Infertility as a Pagan

  • Posted on February 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm

I originally wrote most of this (using the title “Fluffy Wicca: More Misogynistic than Christianity” – can you tell I was really angry at the time?) back in April of 2003 on a yahoo group that was focused on venting about fluffy Wiccan tendencies. Out of the responses to that, I created http://www.paganinfertilityadoption.net, a community for Pagans dealing with infertility, miscarriage, adoption, and related issues.

After 5 years of trying (and not trying), drugs, procedures, and doctors, I’m finally pregnant, with only minimal medical intervention. But what that’s given me is a space to look back on the things I’ve said and done in the process of getting here, to try to heal some of what’s come before – and that healing process is going to take a lot of time and effort. I find it more important than ever to speak out about the way our community handles these sorts of issues, because if we are to be a viable community, we have to treat all of our members with respect, courtesy, and dignity. While my positions on things have softened with time, I still find that much of our community just can’t deal with infertility – the facts have not changed in the nearly 5 years since I originally wrote this.

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It seems to me that modern Wicca is, by and large, nothing more than a fertility cult. Just about every Wiccan symbol other than the pentacle is a fertility symbol – triple moons, moons with horns, the Great Rite and so on. I can’t speak for the BTW crowd on this – maybe they are much the same way, maybe they aren’t. But most of modern Wicca, pseudo-Wicca, and Wiccanesque belief revolves around fertility. And many of these people use the word “Pagan” when they mean “Wiccan” or “Wiccanesque,” which further complicates the matter. Many of those following these beliefs claim they left Christianity because it is misogynistic, but I submit that not only is Wicca more misogynistic in many ways, but it is also misandristic as well.

Look at the main rituals and holidays. There are 13 full moons (generally working rituals that celebrate “The Goddess”), but there are only 8 Sabbats (generally, celebrations of “The God”). So “The Goddess” gets more holidays, but has to work on all of them. I bet “The God” feels left out.

Additionally, “The God,” in his 8 rituals, is born, grows up, has sex, and dies. Men, do you feel that’s a fair characterization of your lives?

And between the “triple Goddesses are everywhere” syndrome, and the idea that every Goddess fits into the maiden, mother, or crone paradigm, and the fact that all “The Goddess” does in the Sabbats is get laid, get pregnant, and give birth, it seems that the only way for women within Wicca and Wicca-like religions to identify with “The Goddess” is by having kids. What if, by chance or by choice, you don’t have kids? What sort of a place does a childless woman have in a religion where the main way to identify with the deity is through childbirth? What about those who adopt? All the “mother” goddess images I’ve seen lately involve pregnant women – this is the primary way we denote motherhood in society, after all.

That’s worse than only having one gender of deity. Now, not only do I have to be the right gender, but I have to give birth. By their own logic, that’s the only way women can identify with this mythology.

The Wicca-like crowd doesn’t know what to do with people who don’t have kids. If you don’t have kids, there must be something wrong with you – maybe you’re not really Pagan.

When it comes to trying to have kids and infertility, the single thread in any message board or email list usually consists of statements like “I did this spell, and I got pregnant within a month” and “burn candles like this, and then quit trying to get pregnant, and you will” (huh? So now they’re are preaching about virgin births? Doesn’t having sex without the appropriate counter-measures count as “trying to get pregnant”?). When the topic of medical reasons for not being able to get pregnant comes up, the response is almost always that you don’t really need medical help – you just need to do more spells. Occasionally someone mentions herbs, but they all quote from the same book, and the number of copyright violations (much less the number of incorrect statements) out there is astronomical

I’m sure this whole rant comes out of frustration on my part. My apparent choices for having children any time in the foreseeable future consist of (1) take fertility drugs, or (2) adopt. This is not a light decision – twins run in my family, on both sides of the family, and the Gods seem to have this rather twisted sense of humor at times (let’s face it – the family with septuplets took the standard fertility drug that is given as a first attempt at increasing fertility). Additionally, fertility drugs are considerably more dangerous than the average person realizes – and I’ve spent a lot of time getting my health in order so that I could be on the bare minimum of medications, so adding more isn’t high on my list of fun things to do.

There aren’t many Pagan events, e-mail lists, or websites that aren’t Wiccanesque – so looking for anything on the subject that might be related to religion and spirituality involves dealing with this single-minded crowd. And there aren’t many Pagan sites of any level of seriousness related to infertility or adoption. Most of the Pagan boards about fertility are about being pregnant, or about people with kids. In one group I found for those without kids, most people were talking about all the crap they take from those who do have kids, and the fact that they often didn’t go to events because of it. I don’t want the rest of my life to be like that, but at the rate things are going, it may be the only sane thing to do.

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Janet Callahan

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1 Comment on Infertility as a Pagan

  1. Cecilie says:

    I think you are right about the misfit between the infertile man or woman and the ideal of Wicca. Although I do believe that pregnancy can be a metaphore for any kind of creation or flourishment within a person’s life, it is difficult for me as a pagan to feel at one with a goddess that mainly deals with childbirth, when I can’t have my own children. Even though I am a pagan, I still believe in science and the fact that inscense and candles can’t always solve your problems, and I think that if you measure belief and dedicatio to wicca in how fertile a woman or man is, is ignorant.

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