A lot of the people I've been are nothing like me.
That's a funny thing to say as a modern human in this day and age, but as a witch I mean it both in the sense of all the personalities shed with this body during this lifetime, where I've become someone quite different from how I started out. But also, all the persons from former lifetimes who are buried in my Fetch soul. We are everyone we've ever been, it's all buried in us, like corpses in the Land. ☠️
With our more distant lifetimes, parts of them are more "digested" into the sticky black ichor of the Underworld, but the healthy Black Serpent--the one with the beneficent dead partying in its guts rather than the unruly dead who are clever at puppeting the living--this healthy Black Serpent can re-member any person we were with some simple necromancy. It only gets complicated if you're dealing with long-lasting familial curses or hexed ancestry in your blood thread. Treat all these former lifetimes as ancestors.
Being the kind of witch I am (Black Serpent dominant, White Serpent secondary - with my Daimonic Self crowned in the Black Court and my Fetch full of the light of far-flung stars), I maybe perhaps have an easier time with death than some, gifted with ancestral memories since childhood and my retrieval of others as an adult has been fairly swift work. The dead have visited me since I can remember. Plus, I spent over a decade doing death doula work and hospice patient care. And I grew up with a whole line of my blood relatives who owned a funeral home and mortuary (McCurdy Funeral Home in Beverly, OH). I am just simply at ease around ordinary death and dying (murder/war is a whole other matter!).
For me, it is easy to draw on the personality components of former selves, to incorporate or decorporate them at will. I often wonder if this has some deep tangled relationship with my BPD diagnosis. I've often described my fleshbody as a hellmouth, a mouth of the Dead; the hungry gaping maw of the Underworld lives at my back, and its hunger is ever unsated.
But the passage to the Underworld, as we know from myths like Orpheus', are traversable both ways. I have had many trance experiences where entities, as diverse a band as dead sorcerers to distant dying stars, have used my body as a doorway into this world, as a hedge, and crossed over through me. They always pay a toll, which I reap. I have felt them crawling like glorious wyrms out of my back and ejecting like bursts of lightning from my orgasms. It is part of my personal purpose, to body up spirits into carnality as much as to pour Life back into the Other during a Flight; there is always a giving and a taking together, both hands at work.
These phenomena do interesting things to identity. I often don't think of myself as an individual at all -- aside from the web of community I'm stuck to, in relationship with my immediate family of humans and companion animals and livestock and the countless living beings around me and living on my skin and in my digestive tract AND the legion of spirits who follow me from lifetime to lifetime-- I am also knitted into a continuing relationship with my ancestors and my descendants. The material conditions in which I'm currently living have been utterly shaped by those who have come before in my own blood thread, my magical lineage, and those people who have lived before me in all the places I've resided. And I am part of that chain as it moves forward through time.
This black thread of ancestry flows as forward and as back as the the Black Serpent sways to and fro access to the locus of the Other -- that is to say, the Underworld contains both the past and the future. When we look into the night sky, we are looking into the past, and the dark earth below holds all the potentials of the future within its fecund treasury, the fruit of the dead.
Dealing healthily with one's Black Serpent is holding all these things as "home" and "here." The many, many Dead are here, alive, within me -- and each of us, really. The Land we walk on is a graveyard wherever we go -- soil is the discarded and desiccated remains from living organisms, their broken down bodies and scat. Life is situated in the field of Death. Our big picture of the Universe shows this to be true as well.
My witch's body gives breath and voice and moisture to the husky whispers of the dead, remembers their bony fingers to cook and make music and love. For my Mighty Dead, their work lives on in my own. And all this interplay between us, this is where my sorcery really dances.