Let’s Talk Witch – The Summerlands
All religious systems have a place where the soul ascends (or descends) when the physical body can no longer function. In Craft belief, we call this place the Summerland. This is the resting place- the way station, if you will- for souls to recover, and categorize information and lessons we have learned. We have no Hell, or place of terror or damnation.
Reincarnation- the logical process of living, dying, and living again on the earth plane. Some religions also believe in transmigration, where an individual’s soul may enter not only the body of a human, but the body of a plant or animal.
In most Witchcraft Traditions, reincarnation is the accepted theology for dealing with the subject of death and rebirth. We move with the seasons, the cycle of the Wheel, the turn of birth, death, and rebirth. That part of it usually isn’t questioned because it is logical.
What is questioned is the space between the living experiences, the number of lifetimes, and the reasoning for going through each one. Also intriguing is “who we were,” with whom, and when.
Reincarnation is one of Wicca’s most valuable lessons. The knowledge that this life is but one of many, that when the physical body dies we do not cease to exist but are reborn in another body answers many questions, but raises a few more.
Wicca teaches that reincarnation is the instrument through which our souls are perfected. one lifetime isn’t sufficient to attain this goal; hence, the consciousness (soul) is reborn many times, each life encompassing a different set of lessons, until perfection is achieved. No one can say how many lives are required before this is accomplished.
In Wicca, we seek to strengthen our bodies, minds and souls. We certainly live full, productive earthly lives, and we do so while harming none. The soul is ageless, sexless, non-physical, possessed of the divine spark of the Goddess and God. Each manifestation of the soul (i.e., each body it inhabits on Earth) is different. No two bodies or lives are the same.
What happens after death? Only the body dies. The soul lives on. Some Wiccans say that it journeys to a realm variously known as the Summerlands, Land of the Faerie, the Shining Land, and the Land of the Young. This realm is neither in heaven nor the underworld. It simply is- a non- physical reality much less dense than ours. Some Wiccan traditions describe it as a land of eternal summer, with grassy fields and sweet flowing rivers, perhaps the Earth before the advent of humans. Others see it vaguely as a realm without forms, where energy swirls coexist with the greatest energies- the Goddess and God in their celestial identities.
The soul is said to review the past life, perhaps through some mysterious way with the deities. This isn’t a judgment, a weighing of one’s soul, but an incarnational review. Lessons learned or ignored are brought to light.
After the proper time, when the conditions on Earth are correct, the soul is reincarnated and life begins again.
The final question- what happens after the last incarnation? Wiccan teachings have always been vague on this. Basically, the Wiccans say that after rising upon the spiral of life and death and rebirth, those souls who have attained perfection break away from the cycle forever and dwell with the Goddess and God. Nothing is ever lost. The energies resident in our souls return to the divine source from which they originally emanated.
Because of the acceptance of reincarnation, the Wicca don’t fear death as a final plunge into oblivion, the days of life on Earth forever behind them. It is seen as the door to birth. Thus our very lives are symbolically linked with the endless cycles of the seasons which shape our planet.
Reincarnation is as real as a plant that buds, flowers, drops its seed, withers and creates a new plant in its image.