From some general reading I've been doing I'm a bit confused by the AFTERLIFE (and who isn't ;) It seems like there are some Pagan traditions that both contact ancestors from the spirit world and/or believe in reincarnation. Both seems strange because if the ancestor has taken a new life, they can't be contacted in the spirit realm...
Other traditions think that the gods and goddesses are reincarnations of humans.
Personally, I think that we go on to another life maybe as a spirit/angel or another earth form, but that we have a job to do in each life - not so much a learning experience or a reward or punishment, but a service and it is up to us to help fulfill our purpose (perhaps predestined, perhaps our choice) and we will be fulfilled as well.
I'm wondering if there a tradition thinks similar to the way I do ~ and I'm just plain curious about the different views here on PS.
What is YOUR tradition and what are your beliefs about our ancestors in the AFTERLIFE?
My tradition is Fyrnsidu. I don't believe in reincarnation. I think when you die your body is buried and that's where you stay or you go to Helle's domain. I think it's possible to be chosen by the gods to reside in one of their halls, but doubtful.
My ideas about the afterlife (and I call them ideas rather than "beliefs" for a reason) include both reincarnation and human spirits. I think that some people, when they die, go very quickly on to the next life or experience, while others have become too attached to aspects of that life and can't or won't move on. Perhaps they are attached to a particular experience, or perhaps to certain people or connections. Or, maybe they failed to learn a life lesson and are pondering and trying to understand it before they can let go. I also think that some spirits may choose to stick around so that they can serve as guides and share their wisdom and life experience. I could only guess at all the different reasons that people stay, but I do think that we live our lives and become attached to them and that we ultimately choose when we are ready to let go of them.
I'm not part of a tradition but I believe you go to the Summerland where you then live your normal life (as that is the 'real' world and this isn't) until you then choose to go through your next reincarnation of your own choice. So it is possible to get in touch with people who have passed if they haven't chosen a new life yet. You are not born into anything else other then a human. Some times people do choose to be a spirit guide instead, which is essentially traveling back and forth between worlds to watch over a friend or former family member while they are in their newest life. Then there are people who are stuck between realms as a ghost. You could probably contact them too. This is all based on the contact i have had with spirits with ghosts and the little amount of information i could gather from them. So who the hell know's if I'm right. I think i am but I'm not 100%.
... I believe that this state of existence is the slowest point in totality of life. This is the middle time, and we've got it backwards. We leave here into LIFE. This is a recharge stop, a short hop in actuality. Reincarnation can exist, you might need a recharge again, and then maybe you won't it all depends on what you can do with the here and now.
The first step in reaching to the beyond is to learn to meditate. :) Doesn't matter how, but the closer you can connect to the divine the better off you will be. All the rest of the here and now is smoke and mirrors, meaningless.
One of the flaws I see here is in translation of an African concept (in the way most americans get to see Ancestor veneration, though truth be told the Asian systems are VERY similar to the African) is that western paganism falls into the Judeo-Christian trap of believing the Soul to be only one piece, you, in entirety, down to the minutest detail.
The Ancestor traditions dont; we see many different pieces that make up the individual, collectively called the soul but identified by the different pieces themselves; to us in Vodou, one of the major pieces goes to god when we die (potentially being reincarnated) and one of the others can stay behind; resting for a period of time "under the waters", ie being given a chance to rest, and then being called forth as an ancestor. Think of the 2 shadows caused by an eclipse pattern; there's the lighter shadow that surrounds the dark patch of the center.... for us, the lighter shadow is the true "soul", the shard of God/dess/Universe that becomes us as a person, and the core is the personality, thought, and memory held, surrounded, and supported by the holiness of being. 2 pieces but still the same "spirit".
There is no either/or for us as both ideas are freely a part of our religion, and a part that stems directly from the traditions that were blended through the African diaspora... its a pretty ancient idea.