Tag: death

The Journey into Spirit, by Kristoffer Hughes

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Death and Dying, photo by Wayne WilkinsonThe Journey into Spirit, by Kristoffer HughesThe Journey into Spirit: A Pagan’s Perspective on Death, Dying and Bereavement, by Kristoffer Hughes Llewellyn Publications, 978-0-7387-4075-1, 312 pp., 2014What a gift this book is. From the lyrical quality of Kristoffer Hughes’ writing, not often present in nonfiction, to the sensitive and thoughtful wisdom he imparts, The Journey into Spirit gives the reader a compassionate space to rethink beliefs about death.Hughes is both a Druid priest and a professional pathology technologist who has worked in British morgues for the past quarter-century, and a funeral celebrant and a teacher of death customs and philosophy. He tells us how as a young child watching his first mortuary scene on TV he knew he was destined for a life entwined with death. Although the adults around him at that time were scared and taken aback by his interest, he felt no fear, only a deep respect for the physical process of death and curiosity about the ensuing spiritual transition. This is the perspective he’s carried throughout his life, and from which he has written this book.He frames his views within the three Celtic realms of existence -- the realm of necessity, the realm of spirit and the realm of infinity – and discusses his philosophical conclusions and certain Celtic teachings pertinent to each realm. Read More

Near-Death Experiences, by P M H Atwater

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Near-Death Experiences, by P M H AtwaterNear-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story: What They Teach us About Living, Dying, and Our True Purpose, by P.M.H. Atwater Hampton Roads, 9781571746511, 288pp., 2011Phyllis Atwater is a well known researcher and author in the field of near death experiences, in fact she is one of the first researchers in the field and Near-Death Experiences, The Rest of the Story is her final book on the subject as she’s retiring. As someone with a few NDE in my past and an interest in the subject I was very excited for this book. I was worried that it would be a rehash, like many books on the subject tend to be, but I was not disappointed and in fact this book exceeded my expectations. This book contains “forty-three years of research involving nearly seven thousand adults and children” and while some of it is familiar, there is a lot of new material as Atwater is retiring she “finally say[s] things [she] never dared to say before.” Read More

The Return of the Dead, by Claude Lecouteux

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The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind, by Claude Lecouteux, translated by Jon E Graham, afterward by Regis Boyer Inner Traditions, 9781594773181, 273 pp. (incl. notes and index), 1996, 2009 A former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne, this is Claude Lecouteux's second book to be translated into English, the first being Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages, published in 2003 also by Inner Traditions.The Return of the Dead is a scholarly survey of pre-Christian beliefs, focusing in particular on legends of revenants in Germanic and Scandinavian folklore. Read More

Review: Practicing Conscious Living and Dying, by Annamaria Hemingway

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Practicing Conscious Living and Dying: Stories of the Eternal Continuum of Consciousness, by Annamaria Hemingway O Books, 9781846940774, 218 pp. (incl. bibliography and works cited), 2008The book opens with an introduction to near death experiences, or NDEs, offering an overview of what happens, then follows with several stories recounted by individuals who've died and "come back", naturally with a sense of greater purpose and an increased zest for life.Following a section on views on death in various cultures are many of the stories which revolve around grief and loss, including Hemingway's personal story. Some tales speak of "visitations" from the deceased. Read More

The Nature of Spirits

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Whenever we read the great tales of ghosts and goblins, of gods and their helpers, of priests, lore, and magic, we are always struck with the idea that these spirits have emotions, that they are suffering from human frailties, and that they have a will power. The origin of the idea of the soul, of the spirits and the gods, all comes from the most human desire: immortality, freedom from fear of death. As it so happens to be natural, humans desire to avoid pain, suffering, misery, and death. The idea that death or the end of life is not really the end of life, and that a misery-less future awaits those who die, this idea is a relatively attractive one. With an afterlife, there is no death, so it is easy to see why one might enjoy such a theory, regardless of the lack of any evidence whatsoever. Since this idea in an afterlife flourishes considerably, there is are other popular ideas about spirits, souls, and other items that exist in this afterlife theory.

Our memories, our experiences, our thoughts, ideas, notions, character, attitude, and feelings are all stored within the mind. Science, or at least all honest investigative studies, would tell us that our mind is located within the physical brain of the body. So far, no other theory has come up with any verifiable evidence to the contrary. Another theory, with much less evidence, does exist. It is the idea that the mind is a part of the soul — that when the body dies, the mind leaves the body with the soul. Some individuals have offered evidence on behalf of such a trite idea. They have argued that since it is a part of the spiritual realm, one which tools and devices and technology cannot reach nor see, that it is out of their jurisdiction of judgment. An interesting idea, I admit. One might as well claim that they have invented, discovered, or uncovered something that is wonderful and beautiful, but that is completely unsensible by human senses. (i.e. we might have a tourist trap with the holy grail, only to find a plaque “If you have sinned, you cannot see or feel it, but you must believe it is there.”)

One might be so educated and thoughtful enough to feel that the theory of a soul is so discredited, that it needs no further examination; it becomes a moot point. However, there are some things in this field that might want to be considered, just in a hypothetical point of view at most. So it indeed happens that every folk story and every old religion regards spirits as vibrant and powerful beings. In Greek mythology, the gods often came down from their clouds, to mate with earthlings, or kill them, or have dealings with them. In the stories of these gods, they all seem to have the exact same characteristics of any human being. They have desires, wants, fears, hopes, beliefs. They react to their environment. When they are informed that their plans have failed, they react with disappointment, and maybe rage or violence. When they are informed that their plans have succeeded, they react with happiness, and maybe feasting or gloating. The gods are essentially the most human of any theoretical being, and this is no surprise when we think of their creator.

I cannot, for the life of me, suppose any idea or theory as to why any of the gods are endowed with desires or wants anyway. When I think of the origin of such psychological phenomena in humans, or any other organism, my question is immediately answered. Humans are endowed with a complex brain because it is necessary towards survival. The same can be argued for any other living creature. Desire motivates, it creates movement. When a predator, either a crocodile or a lion or any other for that matter, is hungry, it hunts to satisfy its desire. In this situation, the component of the brain that creates desire and want, especially for satisfying hunger, this component is essential. Those predators that were born without this capability could not hunt or eat as effectively, and could not fight for breeding rights very well either, since they could not want them. And, so, it would die, leaving no offspring, leaving no other organisms on this planet with their DNA — DNA which contains a lack of desire. We can apply this to other organisms, too. Prey that is born without a desire to flee its natural predator, for example, will not live long enough to reproduce. The same can be said of prey that does not want to eat to satisfy its hunger, either. It will waste away to weakness and then be taken by its predator.

Desire definitely plays a strong and important role in the psyche of all consciousness-endowed organisms. However, it is not the only important part of consciousness. For example, there is also pain, the physical affliction, or misery, the mental affliction. An animal can suffer, and it is this suffering that they will forever be afraid of. Their fear and their suffering gives them something to desire: happiness and security. Without pain, an organism will not react negatively to another trying to kill it — at least, if instincts were gone as well. Without happiness, an animal would not know whether it was doing something right or wrong. The social instinct, to be in a collective of like organisms, is natural to almost every mammal. When wolves hunt in packs, they are more effective killers. When humans band together to form societies and civilizations, the fruit of their labor increases. When zebras feed and mate in packs, all of their stripes form a natural defense, by disallowing predators from knowing where one zebra starts and another ends. The social instinct has given each organism a strong advantage in survival. And, when organisms survive, they can reproduce, and more organisms like themselves, with the same emotions and mental faculties, will be produced.

Let us not forget the importance of the mating instinct. The sexual arrousal caused by flirting or foreplay plays a significant role in the mating act. The orgasm itself and the sexual drive to achieve are important to every creature. It seems that in every group of thoughtful organisms, there is not competition for the right to reproduce, some how or some way. Often, it is the male competing for the female, but this is not the only case. In some cases, there is polygamy, and in others, there is polyandry. Every rule of behavior that we can think of for other organisms will always have exceptions to it. The underlying fact that sex plays an important role in the mental faculties of conscious organisms is important to my thesis. The mind is full of complexities and faculties that make it conscious. All of these emotions, these feelings, play a strong sense in the conscious organism.

Now that I have covered a great deal on the complexities of conscious organisms, one might be curious as to why I brought up this subject in the discussion of spirits. First of all, all of the components of the mind that I mentioned above — desire, fear, social instinct, sex — all of these components have a reason for existence. By this, I mean that they all exist because of the natural and perpetual struggle that goes on in the natural world. Without desire or fear or sexual impulses, an organism would not reproduce, and therefore, no other organisms with that mentality would be created, except by chance of reversion, which is very unlikely. My question is this: why is it that spirits and souls are endowed with these psychological aspects?

In all of the stories I have read of the gods, I have uncovered all of these impulses. I have encountered the sexual urge of the gods of Greece and Rome. I have discovered the ability to desire and feel accomplishment or disappointment in the gods and spirits of Animist cultures. It seems that there is no god, excepting the god of Deism, that has no interest in being involved with the people who believe in him. The Christians believe their god will save them. The Hindus believe their god will reincarnate them. The Jews believe that their god has smashed societies and cultures for the tiniest of reasons. Every religion remains identical in this fact.

Okay, so, we have spirits, souls, and gods, many of them endowed with human mentality. I am quite curious, though. Why is it that no playwright in ancient Greece ever described one of the gods as rubbing his belly and hungry? Why have I seen no spirits that get hungry? Some cultures feed their spirits, but that’s even more absurd. They leave only enough food for a few days or a weeks. And why leave any food at all? Will the spirits decompose and go to the state of the after-afterlife? The sexual urge that seems so prevalent in so many religions, from the god of Christianity violating a virgin meant to be married to the Greek gods that committed such fornication on a regular basis — just why does the sexual urge prevail? Of what use is it? Are the gods going to mate and then produce spiritual offspring?

What seems a thousand times more odd is that the gods are lacking those parts that make sexual activity useful, for procreation or recreation. The penis and the vagina, these two parts that are responsible for producing the pleasure of sex, are non-existent on ghosts. If a human loses such a part, it is impossible to engage in sexual activity. And, it seems that these ghosts have lost all their bodies. Yet, the urge to have sex is prevalent, while their sex organs are not prevalent. One may argue with me, “But the gods and ghosts have physical bodies that they can use!” If this is true, then it shouldn’t be even slightly difficult to get evidence of god. Whenever pressed for evidence, the religionist usually claims, “But they are noncorporal entities — they are not physical, they are spiritual.” No thoughtful spiritualist will claim their god is actually physical, because in doing so, they have opened the doors to dispelling their beliefs in a heartbeat.

The need to eat is as absurd as the desire to have sex for the gods. Other things, such as the social instinct and any desire at all, seem to also be quite absurd. Why animals and other conscious organisms are equipped with desires and the social instinct is easy to understand. With regard to the social instinct, it has helped organisms to survive against the natural elements, or predators, or aided in obtaining their prey. When organisms had a social instinct, they were more effective at survival, and that means they were more effective at reproducing. When organisms had no social instinct, they died rather quickly — not able to reproduce something like themselves, leaving the world destitute of such types of species. (And while there may be exceptions to this rule of the social instinct, the previous description is how Evolution works: those unfit, do not survive.) Why would the gods ever be needing of the social instinct? Why ever should the gods band together with other gods? In all honesty, I m bankrupt of any answer. The gods cannot die, they cannot suffer afflictions caused by natural disasters, they cannot be wounded. Everything that makes the social instinct desirable and useful is nonexistent with the gods. Banding together does nothing for them. One might argue “It cures loneliness,” but loneliness may in fact just be that instinct to band together unsatisfied.

Then there is the idea of desire. In all my studying of literature, I must say that the mythology of Greece, Egypt, and the entire Fertile Crescent is full of gods with more desires and wants than any sane man. Since it seems very easy to believe that the gods are simply an image of mankind, exaggerrated in many aspects, so it seems that these gods are endowed with many supernatural wants, needs, impulses, desires. Sometimes the drowning of an entire civilization in blood is not enough to quell the heart of the least dominant deity. I am also curious here… Why is it that the gods have been endowed with this ability of desiring? To what use is it really, when one is a god? It has no use. For, if god, or the gods, are capable of doing anything, then they would not desire, but simply have. I can see the use of the desire ability in organisms and animals on our own planet. When there is hunger, or sexual lust, or gaining security in society, all of these desires push and motivate the organism to do what is necessary to live and to reproduce. And, once reproduction has occured, the cycle can happen all over again. When an animal is not fit enough to reproduce, or cannot live to that stage, then the genes that cursed it to a sexless life will not be found again, exception in the rare instances of reversion perhaps.

Many of the Freethinkers and philosophes of earlier years, and even our own day, have attacked the idea of religion. God created man in his own image was a questioned idea, and we reversed it: man created god in his own image. This would seem to be the more credulous case of the matter. We find gods in each civilization, taking the race and species of its people. This has varied in some cases, where gods take on the forms of reptiles, mammals, and birds. However, there is one thing in the nature of gods, spirits, and souls that seems to be consistent in every religion we investigate: they have wants, desires, lust, hunger, and needs. Where every human being — no, where every living creature is the same, in having a consciousness, we find that same consciousness in a rather inplausible place: in a god, or a soul, or a spirit. It is clearly understood, then, that these gods and spirits are based on human ideas, that they come from the minds of men, that they spread by our mouths. And, it must also be clearly understood, that the gods are nothing more than an imperfect creation by the hands of man.



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Melanesian dead go to Adiri, the Land of the Dead. Some say it is an island, others say that it is a mountain located in the west beyond the sunset.

The dead are said to go though a journey past dire obstacles and grim gatekeepers before they can enter Adiri where they will be young forever and free of pain. Those who fail to make it cease to exist. And even those who make it can fade from existence if the living forget them.


According to Japanese Shintoism there is a staircase that links earth to the afterlife. This is the Ama-No-Hashidate.


This is the afterlife of the Ashanti people of Africa. They say it is just like an Ashanti village on earth, only better. No drought, famine or the like. Though the dead still have to farm and tend animals.


The Norse dwelling place of the gods. It is a complex city of rich places, jewelled walls, and great banquet halls. and Valhalla. Like many afterlifes it is reached via a bridge.

Astral Plane:

The idea of the Astral Plane has been around for some time. Here I am referring to the afterlife that is described in a partially channelled book titled War In Heaven by Kyle Griffith. (1988 S/R press) In the afterlife described by Mr. Griffith the Astral Plane is as harsh and dog eat dog and the breathing world. And you don’t live forever but can only exist for as long as the energy you build up during life holds out (30 to 80 years) you then have to reincarnate or fade away.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! It seems that thousands of years ago a group of spirits found a nefarious way to prolong their Astral lives without reincarnating. They invented religion and appear to the newly dead as Jesus, Muhammad or even Elvis. Whom ever is mostly likely to pull them in.

They then continue to exist by draining the energy from those followers of that religion. (starts to channel Criswell) YES FRIENDS! Can you stand the horror of cannibal spirits who take the form of Elvis!

He calls the groups that do this The Theocrats. However they are not without opposition. It seems there are other groups of spirits he calls the Invisible Collage.

His basic suggestion is that once you die, if you are greeted by the Buddha (or Mary, or Saint Paul, or the Angel Moroni) punch him in the nose and say no thanks!


Also called The Fortunate Isle, this is the paradise of the ancient Celts. And was said to be a place of compleat timeless happiness, filled with music, feasting and dancing.


The afterlife of the Australian Aboriginals. When a person dies the soul is ferried to Bralgu in an enchanted boat that sails upstream where you are reunited with dead relatives and friends.


If all the Rug-Rats were to die on one of their adventures this is where they would go, even Angelica. If they were Aztec.

Chalmecacivati is where the Aztecs believed babies and young children went in the afterlife. It is an earthly realm free of pain, want or human frailty.

Ching Tu:

This is a paradise described in one form of Chinese Buddhism.

It is said to be to the West beyond the sunset. This is a place to take refuse from the cycle of birth, live, death and rebirth by entering this land of pure consciousness, enlightenment & liberation.

Chinvato Peretav:

According to Zoroastrianism after a person dies the soul stays with the body for 3 days. On the forth day angles of protection accompany it to the north to Chinvato Peretav, or as it is also called Al-sirat, or the Bridge of the Separator.

The bridge in question is as thin as a hair and as sharp as a razor and spans a chasm filled with monsters. At the foot to the bridge the angels and some demons debated the worth of the dead soul. You can guess the rest.

City In The Sky: A common belief among a number of African tribes is that the dead go to a great city in the sky, it is like regular village life only in reverse. People rise as the sun sets, and sleep during the day, men to women’s work and women do men’s work etc. The City is connected to earth by rainbows.


The oldest recorded afterlife is Dilum. We know about it from The Epic of Gilgamesh from around 2500 B.C.E. Dilum means Place of sunrise and is said to be a lush garden full of fruit and game where favored souls live forever.


Djanna or Al-Janna is the paradise of the Islamic religion. In the “garden of Allah” the faithful enjoy delicious food, fruit in abundance, and freedom from pain.

There also they indulge in everything that was forbidden on earth (I have to wonder why the hell was it forbidden in the first place?) In it flow four rivers filled with milk, water, wine, & honey.

Each inhabitant is served by Houri (it’s where our word whore comes from) beautiful virgins with ebony eyes, creamy completions and purple nails who exist to serve their masters.

Whether this means Djanna is an exclusive men’s club you will have to ask a Muslim.


At first the Greek afterlife was pretty grim. Just take a look at Ulysses’s conversation with the resent dead in the Odyssey.

Later however they talked about the Elysian Fields. Which depending of the person telling about them are to be found on the Moon, Underground or elsewhere in the kingdom of Hades.

Most it seems are doomed to the gloomy afterlife that Ulysses heard about. However for the most deserving souls there is a secret road that leads to a land of endless delight. Where “souls take ease among the blessed groves.”


Another Celtic afterlife. Some Celts believed that after a series of rebirths in which a different inborn evil is purged the perfected soul is at last let into Gwenved the White Place where one can experience great rest as well as earthly pleasures.

Happy Hunting Ground:

Basically a white man’s term for different Native American views about the afterlife. Mostly the Indians just called it the Spirit Land. Among the Algonquian, Iroquois, & Cherokee it is said to be a place where both human and animals go after death and is a place of endless Spring and Summer.

However before a human can enter this place they must have lived a life in which they exhibited at least one of the three virtues of loyalty, kindness or courage. Those who do not make it are lost a wandering spirits. Those who do are able to help the living with advise.


The people of eastern Polynesia believe in Hawaiki which means “our homeland.” It is reached only after a long and dangerous journey. Most do not make it but die on the way. However for chieftains, warriors and other important people the journey is easy.

Though if you give another gifts to the gods they can make it. On the whole sounds like a bum deal to me.


Which mean first born is the afterlife of the Belaze of Zaire.

In the afterlife death is like life only ones station is determined by when one died so that the first man to die is the chief and each person after him takes their place in the order of things.

Isle of the Blest:

The afterlife of Pythagoras, Plato and Cicero. Pythagoras said that it was to be found on the Moon.

Soul must soar there but can only do so by purging the residue of life on earth. Along the way there are evil forces that try to destroy the soul.

To prevent this the ascender must perform certain rites and rituals during their life.

Kailasa, Mount:

Also called the paradise of Shiva Mt. Kailasa is located in Tibet. Some Hindus say that before once again entering into the cycle of life, death & rebirth some souls may be rewarded with a stay at the top of this mountain.

There the soul enters through the Palace of Opulence and ascends to a place of flowers, fruit and water better then any found on earth, before having to return to the search for enlightenment.


The highest stage of knowledge in the Jain faith where each soul dwells in eternal enlightenment and bliss.

Somewhat like the Buddhist Nirvana or the Hindu Moksha. There the self is dissolved after many lifetimes and the soul having made it’s way through the five Pathways of Liberation.

Souls who have made it to Kevala are called siddhas or perfect ones.

The greatest thing about this say the Jains is that one totally sheds the body and is striped of all individual characteristics.


A Chinese afterlife where the peaches of immortality ripen once ever three thousand years. It is ruled by Hsi Wang Mu the Royal Mother of the Western Paradise who was once a hideous beast but who was eventually transformed into a gracious spirit.


According to the Tupi Indians of Brazil three days after a person dies a small human shaped creature grows in the heart until it can burst free and soar into the sky.


The Village of the Dead to the Hopi Indians. It is said to lie beyond the Lake of Whispering Waters somewhere to the west. It is a place of rest and plenty.

Land of the Moon:

According to the Inuits (Eskimo) virtuous souls ascend to the Land of the Moon there to find eternal rest. While the wicked fall into Adlivun which lies at the bottom of the ocean and is a place of unending darkness and cold.

Lewu Liau:

The Ngaaju of Borneo say that the souls of the dead journey to a land of fertile fields and plentiful game, where the air smells of summer flowers all year long.


Not a part of official Christian doctrine, said to be a place where unbaptised babies go who can’t go to heaven because of original sin, but aren’t bad enough to go to hell.

Also said to be the place where the pre-christian patriarchs when (Can’t have Moses, Samson & David roasting in hell can we?) Said to be like heaven only without being able to see God.

Not excepted by most, if any protestant sects. As one famous American preacher put it “the floor of hell is paved with the skulls of unbaptised babies.”

Meru, Mount:

In ancient Hindu belief the paradise of Indra the Lord of Paradise, called Swarga is found atop Mount Meru. Which was said to be found at the center of the Universe directly above the Himalyas.

It is also found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead where it is called the sight of wonders.


Another African “mirror afterlife” where the dead rise at sunset and plant crops in the fall etc.

The dead in Mizumu must remain near the living as they still need food, shelter and companionship. However they spend more time eating, drinking and dancing then the living.

Also those in Mizumu must be appeased as they are able to bring misfortune to those that displease them.


This is the ultimate spiritual destiny of HInduism. The goal is to reach a state where reincarnation is no longer needed and spirit dissolves as an individual entity and joins the collective cosmic essence, as “a drop of rain joins the ocean.” i.e. become one with the Universe.

Mormon Heaven:

According to the Mormon’s when you die you don’t go to Heaven when you die but to the spirit world.

If you are a Mormon you can at that time try and convert the other dead to Mormonism.

Heaven it seems will not show up into the “Resurrection.” At which time Mormons will enter into Paradise.

Paradise is said to be a place of both natural splendor mountains and streams and created splendor houses of gold, jewelled streets etc. Married people who die will be free to remarry in the after life.

However those who are married on earth can go through a ceremony that will seal their marriage in the afterlife so that that will remain married after-death.

Only those who do this are able to ascend to godhood. This option is closed to both single people and unbonded people.

And of course as we all know from South Park only Mormons go to Heaven, but who wants to go as you have to spend forever with Mormons.

New Age Afterlife:

There are far to many takes on the afterlife among what is called the New Age Movement to really say that this one or that one is THE New Age afterlife. Though there are some common (more or less) themes. For which I point to the link below.

What the Afterlife is like: http://www.ettl.co.at/uc/misc/insights.html

New Jerusalem:

The name for the afterlife for a number of Christian sects. Which they say will appear when a new earth is made. They say it will be made by God and descend from Heaven.

According to the Bible it will be of equal length and breath (1,500 cubic miles by modern reckoning) Which is about the distance from New York to the tip of Florida.

Otherwise it is just a grander, larger redoing of the City of Jerusalem.


As with the Jain Kevala or the Hindu Moksha not a place but a state of being. Or not being depending on how you look at it. In which the `self´ is let go and becomes one with the all.


The Celts known as Druids believed (as far as can be said as they did not write down anything) a purified and elevated earth that was the dwelling place of the god.

Only a thin metaphysical barrier separates the two realms, so the living can speak with the dead. It was even possible through the intervention of a god for living humans to be invited into the Otherworld.

Humans could also force or blunder their way into it. This belief lived on in belief in the Fey, Fair People or Fairies.

To be sure modern Druids have their own ideas about the afterlife.

The Pole Star:

The Pole Star was the pivot point for the Aztec Universe, the place of the dead. 13 domed regions revolve around it. Made up of the then known stars (planets), the Moon, Sun, Clouds, Lightning, Rain, Heat & the earth. Beneath the earth were 9 underground realms.

As for the dead of the Pole Star it was divided into 4 regions, one for each direction. East is for warriors, sacrifices, and traidsmen who die in far lands. South is for those who die in or by water. West is for women who die in childbirth while the North is for Children.


Before the Hebrew religion there was a wide spread belief in a Semitic afterlife. It was called Sheol and was thought to be a place of unending quite, where there was no pain, but also no joy because the dead were forever cut off from the realm of god and the angels. The dead were week, faded and lethargic. Over time this idea was kept but rethought as a place where evil-doers were sent.


The phrase Summerland has been used by a number of different peoples. New Agers, modern Pagans, modern Druids 19th century Spiritualists and some Native Americans say that their real word for the afterlife could be interpreted as Summerland.

However the first use of the word that we can be sure of is found in the works of philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. Who said that was a place of no material properties but was an ethereal realm of the purely intellectual & emotional.

Tain: *

The afterlife of Confucius and other ancient Chinese philosophers.

This afterlife is highly organized and under the command of Tain-Shen, who rules a heavenly court that sees and records every human action during life. The very good are rewarded by being made bureaucrats in the hierarchy of the sky.

As with earthly bureaucracies the way can be made more easy though the liberal use of money. To this day you can buy a special objects made from paper that are burned and go with the dead (cars, houses, fake money) where they become real in the afterlife.


The Aztec afterlife that was to the West of the Pole Star and the place where women who died in childbirth went. There whey lived with the Sun, they could, if they wished leave this realm for short times to bring illness and death to child. You figure it out.


The Aztec afterlife that is found to the South of the Pole Star.

It is were people die in water, by the weather or lightning go and is ruled by Tlaloc the god of thunder and lightning.

Tlalocan is a place of friendly animals, fragrant flowers and peace…. save for the times that Tlaloc demands a sacrifice… but that’s for the living for don’t worry about it if your dead.


The afterlife of the Melanesian Islands is reached by riding on the back of a giant serpent. However only those will a certain mystic birth mark or tattoo are let in. Once in the usual feasting and joy is found.

There are many such afterlives to be found with just a few differences here and there. Such as Tumbuka of the Malawi people, Tura of the Mongolians, The White Mountains of the Mohave Indians.


The Land of the Heroic Slain of the Norse people. Only warriors who died in battle could be taken to Valhalla there to battle all day, be remade at sunset and feast all night on roast goat. The regular dead went to the land of the Goddess of Death Hel.

And the clock struck 13. Which means that someone had to die, or at least take it to a clock repair shop.

To say the least there could have been a lot more versions of the what some people think the afterlife will be like, assuming there is such a thing.

Many of them are enough alike that just naming them and repeating the same things seemed kind of pointless to me.

As for the more orthodox versions of the afterlife I figure there are enough other places to find people who will be only TOO happy to regale you with talk about them so I left them off as well.

However there is another source for thoughts about the afterlife that I don’t think should be left out.


Fiction! Get real that’s just something that someone just made up! Those aren’t `real´ afterlives. Are they?

Who is to say who is and is not really inspired? The Catholic Church after all has (or at least had I’m not sure any more) Purgatory for centuries and it came from one person. Who’s to say that Harlan Ellison is not just as deserving of Sainthood as that fellow?

There are far too many different afterlives to be found in fiction to be listed. Just some are such ones as:

Traitor To The Living by Philip Jose Farmer. At one point in this book the hero discovers that at death the dead person becomes part of an `atom´ of the dead, a grouping of 64 former humans who can communicate with each other but no others. Hard luck if the people who died near the same time you did don’t happen to speak your language. Farmer has also come up with some other afterlives in other books.

In Mick Farren’s Jim Morrison’s Adventures In the Afterlife we follow the travels of the ex-rock star ex-breather in the hereafter. Farren’s afterlife is a rather `fleshy place, at least so it seems to those there.

While mostly a mental construct, it is perceived by those there just as the physical world is to use.

Though how you think about such things can have a pretty profound effect on things, explaining why Welsh poet Dylan Thomas manifests himself as a large drunken billy goat with crooked horns, and Amy Simple McPherson splits into two different people.

Then there is that game from White Wolf where one plays a lost spirits or the like.

Well…… Like I said there are a lot of fictional afterlives out there……….

Or are they fictional?


  • Encyclopedia of Heaven by Miriam Van Scott. St. Martin’s Press, 2000
  • Facts on File Encyclopedia of Mythology & Legend. Facts on File inc, 1988
  • Encyclopedia of Afterlife Beliefs and Phenomena by James Lewis. Detroit Invisible Ink, 1995
  • Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan. Facts on File inc, 1993


“Tain”—actually, Tian or (older) T’ien–“Heaven”, not as a place, but an anthropomorphic Sky-God, perhaps the oldest deity in Chinese religion, evidently going back at least to the Shang dynasty(circa 2500 B.C.E.).

Confucius emphatically never talked about the afterlife. Popular Taoism has the Yu-Ti (Jade Emperor) ruling things, and syncretic religion does tend to think of the afterlife as an extension of the old Imperial system, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with the teachings of Confucius or Lao-Tzu. You need to correct this.

The Tian-Shan is the Chinese name for the mountains that separate China from India. Nothing more.

Ed.: Thanks to Jeffrey Sommer for this correction.

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