Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Virtues Essay: Fertility

  • The quality of being fertile; productiveness.
                                                                  --Oxford American English Dictionary 

Tell a coworker that you (a pagan) are writing a short essay about fertility and there's a good chance they conjure up images of ancient goddess statues with swollen breasts and hips, or even of a pair of rabbits resting in a green meadow with their infinite number of offspring.

Yes, fertility, at its most basic level, speaks of reproduction and fecundity. In our modern society when one wishes for fertility it is typically associated with the desire to have children.  Among our ancestors this element of fertility was paramount, as the success of the family was dependent upon the unit (historically, bigger was usually better).  Those cultures involved in the raising of livestock also understand how important fertility was to the health and future of their flock as well.  To reproduce abundantly, to be fruitful, was essential.

But there is another side to fertility that is often overlooked.  Dig deeper and you will find that fertility is, in fact, an energizing of the latent; a spilling forth of stored potential. Even though water is essential for crops to grow, in the Slavic pantheon the goddess Mokosz has sway over grain, not Piorun who brings the rain.  Mokosz sets in motion the dynamic processes which lead to new life, tipping the balance of energy in each seed towards growth, just as she prepares and nurtures a woman's womb for pregnancy.  Typically labeled  a "fertility goddess," Mokosz is also associated with spinning and weaving which, at first glance, seems to fit because of its identification as a "womanly art."  However, to one who works with fibers this relationship speaks of more:  a pile of wool is nothing but potential - with the proper techniques and a fertile imagination it may become many things. 

The same is true of all the creative arts:  carpentry, writing, metalsmithing, cooking and so on - each end product began as a seed of the mind, an idea only, formless yet full of potential.  Only through the fertility of the mind is its potential set in motion and its being brought in to this world.

                         "Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout."  --Morihei Ueshiba

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