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Since the early news of the COVID-19 outbreak, the news cycle has been awash with reports of the death toll. Lots of numbers and statistics have been tossed around, but nobody has firm data. If you follow the news enough, you can get wrapped up in it. The news junkies I know are manic about catching the disease and either dying or having someone else close to them die.

With all our incredible medical technology, some folks get the notion that death is optional. This is why we see some families replacing heart valves in 80 or 90-year-old relatives.

The truth is our secular society doesn’t know how to deal with death. We are treating the subject of death as just a medical issue and denying the spiritual and philosophical aspects. Try to have a frank conversation about death. You might find yourself being labeled by others as depressed and told to see a physician and get some anti-depressants. In my opinion, this is absurd!

As a Pagan Temple, high priestess, it falls to me to have a frank talk with you about death and dying.

First: Let me speak the simple truth. “You aren’t getting off the planet alive!”

Second: Since most of us reading this essay are dyed in the wool wiccan and pagans, a lot of us already have a little bit better grip on the topic.

Third: I’ve seen death up close and personal; both as a combat veteran and later as a Buddhist Nun in the role of a Death & Dying Monastic.

A Non-sectarian View of the Self

“I am the spirit behind these eyes. While I have been known by many names, I have none. While this body is mortal, I am not! I am immortal!”

Hey, sweetie think about this notion, death – you have done it before, and you’ll do it again and again. Take a moment and consider that carefully. Deep down, I think most of us know this is true primarily if we reflect deeply beyond the illusions and trapping of this “life.”

Most pagans I’ve known over the decades tell me that they embrace the notion of being reborn after a period of rest in some spiritual realm or fine material world of which there are many names.

So, am I talking about reincarnation? Not exactly? In western culture, the pop view of being reborn lifetime after lifetime is exemplified in the term reincarnation. But the term reincarnation is not accurate. There are two different concept mechanisms: reincarnation and rebirth. 

Rebirth is what everybody does. We pass from this life into a resting period then we choose to return into a new life when we’re ready. But keep in mind that upon death, the persona of who we are evaporates.

Reincarnation is what very advanced masters in many mystical traditions can accomplish. The concept here is that the master has such focus-of-mind, that they can focus the essence of who they are into their next rebirth. (If you are interested in more in-depth reading, on the deeper understandings, I recommend reading the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” by Robert Thurman)

But let me put all of this into a more modern concept.

Many of us have been involved with Live Action Role Playing (LARP) or Cos-Play. Over time we play many, many characters in many different games in many different scenarios and simulated realms. We, the PLAYER, are always the same overlord-consciousness-presence that brings these characters to life. We who are the overlord-consciousness-presence have no names; we just manifest as temporary as imaginary personas.

During my tenure as a Buddhist nun, I lived in a Burmese Monastic household for two years. This was sort of an exchange program. I had the opportunity to study Theravada Buddhism up close, and the Burmese monastics got to argue with a Vajrayana Buddhist every night at supper. While it was all the same basic Buddhist Theory, it was an exercise in a different view. It was educational for all of us and in many ways it was fun.

One day the senior monastic venerable wandered into my room and noted my open closet. He was perplexed that next to my monastic robes were hanging a rich assortment of LARP costuming. He asked me why I had a wide variety of odd clothing. So, I showed him a scrapbook of me with friends in our various LARP persona’s. After examining the album, he remarked,

“…So, this is like little mini-rebirths for a weekend. Do you learn things from it?” he asked.

I told him that it allowed many of us to explore emotions and life situation scenarios we don’t typically encounter in “Real Life.” 

The venerable stood there holding a clothes hanger with a Star Fleet Uniform and commented,

“I approve! What a wonderful exercise in spiritual exploration.” 

Summary

Life is a great cosmic game played by timeless, immortal beings of which each of us is. We play this game lifetime after lifetime. We are not strangers to rebirth and to death. Yes, we all live, suffer, and die in this realm. The ultimate measure of the experience is whether we learned something from it?

In this time of fear, panic, sickness, and the reality that some of us are facing yet another death. We each need to use this opportunity to examine and discuss our views about death and dying with our close relatives, our even more intimate friends, and of course, with our students, circles, covens and online congregations.

Please take the time to have a healthy dialogue about the topic. Embrace the emotions you are feeling and be honest with yourself about the possibility that your present incarnation may cease-to-be in the near future. On the other hand, many of you younger, healthier folks will most likely soon be dealing with the death of someone close to you. Eventually your personal death in the far-off future but still discuss it as an exercise. I think you’ll find it very liberating. YES, of course, you may end up having a most excellent cry or perhaps several.

My wife and I know that our Estate planning is sound and that our wishes are well documented. Every time I travel on lecture and speaking business, we’ve discussed, the what if death comes to me while traveling. We are honest about it, and likewise, we’re honest about the fact she might not survive a trip in traffic going to work. But do we let it depress us or burden us with panic? Absolutely not!

We simply embrace it as being all part of the cycle of life.

As a Wicca high priestess my advice to you, is to simply live a good life, live it to the fullest and welcome each moment as an opportunity to learn and evolve as the immortal spiritual beings that we are.

Love, Good Health, and Bright Blessings to you all.

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