. What’s true for you as a Christian, probably isn’t what’s true for me as a Pagan. But that doesn’t mean we can’t share truths and learn from each other. You may never be able to take in my perspectives; in other words they may never “ring true” to you. But they might open a door to a new perspective that fills in a gap for what does ring true for you.

Your personal experiences will have the greatest influence over your beliefs. If you read about something, but feel no connection to the subject matter, it’s never going to “ring true” to you. But if you don’t believe in something today, read about it, and then have an experience that confirms what you’ve read, suddenly your connection and your perspective are different. That additional personal experience could even change your mind about what you hold dear within your own faith.

Spiritual Perspectives
If you’re not pagan, let me start with a little foundation of understanding so you know where I’m coming from in answering this question.

Moonlit Newgrange Burial Chamber and Standing Stone, County Meath, Ireland. Photographer: Tim Hannan

Moonlit Newgrange Burial Chamber and Standing Stone
County Meath, Ireland. Photographer: Tim Hannan

What is Pagan?
Pagan is any religion that does not follow Abrahamic doctrine. Those religions share a history of the story of Abraham (Judaism, Christianity and Islamic faiths), and then go their separate ways when it comes to the birth of the Messiah.

By definition Pagan is a huge category of religions. It would include Shamanistic systems, such Native American, Celtic, Germanic Shamanism and any others you might think of. It includes Buddhism and Hinduism. It includes Aboriginal belief systems of Africa, New Zealand, Australia and everyone in between.

Not all these pagan religions see death in the same way. So I can’t speak to all of them. And while many believe in a form of life-death-rebirth, we can even see that differently. For instance, Hinduism believes in Transmigration, Buddhists believe in ReBirth and those of us in Pagan Metaphysical systems believe in Reincarnation. If you want a high level general overview of the history and forms of reincarnation, I suggest starting with Wikipedia:Reincarnation.

For us, Reincarnation isn’t simply a centuries old belief system. We believe it is supported in modern science as well. In the past couple of decades science has proven living things have energy and energy signatures. Science has also proven that energy never dies. It lives, fades, transforms and regenerates. And it does this over and over again. For those who believe in reincarnation, we see this as confirmation to our centuries old teachings. Glad you guys finally caught up with us.

It’s also important to note that there are a lot of non-Pagan people who also believe in reincarnation. There are thousands upon thousands of Christians who believe in reincarnation. And some of those even believe it’s part of historic scripture.

Pagan Metaphysics And The Spiritual Life Cycle
To understand death, we first should talk about the general cycle of Birth-Life-Death-Spirit-Rebirth as it is viewed in Pagan Metaphysics.

We believe that the main principle throughout the Divine Universe is balance. All Energy balances and if something is tilted one way or the other, it must be balanced in some way. You can call it Karma, if you’d like. It has a great many names. Karma can be the result of an action, deed or thought. Meaning if you have a spiritual lesson to learn about something, then you have an ounce of karma to carry until you learn that lesson. It’s not just about things you do to someone or what has been done to you. It covers literally Everything!

We see each incarnation as an opportunity to learn our lessons, pay and redeem karma (if you owe karma, then someone is owed what you have to pay and vice versa), attain wisdom and work toward spiritual enlightenment. We believe that these incarnations serve as our classrooms to experience energy in varying forms and through varying situations all of which help us gain an understanding of the greater Divine Universe and Universal Consciousness.

We further believe that everyone incarnated today is a subset of a larger spirit. A bigger us. The Spirit is the whole energy body or the energy being that holds all the life memories, knowledge, talents, and karma of every lifetime that Spirit has ever incarnated into anywhere in the Cosmos. Don’t assume your soul has never incarnated on some other planet in the hugely immense cosmos.

Our Spirit can’t incarnate all that cumulative energy into a single lifetime; it would be overwhelming for our physical human brains and bodies. We can’t bring in thousands of lifetimes and memories of those lifetimes into this one incarnation. Our greater Spirit helps us balance things out so our fragile human bodies can do what it needs to do here and gain value out of the experience.

In the physical world, you are made up of 23 strands of DNA that you get from your parents. There are some who say you get 11 strands from your Mom, 11 strands from your Dad, and when combined together they create a unique strand that’s all you and thus you have 23 strands of DNA. The first part I know is factual and based in science. The second part, I’m not sure about; but it does sound good, doesn’t it? Anyway, that’s a theory that’s out there.

In our spiritual world, you match or balance those 23 strands of physical DNA with 23 components of spiritual DNA. Your spirit reviews your worksheet so to speak and makes choices for what lessons you need to work on in this incarnation. What relationships you’ll need to fulfill those lessons and it will make agreements with other spirits to put those situations into manifested reality. It will then choose the talents and knowledge you’ll need to bring into this lifetime (from your past lifetime experiences) to help you complete that mission. This is how our Spirit creates our Spiritual BluePrint for this incarnated lifetime. It will do this by picking 22 past lives that contain the energy memories, knowledge, skills and talents to work on your mission. Those 22 plus this physical incarnation, become your 23 strands of spiritual DNA.

This is your Soul. And the Soul is manifested and connected to your physical body through the Chakra Centers that align with your spine.  Each chakra centers holds the resident memories of different aspects of your past lives. When you are ready to work on matters of speaking up for yourself, you activate the throat chakra. When you wrote your email to me, you were working with your Crown Chakra on the top of your head. And as you read this, you’re probably working with your Brow Chakra or what most of us call your 3rd Eye Chakra in the middle of your forehead.

Medicine Wheel by Ravynne Phelan ©

Medicine Wheel by Ravynne Phelan ©

Your blueprint is like any blueprint for building something. It looks great on paper, but as you begin the building, tweaks are made along the way. This is how you implement your free will and choice. The things you chose will alter your spiritual blueprint and activate different relationships based on those choices.

For instance:

You may have had the option to go to college in NYC or Texas and you picked NYC. That choice considerably change the type of people you would meet during your college years and therefore what kind of perspectives of the world you were going to form and hold. Which impacts how your lessons and karma will be presented to you, and how you will choose to work through those. Free will and choice is a big thing with us. Nothing is set in stone. You create what kind of life you have based on your choices.

A lot went into the choices you made to meet your husband or wife. To talk to him and get to know him. Your Spirit probably had several agreements with other spirits to work through lessons of intimacy, love and partnerships. Some you may have even fulfilled, completed and ended. But your Soul decided your husband or wife was the one Spiritual agreement it wanted to keep most. And they did the same with you. Pretty special if you ask me. (Don’t confuse this with a Soul Mate; Hallmark has that concept all wrong! But let’s not confuse the issue here).

Ok..so now your greater Spirit pulls the energy of itself together and creates the soul, attaches to the physical body in the womb (once the fetus has fully formed) and you’re born. You grow up, find yourself in a relationship, have kids and do your thing. Suddenly your husband’s soul decides his mission is complete and it’s time to go. His Spirit and your Spirit had made a plan for this. But again, it wasn’t set in stone. There were many choices made here on Earth that lead to this final decision. But that decision was made here, in the real world and over time.

When We Die
All this I’ve told you about, leads up to answering your main question. What happens to us when we die? It actually depends on how you die. There’s actually a difference between natural causes and accidents, murder and suicide. Battlefield deaths are one of those situations that can fall in accident or murder category.

Thankfully most souls leave this world through the first two avenues. In those cases when we leave our physical body, we (our soul) doesn’t actually “leave”. There have been too many people who have shared their Near Death experiences (NDE), for us to ignore these accounts. Between these accounts and what we’ve been taught from Metaphysical teachings, we have a theoretical idea of what happens when we die. Add to that the information adept channels have acquired from spirit, and we think we have a pretty good bead on things.

First thing to mention is that time doesn’t pass on the Spiritual plane as it does here on the physical, so what a few moments means is different to each person; keep that in mind.

The Death Tunnel by Springwolf 🐾   ©2014

The Death Tunnel by Springwolf 🐾 ©2014

People who have gone through sudden NDEs, and people who have been on death’s doorstep, but still able to talk, all have reported seeing deceased relatives come to them when the “end” is near. My father had this experience. He passed when he was in his 70s. He saw his Mother and Brother for sure. We think his Sister-in-Law was present and possibly two others (another brother and his father who both passed when my Dad was in his 20s). That experience has given me the confirmation I needed to prove this concept to be real and valid in my faith.

Some accounts have said that they felt their body stand up, but they looked back and saw their physical body on the bed. They heard someone say or declare that they slipped into a coma. But in this state, they could see everything going on, and they saw a silver cord going from they called their spiritual body to their physical body laying on the bed.

This cord has also been reported by people who have gone into deep meditation and astrally traveled (again a different topic). Metaphysical teachings tell us that this silver cord is the energy cord that connects the soul to the physical body, and to the larger Divine Spirit. While we’re alive, the cord is intact. When we die, the cord to the physical body is broken and the soul travels back to the greater spirit.

Those who have had NDEs say that they see the silver cord, but that it never breaks. They are told it’s not their time and they’re sent back to the physical body. Our teachings tell us that when our mission has been completed, the silver cord breaks, but we don’t automatically leave this world. Most souls prefer to remain and ensure their physical body is taken care of, with respect and dignity. They also use this time to say good-bye to those they love. Ask people around you who have lost family members if they dreamed of their loved one soon after their death. Or felt their presence. I bet you’ll find a large number of people telling you about their encounters. Our loved ones come to us easily in dreams, because our thick brains are out of the way and they can connect with our subconscious so much easier.

We are all psychic to some degree. Every person on this planet has a natural instinct, gut feeling or 6th sense. Like the animals in nature, we too are animals and we have what they have. We simply don’t use it as much and therefore many are out of touch with their natural instinct or psychic sense. But, it’s still there. And it often shows up in someone’s life when they lose a loved one and “feel” their presence.

I’m not surprised when people tell me they feel their loved one around them, especially when they’re clearing up things in the house they once lived in. Packing up cloths and belongs not only connects you to them, but them to you as well. And it’s not unusual for a soul to want to ease your pain and sorrow. They know they’re ok, and they’re no longer in pain or suffering. They know they are at peace. It’s us who are here in the living that don’t know all that. And we look for answers or signs to make sure they’re ok. Well, they are doing the same thing. They’re checking up on you to make sure you’re ok and trying to tell you they are fine.

There are many accounts from adept psychics who have seen and talked with deceased spirits who have explained they are present to watch over the ones they left behind. But that they will leave eventually to complete their spiritual mission. So your husband or wife, mother or father, or whoever you’ve lost may have been hanging around you and your children to make sure you all are going to be ok. When they’re satisfied, their soul will return to the Divine realm of spirit and merge back with the greater spirit they came from.

As we understand it, there is a time of review. The spirit takes in all the energy from the soul and reviews what was accomplished. Basically the blue print now becomes a check list and what was learned is marked off and what was acquired through karma is deposited in the karmic bank so to speak. Tallies are made, books are updated and a full accounting is reviewed.

Many Metaphysical teachers have written about this process. And some theologians believe it is the source of the Christian “judgement day” process contained in the Bible. You die, go to the Gates of Heaven where St. Peter reviews your life and passes judgement on your soul.

King Ludwig I had a replica of Valhalla build Walhalla constructed between 1830 and 1842

King Ludwig I – built a replica of Valhalla
Walhalla constructed between 1830 and 1842

The Worlds Of The After Life
Some pagan systems do have similar realms to Heaven and Hell.

The Norse probably have one of the most elaborate systems. They believe Viking soldiers are looked upon as hero’s and are taken to Valhalla. They are escorted to the “Hall of the Slain” to spend their existence with Odin, the King of the Gods. Valhalla is described as an enormous majestic hall located in Asgard. Heroes are escorted their by valkyries. They spend the day in joyous battles and their nights feasting with Odin in laughter and song. The hierarchy of service and honor go down from here and dictate the resting place of the souls of the Norse Kindred.

The Celts too have their places. They see their Divine places as islands and there are many islands to take your sacred rest upon. One of the most common views of the Celtic Otherworld is held in the land of Annwfn. A paradise island also associated with King Arthur. Taliesin’s poem, we’re told Annwfn is divided into three regions that could be associated with Hades, the Greek Otherworld equivalent. The first region lies within a glass fort known as Caer Wydyr and also referred to as Nennius. Caer Wydyr is not a waste land, but it is a gloomy and dark land. The expedition party tried to engage the fortress guard into conversation, but he remained silent and almost oblivious of their presence. Many believe the hidden meaning suggests this is the land of the silent dead, or the lost ones. The most undesirable places to reside after death. And there’s still more places in the spiritual lands of the Celts.

Even within Pagan Metaphysics you can find a diversity of beliefs concerning resting places. Within the denomination of Wicca for instance, the dead travel to Summerland. In some Dianic traditions, the dead go to the land of honey where they are united with the Goddess Diana herself.

And Shamanistic traditions, like mine, see the land of spirit as a hierarchy of dimensions. These are the ethereal realms (Greek: aithérios, of or pertaining to the upper air; higher regions beyond the earth, celestial bodies, a divine realm”) of energy and consciousness. These realms or dimensions are divided not for bad or good, rather for knowledge and wisdom. Think of it as a hierarchy of learning, the more enlightened you become, the higher in the ethereal dimensions you travel with the ultimate goal to reach the level of Divine Enlightenment. Which can also be called 7th Heaven, The God Consciousness and a few other flowery things. But this is later down the road. Back to our relatives passing on.

Once the review of the recent incarnation has been completed, the Spirit will continue to watch over those the soul left behind. They are never really gone from us. We can talk to them, ask them to come help with certain issues or events and meditate to connect and see them any time we need. Of course now that they have returned to Spirit they are more aware of what we do, the mistakes we make and they can try to help us. Such as, not coming when we call, because doing so is interfering with our process of healing and moving on.

Murder and Suicide
These two avenues are slightly different, though murder is nearly the same. But when the soul leaves the physical body suddenly through a traumatic situation, there’s a short period of shock. Since time does not move the same in the spirit world as it does in the physical world, it’s hard telling how long or short that period might be. It could be instant, it could be days.

Some souls can become confused and not realize they have passed in a sudden death, or murder. This can be explained by using an example of battlefield deaths or deaths in areas where battles have occurred around the world. Here in the U.S. you may have heard about the many Civil War battlefields that are ‘haunted’.  Even the average visitor may encounter the image of a ghost when walking through one of these areas, or in a building associated with a battle. I don’t mean museums, but rather actual buildings that were used during the Civil War.

You might have read about a haunted house where someone was murdered and now haunts the residence. Or hotels, bars and any variety of historic buildings and places. These are souls who don’t realize they have passed and are clinging onto the one thing that they recognize, usually a building or area that brings them some sense of safety.

A soul that has lost their life suddenly, or through a tragic murder may decide to remain in this “world between words” to watch over their physical body until it’s discovered and laid to rest. And yes that might take decades. But remember time doesn’t flow the same way and it’s hard to know what a “ghost” might experience in this state. I haven’t found a reliable; let’s call it a connection to these souls who have explained this state of being. So I don’t want to make more assumptions here. This scenario is what I’ve personally experienced through my training and research; so it’s true for me. It may not be what others would explain.

Additionally, a soul might also remain until justice has been completed or satisfied. In the end, at some point a soul will let go of the Earthly plane and move on to the spiritual realm. The other choice a soul might make after an accident or murder is to let go and move on right away to the spiritual realm as described above. Going through the same process and deciding if and when they wish to incarnate or work through someone here on Earth to find the justice they desire; if any.

Death By Suicide
Many religions have a perspective of suicide being a sin. In Paganism, we don’t have sin but we do share the perspective that suicide is a negative action. It’s murder of the self. It’s breaking karmic contracts made in spirit when you created your Spiritual Blue Print. You are taking away lessons you agreed to work through with and for others. So it’s not a good thing.

The Universe isn’t a willy nilly place, there are spiritual laws that govern energy and how it moves and progresses. The Law of Accountability and the Law of Manifestation are two of the biggest that govern this topic. Suicide has an impact on your accountability to all the other souls you’ve touched in your life, and how the energy you’ve created will ripple through the Universe and touch others. It’s not a flat ripple like you might see on the surface of water. But rather it’s a sphere with ripples moving out in every direction. Your energy touches someone who acts on the energy you shared and they touch someone, who uses that energy to make a choice that affects others tomorrow, next month or even next year and beyond for decades to come.

That’s a pretty big deal. So in matters of suicide, there’s a hefty karmic consequence. The soul enters a state of limbo. A place of unconscious awareness. If you’ve never seen the movie “What Dreams May Come” with Robin Williams, you should. This movie depicts the process of suicide and limbo pretty perfectly. You don’t end the darkness you maybe going through in life. You take it with you and dwell in it for a long time. How long? No one knows. Potentially for ever.

There is a modern perspective that at some point a living person can attempt to connect the soul in limbo and help them to see the white light of the Divine tunnel and guide them through and out of limbo. A spirit who passed from this world to the next and had a relative or loved one who committed suicide can also attempt to find that lost soul and pull them into the light. But in both cases that lost soul has to want to go. They must make the choice on their own. Again this is something depicted in the movie.

When All Is Said
When it’s our time to let go of this world and return to spirit, we can find some comfort in the fact that this is merely part of the process of the Divine Universe and the great spirit that is us. We will probably be one of those spirits waiting for someone at the end of the bright tunnel one day. Ready to welcome the ones we love back into the ethereal realms.

There’s no need to fear death. It’s not something you can avoid. And you will experience in your life many times as acquaintances, friends and family complete their spiritual mission and move on to the next phase of their spiritual journey. All we can hope for is that we enjoyed life, that we made a positive contribution and we left the world; even our small piece of it, better than when we arrived. And some who left us too soon, can remind you that they passed doing something they loved doing and they wouldn’t have wanted to go out any other way.

© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.