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What is the Summerland?


What is the Summerland?

Many Pagans and Wiccans believe there is more to our existence than simply life and death.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

In some modern magical traditions, it is believed that the dead cross over into a place called the Summerland. This is a predominantly NeoWiccan concept, and is not typically found in non-Wiccan Pagan traditions. While there may be a similar concept of the afterlife in those traditions, the word Summerland seems to be generally NeoWiccan in its use.

Wiccan author Scott Cunningham described the Summerland as a place where the soul goes on to live forever. In Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, he says, "This realm is neither in heaven nor the underworld. It simply is -- a non-physical reality much less dense than ours. Some Wiccan traditions describe it as a land of eternal summer, with grassy fields and sweet flowing rivers, perhaps the Earth before the advent of humans. Others see it vaguely as a realm without forms, where energy swirls coexist with the greatest energies - the Goddess and God in their celestial identities."

A Pennsylvania Wiccan who asked to be identified as Shadow says, "The Summerland is the great crossover. It's not good, it's not bad, it's just a place we go where there is no more pain or suffering. We wait there until it is time for our souls to return in another physical body, and then we can move on to our next lifetime. Some souls may be finished incarnating, and they stay in the Summerland to guide newly arriving souls through the transition."

In his book The Pagan Family, Ceisiwr Serith points out that belief in the Summerland - or reincarnation, or Tir na nOg, or ancestor rites - are all part of the Pagan acceptance of the physical state of death. He says these philosophies "help both the living and the dead, and that is enough to justify them."

Most reconstructionist paths do not adhere to the notion of the Summerland - it seems to be a uniquely NeoWiccan ideology. Even among NeoWiccan paths who accept the concept of the Summerland, there are varying interpretations as to what the Summerland actually is. Like many aspects of modern Wicca, how you view the afterlife will depend on the teachings of your particular tradition.


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