- Religion and Philosophy
What do Wiccans believe about Heaven or Hell?
Many Christians do not understand the basis of Wiccan belief concerning Heaven and Hell. This is a valid confusion given the eclectic nature of Wiccan and / or Pagan beliefs. Wicca is a religion very focused on personal beliefs as opposed to the dogma of a specific preacher, church or book. Many modern Wiccan's borrow beliefs from a variety of sources ranging from Ancient Egypt to North American Native American's and everything in between.
Some wiccan's believe in the afterlife as concept made popular by the High Priest Raymond Buckland who believed that a human's soul will be reincarnated into another human until learning the lessons necessary for that soul to advance to the next spiritual level.
Some Wiccans believe that between reincarnations the soul rests in Summerland or the Otherworld. Summerland is similar in a manner to the Catholic concept of purgatory as a type of waiting place between realms however Summerland is not a place of judgement but a place of evaluation where a soul will be able to conduct a self-review of it's action on earth and see how it affected those around it. If you have ever seen the movie "Defending your life" with Meryl Streep , it is a very similar concept only there is no trial.
Other Wiccans believe that the energy of the soul simply evolves into something else. Like steam from water and then back to water again the soul simply passes into a different state.
Many people of other religions feel that these beliefs make the Wiccan less moral or ethical than other religions. With out the fear of eternal damnation what is to keep a person on the straight and narrow. They believe that without a set dogmatic beliefs such as the ten commandment, Wiccan's simply make it up as they go along. Both of these concepts are false. It is true that many Pagan traditions do not have a perscribed holy book nor do they have an organized priesthood in the manner of other churchs that dictate to them what they must believe. This also means though that Wiccan's burden of responsibility for their moral and ethical behavior falls squarely upon them. The most sacred of Wiccan beliefs is the Wiccan Rede
"That it harm none, do as thou wil t"
This means in real terms that as a Wiccan I can not easily look in a book, or read a commandment I must examine how my actions are affecting all that is around me. The people, communities, and nation I live in as well as the earth we live. We are charged with a sense of responsible stewardship toward everything around us. We must not only look to action itself but to the ramifications of those actions for others.
Beliefs amongst pagans are as varied as they are amongst any other religion this article was not meant to be a complete summary of all Pagan beliefs..Simply knowing what one person believes does not give anyone a contextual basis in which to make generalizations concerning the group or the individual. I have found that the misunderstandings between religions and their doctrines come not so much in the differences but in the ignorance concerning those differences. All people and their beliefs deserve respect and consideration in light of the truth of their beliefs. The most effective manner to gain this information is by simple communication. Many Wiccans refrain from sharing their faith and beliefs with others because of the prejudice we receive but we are more than willing to share our beliefs in a non-judgmental and open exchange.