Free Will And ReincarnationOriginaly published on Witchvox.com
Here're my beliefs on one of the most common parts of Witchcraft: reincarnation.
All living creatures have a soul or life force. An energy that exists much the same as an electrical charge in a battery. The notion that only man has a soul is illogical. One needs a soul to be alive and death is defined by all other religions as the soul "leaving" the body. So how could an animal like...oh...say, a dog, be alive if it has no soul? Is this creature just as un-alive as a walking rock? With this kind of logic it's obvious how those who support this belief can except ideas like man starting out as a clay doll and woman being made from his rib.
Why do we believe in reincarnation in the first place?
This belief comes from the fact that all existence travels in repeating cycles. Energy and mass are never destroyed, only change into new forms. So it would only be natural that a creature's life force would change forms much the same as the physical. Many think of this force as an astral mass that leaves the body and floats away into an afterlife up in the sky until either the Gods decide to send them back reborn or they decide to come back themselves. Some see it as shifting into a parallel plane where a similar world to this one lays waiting for them to rest until they are ready to return. We call this place "Summerland."
The mechanics of death and reincarnation.
When a life ends the body begins to decompose. Decomposition is not the mere rotting of flesh but rather the compounds that make it up breaking down into its basic elements. Decomposing matter gives off gasses (Air). Fluids leave the decomposing matter as it dries out (Water). Also as part of the decomposition of any organic matter, that matter gives off heat (Fire). And what is left after decomposition is done is all the essentials that make up dirt (Earth) .This also is the proof that God and Goddess reside within us all to which we are interconnected.
So what happens to the soul?
I believe the soul isn't any less affected than the flesh. The soul is not located in just one part of the body, not just in the brain or heart. The elements that make up the body are fully connected to the soul and as these elements leave, they take with them parts of that soul. These elements and energies do not sit around waiting. As soon as they leave the body they are assimilated or grounded into their surroundings. They are taken in by both animate and inanimate objects. Much like the energy being used from a battery, the electricity flows through all the conductive materials it can until it is grounded. The same idea is behind the use of grounding to eliminate and send out leftover energy after spellwork. Also these "parts" do not stay separate as they join new life, much the same as when water is added to more water. They flow together into one. As part of the assimilating of past energy into a new life form, that life form receives that energy and adds it to their own. Remember Mr. Renfield from Bram Stoker's Dracula? Except new life is not assimilated solely by devouring. One who breaths in the Air, eats plants that have grown from the Earth or an animal that has grazed on that plant. Also drinking the Water can pass it on and even just feeling a warm breeze generated by a Fire. It is this same energy that is passed on to the newborn life. Basically, parts of many past souls come together into a new life. This explains why most have no memory of a past life. There isn't enough of one past life in you to form a memory. Past life experiences can be attributed to a large amount of that past life that was taken in and used in making a growing fetus. The more of that old life force is taken in, the more memories of that past life remain residual. This can also explain residual haunting. A large collection of life energy creating a repeating kinetic/psychic event in a specific location. It's this same life force that we tap into when we send spells out to the world.
Where does Summerland fit in?
Summerland is most likely the period that life energy inhabits inanimate objects and plants. This is a very restful time for that spirit as there is little to do other than just exist. There's no fight for survival, no emotions to deal with. No worries of where your next meal is or defending your offspring. But alas, nothing stays in one form forever and the spirit moves on to the next form.
Why do some believe we are given a choice as to where we get to be reincarnated?
This probably comes from the strong value of freedom held by all Pagans. Naturally one would fall in love with the alluring idea that you could come back as whatever you want but I believe this is not true. There are many things that are not left up to us to decide. Man has filled his head with the romantic notion that we are in control of everything and that nothing is left to chance or fate. We don't have a choice as to how energy we send out comes back. The truth is there are many things left up to chance and where our energy goes after death is one of them.
The initial question asked, "Then why do we keep coming back to this insanity called Planet Earth?" This is because the only energy that leaves the planet is light. And since we absorb light instead of giving it off, our life forces stay here...grounded. Attached to our home until the day Earth dies. And like its symbiotic inhabitants, it too shall be assimilated by the rest of existence.