In the Wiccan religion, there is no heaven or hell. There is karma, yes, but no promise of a fiery anguish in after-life for wrong-doers. So how are we Wiccans understanding the death of Osama bin Laden? In the past few days, there has been a whirlwind of articles, information, and opinions regarding Osama bin Laden’s death. There are opinions by Christians, and Muslims, and maybe even Jews. The number on search term on Google for May 2, 2011 was “osama bin laden dead.”
Many Wiccans believe in an afterlife area called “Summerland” – this is drawn from Celtic religions and historical Wiccan books (like Witchcraft Today, by Gerald Gardner). Most Wiccans also believe in karma and reincarnation, as they are written into our historical documents, as well.
Did Osama bin Laden return home to the Summerland? The same place that your mother and father and dead family pets go? I’d say, yes.
In times like these, times full of people glorying in the death of one man who had become a figurehead of all “evil” in the world… We tend to forget that the word “evil” has no place in the Wiccan religion. There is no romantic struggle of evil and good; rather, there is balance. We’re all living organisms – which, in our religion, means that we’re all a part of the divine – of God/dess.
The realization that Osama bin Laden goes to the same place that everyone else does leads us to a set of spiritual questions that should not go unanswered: What lessons did he bring to the world? Will he pay in future lives? Was he truly cognizant of the acts he was committing?
I think the first question is perhaps the most important. The man showed the world, unfortunately, that random acts of violence can disrupt our ways of life. But I think he also brought us together. Not the best method, but fear is a great motivator for unity. He also, unfortunately, shone the light on how fundamentalism can be misused.
Some Muslims disown Osama bin Laden, saying he was not a true Muslim, and much of what he offered as spiritual advice was incendiary, twisted scripture from the Koran. Others, now, criticize the U.S. for not providing bin Laden with a proper Muslim burial.
These reactions shine a light on a second lesson that can be gained from Osama bin Laden – that religions are heterogeneous mixtures of good and bad, accepting and discriminatory people. Just like countries, towns, and even households. From this conclusion, unfortunately, we have to accept the fact that Osama bin Laden is not a good representation of a Muslim. And, in fact, we cannot blame the Muslim world for September 11th, 2001.
Lessons like these are not well taken by the media. Or by the general public. What if Osama bin Laden was sent by God(s) to remind us to live our lives… better? This doesn’t take away from his karma, per say, but it provides an interesting perspective.
So what is his karma? Is he responsible for thousands of deaths? I’d say, yes. His next life, or perhaps lives previously, I’m sure, will come lessons about how sacred life is, and how we really should not cause harm to others if we can help it. I, for one, would not want to pay for those thousands of lives taken before their time.
But was he cognizant of what he was doing? I’m sure he thought that what he was doing was right. Leading al-Qaeda spiritually, so that they could make this a truly Muslim world. The end justified the means, according to him. And the means took a lot of lives. So, cognizant of murder? Probably. Did he understand that what he was doing was wrong? Probably not. Not until those last few moments of his life – if at all.
I hope that you take away from this article, a sense of acceptance regarding the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He is where he belongs. And perhaps in his next life, he will make better choices. But it is these world-changers that really make us reflect on our own lives and choices. Because when he was born, bin Laden was the same as you and me – a baby, innocent to the world around him; and when he passed, he returned to that state of innocence; where we all return to: home.
Also, please note that these are MY opinions – although I think that a lot of Wiccans share these beliefs, many may not. Our religion itself is heterogeneous. We are, honestly, only united by the Wiccan Rede and the 13 Principles, in the strictest sense.