ADF Dedicant Path: Nine Virtues (Fertility)

Our Own Druidry defines fertility as,

Bounty of mind, body and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, etc., an appreciation of the physical, sensual, nurturing

Merriam-Webster defines fertility as,

  • the ability to produce young

  • the ability to support the growth of many plants

  • the ability to produce many ideas

As a modest and childfree woman, you can guess that I have had a complicated relationship with the term “fertility.” According to ADF, I am not alone in this, though I used to think I was , at least among pagans, most of whom seem to be significantly more open about sex than I. Though many of them are also childfree, fertility connotes perceived ability to produce offspring rather than the actual act of doing so. Therefor, presenting oneself as sexually fertile was the essence of fertility in my narrow mind.

In my time as a Dedicant, I have come to learn that to be fertile means so much more than body positivity, sky clad rituals, and getting laid. Nevertheless, one can hardly deny that the term, with no other descriptors, implies ability to produce offspring before any other connotation. Even Merriam-Webster recognizes this. It is much like the term “Doctor.” Any one who holds a doctorate degree is a doctor, but with no other descriptors, “doctor” implies medical doctor before any other type. Similarly, describing a woman as “fertile” is much different than saying she has a fertile mind, for example. The connotation of a word is no small thing to be cast aside.

Setting connotation aside anyway, fertility as a virtue remains problematic for me in that unlike the other virtues of ADF, it is inherently an ability rather than an action. In my other virtue essays, I stress the importance of action over ability whenever the provided definitions do not. I can have a fertile body and a fertile mind, but if I never use them to provide something of benefit to the world, then I am not being virtuous. Perhaps “productivity” may be a better term to use in place of “fertility.” Though not as poetic, it embodies the spirit of the third triad of virtues, all of which belong to the producing class.

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Posted on August 25, 2016, in ADF Dedicant Path and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Lovely reflection! As someone who doesn’t plan on ever reproducing I really appreciate the exploration of other possible meanings of “fertility.”

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  2. Yep, also child-free, also have a big problem with the word “fertility” as a virtue. I like “creativity” as an alternative myself. Given how many people in ADF I’ve come across who don’t like “fertility” I’m amazed they haven’t changed it yet.

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    • Creativity is a good one, though the word is still a bit heavy on the ability over action side. Also, while creativity is worth shooting for, I don’t think it needs to be a virtue. I think as long as people contribute to the good of the world, the essence of the fertility (or related term) virtue is met. Creativity is an ideal to shoot for, but if you work a useful trade with skill and no particular creativity, this is enough imo.

      Liked by 1 person

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