Monday, July 4, 2011

Day Four: Birth, Death and Rebirth

30 Days of Paganism continues.

I don't associate these three things strongly with my path, but my beliefs are undeniably circular: all things, planet included, universe included, will go through their own "winter" or "death" and then their own "spring" or "rebirth". All things need this period of rest in order to grow again, and after fierce growth all things are ready for rest. "All that falls shall rise again, all that dies shall be reborn." I do believe in reincarnation, and that Death is its own mystery, and an important part of things in itself rather than simply being a period of being non-living, or a period of rest. Winter is as important as the rest of the wheel of the year. But on the other hand, whether all people or all trees and birds and whatever are reborn I don't know, as in the Netherworld there are certainly trees and birds and bugs and I imagine those are the dead souls - or perhaps oversouls, of particular subspecies, as dear gods there are a lot of bugs - of those trees and birds and bugs that were alive here once. Do they come back here? When... and why? Who knows. The world continues on, but when things are reborn in the spring of it all, they may well be new things. Perhaps reincarnation is uncommon after all.

Birth... Honestly I find birth rather disgusting, and I don't know why anyone would give birth voluntarily. I feel the same way about pregnancy and babies, so giving birth is something I want nothing to do with. Birth as a concept, as a mystery experienced by myself... what can one say about birth. One can't remember it, after all. I imagine it was unpleasant. As a general mystery, in the world around me? I don't think I know enough about it yet to make comment, or it's so standard I don't acknowledge it much. Birth in the sense of fertility.... it's important, obviously. It's important so that we can eat, but death is important in that too as I don't eat stuff that's still alive. Not to my knowledge anyway. There's not a whole lot one can say that doesn't also apply to rebirth. They're both birth... one is just birth again.

Death... I've always been interested in death. I've always liked ghosts and skulls and so on. Out of the three it's the most fascinating, the most mysterious, as we can see in front of us what happens in the aftermath of birth but in the aftermath of death, all is surrounded by a veil of mist and incense smoke. My grandad just died. And the world doesn't feel particularly different. I miss him, but his presence isn't gone. I think he's sticking around for a while. Maybe he's waiting for his wife. Or maybe he's just looking at us from afar... I think he's drinking whiskey in the next world with old friends. One can hope. At any rate... I know the dead, and death is connected with wisdom in my personal mythology. So are shadows - wisdom is found in the shadows, not in what is presented to one and illuminated. There are Death-Mysteries in hunting and killing and eating that prey, and Death-Mysteries in burying the dead, and Death-Mysteries in dying oneself, and Death-Mysteries in Walking the Hedge, and Death-Mysteries in surviving death. Death and life are so connected for me, as a Hedgewitch, and the next world is a breath away.

Rebirth... In the sense of being born again, I think this has happened to me quite a few times now. In another sense, though, of metaphorical deaths and rebirths throughout one's life through initiations and rites and so on... I'm quite interested in that. I have been ceremonially devoured and regurgitated in a Walk once in order to fix something that was wrong with me, and it was a successful thing. It may count or it may not. It's its own mystery and its own wonderful thing. But rebirth is important in its own right. The spring of all things. By the time winter has been with us for three moons we are ready and due a spring, and early spring is one of my favourite times of year.

My God and my Goddess are connected very much to fierce passion in all things. Sex is a part of that, protecting the young or beloved is part of that, hunting is part of that. They're so very connected to the desperate need for survival and life, but in the same breath and same token They are very much connected with death, with both killing and dying. We live and we die, and They are there when we are living and when we are dead. They are that line, the knife's edge. The moment of orgasm, and the moment of death. La petite mort....

Heathenry as a rule isn't big on the concept of reincarnation. The dead are the dead, and a part of me is much attached to that idea as well. The world may continue, and new things are here, but the dead are the dead. They live within the Underworld, the barrows and hills and mountains (which I've already discussed as places both Here and There). I find the concept of an afterlife very reassuring, and the presence of the dead reassuring too. So I like this idea, that the dead are hiding out in their Barrow-hills toasting one another and recounting tales of their youth. I like that, very much.

See, for the most part, I look at a grave and it's a memorial and a stone and a beautiful thing, but there's nothing in it. As for actual things that are dead... that is, skulls and bones and so on... they're just there. Present as stones, and just as lifeless.... if they have a soul to them it's the soul of the bone itself as an object, in an animistic sense, connected in a way to the soul that once inhabited it of the human but practically, it is a thing in itself and a different thing. I don't find them spooky, just oddly friendly. Skulls have a rather welcoming grin to them. So the barrow, or the mountain, where a soul still in a sense resides, I like that. That one can go to that place and the dead are still there. It makes me smile.

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