Upon examining the virtue of fertility, I came to the conclusion that fertility should not always be a virtue of modern Pagans in regards to our bodies. Instead, I believe that modern Pagans should adopt sensuality as a virtue as far as sex is concerned. Sensuality can and should be applied to other areas of our lives as well and should always be considered with other virtues before making life decisions.
Dictionary.com defines” sensuality” as “unrestrained indulgence in sensual pleasures” and even “lewdness.” “Sensual” is defined as anything “pertaining to, inclined to, or preoccupied with the gratification of the senses or appetites.” In other words, to be sensual is to be concerned with pleasure, and thus the virtue of sensuality is to seek out pleasure. Although one could be tempted to take it to the extreme, the other virtues are in place to help us balance our lives.
In regards to sex, I think sensuality is more important than fertility in our modern world because not everyone can have children, there is a population problem, and sometimes the Gods just have other plans. By making fertility a virtue of the mind, land, and the body, ADF could put pressure on some people, making them think that they should really try to have children. Even if that is not ADF’s goal or intention, there are some people who are not able to have biological children who may be sensitive to the use of fertility as a virtue. Homosexual couples and infertile men and women can be put off by the Pagan culture’s embrace of fertility. I know several such people who feel alienated by the Pagan community because of this. In addition to this fact, the population of the world is too high. While I would never condemn a family who was able to conceive naturally (a child is a blessing, after all, and who am I to argue with the plans of the Gods?), I think the Druidic community, with its emphasis on environmentalism, should embrace adoption as an alternative. I am also not arguing that people should stop trying to conceive naturally. There is a very strong part of my soul that would love a biological child, and I commiserate with others who would love one of their own. I just don’t think modern Paganism should be so pushy and “in your face” about fertility of the body.
Sensuality is a far better virtue when it comes to sex. Now that sexuality and sexual expression are increasingly acceptable within most developed nations, it is okay for people to experiment and practice kinky acts. As Pagans gather to gyrate and celebrate the joy of union, they often do so in the name of fertility. While that’s fine and good for the fields, I think what’s really being celebrated is how good sex feels!
When thinking about sensuality, the virtues of piety and integrity should always be considered. I like to think of piety as a sort of loyalty when it comes to other humans. Is the sensual act you want to commit something that would be unfaithful to your partner? If yes, you should probably reconsider and first discuss the options with your partner. Integrity should also be of concern. Your partner may want to try a sensual act, but if it is against your sense of integrity, you shouldn’t have to do it, even on the off-chance that it will feel good. Only when all partners are ready and in consensus should acts of sensuality be considered acceptable.
Compared to wisdom, sensuality is more about the body than the mind. All the same, we should be thoughtful of the repercussions of sensuality. We need to refer to our wisdom and our sense of moderation so that we don’t have too many sexual partners and compromise our health, so that we don’t eat too much tasty food, and so that we don’t spend all day just reading or listening to music. Sensuality must be moderated in order for it to be safe and continually enjoyable.
Courage can help a person become more sensual. Sensuality is important in developing relationships and, often, one or both people are a bit afraid of developing any sort of intimacy. Courage is needed to get past that stage. Once an intimate stage is reached, hospitality should occur and both partners should cater to each other.
I’m not arguing that sensuality should be cut off from fertility. A couple that does indeed want to conceive should not forgo the sensual sex. A couple engaged in sensual acts should not forget about the possibility of fertility! As always, the virtues are intermingled. Sensuality can and should be a part of the fertility of the mind as well. If you are a creative person, you obviously want your creations to be pleasing to yourself and to others. The senses need to be pleased in order for a creative endeavor to succeed. Artists also need perseverance when wanting to create a sensual piece of work as well as the courage to undertake the task.
While I’m not arguing for fertility to be replaced as a virtue, I do think that sensuality should also be considered. What fertility means to modern Pagans needs to be reevaluated. Sensuality fits nicely into the virtues as it reflects the human need to express oneself and experience the world through the senses.
~Grey Catling, 2008