I’m writing this now because I mentioned it at the last druid / pagan meetup and got some good input on it. So, I feel compelled to say that I mentioned this virtue specifically, because I didn’t feel as though I’d come to an understanding of fertility as a virtue to which I could really ascribe, or one day hope to embody.
Which is not to say I’m infertile. At the very minimum, I have three kids. And, I have hobbies which could be considered creative (writing, making music, drawing). But, while I find all of that therapeutic, it seems to me that a virtue should be something that I can wholeheartedly recommend to someone else. (And I only used the word ‘recommend’ because there isn’t a stronger word I can think of that comes short of legislate. Certainly if we think something is a virtue, we’re at least a little judgmental of those who choose not to develop that quality in themselves, aren’t we?)
And, I can’t fault anybody for not doing any of those things. I could feel sorry for that person, and probably do. And I certainly would find it hard to relate to that person, but, meh… That’s not enough to be a virtue.
Then, another participant at the meetup said something that really had me thinking. She thought that, for her, fertility was being an active part in supporting the natural fertility of the planet. Whether that was cleaning something up, or planting something new in the spring. And that seems like a definition of fertility I can get behind.
Fertility, then, is simply being a multiplier. Whether I as a person produce something on my own (children, food, ideas, stories) or whether I support the natural ‘fertility’ all around me (be it in the land, or in people and organizations whose fertility I cherish) I think it’s fair to say that we’re all under the injunction to support the fertility from which we all (here in the west, at least) live so richly.
Lastly, now that I’ve written that, I want to add a qualifier. Obviously, this isn’t a long-held opinion which I’ve had time to refine and to more deeply understand. But, I do feel as though the virtue of fertility requires action and not simply consumption. I say that because I don’t think there are shortcuts to virtue, and I don’t think that the ‘support’ for ‘creative work’ given when I buy a BluRay really counts as virtuous action. Partly because I do it for myself, and not for the other, and partly because it seems insufficient. It’s like only showing integrity when you’re proud of the truth.
But, with time, I hope this idea will grow in me (part of my own natural fertility) as I continue my druidic studies to somehow become more clear.
The above is a first draft of my attempt to understand fertility as a virtue. It reflects my understanding of vision before I spend time researching it as a specifically pagan virtue and will eventually inform the essay I submit as part of my Dedicant’s Path.