By Elwin Shadowstrider
Some time ago, not long after Samhain, I looked around and noticed the overall beauty of the changing colors of the trees, the shifting patterns of colors that at times are a riot of conflict: reds in so many differing hues and tones; golds that would easily rival a king's coffers; yellows that can captivate and expand your imagination beyond what we would believe that could be possible. The whole wisdom of the death of the God and the Goddess in mourning was imprinted upon me.
In this society, through many different cultures, we believe that death is something wicked, to be feared, and most of all something that is to be looked upon as the absolute end of "who" we are. This idea gained popularity somewhere in the 19th century; before this the idea and concept of death was a time of rest, a time we all worked hard to achieve, a time of renewal. History isn't entirely clear as to why the ideology of death was changed, or by what faith for that matter.
Death isn't the frightening "end" as we are taught by society; it is a beautiful event, one where our rest is just begun, where we are able to again be who we really are, what our journey's end has allowed us to become. Death is yet another gateway in our journey, the gateway that returns us all to the arms of the Goddess where we can reflect on what we learned from our sojourns in life.
This past Samhain taught me something about beauty in death. While life was drawing to a close for the God, who has died, the beauty of everything from the riotous colors of the trees to the multitudes of animals throughout the world that were preparing for the longer winter nights told me that it was also a preparation of Life.
Life will continue. It is a spiritual given; just look around you, the signs are all around you, they are all there. If a tree would know that its life was over in winter, the leaves wouldn't just fall; the tree would fall with the leaves. The trees know that spring will come. Life will begin again.
Even the animals know this, that after sleeping as if dead in hibernation, they awake in spring, with the life that flows through the entire world; they too know that Life doesn't end in winter. So it is with us; our own deaths from this plane are merely a crossing the Veil into the place we truly belong. Death isn't the end... it's merely a beginning.
As we look at the changing world and see and feel in our very bones the changing seasons, we also learn yet another lesson. Life will begin again, that is a promise to us all. But if the God Himself is reborn, why shouldn't we have the same Gift from our loving Goddess? There isn't any possible way a mortal could possibly get things right the first time in life, at least, none that I am aware of, and most definitely not me. So, with that in mind, how long then is our resting and learning times before returning to this world?
This world is our proving grounds; this is where we apply what we have learned in the Summerlands. Our lessons and times of rest vary, just as our individual lives are varied; thus it is with our own personal growth and the things we need to ascend even further spiritually than we are now.
We all have so very much to learn, and some more than others, that what we require is an individual goal, each relevant to ourselves and ourselves only. We all are on our own Paths; we may be walking in the same direction, but our perspectives are different from each other. The individual needs of rest and planning of the next life again differ. None will match, and in most cases, we change our races, our nationalities, and our cultures. No one culture can provide all that is needed for growth. We plan what we require to enrich ourselves and to evolve beyond our starting place.
Our Goddess looks upon us all in these cases. We are given great freedoms to choose as we need. Our choices are blessed by Her before we embark on our new destination in life, and we are given memories that will not interfere with our growth in our choices. Sometimes, the memories are very few or none at all, as the soul requires finding its way in the streams of life.
How can we speak or see those who have crossed over into the arms of the Goddess? In this respect the answer is simple. In most cases the soul must rest according to the nature of the body's death. Was death fast, before the soul knew it had crossed, or was it a lingering sickness? The periods of rest can easily be several lifetimes here; we must realize that the concept of time is non-existent in the Summerlands and a lifetime here is only a heartbeat there.