Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reincarnation: What, Me Worry?

Blessings, Darlings!

Many of us in the Northern Hemisphere have Samhain on the brain for this entire month.  I'll quibble about what date it 'should' fall on, but I did that in April of '09 about Beltane, so I'll give it a rest now.

This time I'm up for talking reincarnation. Why? Bbecause I'm wonder how folks figure to contact their ancestors when so many  neopagans believe that everyone reincarnates.  World population being what it is, how many old souls are currently between incarnations and available to be contacted?  And why do folks think that the same people who weren't the sharpest tack in the box when alive are suddenly going to be fonts of info now that they're dead?  But, back to reincarnation......

I touched on reincarnation a bit before, in last years post http://www.fernsfronds.blogspot.com/2009/07/strawberry-in-jello.html.  There I talked about the soul and what initiation might do to it, and if that was good or bad. 

But now I want to talk about how neopagans have the ever so Western view that reincarnation is all rosebuds and unicorn farts, while in Asian countries - where belief in reincarnation was far more common that it was in Europe - it was seen as being pretty awful, something to get out of as soon as possible.  Life wasn't pretty for most of the world.  Heck, life still isn't pretty for most of the world.  Getting out of it, whether to the afterlife of any sort or to the relative oblivion of Nirvana, was a grand thing. 

But here we neopagans are.  Mostly we're in Western countries, with Western sensibilities.  And most of us just LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of reincarnation.  Why is that?

So I looked at modern western life.  Anyone reading this on a computer in their home is among the top 1% elite of the world.   You have a home.  You are literate.  You have a computer in your home.  You have electricity.  Etc.  Yeah, I think that being part of the world elite colors our view of reincarnation.

Reincarnation including a rather 'evolutionary' view here in the West, 'clearly' anyone Elite enough to be reading this must have been quite the ubermensch in the past life, eh?  How else would you have earned this?  And, since we're all already so enlightened to have earned this, certainly WE aren't going to be facing a life of starvation, misery, etc in our next lives, either.  Fear the next life? Don't be silly.  WE won't be born in a slum in India.  WE won't be working the garbage heaps in Rio.  We will born in a clean environment, be educated, have enough food, have the right number of chromosomes,  etc.

After all, we have evolved.  We have learned all the lessons we needed to learn by being poor/3rd world/whatever.  So WE have no worries.  Clearly THEY still have lessons to learn.  Not us.

Frondly, Fern

PS = we REALLY need a dedicated font for sarcasm.


  1. Re how we can leave some kind of shade behind and still reincarnate: the reality is complex (might look a little more sensible from 5-space), but it's not a complete contradiction.

    People are often comforted by the idea of reincarnation even when life is not a bed of roses gently stirred by unicorn farts; but perhaps they'd be less so if it were completely clear that one thing that does not cross over is the ego that feels that way!

  2. I believe that we do reincarnate, but like you I also believe that it is NOT all "rosebuds and unicorn farts." Quite often we do so because there were experiences and lessons that we somehow had managed to avoid, or fail to learn in a previous one. Sometimes, we choose to reincarnate in order to be of assistance to other souls near and dear to us who may need our help as well. In short, I believe it's a combination of both.

    Blessed be...

  3. I would have left out the sarcasm, but I agree with your overall message here.

    We westerners are great at re-appropriating facets of other cultures we find interesting, but we often only pick out the romantic parts. Sometimes we disregard, either actively or passively, the whole less-than-romantic contexts that these otherwise alien and unique ideas draw from.

    The use of reincarnation in contemporary paganism to me seems to be a great lesson in our own ego rather than any spiritual qualities we may or may not have. Regardless of what the soul's metaphysical situation might actually be, I think it is more a reflection on what we want to be when we say we lived in Atlantis, were Cleopatra, and were Napoleon's right hand man in the past (why don't we mention we were a store clerk at WalMart, or died in the bubonic plague?). Besides, by what knowledge or intuition do we know this, and then, what good does it do us when we announce it to the world?

    If it is such a spiritually powerful and individual development, I think that's all the more reason to keep it private.

    Also, if reincarnation is a real phenomenon, then I think it would be fair to say that it is there because we have lessons to learn, and didn't learn them the first time around. This is similar to the asian concept though in a much watered-down form, and it's not that romantic.

    I guess you could say, "If one believes they are with past lives, then let them learn the lessons of the current one, and be quiet about the rest."

    PS - Wouldn't that font be Comic Sans?

  4. Just finished reading a book called Excuses Begone. The author cites a study of happiness. The country that ranked highest? Nigeria! Good ole USA? Ranked only around 68. Rich and poor are relative terms. Compared to all civilians before the Greek empire, even second and some third world countries are living like kind if they even have one flushable toilet in their capital city. ;)

    Why is America more miserable than Nigeria? Cause we equate happiness with "stuff" more than any other nation on earth. Thus, we also assume that you live in a country without "stuff", you must be miserable. It's better to be poor and happy with what you have, than rich and miserable because you can never have enough.

  5. ha! that's a far stickier question than can be answered via bits bytes and pixels and packets. Most answer , it's a pair o ducks.
    One can honor ones ancestors without needing to drag their astral asses in to a circle.
    Even in the asian countries you reference, the idea of ancestral 'worship'and reincarnation exist side by side.
    As for world population and 'old souls', it depends on if you think there is a limited amount of 'souls' and if you think all humans have been human in a past life. Evolution works at more than the physical level.
    Also consider, is reincarnation limited to just this earth, this planet, heh, this universe? Oh there's some other tidbits to consider as well.

  6. Welcome, oh Paladin.

    Yes, I totally espoused the Celtic view of reincarnation only from human to human (and only involving this planet to boot). So far, no one even in California or Sedona has, to my knowledge, claimed to have had a life on another planet - even tho' some have claimed to be FROM other planets or met beings from them.

    But Now I might claim that in the future. Look upon what you have evoked!

    Back to Asia: I'm no expert, but it appears to me that they don't expect their ancestors to come when called, join 'em for dinner, and provide them with answers about life, the universe, and everything for the next year. It SEEMS to me that they work to 'honor' them more as a group than as individuals, sort of a egregore or group mind than anything else. But I could totally be wrong about that.

  7. Lots of great points and counter-points! I just want to add one point to the mix: Energy.

    Think what ghosts, spirits, souls, etc., are at their very core. Energy.

    Think physics. Think Einstein - where does Energy go?

    I believe your Energy never "dies" and continues to move. I don't believe in the Hindu theory that this life determines what life you are born into next -- I totally think that's a Lotto. But I do think our Energy "evolves" (for lack of a better word) and we carry that same structure around.

    And when I sit down at my Silent Supper on the Gregorian date of Samhain, I will be sending some of my Energy out into the world to touch the Energy of those I have loved and lost this past year -- human and animal alike.

    Blessings )0(

  8. Hiya Ferny,
    It's like what witch tips said about energy.
    It's about sending energy,and food is one form.Re: 'asia', well that's why I made the comment about draggin their astral asses to a circle.
    Reincarnation is an evolutuionary process, It's not so simple as die and grab the next body. In the vedic systems at least, it is an orderly process, which most pagans haven't even considered. But again, here isn't enough space to even start to relate it. So maybe mail me if you're interested.
    heh, I know of at least one respected pagan elder who has claimed it. The ensuing snickers were due to not understanding what he was getting at.