As I approach my own due date, my thoughts turn to the season of fertility and abundance of the spring festivals in all their splendor.
With Ostara on the horizon, the Wheel of the Year turns our attention to the matter of new life and the embodiment of womanly fertility.
The emphasis on womanhood in our traditions, particularly the transition from Maid to Mother, is both beautiful and cruel.
If a Wiccan finds herself unable to cross over into motherhood in the literal sense of the word, the feeling of void opens annually during spring rites. Altars everywhere piled high with eggs, spring bulbs and symbols of fruitfulness make coming to terms with an empty womb an uphill climb.
Fraught with moral pitfalls, the subject of fertility itself in neopaganism and modern witchcraft often elicits uncomfortable chair shifting from even the most seasoned among us.
Many an ethical Wiccan has cringed at the site of the wince-worthy comment spam in Babycenter fertility forums that proclaims boldly in capital letters:
“I DIDN’T BELIEVE IN SPELLS UNTIL I MET THE GREAT MADAM MIM. FOR JUST $150 SHE CAST A SPELL AND NOW I AM PREGNANT!!”
Of course, most people (perhaps especially real practitioners) recognize this for what it is: the disgusting attempt of a charlatan to swindle money out of some poor soul by playing on her desperate desire to conceive a child.
Unfortunately, the general public rarely recognizes a distinction between the aforementioned swindler and an honest practitioner.
And so the subject of fertility and Wicca becomes uncomfortable for us all.
It’s a shame. Here we have a real opportunity as sisters to support and guide each other through the process of conceiving.
Or, perhaps even more importantly, to help one another through the healing process when it becomes clear that conceiving is not part of this life’s journey.
Ostara ought to be a time when we go to our sisters for healing in all ways with respect to the cycle of life.
I’m not saying fertility spells don’t have a place in a healthy practice. Participating in a fertility ritual to address the spiritual side of trying to conceive is a wonderful thing to do. We as practitioners are well aware of the mind/spirit/body connection. It makes sense that while no amount of spell work will unclog a blocked fallopian tube, sometimes fertility really does come down to spiritual blockages, and I firmly believe that ritual has a place in helping to heal those types of problems.
But even in the case of purely medical infertility, we still have an emotional job to do, and it may be even more important.
If you know a woman in your community or coven struggling with fertility, remember her this season for Ostara. Remind her of her inherent worth as a human being, and that her womanhood is every bit a maternal asset to her community as her hyper-fertile counterpart—maybe even more so. Whether she’s the first to arrive when someone is in the hospital, always makes sure everyone at the party is well-fed, or is someone you feel you can call in the middle of the night in an emergency, remind her of all the ways she is a “mother” to the people around her.
Now is the time to celebrate all the things we “give birth” to in life.