What happens when we die? No one really knows. There are many anecdotal accounts concerning near death experiences where those involved recount their experiences. Depending on one’s religious background ideas may run the gamut from believing nothing happens, death being the end of everything, to gaining admission to either a paradise or a hellish place from which there is no escpe, ever.
Pagans, and especially Wiccans, generally believe that upon dying our souls go to a place called the Summerland which is generally viewed as an otherworldly paradise where we find everything we hold dear, or sacred, preserved to perfection for eternity. While there souls rest and contemplate the life just completed and prepare, insofar as is possible, for their next incarnation. The idea of reincarnation, literally “to be made flesh again”, is the religious doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a person survives physical death to be reborn in a new body.
Going to the Summerland after dying is not a new idea. In the mid 19th Century Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) discussed it in his Great Harmonia, a six volume encyclopedia. Charles Webster Leadbeater (1854-1934), a leading Theosophist, taught that those who were good in their previous earthly incarnation went to a place called the Summerland between incarnations.
We believe the Summerland is the final destination for our souls. There are those whose behavior in life so transcends the usual that it obviates the need for further incarnations. They and those others who have completed their journey will move on to enter the Summerland and rejoin Deity. By the same token, there are those whose behaviors are so abhorrent as to never merit their admission to the Summerland. We believe that such behavior is indeed punished.
Before entering the Summerland we believe souls go to a place where they are allowed to rest, evaluate the life span just completed and, to some extent, plan the next incarnation. This place reflects the path our lives took and serves as a reminder of that past life and as an incentive to do better the next time.
This planning is based on the lessons we’ve learned, or not, during past lifetimes and what we hope to accomplish during our next. While we don’t retain a conscious memory of this planning, we believe our reincarnated soul does and is able to guide us along our path should we so choose.