I was recently asked the question, "So, what really happens when we die?" .
What a great question. For me, I see it as a very complicated subject that we can only use metaphors to describe. I don’t think that there is any one right or correct interpretation as to what happens after death or before birth or between incarnation, etc. Like the Gods, I think it is a Mystery that is so vast and profound that we can’t truly comprehend it while we are here in manifest form. We can only commune with our Gods and seek the poetic metaphors that help us explain it both in a spiritual way as well as a mundane way.
I believe that we all have an immortal soul as well as a mortal spirit. The mortal spirit is that non-physical aspect of us as manifest individuals. Our consciousness, if you will. The soul is the eternal essence that all of our incarnations have their roots in and is the part of us that is closest to the Gods. Through each incarnation, the Spirit works towards communion with the Soul and the Gods. I don’t believe that heaven, hell, underworld, Olympus, etc. are actually physical places. I do believe that in the human psyche they have physical associations or equivalents though. The Underworld is just that – under world, below the ground. It is chthonic as are the earthly gods and Gods of the Dead. Think of all the myths that place the entrance to the Underworld in Sicily (near Mt. Etna). I also see the Underworld as having many different layers, each with their own purpose (rest for the beloved dead, etc.).
This is going to be hard to explain in writing but I’ll give it a shot.
- When the Soul manifests a Spirit in the world, in a way, it becomes tied to the world. Once the individual body dies, then the particular manifestation is over.
- The personality or spirit (that part of us that is US), is withdrawn into the Soul.
- Loosed from the ties to the material, the Soul/ retreats (to the Underworld) to integrates the lessons learned. Depending on how the life was lived and if the individual really learned or experienced anything, this process can be “like heaven” or “like hell”. I think that this is why so many cultures have different levels of the Underworld, each assigned to a particular theme.
- When the Soul has integrated the experiences and lessons of the particular incarnation, it returns to the realm of the Gods *by crossing back over the River of Forgetfulness*.
- At that point, the Spirit (the individual personality) remains behind in the Underworld – perhaps as beloved dead.
- Then Soul, from within the realm of the Gods, ties itself to the world and manifests another Spirit in the world.
The Soul evolves through each successive incarnation by integrating the lessons from each before being born again as a new incarnation. The reason that the new incarnation won’t normally remember the past one is that bringing baggage from the past into the present/future is a self-defeating process. The Soul already integrated the lessons of the previous incarnation and can guide the new incarnation with that knowledge but without the baggage.
I believe that each incarnation (Spirit) is always tied to the Soul. This explains how someone can train to remember past lives. It also explains how we can contact individuals who have crossed over while still having the soul reincarnate. It’s the Soul that reincarnates, not the Spirit.
When Vinnie dies, then Vinnie will go to the Underworld and (hopefully!) become one of the beloved dead. The Soul that Vinnie was a part of then re-incarnates as a new Spirit after integrating Vinnie’s experiences and lessons.
Anyway, that’s my view. Hope it was interesting. :-)