Life Cycle

Birth

Most all witches believe in reincarnation. We believe that before the soul enters the body, it chooses the body and type of life that it wishes to choose. Normally, the older and wiser the soul, the more difficult is the life that it chooses. People can choose to be male or female and inhabit the body very near to the time of birth. All things are chosen before the soul enters the body.

Some Wiccans choose to have a "Wiccaning" for their children. This is much like a Baptism only for Wiccans. This ritual is not necessary. It is merely a way of celebrating the birth of a child within the confines of the pagan religion.

Wiccan children are brought up much like normal children. Emphasis is placed mostly on learning environmental issues and learning about plants and animals. Pagan children are treated the same as any child and they go to school (though many are home schooled because of their beliefs), they play with other children and just generally act like kids. Pagan children may learn to grow up to have a better understanding of others and are very close to their families as Pagans are often more open with each other than mundane peoples.

Marriage

Wiccan marriages are called “handfastings”. Many of the traditions of other religions are incorporated into a handfasting, such as the binding of the hands, the jumping of the broom and the sharing of the chalice. It is also traditional to exchange rings during the handfasting. Traditionally, Wiccan handfastings were done in the nude. Today, however, families and the public are a little more understanding of witchcraft and many witches choose to make their vows a public experience, sans the nudity. Any wedding dress and tuxedo would be fine, though many witches choose to wear ceremonial robes for their handfastings. Handfastings are done within the circle which is cast by the Wiccan Priest and/or Priestess. The ceremony is much like a traditional Xian wedding and lasts about as long. Different ceremonies incorporate all sorts of traditional practices. Some ceremonies use vows written by both partners. Traditionally, the bride wore green, the symbol of fertility and fidelity (loyalty). Today, however, it is most traditional to wear white, though any color is acceptable. I have seen pagan weddings where the bride and groom wore all manner of colors including yellow, orange, dark blue, purple and red. The ceremony can be altered to fit your tastes so you can cast the full circle and invite the whole coven for a ritual or you can just exchange vows at the altar and finish by jumping a broomstick. The choice is entirely up to the couple.

Death and Reincarnation

As I said before, witches believe in reincarnation. Much like other religions, it is believed that the soul returns again and again to learn, grow and become wise. When a witch dies, they enter a place much like heaven. This “heaven” is called the Summerland. It was called Tir Nan Og by the ancient Celts, meaning “Land of the Young”. Witches believe that the Summerland is a sort of way station, if you will; a place to catch up and sum up what you have learned. The soul can stay here and recuperate or choose to go on with their journey. A soul can become a ghost, or a guardian for their loved ones as well.

When someone dies, it is not a sad occasion. Sometimes we are sad because we know that we may miss that person for a little while. What you must understand is that death is not an end. Death is only the end of a story, something you work all your life trying to attain like the end of a good novel. When we die, we do not actually die. We simply shed our body that no longer works properly. The person is not dead. They simply go on a short journey, much like when we travel away from home for a short while. Life is like a little vacation and then we go home to the ones we love. When we die and reach the summerland, we are united again.

When a family member dies, it is not as if they have gone away. They watch you. The are watching you right now. They are all around you and can see, hear and feel you. It is easy to speak to them and to see them in astral travel. You can speak to them anytime, much like talking on the phone. They were never really gone at all. Pagan funerals are often happy occasions. Of course, everyone is not happy that the person has died. It is simply a light happiness that comes from knowing that they are home now and free from their pain. They have no hell to fear and they are very happy where they are. You will see them very soon. It is OK to miss their physical presence. It is OK to miss hearing their voice everyday, but grieving uncontrollably is not how we handle death. When someone dies, it is not as if they are dead, they have simply changed a little and are still with us. Think of them as having moved out of the state. You can still talk to them, much like talking to them on the phone while they are away.

Death is not something to be feared. When the time for death comes, you must learn to accept it wholeheartedly. We all feel a little afraid from time to time, but death is something that we must all experience, no matter who we are. In that, at least, we are all equal, all the same. It is something that we have done many times.

When you are at the end of your life, you might take comfort in speaking to someone you know who is deceased. Ask them what it is like to be dead. Speaking with the dead may ease your fears and help you cope with the otherworld when you arrive.

Witches do not believe in hell. We believe that the only hell is made here on earth within our own souls. The evil that you do stays with you until you die. The only way out of this hell is to come to terms with what you did and forgive yourself or make what has been done wrong, right.

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