Every culture I’ve passed through has an opinion, a hope, a shared understanding about fertility.
The phallus-laden Lama Drukpa Kunley temple in Bhutan, the healing hut on the Masaii Mara in Kenya, the beachside tree in the Seychelles whose fruit is harvested, preserved and shellaced because it looks like a woman’s vulva, the pope in the Vatican, the fortune-teller in Hungary, the doctor’s office in California.
The human drive to continue on into the future is profound. Evolutionary. It’s the only reason we’re all here. From the vary root of our lineage – a cosmic cauldron of proteins and peptides – to bacteria and then fungus all the way to Animalia. Recreate, procreate, create create create.
It’s a bit narcissistic really. Creating someone in our own image. Isn’t that what some of the gods claim to have done?
I know through history, children were and are the farmhands. More hands and more food are one in the same. We need more of children too because so many died – of diarrhea, dysentery, snake bites, wild animals – along the way.
Just as being fertile has a celebrated cultural narrative – she’s fecund! Teeming with life force! So healthy and strong! How did being infertile create such a stigma across cultures – shame, hopelessness, a wrong-doing, a curse, banishment, lower caste?
How many times have I haphazardly stumbled into one of these situations? Women surrounding me, a guest in their home place, a prayer offered, a blessing for my uterine empowerment bestowed, smiles and encouragement to predict the number of children I would have.
I never asked for these. Nor have I felt any shame. So why does it still bother me?