Pagan beliefs in the afterlife are a dime a dozen. Some minds dream of Elysium and Summerlands, others imagine a heavenly hall for the best mortal warriors, and some don't seem to expect a whole lot when they depict a lowly Underworld. However, if there is one belief in the afterlife that can and does transcend all Pagan realms, it's reincarnation. In every Pagan Path, you will find people who believe in it, in one form or another. I myself am also counted among them, but have we ever thought to make a case for this belief? I mean, on what grounds does it make sense? In what ways is it even possible? How do you describe it to someone who doesn't believe in it?
Whether accepted or not, the evidence for reincarnation is present. From the toddler who remembers precise events in a war that he never saw or heard of, to people who have unexplained phobias or visit historical places and know the rooms of the house before they even enter. However, we must also accept the fact that, if most people are reincarnated, most also clearly don't remember it. So what is even its grand purpose if it does exist? Let's explore.
The basic belief in reincarnation is simple: the body dies, the soul is eternal, and moves on into other incarnations, usually physical bodies in nature, human and non-human alike.
The first question is: how does this make sense? To my mind, the answer is simple. Humans are part of nature just like everything else. We are no less dependent on the rain and soil than any given crop. Within nature, we also see a continuing cycle of death and rebirth. As we also know, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Therefore, if nature itself goes through continuous death and rebirth cycles, and humans are part of nature, we must also be inherently tied to natural cycles of death and rebirth as well. Furthermore, if our energy cannot be destroyed, that means it is eternal. Therefore, what happens to it? Well, we find that while energy cannot be destroyed, it can be moved and changed. Moved or changed into what? Could it be another incarnation within nature? I very much think so.
The second question might be: what would be the purpose of reincarnation, if most people don't even recall that it happened to them? I have thought about this quite extensively. Since many people think that reincarnation exists to teach people, we would have to reject such a notion if the fact remains that most people don't remember it, because you can't learn if you don't remember. Sometimes, however, we may find that the simplest answer is the correct one. Perhaps there is no grand purpose to it. Is there a grand purpose to every blade of grass in my yard, or an ordained mission to every flower that is reborn in the spring? Probably not. The reason these things exist is because that's just how nature works it; it is simply the ongoing timeline of life.
While many of us believe in reincarnation, a number of us may also believe it's not the only route in the afterlife, which would also answer the question of why are there people who don't remember, and why does the population of the world increase instead of remaining stagnant? This is alright to acknowledge and entertain. It doesn't mean reincarnation doesn't exist. Reincarnation is sometimes validated by unexplained regressions, and makes sense in the fact that humans are a part of the natural cycles of death and birth that happen over and over again, in a constant flow of energy that never dies, only moves and transforms. Support in the belief of reincarnation is found in the scientific support of its literal claim, that there is no permanent death in the grand picture of things.
In the Goodness of the Gods,