All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
One topic that often comes up in relation to the astral realms is the bardos. Let’s start out this discussion the same way Isaac Bonewits always started out his books or his talks; with definitions of terms. Tegwedd is not at all sure what a bardo is, even though in her personal library, there is a book titled A Wiccan Bardo. She is vaguely aware that bardo is a Buddhist term, but doesn’t know what it is. A bardo is an astral realm in the Buddhist tradition. The Tibetan word bardo means literally "intermediate state" - also translated as "transitional state" or "in-between state" or "liminal state". In Sanskrit the concept has the name antarabhāva. It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha's passing, with a number of earlier Buddhist groups accepting the existence of such an intermediate state, while other schools rejected it.
Used loosely, the term "bardo" refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one's next birth, when one's consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise from the impulses of one's previous unskillful actions. For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since transcendental insight may arise with the direct experience of reality, while for others it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.
The term bardo can also be used metaphorically to describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat. Such times can prove fruitful for spiritual progress because external constraints diminish. However, they can also present challenges because our less skillful impulses may come to the foreground, just as in the sidpa bardo.
So we see that it’s a lot like the Summerland, or Tegwedd’s friend Baba’s “White Dome.” After Pagans die, we go to the Summerland, which is a lot like Faerie, which is an astral realm or another dimension. The Christian Heaven may also be an astral realm. The Firesign Theater used to talk about bardos in their sketches.
Tegwedd has had three bardos in the past year and a half. The first two had to do with her right ankle being broken in a thoroughly stupid accident in her home bathroom. The second was much longer than the other two. She had to spend nine days in a skilled nursing facility after her ankle had to be operated on a second time. This was a bardo according to the article segment above. Most recently, three months ago, she spent three days in the hospital recovering from an attack of pancreatitis. She is still puzzled as to why she would get this disease, because it usually only happens to heavy drinkers, and Tegwedd is just this side of being a complete teetotaler, her only alcoholic vice being mead. During her time at the skilled nursing facility, she had physical therapy, participating in social events there, such as a sing along. She read, crocheted, and came back home.
AbbottsInn has also had bardos, during which he was very ill with what he calls the Sacramento Creeping Crud, a virus peculiar to this area; so ill in fact, that he was unable to do readings for his psychic services. His voice was so raspy and his throat so full of phlegm that his clients had trouble understanding him over the phone. He also felt very light headed. He’s in his 19th day of the crud now, but he’s on the comeback trail now, and his nose is no longer bleeding.He’s still sleeping a lot at inopportune times, but that’s because he doesn’t get to bed at a decent time. If he would go to sleep at night at the same time that Tegwedd did, or possibly a little earlier during this bardo, he would find that he is a lot more active during the day, and doesn’t fall asleep during shows he wants to see.
On a lighter note, Fun City, which was thoroughly explored by the Firesign Theater, definitely qualifies as an astral realm. And Peter Bergman, who died March 9th, is now strolling around Fun City with Nick Danger Third Eye, Hemlock Stones, and Porgy Tirebiter. What hilarious adventures will these three amigos get into? They might go visit Isaac. He and Terlach are probably in their apartment in the astral Berkeley, and they can do their “Have you read your Eddas today?” schtick. One wonders whether there would be astral nasties posing as door to door jesoids.
Where are you planning on going tonight in your astral travels?