by Christopher Penczak, edited by Tina Whittle
Can someone or something be so vile that the very Earth rejects it? Can someone be so corrupt that the spirit world will not accept them? The idea that this can be so is found throughout folklore. Pure water rejects the dunked Witch. Holy ground repels the monster. This paradigm presented itself again recently, as it tends to do when someone whose actions are poisonous and treacherous dies, but I’m not sure how true it is.
For those abused, it’s consoling to think of the evil doer being rejected in the afterlife, doomed to wander without rest. Yet it’s not unlike the fundamentalist view of the non-Christian tormented in hell. The eternal punishment of the Christians was more of an alchemical purification for the Zoroastrians, with everyone eventually going to paradise after purification. So what does the Witch believe?
We often state we believe in no hell. We believe in no Christian Devil. The occultist might conceive of an astral hell—you get whatever you imagine and expect until you figure out how to get beyond your expectations.
Most of us were not taught a segmented afterlife, though we see some evidence of that in the ancient mystery schools and Norse myth. For the Norse, the hero who died in battle, the one chosen by the Valkyries, gets a paradise. Those without honor, thieves and murderers and their ilk, get someplace much less hospitable, worse than those who die average deaths from illness and age.
In ancient Egypt, if the heart was not lighter than a feather, you would be devoured and annihilated, though we do not know if that judgment was reserved for kings in their mystery cults or enforced for everyone. The Greeks separated Tartarus, Hades, Elysium, and the Fortunate Isles, and initiates of the mysteries gained a map.
So what happens when someone who doesn’t live by any of their self-described Christian morals—or even common decency at all, like Rush Limbaugh—dies? I’ve seen assumptions from magickal practitioners that such a person will wander as a hungry specter, rejected by the ancestral spirits as too vile. I’m not sure that’s true. Isn’t that nothing more than our human assumptions operating in a non-human world?
What does the Earth do? Does it reject anything? In the highest mysteries of the dark goddess, does she turn away the dead? No, the goddess accepts it all, including the shit. She accepts all things and breaks down things that resist breaking down. Even plastic will eventually decay. The layers of heaven and hell, overworlds and underworlds, spin in a great centrifuge, and everything finds its level. As it purifies, it may move on, or it may stay. Even if the spirits do reject something, over time, everything finds its level and moves in a new stream. The earth is an alchemical lab, continuing to purify and refine all things into new forms. The spirit worlds must have parallel processes.
In a three-soul view of consciousness, there is a higher part of us that is incorruptible. Those who are corrupted are completely out of touch with it due to their actions in this life and in the past. The higher soul can only do so much. It will go on in its global incarnations, hopefully with a better future connected to the next personal self. The human personal part of us doesn’t survive one life and decays with the bodily remains. Unsettled echoes can haunt us here on Earth, but they too eventually decay without a source of sustenance. The ancestral self is often corrupted and needs to be purified. While it’s possible this process is not an easy one, as blood soil descends to the pools of ancestral wisdom, like oil and water, eventually blood knows blood. Future descendants will inherit these tangled patterns and help heal the collective.
There is a transition to a different worldview when we leave this world. I can’t say I know what it is for sure, but I know its perspective is different, much wider than our own. While I can revile the actions of the living and the dead, and even revile the personality, I can also hope for healing and different choices in the next life.