Does Spirit Go with Body? A Look at Reincarnation

Does Spirit Go with Body?  A Look at Reincarnation

by Janice Van Cleve

Reincarnation is a subject that keeps coming back (ouch). Seriously, the topic of reincarnation keeps showing up in magazines and books cloaked in mystery or psychobabble. Among New Age and neo-pagan believers, there is often talk of “past lives,” working out karmic justice over a series of lives and transmigration of souls. Hindus hold that we reincarnate many times until we achieve enlightenment or perfection and thus are able to escape the wheel of life, death and rebirth. Rabbi Shagra Simmons says that Jews sometimes get three shots at terrestrial life. Tibetan monks search for babies born at the moment of their lama’s death in the belief that his soul migrated into the newborn. Resurrection of the body is such a strong tenet of Catholic orthodoxy that the Vatican for centuries preached against cremation, supposedly because ashes are harder to resurrect than rotten remains in a coffin.

Not everyone believes in reincarnation. Many people believe that death is the end, finis, kaput. They do not believe in any afterlife or return to life in any form. Others believe that the body may die but some kind of spiritual essence or “soul” lives on and goes someplace, like heaven or hell. Plato was a great proponent of the theory of “essences” that exist beyond or outside of the physical body. Christians and Muslims believe in a paradise where the souls go and don’t come back. Ancient Sumerians thought spirits descended into a pit where they ate dirt, and the Greeks held that souls crossed the River Styx to linger in a dim underworld. The idea of spirits dwelling in a Great Beyond is advantageous if you want call on them in prayers or séances. If, on the other hand, souls do come back in new bodies, who will be left on the invitation list to your next Dumb Supper?

Modern technology and psychology have pushed the envelope in our understanding of death and rebirth. For example, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross has documented some amazing cases of apparent conscious existence outside of the body and/or after the body’s clinical death. Cryogenics labs are experimenting with freezing bodies to resuscitate them later. Cloning is a bit different in that a new body is generated, but the jury is still out on whether any conscious memory is transferred along with the genetic material. While these are interesting avenues of research that may someday prove or disprove some mechanical aspect of reincarnation, they are generally understood to be outside the discussion of reincarnation per se.

So what’s inside the discussion? One way to look at reincarnation is to examine its parts. The “carn” refers to a body and the “re” is a something that returns into a body. That got me to wondering: which body? Is it only humans who reincarnate? Do dogs reincarnate into new dogs, or trees into new trees? What about cross-species reincarnation? Can a fern reincarnate into a frog or a cow into a liverwort? There are some dire warnings in the literature about “coming back as a toad,” but for the most part we see the focus on humans returning as new humans. (Certainly most cat lovers will agree that cats believe that they don’t participate in reincarnation because no other living being could aspire to their level.)

People as far back as the Stone Age have understood that the body decays after death. They may have held many theories about where the soft tissue went, but they could see that soon all they had left was bones. Eventually, as in the case of the dinosaurs, even the bones break down and are replaced by minerals leaching through the soil. Occasionally nature has delayed decay, as in the prehistoric bodies found in an glacier in the Italian Alps or in a bog in Denmark. Children sacrificed by the Incas on Andean peaks still have hair and skin preserved by the cold, while Egyptians first learned mummification from bodies buried and desiccated in the hot Saharan desert. Yet even the most carefully preserved remains of a Pharaoh in Cairo or a Lenin in Moscow would be reduced to molecules if exposed to the normal processes of decay.

Scientists exploring biology, chemistry, genetics, forensics and the like have shown that as things decay after death, they break down into simpler and simpler components, eventually reducing into basic compounds or molecules that can be used by other living organisms. Gardeners practice this principle by composting. Dead plants and other organic materials are stacked in bins where, over time, they reduce to rich soil and are plowed back into the garden to provide nutrients for new plants. So a dead tulip may break down in the compost bin and its molecules eventually become incorporated into a turnip. Not all of its molecules may end up in the turnip, however. Some of them may wind up in the carrots, and others may become potatoes. Certainly a large number of the former tulip molecules will stay as dirt and may even become incorporated into stone, if said gardener happens to have a volcano in her pea patch!

So at least some of the material that was the physical body of the tulip may find itself after death reincorporated into other physical bodies, and therefore the tulip continues to participate in the phenomenon called life. In a way, I suppose that can be called reincarnation — at least of body material. Perhaps when we refer to a dead relative “pushing up daisies,” we’re closer to the mark than we think.

But if the remains of living things decompose and are scattered to be used by many other living things, or not used at all, is the identity of the original plant or animal or human forever lost? When do tulip molecules cease to be tulip and become turnip? And what about the turnip? If it got some material from a tulip and other material from a spider, where does its unique identity as a turnip come from? This is where the “soul” or “essence” comes into the reincarnation picture.

There have been times even in the historical past when the birth rate of new babies worldwide did not match the death rate. So according to the theory of reincarnation, did some souls get put on hold for awhile in a spiritual wait zone until there were enough babies to go around? Or did they hang out in the turnips? Conversely, our current population explosion clearly demonstrates way more births than deaths. So does that mean that some babies are born with half-souls or no souls? There can’t be that many souls waiting in turnips to fill the current demands!

Buddhists may help us out here. Buddhists seek to skip the Hindu wheel of birth, death and reincarnation altogether through discipline and meditation. They believe that they can reach a point at which independent identity is no longer relevant. The “soul” loses itself by merging with a universal mass of spiritual energy called Nirvana, something analogous to the universal mass of living energy that scientists call biomass. For the sake of discussion, let’s call this “spiritmass.”

That solves the mathematical problem, because math in the spirit world may not add up the same as it does here in the mundane world. If there is spiritmass, then some babies could inherit old souls directly and some may get new ones from the reservoir of spiritmass. Whatever the case, nature and nurture inevitably work to individualize the baby’s identity, just like they individualize his or her body into a unique new person. Old souls are either absorbed into spiritmass or changed in their new incarnation and new souls are sprung from spiritmass. In either case, the old identity is lost. Tulip becomes turnip, and essence of Uncle Frank becomes Little Carol.

Which brings us back to the two parts of reincarnation. If the body and the spirit both disintegrate and become reabsorbed into biomass and spiritmass respectively, then one could say they were reincarnated. However, such a reabsorbtion automatically means that the unique personal identity of the dead being ceases to exist. Reincarnation therefore implies that individual identity is temporary.

Humans don’t like that. Humans would like to believe that their identities will live forever. Since the body could not be counted on, humans proposed underworlds and paradises to maintain some manner of unique identity after death. Not content with just a spiritual existence, some humans attempt to preserve their existence in the physical world with statues and monuments, trust funds, artistic creations or by making a name for themselves in history books. Ultimately, however, we do not live forever in body or spirit or stone. We do know that we live beyond our death — at least for a little while — in the hearts of those who loved us, and probably in the memories of those who hated us.

So I can buy reincarnation if the most that is meant by it is recycling the body and the spirit. I’m certainly not going to lose any sleep over what kind of identity, if any, I will have after I die. I just hope that if reincarnation does pass identity along that John Ashcroft comes back as a gay, homeless black woman.

Janice Van Cleve has reincarnated several times. In this round, she is a writer.

I’m Right, You’re Wrong: The Fight to be Different

I’m Right, You’re Wrong: The Fight to be Different

Author:   Sarrestia 

I was thinking about writing all the examples and instances up front, and then lay out the bottom-line, but then I decided, what the heck:

Ladies and Gentlemen, there is not a damn thing you can do to be anything like the person next to you. No matter what you do, no matter how you live, no matter what you think, you will always, from before birth to after death, be different. This is not an opinion, this is not an ‘in-a-perfect-world’ statement, and this is fact, genetically to psychologically to metaphysically.

Every single person is built on two things: their genetics and their environment, not one or the other, but simultaneously.

Your genes are the product of half of two people’s genetics: your mother and father. Though you have their genes, you do not have all of them; you have a combination of genetics that they can never have. You are different! Even if you suddenly start looking ‘like’ your parents, or acting ‘like’ your parents, you are still not your parents. It is a genetic, biological impossibility.

Your experiences are the product of your environment, your genetics, and most especially, the thoughts and emotions you keep within your mind of those experiences. From the moment of birth, you begin to the act of experiencing the world around you, and within you. You are different!

Even identical twins, with the same exact genetic combinations, due to their experiences, will never, can never, be the same; they will be different. Though many studies of identical twins have shown that separated twins will display similar likes and dislikes, similar activities in their lives, but they are vastly different because of the families and environment they were raised. In addition, identical twins that were not separated, but were raised together have shown, repeatedly, that despite the same environment, they develop different personalities.

So, the very core of every single human being — in the genetics and experiences and behavior — will never be the same as another; we will always be different.

If this is so, then why do people demand that they be different? Why do children develop the intense, rebellious nature to become different from their parents, when they are and always have been? Why do people fight and kill to be different?

As to the title: I’m Right, You’re Wrong, it is this very thing of proving to another that they are different, in their personalities, their ideologies, etc that causes so many issues when it isn’t even about who is right or wrong. The point of any of this is that we are both right and we are both wrong. We are right in ourselves, to ourselves, but we are wrong to everyone else.

I would love to say that this problem is only the vice of the major religions, but alas, no. From the major religions to atheists, everyone thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong.

I will take this moment, before I continue, that this species of ours is blessed with the few individuals who have pulled themselves away from this trap to understand that it doesn’t matter what you believe in, they are happy with what they believe in and who they are; your beliefs, though nice to know, are irrelevant to their happiness. Sounds harsh, yes, but honestly it is the only way one can be happy, is to not allow everyone else’s opinions about one’s beliefs or their beliefs to be of any concern.

Unfortunately, this right vs. wrong attitude is deeply impeded in the pagan community. From the ceremonialists and traditionalists looking down at eclectics and solitaires to pagan women vs. pagan men to Wiccans vs. Witchcraft vs. New Agers vs. Fluff Bunnies… I can go on, of course. For a spirituality that is so ambiguous that the beliefs and actions of an individual is based on what feels right to him/her, and a spirituality that is far more accommodating to a person’s choice of lifestyle in any manner, it seems ridiculous that we would carry this issue with us. Of course, it may just be the result of the majority of pagans carrying this right and wrong issue from their previous religions, but I’m going to be optimistic (or pessimistic) and say it is just human nature.

By stating that I’m Right and You’re Wrong is human nature, it may be a lost cause and we, except for individuals, may never overcome this issue. However, at this point, I will be optimistic and say that the people who are formulating one of the greatest spiritual movements this world has seen in such a long time have the ability, if not the necessity, to overcome this pitfall and rise to a higher form of thinking with regards to anyone who is in the least bit different from you. Because guess what, they are, and will never see the same thing you see or feel or think or smell, and NEVER have the same spiritual experience as you.

Let the main religions continue their never-ending fight to be right and destroy, even if not physically they are still trying mentally and emotionally, those they feel are wrong. Let atheists struggle in their fight to convince people to shrug off millions of years of myth-based philosophies. Understand that you are different and will always be different and embrace that; embrace your weirdness, your difference, while at the same time acknowledging what we all share.

Which brings me to another point: despite all of our differences, we are still all members of the human species (unless there is someone that is reading this that does not currently carry human DNA within them…beg my pardon, no offense) . Every single person feels the same emotions. Whether they are expressed differently or triggered differently, a happy person in Iraq will look and act the same as a happy person in Nebraska (I know, I’ve seen happy Iraqis but I’ll have to debate the extent of a happy Nebraskan) .

We are different and we are the same, we are all right and we are all wrong. We are all individuals within one species on one planet, with DNA that is at its most basic the same with every single living creature on this planet.

Pagans, we are a fractious bunch from the very start because we choose to follow what is right within our hearts and souls, not because of what someone else says is right. So why do I constantly see people writing and commenting on their opinions of another person’s spiritual choice? Does their decision to join a coven, take the best from all the rest, or follow the creeds of people with less than credible sources change your beliefs, affect your beliefs, make you doubt your own? If so, then your heart and soul are telling you that the path you are currently on isn’t the one for you.

Working With Colors In Candle Magick – White

White

Can be programmed. White light contains all colors, so therefore can be used for all purposes. Can energize, harmonize, heal, and expand capabilities, clarity, brilliance, light, ice, endless potential, ever-changing, purity, spirituality, greater attainments in life, truth, power of a higher nature, wholeness, sincerity, spiritual undertakings / guidance, direction to the right paths, calmness, becoming centered, seeing past all illusions, the Goddess, higher self, purity, peace, virginity.

Working With Colors In Candle Magick – Violet

Violet

Stimulates spirituality / enlightenment / feminine energy, physical / emotional / mental healing, lifts depression, releases stress, dropping unwanted desires, developing calmness in body / mind / emotions, regality, calmness, gentleness, expansive, harmonizing, spiritual, success, idealism, higher psychic ability, wisdom, progress, protection, honors, spirit contact, break bad luck, drive away evil, divination, permanent life changes, psychic protection, psychic and spiritual growth, third eye, hidden knowledge, spiritual power, influencing people in high places, success in long range plans, corresponds to the top of the head, and slightly above it. 7th Chakra.

Your Tarot Card for December 14th is Strength

Strength

Friday, Dec 14th, 2012

What has traditionally been known as the Strength card represents Nature which, however wild in its primal form, is tamed by our subtler, finer (feminine, interior) self. The will and passion of our instinctive nature does not need to be broken, but refined and brought to consciousness — so that all levels of Creation, inner and outer, may come into harmony.

The feminine soul-force contains a persuasive power that can nurture and induce cooperation from others, stilling disruptive energies by harmonizing differences in the spirit of collective good will.

Drawing Down the Sun

Drawing Down the Sun

 

Choose the time of day that is best for your purpose. Clear conditions are ideal though of course you cannot look directly at the Sun at any time. Eventually you will be able to visualize the orb. Though Sunday is the special day of the Sun, you can choose any day that feels right.

Decide on the kind of Sun energy you want to focus on for this particular ceremony, a loving Sun Mother to bring joy, abundance and a sense of well-being, and aesthetic Sun God for spiritual and mental clarity and focused creativity or a warrior to empower you and give you the courage of purpose. You don’t have to pick a God or Goddess from a particular culture but can picture you own or use the Sun itself as your focus of light, life and health bringing powers. You can adapt your chant accordingly or use one that refers to these attributes.

1.  Occasionally, just draw down the Sun or recite your chant as a way of giving thanks for life or to send the Sun to those who need it spiritually or in actuality.

2.  Find your Sun place where at particular times of the year the Sun casts radiating beams or dancing rays. You may have to wait for just the right conditions for your first Sun encounter.

3.  Mediterranean and oceanic tropical sunrises can be spectacular and can be appreciated while on vacation. A few minutes of solitary sunset connection can be a very deep healing experience.

4.  It may help to hold a clear crystal or rainbow quartz (any with fractures inside will reflect rainbows).

5.  Set on the ground, on a rock or on your outdoor altar a dish of any gold jewelry, golden crystals, gold-colored coins, flowers and fruit to be empowered by the Sun.

6.  Next to it place a glass bowl of sparkling mineral water Afterwards the water will be charged with the power of the Sun and you can use it in baths or to splash on pulse points.

7.  Raise your arms high and wide, palms uppermost and set your feet quite widely apart.

8.  Speak your words aloud, unless there are too many people around.

9.  Then wait until you feel the light beginning to enter you.

10.  Now move your arms so they are extended horizontally either side of your body with your palms still upward to absorb the light. At this point breathe in the golden light through your nose, slowly and gently, and exhale the darkness through your mouth.

11. As you continue breathing, visualize the light spreading to every part of your body from your toes right to the tips of your fingers and the crown of you head.

12.  Allow the light to extend now beyond your body, forming a shield of golden rays all around you and above you so that you are enclosed in a shimmering sphere.

13.  Gradually move your arms and hands so they cross at about waist height. Repeat this in succession and in the rhythm that is right for you, raising, extending and enfolding yourself with light as if you were splashing it over yourself.

14.  When you feel that you are completely filled with the radiance, cease to breathe in gold deliberately. Stand with your arms still raised, close together in front of your body with elbows bent.

15.  Say slowly and with confidence three times:

“I am filled with the light of the Sun. I am pure light.”

16.  Allow the energies to flow between your body, the pool of light and the golden sphere.

17.  Kneel or reach down and splash a few drops of the newly made Sun water on your hairline, brow, throat and wrist, saying:

“The Sun enters my spirit, enriches my mind, transforms my words and warms my heart. Blessings Be.”

18.  Listen and you may hear a message from the Sun Mother of Father.

19.  If you face opposition or spite, shake your fingers and see golden sparks emanate from your fingertips like miniature Sun rays.

20.  Extend your arms in a circle over your head so you create a psychic protective force field of sparks all around you that will gently repel any malice.

21.  Make a sign, perhaps touching the place between and just above your eyes that is your third eye. Or you may prefer to touch your heart or make a circle in the palm of you hand.

22.  As you do so, say:

“When I touch my brow/heart, I will invoke the Power of the Sun with me.”

23.  Look upwards and picture the  Sun Mother or Father or a whirling, spinning solar disc and gradually allow the radiance and the Goddess to fade, knowing that you can recall the Sun into your life any time you are in need, just by making your psychic sign.

24.  Spend the rest of the day or at least part of it in the Sunshine and the next day do something amazingly brave to make the most of your new power.

 

Ancestors, Ancestors, We Are Calling

Ancestors, Ancestors, We Are Calling

 

Ancestors, ancestors, we are calling

Ancestors, ancestors,  hear our call

Sing or chant the above words for at least four rounds, as you stand in honor  of the ancestors to welcome them. As you do, create a simple gesture to welcome  the ancestors, such as prayer hands over the heart, or raised to the heavens.  Ask your body to help you create it and include some form of movement. Have fun  with it but also be focused on the welcome. Try it and see what happens.

This is a way of including those humans in your family lineage that have come  before you and whose genetic and soul influence has a great deal to do with who  you are today, those we can call ancestors. Even your deceased parents are your  ancestors.

These progenitors have experienced what it’s like to have had their energy in  an animate, physical human form. They continue on with their teachings in spirit  world, evolving spiritually beyond what we in physical bodies can even imagine,  though some have touched this world through meditations, revelations, near-death  experiences, or shamanic journeys from the point of death.

If you aren’t already including ancestors when you call on spirit guides,  please do. They want to help us and do avail themselves to us of their wisdom  and understanding. Don’t get me wrong; they aren’t all saints, but they  understand and experience things much differently once in spirit form. The  wisest ancestors are the oldest ones, yet even recent passage into the spirit  world offers a considerable dose of wisdom that they are more than happy to  bring to you. They also can guide and protect you if asked.

We are in a time of critical change and need all the help we can get from the  world of Spirit. The planet doesn’t need saving. We just need to revise our  relationship with this planet and live much more harmoniously with her cycles.  And we’re doing the best we can. Just need the help of the ancestors.

 

Birth Totems – Beaver (Apr. 20 – May 20)

Beaver

April 20 – May 20
Moon: Frogs Return Moon
Season: The Growing Time
Wind: East Winds
Direction: East
Element: Earth with Fire
Elemental Clan: Turtle Clan
Plant: Wild clover
Mineral: Bloodstone
Polarity With: Snake
Color: Yellow
Musical Vibration: D Sharp
Personality: Resourceful and methodical
Spiritual Energy: Masculine energies
Emotions: High strung
Positive Traits: Persistent and often strong-willed.
Negative Traits: Inflexible, possessive and often times self involved
Compatibilities: Woodpeckers, Brown Bears and Geese
Conscious Desire: Security through abundance
Subconscious Desire: Freedom from attachments
Spiritual Path: To discover that which has lasting value
Strengths: Accepting change, compassion, inner security and confidence
Weakness: Possessiveness and inflexibility

Birth Totems – The Red Hawk (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19)

The Red Hawk

March 21 – April 19
Moon: Budding Trees Moon
Season: The Awakening Time
Wind: East Winds
Direction: North-East
Element: Fire
Elemental Clan: Hawk Clan
Plant: Dandelion
Mineral: Opal
Polarity With: Falcon
Color: Yellow/Green
Musical Vibration: C Sharp
Personality: Active.
Spiritual Energy: Feminine energies
Emotions: Quickly aroused
Positive Traits: Pioneering spirit
Negative Traits: Impatient, selfish and often times egotistical.
Compatibilities: Salmon and Owls
Conscious Desire: To lead, manage head the adventure.
Subconscious Desire: Learning through experience.
Spiritual Path: Expanding the individual through discernment
Strengths: Persistence and patience with others
Weakness: Conceit and intolerance.

Today’s Tarot Card for November 14th is Judgment

Judgment

What has traditionally been known as the Judgement card, sometimes entitled Resurrection, represents the great reunion that the ancients believed would happen once in every age. This was the time when souls are harvested and taken Home to their place of origin, outside the solar system. Then the World is seeded with a batch of new souls and the process starts over.

From a modern point of view, this great reunion — which includes every personality that you have ever been and every soul that you have done deep work with — reunites to consciously complete the process. In a way, we symbolically celebrate this returning to center every year on our birthday.

In personal terms, the Judgment cards points to freedom from inner conflicts, and so clear a channel, that the buried talents and gifts of past incarnations can come through an individual in this lifetime. This card counsels you to trust the process of opening yourself, because what emerges is of consistently high quality. You can effortlessly manifest as a multi-dimensional being, and assist in evoking that response from others.