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.

Clean House Spiritually for the Dark Time of the Year

Clean House Spiritually for the Dark Time of the Year

 

by Freya Ray

Personally, I have had my issues with the “holiday” season. The directions in which our culture has chosen to take Christmas and other celebrations, turning them into rites of capitalist fervor (insert your favorite rant here), have not appealed to me. To me, winter is a powerful time for introspection and returning to your “self.” There is a primal urge to clear the dusty corners of your soul so that the seeds planted in springtime are well chosen and likely to grow up into what you actually want. If it happens for you, as it happens for me, that winter inspires the desire to get rid of the unnecessary rather than accumulate more of it, here are some suggestions.

What do you focus on if you’re feeling the urge to crawl into a hole but aren’t sure which direction to take in your inner odyssey?

There are four main categories of spiritual debris that can benefit from closer examination. You started life with three of them, the fourth you’ve picked up along the way. I don’t mean to sound negative — you have also collected many wonderful gifts in each of these four categories. While still honoring your blessings and achievements, it is more productive to work on the pieces that keep you from your dreams.

I’m going to describe a number of possible approaches to spiritual fine-tuning. For earth signs out there, this is not a “to do” list that should be followed from beginning to end in order to become a better person. Rather, this is a collection of inspirations, and your intuition is your best guide for which pathways to pursue. You might become excited about a suggestion, or be repelled by one. Pay attention to any strong reaction — it’s probably worth focusing on.

The person you are today is made up of what you’ve inherited from your parents and ancestors, your past lives and your experiences this lifetime. There are probably some bits of eternal soul and red blood cells too, but these four areas are the ones I’ll focus on.

Parental Inheritance

At the moment you were conceived, you inherited from your parents everything they had learned about life up to that point. Any wisdom, fears, good or bad habits, failures and triumphs. To determine if this is an area that needs some attention, ask yourself the following questions: What is unresolved or in conflict between my parents and me? What issues do they struggle with that also affect me? Where did they fail in their lives?

Parental issues respond well to traditional methods. Journaling — writing about their patterns and your own — can highlight repetitive patterns. For example, if your parents always struggled with money, write down everything you know about their beliefs regarding money and abundance. Write down everything you believe about the same issue. Write down how your behavior about money is the same as your parents, or the opposite. Remember that anything that you do that is exactly not how they did it is not really an evolutionary step beyond. It’s just a reaction. After thesis, step two is antithesis. Synthesis is step three and the launch point for evolution.

Awareness of when you are stuck in a self-defeating pattern is the most powerful step. Seeing the pattern’s origins gives you information on how to change it. If you’ve inherited something from your parents that you’re tired of carrying around, set it down. This can be done in a ritual where you release any burdens you’re carrying for them. Write the burdens down and burn whatever you wrote them on in circle. Craft a small boat and send them downstream.

It can also be done in a very different way: by correcting the problem at the source. See if you can find a way to help your parents get what they want. If you work toward success with them, either in real time or in meditation, everyone becomes liberated. When I helped my mother quit drinking, somehow I quit smoking. It’s all one big hologram, one metaphor. By changing one piece we change all the pieces connected to it.

Ancestral Inheritance

You also inherited your entire ancestral lineage. Everything that was experienced and learned by each of your ancestors was handed down to you, encoded in your spiritual DNA. If you feel an urge to plant a garden in the spring, that’s because your ancestors have been doing just that for millennia. Your choice of magickal path may well be related to your genetic inheritance as well.

Ancestral lineages connect to you at your shoulder blades — the “wing points” — where your wings would sprout if you could see them. The maternal lineage extends behind you on the left side, the paternal on the right. They go out at an angle, and upwards, so they make a V gradually rising behind you. Trust me on this one. I’m not the only psychic who sees them this way.

What this means for you is that you know exactly where to look for problems. I’m going to suggest two approaches. The first is to let your attention, in meditation, follow back along the line of your ancestors. Logically, each earlier generation is further away from you. Look for blockages — for places where the energy is not flowing freely. Bring energy and light to the area until you see the pathway clear. Pay particular attention to balancing the left and right sides. If your father had a really unpleasant childhood due to abusive parents, you might have shut down the energy on the right side. This protected you when you were unable to take a more active role, but now you can clear the blockages and make use of all of the gifts from your inheritance. If you shut down the masculine side you might have noticed difficulty in taking charge of your life. This is corrected by balancing the two sides.

The other method is to examine the spiritual DNA. I highly recommend Chris Griscom’s book Psychogenetics for full information on this method. The short form is: Visualize your DNA and look for blocks related to issues you’ve inherited from your ancestors. Heal those blocks by blasting them with white, laser-like light. Allow the DNA to re-form itself, whole and healthy. These methods may sound silly or difficult, but they are neither. By simply going into a meditative state and visualizing, everyone I’ve ever worked with has been capable of receiving useful information and effecting positive change.

Past Life Inheritance

Your past lives are a fertile place to look for issues that are causing you trouble this time around. Ask yourself: What habits do I have as a soul that aren’t working for me? Do I have strong, unexplained aversions or fears? Are there difficult relationships or repetitive patterns that I don’t seem to be able to get out of? Any of these things could have come from traumatic experiences in past lives.

Richard Webster wrote a wonderful book, Practical Guide to Past-Life Memories, that gives twelve different methods for remembering your past lives. I recommend getting this book, choosing a method and trying it out. When you feel like you’ve got the hang of recall, go on specific missions. Go looking for the other times you’ve known that difficult person, and information about why you struggle with him or her now. Seek the source of your fear of water. Look for patterns — a habit you have formed in many lives of being subservient to others. Ask yourself what in your current life is no longer serving you, and see if your past lives offer clues for letting it go.

Past life work is a magickally productive area to pursue. It seems that most of the time simply recalling the prior events and allowing yourself to really feel the feelings that go along with the memories will release their power. As soon as I remembered the witchy lifetime in which I was hung (and sobbed for a couple hours), I was able to do ritual again. For years before that, I had identified as a witch, but found myself unable to do Wiccan ceremony. That changed immediately, just from bringing the source of my fear to consciousness. Remember, cry/rage/laugh, and let it go.

Your Energy Body

The final area that could use cleaning up is all about you. As you move through your life, every experience you have leaves its residue. In a quiet, meditative state, scan your energy body for tension, grief, or pain`or even dark spots or places where the energy doesn’t feel like it’s moving. Ask yourself what color of light is needed to rebalance this blocked place. Bathe the area in healing light — different colors for different issues — until the area is balanced again. Do a ritual to release the block or get some energy work to address it.

In working with this lifetime, shame can be a powerful marker for stored garbage. Mentally scan your past, looking for places in your life you still feel shame about. Then use the color technique, journaling or meditation to forgive yourself. You did the best you could at the time, with what you knew then. If you can’t forgive yourself through meditation, consider taking action to atone. If you still feel guilty for a deed that caused harm to another, apologize to him or her or assist others with a similar problem. No personal ritual would have had the same effect as the action I took as a young adult: I walked into the store I had shoplifted from in high school and wrote them a check. Customers standing next to me were crying with me. It was powerful beyond anything confined to my journal would have been. Just do something, since shame is a crippling emotion that signals an area in which you are experiencing paralysis of the soul.

Likewise, forgiveness of others is important. Resentments we hang onto keep us from embracing new joys, and can lead to health issues in the body. Look back over your past for anyone you’re still mad at, and do whatever you need to do to let it go. This doesn’t mean you need to believe your rapist did the right thing. This does mean you get to a place where he’s not still holding the knife at your throat. Do what you need to do to clear your field, to harmonize the energies you carry with you.

As you go, breathe and pray. Sift through all the seeds you carry. Examine each one and discard those you don’t choose to have in your life again. With a little time and attention, you can move forward into spring lighter and liberated. Once you walk off the turkey and fudge, that is.

Freya Ray is a professional psychic, shaman, writer and teacher. She teaches energy work, shamanic journeying, Tarot reading, and how to live a more blissful life in general. She recently relocated to Seattle after working at Phoenix and Dragon in Atlanta and Rainbow Moods in Tucson. Her writing has appeared in the New Times, the Awareness Journal and the Magical Journal.

Before We Get Started…..A Question For You???

I have a question(s) I would like for you to think about. Then I would like your opinions, come on now, don’t be shy!

The question: What is your opinion on Reincarnation? How does it happen? Where does it happen? Do we have a place we stay after death waiting to reincarnate? Do you have an opinion on how many lives we are allowed to live? Do we obtain perfection then move onto a higher plane? Or do we stay here, reincarnating forever?

I would like a discussion. This should be pretty interesting if we get quite a few opinions on this topic. There are no wrong answers on these questions. So please, I would love to hear your opinion on this topic!

Thank you!

 

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.

Have a Very Blessed & Peaceful Sunday, dear readers!

Did you enjoy yesterday’s post on Astral Projection? There is more to come on that subject I guarantee you. Today, I think we need to touch on a very serious subject, that few of us know anything about, that is Reincarnation.  I think everyone has questions about death but no one has any answers. Perhaps, since we reincarnate we have more questions. It would be nice if someone could go there and tell us what it’s like. But they can’t, so we are left to imagine and dream about reincarnation. We dream and imagine by what we have been told from others. But really they don’t know anymore than we do. Have they been there? NO! So basically we are left to make up our own mind. I hope the posts today will answer some of your questions as well as mine today. Afterward, I will post some spells dealing with death and reincarnation.

I hope you enjoy these posts!