Hi magical warriors and welcome to Wiccanow! For those of you interested in learning more about Wicca and the Wiccan afterlife, a question that often comes up is “do Wiccans believe in an afterlife”? The question of the soul, whether it exists, and where it goes when we die is one that has fascinated humanity across the ages. Wicca as a religion offers some guidance concerning these questions, however, the concept of the afterlife as defined by Wicca, is not nearly as clear as that of other religions.
To help you understand the concept of the Wiccan afterlife lets explore the topic together. I hope you find all of the answers you are seeking.
If you are interested in reading more about the basics of Wicca check out these posts we wrote about what Wicca actually is, what Wiccan beliefs are, the connection between the Celts and Wicca, a post on how to become Wiccan, a discussion about who the Wiccan Gods and Goddesses are and an interesting post about what the difference between Wicca and Witchcraft is.
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7 Facts about the Wiccan Afterlife
Below are 7 facts about the Wiccan afterlife that we think every fledgling Wiccan should be aware of.
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #1 The Magic of The Immortal Soul
Like other religions, Wicca accepts that there is a non-material as well as a material reality. Unlike other religions, Wicca does not give preference to either reality but sees them as equal. Wiccans see our physical existence on the earthly plane as a gift from the gods. Wiccans believe in the eternal nature of the soul. For Wiccans, the soul is immortal and can never die.
Wiccans believe in reincarnation and view physical death as part of the natural cycle of life/birth/death. Wiccans believe that while the physical body may die, the soul can never die. Some Wiccans believe that after physical death, the soul enters into a place called Summerland. This is the Wiccan afterlife version of heaven!
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #2 Discovering the Wonderous Realm of Summerland
Summerland has its origins in ancient Celtic lore. The Celts had little fear of death and no concept of sin and punishment. The Celts believed that when they died, their souls entered the Summerland, where they would be renewed and made ready for re-birth. Many Wiccans have adopted the idea of the Celtic Summerland and believe that, like the Celts, their souls will return to the Summerland upon physical death.
Summerland itself is described as a place where it is perpetually summer. There are meadows of sweet grass and herbs, babbling brooks and rivers, grasslands and lush forests. If we died old and deformed, upon entering Summerland we are once again youthful and vibrant. Wiccans believe that in the Summerland we see ourselves as we wish to be.
The Wiccan belief is that we spend a certain amount of time between lives resting and rejuvenating. During this period of rest, the next life on the physical plane is planned and prepared. The purpose of each reincarnation into the physical dimension is to foster the evolution and growth of the soul.
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #3 Little Known Wiccan Death Rituals
Because Wiccans believe in the eternal nature of the soul and its eventual reincarnation back into the physical plane of reality, death is not considered as a time of mourning but rather a time of celebration. For Wiccans, death signifies the ending of a learning period.
The individual has completed this part of their cycle and has, so to speak, ‘graduated’. According to Wicca, the sorrow that we feel when someone has died is not because we feel sad or sorry for the individual who has passed, but rather it has to do with ourselves. We are sad because we have been left behind and are without the physical love and companionship of those that have departed.
For Wiccans, the body is understood to be a wonderful and valuable tool through which the soul can experience physical reality. According to Wicca, there are no hard rules about what should happen to the physical remains of one that has passed. However, once the soul has left the body, many Wiccans see little value in celebrating the physical remains and often favour cremation or an eco-friendly burial and a simple death ceremony. Few, if any Wiccans see the sense in elaborate and often expensive modernised funeral ceremonies.
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #4 A Sacred Death Ritual
This ritual may be performed alongside any other rituals or it may be performed on its own. This ritual is inspired by the ‘Building the Bridge’ ritual found in the wonderful book: ‘Bucklands Complete Book of Witchcraft’. For more about Wiccan rituals check out our post on ‘Wiccan rituals and why they are performed’.
First the ‘erecting temple ritual’ is performed to open the circle. Priest and Priestess kiss. A single long note it sounded on the horn by one of the coveners.
Covener: “The horn is sounded for… (name of the deceased witch)
All: “so it be”
Priestess: “That today (name) is not here in the circle saddens us. Yet let us all try not to feel sad. For is this not a sign that he/she has fulfilled his/her life’s work? Now he/she is free to move on. We shall meet again, never fear. And that will be time for further celebration”
Priest: “Let us send forth our good wishes to bear him/her across the bridge. May he/she return to us anytime he/she may wish, to be with us here”
All: Take their Athemes and point them at the spot behind the altar, facing the High Priest and Priestess. They imagine the dead witch standing on that spot, looking as they best remember him/her. They concentrate on sending love, joy and happiness from their bodies, along the lines of the Atheme, into the imagined body. This continues for a few moments. The Priestess signals the end by replacing her Atheme and saying
Priestess: “We wish you all the love and happiness we may. We will never forget you. Do not forget us. Whenever we meet here, you are always welcome”
All: “ So mote it be”
ALL now sit and if any present wish to speak of the deceased they may do so. If no one else speaks then at least the Priest or Priestess should speak reminiscently of the dead Witch. Remembering especially the good and happy times. Then should follow a ceremony of cakes and ale.
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #5 How to Hold a Profound and Sacred Wiccan Funeral
Wiccan funerals are generally less formal than those of other religions. This is because Wiccans do not believe that death is something that should be excessively mourned. Rather, Wiccans see death as part of a cycle of reincarnation. As such, they believe that the departed person has simply ‘left’ their physical shell but that their spirit or soul continues to live on.
Wiccan funerals are often held outdoors. Often times this can be in a forest, a garden or by the seaside. If the body of the departed person is present, attendees may form a circle around the departed one. Sometimes white candles and flowers are used as the colour white represents new beginnings and rebirth.
If modern circumstances do not allow the body to be present, a circle might be formed around a photo or around the loved one’s ashes instead. If the High Priest or Priestess is present, they may give a speech once the circle has been cast. A death ritual might be performed. Generally, this will be similar to the one detailed above under ‘crossing the bridge’.
As one of the core beliefs of Wicca is a respect for the earth, environmentally conscious funerals are preferred. This means that if possible, the body will be wrapped in a biodegradable cloth and buried. Wiccans believe that returning the body to the earth is a way of giving thanks for the services it has offered the soul.
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #6 Decoding the Wiccan Funeral Dress Code
Generally, Wiccan funerals do not have a strict dress code and the funeral attendees may wear whatever they feel comfortable in. Some Wiccans will wear their ritual clothing to funerals. This may be a long robe, covered with a cape or similar. Because the Wiccan afterlife is viewed as a normal continuation in the life of the soul, Wiccans do not prescribe to wearing sombre colours during a funeral (unless they personally feel like doing so).
The Wiccan Afterlife Fact #7 The Ultimate Wiccan Funeral For Your Beloved Pet
If you are a Wiccan, the beautiful thing about death is that you know it is simply part of a cycle and that whilst the body may die, the soul is eternal and continues to live. Wiccan believe that animals have souls just as humans do. The souls of the animals are also immortal so the death of a pet simply means that the animal has left its physical body behind and has moved into the realm of non-physical.
Many Wiccans believe that, because the soul of a pet is immortal and cannot die, that the physical death of a pet should be celebrated rather than mourned. The pet has, so to speak, successfully completed its mission on earth and has been released from physical bonds. Your pet, who may or may not be your familiar at this point, may come back after they have passed to continue or start their role as familiar. Death doesn’t stop this super-strong bond!
To honour the time that you have spent with your pet and to acknowledge the love and connection which bound you, you may like to hold a Wiccan funeral ritual to mark the passing of your pet.
The purpose of this ritual should be sending love and gratitude to your pet and giving thanks for the beautiful time that you spent together.
If you are burying the body of your pet yourself, you may like to form a circle around it with members of your family and to visualise your pet as it was in the moment that you loved it the most.
If your pet has been cremated you can use the ashes or simply a photo or a toy in place of the actual body.
Hold the mental picture of your pet as long as you can and send your love and gratitude towards it.
Once you have completed the visualisation part of the ritual you may like to reminisce about your pet together. Remember the times when you had the most fun. Talk about how grateful you are that you were able to share in each other’s lives and let your pet know that you wish them love and happiness on their journey.
Because Wicca is a religion which honours the earth, make sure to wrap the body of your pet in a biodegradable cloth before burying it. Plastic and other none-biodegradable fabrics should be avoided.
You may like to decorate the body of your pet with beautiful flowers. Some Wiccans also wear a piece of a special piece of jewellery in memory of their pet.
As you bury the body of your pet (if circumstances do not allow you to bury the physical body, simply substitute the body with a photo or a toy your pet loved to play with ) feel your heart expand with love for them. Allow yourself to give the body back to the earth in thanks and gratitude.
Send you thanks to your pet and let them know that you will remember them.
Once you have completed the burial, you may like to mark the spot with some beautiful stones or crystals.
My loves, I hope you found the answers you were seeking abut the Wiccan afterlife in this post. If you are suffering the loss of a loved one, remember, the soul is eternal and it is just the body which has passed. I wish you healing, love and light.
As always, Blessed Be,