Consequences of Suicide within Pagan Religions


TRIGGER WARNING: discussion of suicide

NOTE: If you are depressed and contemplating suicide, please, please get help. If you have a trusted friend or family member, counselor, teacher, etc… that you can talk to, do so. Otherwise (in the US) you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at  1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone who can help via IMAlive or CrisisChat. For international assistance you can check the International Suicide Prevention wiki for resources. No matter how bad things may seem right now, they will eventually get better. Taking your own life is not the best solution, and there are people out there who can help.

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Hello, I’ve had this question for a few months now and I’m still trying to find the right way to ask about it. I’ve been looking up people to ask, but it never seems to work. When I found you, I got excited. If you commit Suicide, will you not be welcomed in by the Great Mother and Great Father? I’ve been told that if you commit suicide out of Deep Depression, you wont be loved or forgiven by the divine. I’m sorry if the question makes you feel uncomfortable, but I had to ask.

Thank you.

 

Within Abrahamic religions (and potentially others as well) the main issue that many will cite in terms of “forgiveness” is that you have to, not only ask for it directly, but also be truly repentant – neither of which one can do if they have already passed beyond the mortal/physical world. However others feel that in the end, it is one’s actions during their life (outside of that final moment), which will better determine whether or not there is love and forgiveness when they are received by God.

As many have come to Paganism from an Abrahamic religion, they will often carry over some of these beliefs, even if they are not necessarily relevant to their current path. The more relevant issue within Paganism though, is which Pagan religion? As, not all believe the same things, or may even have a particular stance on suicide. In general, in terms of NeoPaganism, you will probably find a very wide variety of personal opinions on the subject – ranging from it’s your life, do what you want, to extremely strict interpretations of the “rede” which equate an it harm none to mean don’t harm anything ever (including yourself).

Keep in mind too though that Wicca, and those paths that are inspired by Wicca are often about taking responsibility for one’s actions in the “here and now”, rather than preaching the concepts of “Hell” or divine retribution. So what we do on Earth, during our life (including ending such life), has little bearing on the afterlife. For those who believe in reincarnation – it may set the course for additional lessons that one may need to “learn” in a future life (if one believes in such things).

Within other Pagan traditions, again it varies. For example, Norse lore offers multiple examples of suicides occurring, and typically those who committed such would go to Helheim in the afterlife. As this is where most of the dead would go (outside of those killed in battle – who went with Odinn and Freyja), it was clearly not any sort of punishment or lack of love/forgiveness that got one sent there. Within Kemeticism, when one dies, their heart is weighed against Ma’at’s feather, and those who are found unworthy would stay in Duat, while the others would move onto the afterlife in Aaru. There are no specific prohibitions against suicide within the lore though, and again it’s more about having lived a virtuous life in general. Within Greek and Roman traditions, suicide was generally only condemned if done for petty reasons. Keep in mind too that for thousands of years some cultures upheld the practice of Sati, in which it was perfectly acceptable (or even encouraged/forced) for wives to kill themselves via immolation when their husbands died.

In the end (literally and figuratively), it’s really going to depend on your own beliefs on the subject. There is no clear rule or opinion, and even within the same traditions if you ask 20 people, you’ll probably get 20 different answers. My personal thoughts on the subject are this – any God or Goddess that one is devoted to, or has spent time serving or honoring, is not going to forget that devotion. So unless one spends their final days/hours completely repudiating said God/Goddess, when the time comes they will be welcoming. It’s entirely possible that they may express disappointment, if they don’t agree with the choice, but I do not think that they would withhold love because of it. The Gods know what is in our hearts, and particularly in the case of someone who has struggled with severe depression, or other mental illness for many years, it doesn’t follow they would punish someone for losing that battle.

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES: Suicide has been a hot topic the last few weeks in the wake of Robin Williams’ death. This question was actually submitted a day or so before that tragic event and I had been in the process of writing it up when I saw the news. The original intention, when we’d gotten the question, was to post the reply immediately, however with the flood of suicide and depression/bipolar related commentary that was suddenly going around, we felt that it would be better to wait (at least a little bit). It was an emotional time for many people, and this would give everyone a chance to process their grief and/or any feelings on the topic of suicide, without bombarding one more thing on top of it all. However, we also don’t want to let too much time pass, as it is a timely topic and for some people an important one. It’s also a sensitive subject for many though, so if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

If anyone knows of more specific myths or lore which directly speak to the topic, relating to a particular culture or religion, please feel free to comment as well so that we can add it.

And again if you need help, never hesitate to ask for it. Particularly when one is depressed, it can often seem like there is no one who cares, but this is often just a symptom of the illness. There are people that care, and who can help. You are not alone.

 

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TIP: Social Justice and Witchcraft


There is a lot going on in the world these days that can quickly raise the public’s collective ire, affecting not only our hearts, but our minds as well. One only has to turn on the news, or check our tweets, tumblr pages, Facebook or other social media to see these stories and with such insta-access to information, it can sometimes be extremely easy to rush to judgement, and/or rush to action before all facts are known. Even at times when it might seem like we have all the right information, the situation can change just a short time later, and we find that erroneous news was posted, or of course there are always situations where trolls or other malicious individuals (or groups) choose to purposefully post misinformation for a variety of reasons.

In these cases, there is often a quick call for “justice”, or a call to “take action” to right the wrongs being done, or to curse those who are perpetuating such wrongs, etc… In other cases, general calls may be put out for people to “do something”… anything to help make the situation better. There is nothing inherently wrong with this – wrongs should be righted, people who are in need should be helped, and curses can be effective in situations where other options have failed. The key in all of these, however, is to stop first and think carefully before taking any action.

Emotions, particularly such as the sadness and anger that are often present in times of harsh injustice, make for powerfully energetic fuel for spellwork, and it is reasonable to want to use those emotions when they are raw, and their peak for better effectiveness. The issue with that though, is that when our emotions are running high, we are less likely to be thinking clearly, which can:

  • cause us to make decisions which may or may not be the best choices (or most helpful overall) to make
  • cause us to act erratically and/or less focused, which can affect our spellwork in a number of ways as well
  • cause us to do something that we may regret later when we’ve had time to cool down

Additionally, if we rush to action, without allowing sufficient time for all the correct facts on a situation to come to light, we run the risk of taking the wrong action, making the situation worse (even if we were trying to help), or particularly in the case of cursing – risk targeting the wrong person/group of people (in the case where an initial person names may or may not actually be the one(s) responsible). For example: with the on-going issues regarding the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson, MO, posts were circulating within a day or two purportedly stating the name of the officer involved. These later were determined to be erroneous, when the police finally released the officer’s actual name. So in those cases if someone took immediate action based on the initial posts, more harm than good could have come from that action.

Another issue is focus. When a large group of people take a variety of different actions, often spellwork may end up working at cross-purposes. Not only that, there may be cases where those working a spell aren’t being specific enough. Using the water situation in Detroit as an example: rather than doing a ritual focused on ensuring that the water of those in Detroit, whose water had been shut off, was restored to them (which is what should have been done – or something similar), potentially there were people just generally working with the intention that the people of Detroit have enough water, or just have water (or something equally vague). And I’m not saying this is what actually happened, but I found it really odd that with the situation that was going on – people not having water – suddenly Detroit was flooded with record breaking rainfall. Just something that really made me think about magic and focus, and the consequences of not properly phrasing one’s spells. The old adage seems appropriate… be careful what you wish for.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t take action. Absolutely we should, and with every tool available to us – witchcraft being one of those tools. The point is that we have to think carefully before we do. Don’t join in with the “mob” mentality, grabbing our torches and pitchforks before critically examining the situation ourselves, and researching all available facts and evidence. Just because you see a post circulating on your dashboard, does not make it true – don’t let your emotions get the best of you, when it comes to making sound judgements and crafting your spells.

Interpreting a Tarot Reading


Please help me if you can. I’m new to tarot cards. I decided to do a reading for myself. I asked the cards if I would become pregnant soon?

This are the cards I did a 4 cards spread.

  1. )past: reversed five pentacles
  2. )present: reversed wheel of fortune
  3. )future: reversed devil
  4. )distant future: reversed the tower

If you can, can you please tell me what the cards are trying to say?

Please note… divination is not my thing. I’ve studied it some, but do not use my cards on a regular basis, other than for myself. I make no claims to being any sort of expert, or make any sort of guarantees that what is listed here will in fact come to pass as I’ve described. The following is my two cents for what it’s worth, just based on my initial impressions of the cards. I’ve included links to basic card associations as well, so that you can make your own decisions, as there are always multiple ways for cards to be interpreted.

So, if I had to answer your direct question… “Will I become pregnant soon?” just based on the card reading shown (and without knowing anything else about you), I’d say that the outlook does not seem positive at this time. I don’t think it necessarily means that you won’t ever, but right now, there appear to be a lot of roadblocks in your path. As indicated with the Five of Pentacles – either a matter of overcoming previous health or financial issues, or even potentially a matter of a partner who is not quite ready to commit fully to having a child.

While the Wheel of Fortune card can be positive, particularly if you are wanting change, with it being reversed that tends to indicate that things aren’t necessarily changing in the ways that you them to. Particularly paired with the other two – The Devil and The Tower, it signifies that right now may not be the best timing for your pregnancy to happen.

Breaking it down a bit more, based on basic interpretations found at Learning the Tarot (which is a great site for anyone looking to learn the basics)…

  1. Five of Pentacles(past): refers to having recently been in bad health or suffered hard times. With a reversed card, could indicate that the issue has not fully resolved itself as of yet.
  2. Wheel of Fortune (present): things are changing, either physically or mentally/emotionally. With a reversed card, could indicate that the change will be slow in coming, or not be in the direction that you want.
  3. The Devil (future): situation will not be what you foresee, potentially having to bow to the wants/needs of others. With a reversed card, could indicate that the situation isn’t completely hopeless, but may need to overcome a lot of other obstacles first.
  4. The Tower (distant future): coming to an understanding, gaining insight, having one’s dreams crumble. With a reversed card, again could be that things don’t quite work out how you were expecting, but that in the end you will be ok with it, or at least be able to come to terms with it.

For a slightly different take on the card meanings, you can check out Aeclectic Tarot as well.

On the mundane side of things, getting pregnant is often a matter of the right timing, coupled with taking proper care of yourself. So if you are trying to get pregnant, there are some basic tips you can follow that will help (at least in some ways) smooth the process out a bit. Nothing, obviously, will guarantee pregnancy, but sometimes we all need a little extra help getting it to work out the way we want it to.

If you are already eating healthy, and getting a good amount of exercise daily/weekly, that’s good – if not, now is the time to start making some of those changes. Also it’s a good time to quit any potentially harmful habits (smoking, drinking, etc…) as you will need to quit anyways when you do get pregnant, so might as well get used to it sooner, rather than later.  Additionally, you will want to start tracking your menstrual cycle. If you have a smartphone, there are apps for tracking like Fertility Friend, which can do all sorts of nifty things, or you can just get a pocket-sized calendar and write it all down the old fashioned way. In either case though, knowing when you are most likely ovulating, will give you a better idea of when the best chance of getting pregnant is.

The big thing to remember – don’t get too discouraged if it seems to be taking a while. In movies it always seems to just take one time (and in truth is can definitely only take one time, given the right timing), but the reality is that for many women it can take a while (sometimes years) to get pregnant. If you are concerned though, definitely talk to your ob-gyn and get a check up, both for you and your partner if necessary. This will rule out any sort of underlying conditions that could be making it difficult for you to become pregnant.

Good luck!!

 

  • Additionally, if any of our readers have different interpretations that they’d like to share, please feel free to leave a comment. Definitely welcome additional insight from those who might work more frequently with tarot and have a different perspective. 🙂