Many shamans and spiritual practitioners believe there is no such thing as death. That our soul exists in a never ending cycle of regeneration.
According to Jan Engel-Smith, a practicing shaman, “our soul remembers our ancient past, engages with our current environment and knows our future lives.”
Leaving the physical body is marked as one of the biggest transformations our soul will undertake to pass into the next stage of our spiritual evolution.
While death creates a feeling of peace in some, and feelings of anxiety in others, Engel-Smith notes that through her journey as a Shaman, that people who do not have a defined belief system and are fearful of passing often become discarnate souls. That is, their soul has left their physical body but they are yet to make contact with the divine.
“What I have found as a shamanic practitioner is that many people do not have a very defined belief system, so there is a lot of confusion once the soul or the divine essence leaves the body. In other words, it just doesn’t know what to do,” says Engel-Smith.
In many Western cultures the presence of lost souls is believed to be high due to the lack of death rituals and the perception of what death really is.
While in the spirit world we are all created equal and no spirit is a ‘different’ religion, many spiritualists believe that conducting a ritual helps the transitioning soul.
Many Indigenous tribes engage in elaborate ceremonies that continue for days, weeks and even months. The Australian aborigines conduct a smoking ceremony which is believed to drive away their spirit into the afterlife. Then a feast is held where family and friends paint, sing and dance. The body is then placed on a platform and covered in leaves until it decomposes. No one is permitted to speak the persons name as it is believed to disturb their spirit.
In parts of Mongolia, Tibet and in the Zoroastrian culture, it is believed that once death occurs, the spirit leaves the body and then the body must be returned to the earth so it is left out for birds to eat and decompose into the ground.
In Western civilization however, death is often viewed as an uncomfortable subject, one that is met with a lot of grief, anxiety and fear.
Engel-Smith continues, “in Western culture, one rarely finds this compelling power generated from a collective belief,” like in the Indigenous and Eastern cultures.
While losing a loved one is always hard, it is a rite of passage, and transforming our belief about what ‘death’ really means will open our awareness to what we are really capable of.
“It is essential that we make an effort to understand the nature of the transition from this life, bring our energies to the process to help the one transitioning and allow ourselves to appreciate that our loved ones are forever with us in a perfect universe”- Engel-Smith.
“Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.”