Is There an Afterlife?
March 19, 2024 17 min read

Is There an Afterlife?

By Lady Saoirse

TL;DR- Join Spiritual Blossom to explore the beliefs about the afterlife in some major world religions, and decide if you believe in an afterlife. 



Death happens to all of us, and nobody can avoid it. What happens after we die, though? People have asked that question for as long as can be remembered, and different people have different answers to that. Depending on what faith you follow, you might believe we go to the same place as all other souls, and you might think our deeds on earth earn punishments or rewards in the afterlife. Many different faiths have many different answers, and they all say they have their own proof that they are right. 


Buddhism

Is There an Afterlife?

Buddhism is one of the religions that teaches about reincarnation, or that we will be born again. They believe that after we die, we will be reborn on earth again, and continue doing so in a constant cycle of death and rebirth. Buddhists call this cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth samsara, and believe it causes great suffering. The goal is to break that cycle by reaching nirvana, or enlightenment. Nirvana quenches the earthly mind, and to attain it, you much let go of greed, aversion, and ignorance. Nirvana is liberation from samsara and the main goal of Buddhist practice.

Some believe that when nirvana is reached, existence ceases entirely, but others seek to attain the status of a buddha so they may help others attain nirvana. Some believe the soul stays alive in the celestial realm and guides people spiritually. Their proof that this is real is karma. Karma is the sum of all our deeds of the past and that affects our lives today. If we have good karma based on good deeds, we suffer less, but if we have made bad decisions, we have bad karma and suffer more. Buddhists don’t see this as a cycle of punishment and forgiveness, but they see it as a reminder that they should reach for enlightenment all the more if they have bad karma. One thung some who believe in Buddhist concepts of reincarnation embrace is that twin Flames exist and you can read about that here: What’s a Twin Flame? (spiritualblossom.com)

 

Hinduism

Is There an Afterlife?

Like Buddhists, Hindus believe in samsara, the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth, and they also believe the cycle can be broken. They believe their soul, or atman goes into another body and some Hindus believe that rebirth happens immediately, while others believe the atman can go to other realms temporarily. Knowing your atman or essential spiritual self is the way to break the cycle of samsara. Hindus believe that right action creates good karma and moves them forward to breaking samsara. Bad deeds and bad karma pull you back from that. One controversial belief is that a person’s social status is decided by karma, and if they are born into, say, a poor family and cannot become wealthy, the belief is that they deserve this from misdeeds. Some say this is a way the ruling class suppress the poor, and the powerful take advantage of marginalized people, however. One sign that seeks to help the marginalized is Libra and you can read about them here: Libra Traits and Love Compatibility (spiritualblossom.com)

The way to break samsara in Hinduism is to attain moksha, or being free from all ignorance through self-realization, self-knowledge, and self-actualization. Moksha is one of four goals of Hindus. Dharma, or a living good, virtuous life, is another, Artha, or living a financially secure life, and kama, or emotional and sensual fulfillment are the others. The goal is not to just be released from samsara, however, but to attain oneness with Brahman, or the universal truth and that which unites everything in creation.

Their proof that all this is real comes from jatismaras, or people who remember past lives and having reincarnated, and through sacred writings. The Rigveda I 164.48 says "The immortal self will be reborn in a new body due to its meritorious deeds " and The Bhagavad-gita 2.22 says “As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.”    Further proof of reincarnation comes from child geniuses who seem to be born knowing things nobody has taught them, or who excel much faster than other children. The belief is that they remember things they learned in past lives. One sign that is open to change is gemini and you can read about them here: Gemini Zodiac Traits and Love Compatibility (spiritualblossom.com)

 

Judaism

Is There an Afterlife?

Judaism believes in an afterlife, but the Torah did not address it in depth. This may have been because the Egyptians, who they lived among, were very concerned with the afterlife, and the Hebrews did not want to be just like them. Later, in the Second Temple period, in IV Maccabees,

It is said that an eternity with their god is possible for people who would rather be killed for their faith than to violate the teachings of the Torah. The Talmud and Midrash speak of a paradise where the righteous will sit in glory with their god. In Kabbalistic writings, the soul is a multifaceted being split into different parts. One part comes to earth to complete some tasks and if they fail, they are purified somewhere, or sent to reincarnate to finish the tasks they failed to.

Proof for these beliefs comes from scriptures and religious teachings of their holy leaders. Some believe in a place called Sheol that was defined in the Tanakh. It is a place of ashes and darkness, and it is a place where everybody goes regardless of deeds and how righteous they have been. Some have interpreted Sheol as meaning the grave, and In Genesis Rabbag, a place called Gehenna is mentioned as being made on the second day of creation as a place where the wicked go to be judged. Some who practice Judaism don’t worry about an afterlife, they worry about living a good life on earth instead. To read about being your best self, and living a good life, see here: How to Be Your Best Self (spiritualblossom.com)

 

Islam

Is There an Afterlife?

A famous belief that some sects of Islam embrace is that righteous men will go to a paradise after death and be granted seven virginal wives as their reward. However, this is not what all Muslims believe the afterlife holds for them. The Quran refers to ruh and nafs. Ruh means “breath” and it is the Holy Spirit that Allah blew into humanity.  Nafs means “self” and it is the inner self that deals with free will and knowledge of good versus evil. The belief is that there is a struggle with the nafs soul to do good instead of evil, and that Allah has put the ability to make the right choice within all people. Whether you do right or wrong will decide your afterlife. The ruh aspect of the soul survives death, and if somebody has lived an especially wicked life they can transform into a demon. To read about a terrifying creature, the mythical werewolf, see here: Do Werewolves Exist? (spiritualblossom.com)

Some believe the soul stays with the body for a bit after death, and others believe that they must either make a profession of faith as their last words before death, or have it spoken into their ear. Some believe that angels come to remove souls from their body and others believe that angels come to interrogate the souls of the dead and decide if they were righteous or wicked. There is a belief that there are intermediary places souls are taken before the end of the world, and the righteous go to a paradise and the wicked go to a place of torment. They believe the end of the world comes and then the dead are resurrected for their final judgment where it is decided if they go to eternal paradise or eternal damnation.

The goal in Islam is to live the life Allah expects so you can make it to eternal paradise and avoid damnation. Belief this afterlife is real comes from the scriptures. It is believed that the Quran is the word of truth and that anybody with rational thought knows it is correct. It is also believed the prophet Muhammed did great miracles such as splitting the moon and making water spring forth from his fingers and those miracles are proof the Quran is the truth.  To learn about gods and goddesses of the sea read here: The Folklore, Myths, and Gods of the Sea (spiritualblossom.com)

 

Christianity

Is There an Afterlife?

Different denominations of Christianity have different beliefs about the afterlife. Catholics believe the main goal in life is to get to heaven, and this is done with leading as pure of a life as possible, but that humans are born into the condition of original sin. It is believed that human beings all descended from Adam and Eve the first humans, and since Adam and Eve sinned, disobeying their god and eating a forbidden fruit, that all human beings have the stain of that sin upon them. The goal is to confess your sins, repent, and focus on living a godly life by sinning no more. It is believed that those who die without repenting go to hell to be punished for eternity, and those who have repented go to heaven for eternal rewards and a life in paradise. There is a place called purgatory where people can atone for their sins, and earn their way into heaven, however, and living people can pray for the souls in purgatory that they be forgiven so that they can get into heaven sooner. To read about spiritual love see here: What is the Spiritual Meaning of Love? (spiritualblossom.com)

Some Christians don’t believe any of that is necessary, however. They say their god has given human beings the gift of grace because he wants them to get to heaven, and Jesus died to wash their sins away. Grace means that whoever accepts Jesus into their hearts and accepts the gift of their god’s love will go to heaven no matter what their sins are. Some Christians who believe in grace don’t worry about acts or repentance because they believe they already belong to their god and heaven is assured for them.

Some denominations such as the Holiness Pentecostals believe in grace, but also believe that living a pure life is important. It is forbidden to defile your body with things like a tattoo, or by wearing makeup, and women show purity by shunning pants, only wearing dresses. Modest clothes that are not considered sexually enticing are worn by women and girls, and some women take it a step farther and take a vow to never cut their hair to shun vanity. Never drinking alcohol or smoking are also considered ways to be pure, and there are complex beliefs about what type of sexual acts are immoral. Some Christians believe that impurity or lack or morality separate them from their god and would send them to hell. To read about a symbol of immortality see here: Lotus Flower Meaning and Symbolism (spiritualblossom.com)

Proof of belief in heaven and hell is in the Bible such as Matthew 8: 10-12 “10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.” Some people say they have had visions of heaven or hell, or that they fear they have of the devil has them convinced that hell is real. Some Christians say hell is eternal separation from their god and their main goal is to spend eternity with their god.

 

 

Neo Paganism

Is There an Afterlife?

There are many minority faiths in the world today that are not monotheistic and two prominent ones are Heathenry and Wicca. Heathens and Wiccans both have their own beliefs about the afterlife that differ from the beliefs of the major religions.

Heathenry

Modern Heathen religions are based on old Germanic pre-Christian religions, and Heathens believe there are different places the soul can go. It depends on how you die and what the gods decree as to where you end up in the afterlife according to their beliefs. The way the burial was helped to send souls to the afterlife as well. Some were buried, and others were cremated, and their possessions and sometimes their loved ones were buried or cremated because they wanted to take the people they loved and their belongings along with them to the afterlife.

Hel

Hel, or Helenheim is one of the Nine Worlds in creation, and it is ruled by Hela, the monstrous daughter of Loki. She is half beautiful woman, and half rotting corpse, and the father god, Odin chose her to rule this realm. Hel is the place where people who die of sickness or old age go when they die. It is located in another of the Nine Worlds, Niflheim, which is a place of fog and mists, and it is located at the very bottom of the worlds. Helenheim is a place nobody can leave once they enter, not even the gods.

Some believe Helenheim is a place where people who are liars, cowards, or led a bad life go, but others believe that is Christianization of pre-Christian beliefs and that Hel is not a land of punishment. It is believed by some that the dead who go to Helenheim are able to lead their lives the same way they did while they were living and others believe the dead live in a terribly cold environment and there is nothing but misery and suffering for eternity in Helenheim.

The proof of Helenheim lies in the lore. The Poetic Edda,  Prose Edda, and book one of the Gesta Danorum speak of Helenheim. In the Poetic Edda, the Grimnismal says Helenheim is beneath one of the roots of the World Tree, Yggdrasil, and the poem Voluspa speaks of Helenheim and Ragnarok, or the end of the lives of the gods. Gyfaginning in the Prose Edda speaks of Helenheim as a place where evil people go after death and that Hela chooses whether to give a home and other things to those who go to Hel. The Gesta danorum is said to have an account of a trip that King Hadingus makes while he is alive and that he returns to the land of the living, which other lore says is impossible, so perhaps he had a dream. To read about the Earth Signs see here: What are Earth Signs on the Zodiac? (spiritualblossom.com)

Helgafjell and Ran

Helgafjell is the name of a dormant volcano on an island in Iceland. The last time it erupted was in 1973, and it is believed it will erupt again someday. Helgafjell was a holy mountain where some dead ended up. They would be reunited with their family and friends, and lead a happy life there. A place nobody wanted to go, however, was the realm of Ran, a giantess who lived at the bottom of the sea. She used her nets to snare sailors and dragged them to their deaths underwater where she kept their souls with her forever. To read about Water Signs see here: What are Water Signs? (spiritualblossom.com)

Folkvangr and Valhalla

Folkvangr was a paradise ruled by Freyja, goddess of beauty, sex, fertility, war, and seidr. She got the first choice of the souls of the warriors who were killed on the battlefield and she took them to Folkvangr. Her realm was a happy one, and it was also a place where the souls of women who died a righteous death went. Odin, the father of the gods, got to take the rest of the warriors souls with him to Valhalla. It has been suggested that Freyja and Odin compete for souls, and others have suggested the souls go to the realm where it is proper based on rank or exactly how they died. One thing is certain. Both Valhalla and Folkvangr were places people wanted to go when they died, and some even dedicated souls of enemies they killed on the battlefield to Odin.

Valhalla was where fallen warriors who would battle in Odin’s army against the Frost Giants at end times went. They feasted, fought, killed each other and were reborn again every day. It was a warrior’s paradise where they lived and celebrated with their father god. Belief in these realms was due to what was written in the lore. In Egils Saga, Egill refuses to eat, and his daughter says she will too, and would wait to dine with the goddess Freyja in Folkvangr. From the Poetic Edda, the Grimnismal says, The ninth is Folkvang, where Freyja decrees who shall have seats in the hall; The half of the dead each day does she choose, and half does Othin have.” The lore says Valhalla has enough doors that 800 men can enter at the same time and within is produced the finest mead. To read about a mighty Zodiac Sign named after a god of war, see here: Aries Zodiac Traits and Love Compatibility (spiritualblossom.com)

Wicca

Wiccans believe in reincarnation, and different Wiccans have different views about that. Some believe that the deeds we do will decide what our future incarnations include, and other Wiccans believe that is a Christian mindset focused on punishments and rewards, and they believe our deeds create our reality in our current life. The belief is that a place called the Summerlands is where all of our souls go when we die, and we wait there until it is time to go to the next life. Some Wiccans believe we choose things in our future lives while we are in the Summerlands and others believe we have no control of those things. Wiccans do not believe in a heaven or hell , nor do they believe that we only live once. Many say their proof of this afterlife is in memories they had of past lives. To read about one thing some Wiccans call themselves, Witches, see here: The Truth About Witches (spiritualblossom.com)

 

 

Celtic

Is There an Afterlife?

Like other people, there was not one unified group of Celts so there was not one unified belief in the afterlife. One belief shared by some Celtic tribal people was about The Celtic Otherworld which is attested to in lore. Different Celtic groups had different lore, and two different Otherworlds were Tin na nOg and Annwfn.

Tir na nOg

This is the “land of youth” attested to in Irish myths and the Tuatha de Danann live there. They are a race of ancient gods who were defeated in a battle and were given half of Ireland after they were defeated, but they were given the underground portion of Ireland. Over time, they shrunk in size as the people who lived above ground started to forget about them, and they became known as the fairies or the Sidhe. This is not just where the Sidhe live, but it is where the dead live as well. The dead and the Sidhe both come out from underground and interact with the living above ground and are sighted often. Twice per year, the dead walk among the living when winter turns to summer at Beltane and when the season again changes from summer to winter at Samhain.
Tir na nOg is believed to be in the burial mounds that were built generations ago. Some people believed that by placing the dead underground, they were automatically in the Otherworld, and others believed the living entered through the mounds, caves, by completing a voyage, by going underwater, or by going through a mist. Nobody has to earn their way to the land of the dead once they die, and others are taken while living. If food of this realm is consumed by the living, they cannot leave without permission. This food, however, is eaten by the Sidhe and the dead, and it makes them young and they live a happy afterlife together. To read about Samhain see here: All About Samhain (spiritualblossom.com)

Annwfn

Welsh lore speaks of Annwfn or Annwn, and a god named Arawn also known as Gwyn ap Nudd rules this realm. Depending on which story depicts it, Annwfn is believed to be either under the earth or on an island. Annwfn was written about as being much like the world of the living, complete with castles, kings, and a beautiful landscape. There is no pain, suffering, or illness there and everybody feasts. A group of warriors who survived a battle were allowed to stay in Annwfn to forget their sorrows for a time, and this realm existed among the world of the living. It was not just someplace the dead went, but a place which was invisible, and it coexists on earth, people just can’t see it unless they are permitted to.

 Arawn had something called the Wild Hunt to gather souls to take back to the Otherworld, and he had white hounds with red ears who hunted with him. While there is no concept of a heaven or a hell in Annwfn, Arawn sometimes led another hunt called Cwn Annwn to specifically snare the wicked and punish them. It was said that seeing the hounds was a sign of death, and the farther away the hounds were, the louder their bark was, and the closer they got, the quieter their barking was.

One place people say is Annwfn is the Berwyn Mountains in Wales. Multiple witnesses claim they have been to Annwfn there. One account was in 1974 after an earthquake, when multiple people saw a bright pulsing orange light, and when they got to where the light was at Berwyn valley, there was nothing there. Some believe it was some form of a government coverup, or a UFO, but others say it was something happening because of Arawn and Annwfn. To read about one creature believed to deliver messages from the spirits, see here: What is Red Cardinal Spiritual Meaning? (spiritualblossom.com)

 

 

Atheism

Is There an Afterlife?

Some religious people insist that atheists are people who believe there is no soul or life after death, but that is not true. Atheists believe there is no god or higher power, but some atheists do believe that spirits exist and that there is life after death.  There is no unified belief among atheists and each person who calls themselves an atheist has their own beliefs. Some believe souls stay on earth while others believe in reincarnation, and still other atheists believe there is no life after death. If you want to know what a particular atheist believes about life after death, the best way to find out is to ask them. Many atheists don’t worry about finding proof for their beliefs, however, and they don’t usually seek to convince other people that they are right.

 

 

So, is there an afterlife? People of many different faith traditions think there are and each of them have their own beliefs about how they have proof. The question isn’t about what other people believe, though. The question is, what do you believe? Do you believe in life after death and what do you think happens when we die? Some people say we won’t find out what comes after death until we actually die, but others say their soul knows the answer. Only you can decide for yourself what you believe.


Would you like to speak with a spiritual counselor about your beliefs about the afterlife? Get a reading with a Spiritual Blossom psychic started about that today. Online Psychic Readings | Spiritual Blossom make sure to sign up for horoscopes and we will deliver them right to your email’s inbox today. Daily Horoscope | Free Horoscopes | Spiritual Blossom

 

About the Author:  Lady Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she is a High Priestess for The Temple of the Goddess, she is a psychic advisor and spiritual counselor, she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Spiritual Blossom. She has written for Mysticsense and PaganPagesOrg emag.