As I sit down to write about the final virtue, fertility, I realize that it is perhaps my favorite, and not because of the implied sexuality. When I think of fertility, I obviously think of sex and the resulting offspring, but I also think about food and art. The Oxford English Dictionary defines fertility as “ The quality of being fertile; fecundity, fruitfulness, productiveness.” The Dedicant Manual describes fertility as the “bounty of mind, body, and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, etc.”
I feel that fertility is very important and, while I don’t necessarily see that sexual fertility is a virtue, I feel that fertility of the mind should be something we strive for. Fertility is my favorite virtue because of its association with creativity and art. When considering actions based on the virtues, as far as fertility is concerned, I can ask myself whether or not an activity is productive – is it fertile to my mind, body, or society as a large? Am I learning from it? This virtue could potentially help people moderate how much time they waste if they value productivity.
In my own hearth culture, that of Irish Paganism, I’ve come to understand that art is highly valued. Music, fiber arts, metal works, and storytelling were among the most valued of pastimes. As a fiber artist, I feel the influence of inspiration and creative fertility often. I put these energies to use in the clothing and toys that I make. As an English major, I appreciate the fertility of the writer’s mind. As I start to garden and learn about permaculture and sustainable living, I see the value in agricultural fertility. The tribe’s ability to feed itself is indeed important, and if we can find ways to do so, both productively and in harmony with nature, it would be a wonderful thing.
Many people frown on Neo-Paganism’s focus on fertility, and this is likely due to our community’s emphasis on and/or openness with sex. In my college science classes, we learned about the population problem we are experiencing. There are just too many people crawling around Mama Earth’s back. While I am not one to condemn natural birth and the natural mating habits of humanity, and while I would emotionally love a biological child, I don’t think encouraging fertility is necessarily a smart thing in this day and age. Adoption may be one of the most eco-friendly practices at the moment. I would suggest, as far as sexuality is concerned, that sensuality become a Pagan virtue rather than fertility of the body. I will discuss this suggested virtue in my next essay.
~Grey Catling, 2008