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Author Topic: Love and Sex Without Fertility?  (Read 1954 times)

Lokabrenna

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Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« on: October 16, 2011, 08:47:57 pm »
This thread was spawned by Malkin's comments regarding the emphasis that many Pagans place on the concept of "fertility" (as opposed to say, love and sex that doesn't necessarily result in offspring, although it has its place). I think the reasons for emphasizing "fertility" are obvious, but I wonder if its being overemphasized in this day and age, especially given the way the global population is growing. On the other hand, it was obviously of importance to our ancestors (who weren't as prolific) so it's not like "fertility deities" (I dislike that term immensely) are going away.

Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

Darkhawk

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2011, 09:05:44 pm »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;25835


 
Two things:

First, one of the things that's commonly said about the Feri tradition is that it's an ecstasy tradition, not a fertility tradition.

Second, "fertility" is also a statement about the health of the natural world.  In ancient times, it had to do with how well the fields grew, whether there was anything to hunt, trap, or fish, how well the livestock were breeding.  I think that relevance, in particular, is of interest to the modern world - particularly those pagans who are nature-oriented.
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we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
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Malkin

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2011, 11:41:38 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;25837
Second, "fertility" is also a statement about the health of the natural world.

I think most people understand this.
 
Quote from: Lokabrenna;25835
This thread was spawned by Malkin's comments regarding the emphasis that many Pagans place on the concept of "fertility" (as opposed to say, love and sex that doesn't necessarily result in offspring, although it has its place). I think the reasons for emphasizing "fertility" are obvious, but I wonder if its being overemphasized in this day and age, especially given the way the global population is growing. On the other hand, it was obviously of importance to our ancestors (who weren't as prolific)...

On that last bit there - not necessarily true! If fertility in marriage was important to some cultures in the past, it wasn't so much for its own sake, but because many of your children might die before their first year. People tend to overlook this detail. Also, many nomadic and tribal cultures haven't always placed value on having many children, as it only puts more strain on the community's resources. (At least, that's what Ronald Hutton says.)

As for the rest, I think there are probably several reasons. For the most part, I honestly think it has to do with the type of people who make up the largest numbers in modern paganism: vaguely suburban family types. Not that I think that love and sexuality are absent from the lives of parents living in cul-de-sacs, but I don't think the dominant culture allows for parents to view themselves as sexual beings - leading to many jokes about love and sexuality being absent from their lives. Also, based on observations of my own pagan community, I'd say that the idea of divine fertility provides an acceptable context for sexual expression for a lot of mothers who might otherwise feel insecure about presenting themselves as sexual beings.

And I think a lot of Americans are understandably insecure about their bodies and emotions, due to an ungodly mixture of Puritan baggage and sadistic advertising designed to make us hate ourselves. The overwhelming reaction I've seen from pagans who shy away from deities of love is insecurity. The sad part is - in my experience, at least - that's the #1 thing that love deities want to help you with.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 11:43:15 pm by Malkin »

Jenett

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2011, 06:56:54 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;25835

Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

 
One of the things that fascinates me is that if you look at many of the big founding names in trad Wicca, they either had very few children, or none at all (biologically speaking.) Now, some of that is age (Gardner was in retirement by the time he started getting involved with religious witchcraft, obviously), but it's an interesting thing to think about.

Some of it is also the complication of adapting what may have had roots in exoteric fertility-of-the-crops centered tradition into a esoteric religious tradition which has fertility at its roots, but where the mechanism is a bit more complicated, theoretically speaking.
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Asch

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Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2011, 08:20:03 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;25835

Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

I think a lot of folks confuse or conflate fecundity with fertility and vice versa.

Me I don't want kids and due to medical stuff would have a hard time having any so I've always approached deities with fertility associations from the perspective of a broader land based fertility rather than ZOMG BABBIES.

Whatever the case it's at least a daunting challenge to address agrarian pre industrial fertility concepts from our post industrial cultural perspective anyway. Thar be problems lyin' in wait.

Lokabrenna

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2011, 02:42:38 pm »
Quote from: Malkin;25892

And I think a lot of Americans are understandably insecure about their bodies and emotions, due to an ungodly mixture of Puritan baggage and sadistic advertising designed to make us hate ourselves. The overwhelming reaction I've seen from pagans who shy away from deities of love is insecurity. The sad part is - in my experience, at least - that's the #1 thing that love deities want to help you with.


OMGs THIS! *wants to hang this quote on her wall*

Quote from: Asch;25935

Me I don't want kids and due to medical stuff would have a hard time having any so I've always approached deities with fertility associations from the perspective of a broader land based fertility rather than ZOMG BABBIES.


This is basically Freya in a nutshell. Well, she has children, but she isn't just concerned with what humans are doing, she's mostly concerned with what the land itself is doing. I'd say Frigga is more the logical choice for, say, couples who are trying to conceive than the Vanadis.

Malkin

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2011, 06:44:50 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;25925
One of the things that fascinates me is that if you look at many of the big founding names in trad Wicca, they either had very few children, or none at all (biologically speaking.) Now, some of that is age (Gardner was in retirement by the time he started getting involved with religious witchcraft, obviously), but it's an interesting thing to think about.

 
Wow, I can't believe that never occurred to me! That's a very interesting observation indeed.

Maps

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Re: Love and Sex Without Fertility?
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 11:15:18 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;25835
Anyone have any thoughts on this matter?

The heavy emphasis on binary gender, heteronormative sex, and fertility in Wicca is what ultimately kept me from going back when I decided I wanted to pursue an earth/magic-based spirituality again. I'm genderqueer/bigender with asexual tendencies and reproductive problems, so I don't find those things particularly meaningful when I'm being beaten over the head with them symbolically, and I can't really internalize them. Especially as a female seeking out earth-based spirituality, where there's a lot of gendered emphasis on passivity and the "feminine"; it just rubs me the wrong way.

When it comes to the land, however, I can dig it. It's more universal than it is specifically divvied up into masculine and feminine the way it is when referring to people. Like harvest festivals? I like those. Or the seasons in general; those aren't particularly gendered, and I can supply my own genderless interpretations.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2011, 11:16:48 am by Maps »

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