Posted in random thoughts, religion, Tarot, writing

Thoughts on Mortality

Decks pictured (clockwise from top left) Bohemian Gothic, Sacred Rose, Arcus Arcanum, Starchild, Tarot of Prague, Wild Unknown, Sun and Moon, Wildwood, Alexander Daniloff; center – Alchemists Oracle: Connected and Free, Celestial Stick Figures

I’m inspired to put some thoughts down by a video Katey Flowers posted on YouTube of her year with the “Death” card from the Tarot, and her musings on aging and life and death. I decided to post this here rather than on my Tarot blog because this isn’t necessarily a Tarot post (maybe I’ll cross-post it).

I’m at the age where I spend a great deal of time thinking about death (a great deal) and how much closer I am to my own end than to my beginning. I have far more days behind me than ahead of me. I’ve started planning out what sort of instructions I want to leave for my heirs, make sure they have access to all my accounts, both online and offline. I think about how much crap I have that I need to get rid of to spare my kids having to clean it all out. I think about people I’ve lost so often. I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished my dad was still alive to see some new technology (he was an electronics engineer) or a movie or show I think he would have liked. He died when he wasn’t much older than I am now.

Of course everyone dies, it’s not that I expected to live forever. I don’t actually think about how I might die, that’s not the part that concerns me. It’s the idea of winking out of existence, passing into oblivion, that disturbs me because I have no belief in an afterlife. This is it, here and now. Please spare me any platitudes about the inevitability of dying and accepting with grace. Maybe the day will come when I can, but not now. Right now I feel no more ready to accept that than a teenager. Intellectually I am perfectly aware that the day will come, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I’ve lost both of my parents, all my aunts and uncles, a cousin, friends so it’s not like I’ve never experienced losing someone. I know it happens, but that doesn’t change my frustration.

Part of my raging against death may stem from the feeling that I haven’t accomplished anything with my life, that I will never feel done, ready to die. There are so many things I would have liked to have been and done and learned in this life that I will never have the chance for. Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated with Tarot. I look to the cards for a deeper understanding of the nature of existence, some reason to believe this isn’t all there is. How can we live, exist, breathe, think, be self-aware, and not be able to somehow do something about the terminal nature of life? It seems cruel for the universe to give us the capacity to understand we will cease to exist, doesn’t it? And yes, I understand the contradiction embodied in the idea of seeking a spiritual understanding if I don’t have any belief in an afterlife.

I know I’m not alone in this dread, and that it’s why some people cling to religion, or a belief in ghosts. We’re hoping to find some proof of something beyond this world, that physical death is not really the end. I’ve had unexplained occurrences that seemed ghostly, but they’re not definitive proof. Not yet. I need more.

I guess for now I will continue to search. I’ll let you know if I find enlightenment, or at least acceptance.

I did feel compelled to pull a card from the Druid Plant Oracle, and interestingly got the Celtic Bean, which is associated with death, reincarnation, the ancestors, and the Otherworld. A message?

Posted in ghosts, religion, Tarot, writing

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Brown lady of Raynham Hall

I had an interesting conversation with a woman on the bus this morning. I’ll call her Carol. Now Carol is a very religious Christian (not sure if she’s the ‘born again’ type or not) who not only attends church every week, she also attends something called ‘Life Group’ which I gather is some kind of Bible study session,  and talks as if it has never occurred to her that there are people in the world who don’t believe what she believes. Maybe it hasn’t.

That’s all fine, people are free to believe whatever they like. Frankly I’m a little surprised she still talks to me since I ‘fessed up about reading Tarot cards. She did seem a little taken aback by that, but nonetheless we get along very well and she’s a very nice person.

So this morning, I was more than a little surprised to hear her laugh at the idea of spirits or ghosts. Recently her own mother took in an elderly lady (let’s call her Milly). Milly is a cousin of Carol’s mother’s husband (with me so far?), somewhere around 97-years-old,  is quite frail, nearly blind, and could no longer live on her own. Milly started insisting she could see people in party dresses of all different colors who were there to visit her, and could also see members of her family (her mother, father, and a sister who I assume are all deceased).

Carol thought this was hilarious, but she played along, asking what color dresses the people were wearing, and who she was pointing at and so on. She asked if the people in the colorful dresses were going to a wedding, and Milly replied that no, they were there to see her.

I said how surprised I was that she, as a religious person, would scoff at the idea of spirits, or visitations. I mean, if you’re going to believe in Heaven, and people rising from the dead, how much of a stretch is it to believe some people can see spirits?

When my own mother was in the hospital for the final time before she died, she kept asking who the woman was who was sitting on the chair in her room. She said it was an Asian woman, who never spoke, but she saw her on several occasions. Mom was pretty sharp, right up to the end. She had many other incidents over the years that she attributed to her guardian angel (she once swore she found herself going the wrong way on the road, and the car was lifted up, turned around and set back down so she was facing the right way. I wasn’t there, I couldn’t say what did or did not happen). She also had a near-death experience many years ago when she had a heart attack. It wasn’t pretty.  She found herself floating down a long dark tunnel, until a voice said, “It’s not time, bring her back up.” At that point she said she felt a hand on each elbow (I think she said she saw a figure on each side of her) and she was lifted back up and woke up in the hospital.  I wish I had written down more of these incidents that she told me about. Mom was a Norwegian Lutheran who hadn’t actually attended church since she first got married, but she was strong believer in the Christian God and Jesus just the same.

I have heard this “phenomenon” of seeing people, or an individual, when death is close, is relatively common. Children have been reported to see the same woman, many of whom have called her by the same name (Bridget?). So I was very surprised that a person of such deep religious conviction would be so skeptical about something like this.

So, what do you think? Does seeing ghosts or spirits dovetail with belief in an afterlife, or is that too ‘New Age-y” for a traditional Christian?