Afterlife? I Can’t Prove It But I Believe (Reader Question)

Over the weekend, I wrote a post based off of some questions from a chapter in Robin Herne’s “Old Gods, New Druids” book. I not only got some good responses about the material that I wrote, but also received a few questions in response. I get it. People want some answers to specific questions within Paganism and Druidry. So let’s deep dive into things and see what the next few blog posts provide us…

What do you want to [leave] behind when you pass beyond the veil? What do you think the afterlife will be like? (Samantha, New Jersey)

Well, let’s just dive into the deep end right away. First, thanks to Samantha for what will prove to be a challenging question. So challenging that I am now a day late on the blog schedule for posting. The topic of the afterlife is a difficult one to process, particularly for me. Couple that with trying to determine what kind of legacy you hope to live behind….and things get a little tricky and sticky.

What happens when you pass beyond the veil? What happens to one’s soul? Well, let’s start with part of the more metaphysical aspect – do we have souls? Well, my tendency is to say “yes”. However, I can’t prove it in any way, shape or form. The only evidence I can provide is what I have experienced throughout out my life. But that’s not really admissible as evidence. Its still what I feel and experience, nothing conclusive that I could utilize to prove the existence of the soul. For some, a soul is the animating principle of an individual life. Furthermore, the human body is considered to be a temporary vessel for this essence. When this body finally succumbs to the pressure of everyday existence, some believe that the soul leaves the body and is transformed…elsewhere.

That elsewhere is up for debate. Some believe that this immaterial essence is judged based on the acts done in this lifetime and then sent to a desired existence beyond this life (known as Heaven), a realm of eternal punishment for bad deeds done through that lifetime (Hell) or placed in a state somewhere between those two (Limbo). For others, myself included, this soul is allowed to be put into a new bodily vessel and returned back to this material plane. For some, this return is a chance be a better human being than they were in the previous existence. This is repeated over and over again until the soul becomes enlightened and is then allowed to remain in a state of grace and rest for eternity. Others, including myself, believe that this reincarnated soul continues on and on in this cycle. I don’t believe that there are rewards for living life, aside from experience. In a manner of speaking, I subscribe to the thought expressed by Val Kilmer portraying Doc Holliday in te movie “Tombstone”:

There’s no normal life Wyatt, its just life. Get on with it.

My life is just me living each day. My collective experiences create the wisdom that I do my best to live by. I have no legacy that I wish to impart. I’m no more important than any other individual. I hold no illusions that I am better than anyone else or that I am an expert in anything – except where it relates to me. But I’m also not foolish enough to believe that I don’t have an impact on others’ lives.

So what would I hope that I leave behind as my “legacy” when I pass beyond the veil? Well, I hope that I leave behind the feeling that I was the best friend that I could have been, even where I parted on bad terms with others. I’m far from perfect. I’m not even an “ok” person. But I am “me.” All I can do is strive to become the best “me” that I can.  I’m reminded of a lyric from the end of Bob Seger’s “Roll Me Away”.

And as the sunset faded, I spoke
To the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
Next time
We’ll get it right

So, part of my legacy also falls into the constant internal debate that I have over the terms “Priest”, “Elder”, and “Teacher.” I’ve always bucked against the application of these terms on to who I am. The truer reality is that these terms do apply to me, depending on who you ask. These terms apply to me from a vantage point that isn’t mine. Others see me in those terms, by the definitions that they have for each one. My personal application of these terms is not the true definition, nor will my individual legacy be applied by me. Others will apply that for me, particularly after I pass beyond the veil. It truly doesn’t matter what I want my legacy to be. Sometime after I pass, someone else will encounter this blog post and read what I have written. Aside from my shitty writing style, that individual will determine what my legacy will be, regardless of what I might think about it when I was alive.

So, in answering the legacy side of thing…I’m not sure what I want to leave behind or what I really want people to remember me as. Besides, all of that is embedded in the memories of those that I knew and interacted with. But once they pass, judgment of who I was and what kind of person, Pagan, and Druid I was will be in the hands of those who read what I have written. Or in the case of the long-into-the-past podcasts…what I said. I can do the best I can to steer my legacy, but the best efforts will still be over-shadowed by those who come after – those that never knew me. Those that never at around a night-time campfire sharing a bottle of whiskey, staring up at the stars and planets above, talking about whatever topic invades our quiet thoughts in that setting.

Is there an Afterlife? Is reincarnation real? Are past lives a real thing? Do we cross Paths with those who play significant roles in our lives – over and over? I think that all of this is real. I can’t prove it though. And all of it may just be the romantic, wistful dreams of this Pagan, this Druid. But then, I recall that we have to have faith in the existence of some things. Me? I believe.

–T /|\

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