In the Service of Life: A Wiccan Perspective on Death
By Ashleen O’Gaea; Citadel Press (Kensington Publishing Corp.)
Leave it to Ashleen O’Gaea to go where few have gone before. In this book written with Wiccan clergy in mind, Ms. O’Gaea once again breaks ground. She guides the reader through the book with a gentle but firm hand. Many Pagans avoid issues of faith that we have been taught by our religions of origin are taboo. Death is one of these issues. In the early chapters of the book, the author delves into the intricacies associated with Wiccan beliefs associated with death and rebirth.
Unlike our Judeo-Christian brethren, Wiccan beliefs do not see death as a means to a punishment or reward. I was forced to think about my own reactions to the dying and death of my own loved ones in terms of my Pagan belief system. In doing this I was also led to examine other areas of my faith that I had side-stepped because of previously learned behaviors. Clearly, this book is one of the missing pieces in any guide to the Wiccan belief system.
The book also teaches the reader to see the endings of many other aspects of life as a cause for celebration or reflection. According to the author’s views, which she convincingly portrays, death is like birth. A new aspect of our spiritual journey is achieved from our passage from this plan into the next. As there is pain and effort involved in the birthing process to come into this world, so there is with the process necessary to emerge into the next incarnation.
This book was (and will continue to be) especially relevant in my current life situation. I have many elderly relatives in various states of health. In the past several years I have increasingly aware of the mortality of the human body. On the flip side, the thoughts put forward in this book have enabled me to move my Pagan beliefs forward to a better understanding of death as a natural occurrence. It is a part of being in this world and not the thing to be feared that many of our non-Pagan neighbors have made it out to be.
I do not think this book would be good for a beginner on a Pagan path, but it is definitely a worthy addition to any Wiccan library of a more advanced practitioner and a must have for any person acting as clergy for their community.