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Fertility Customs and Magic

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Fertility Customs and Magic

Spring is a time of fertility and growth.

Image © Getty Images

The Beltane season is a time of fertility, not only for people but for the land as well. If you plant a garden each summer, Beltane is a good time to do some fertility magic so that you will have an abundant crop by the time the harvest rolls around. There are many different methods of ensuring the fertility of the land, and you can incorporate any of these into your rituals and ceremonies.

  • In ancient Rome, it wasn't uncommon for the master of the land to take his wife out to the fields and have sex right there on the ground. If you had a lot of land, this could take all day, but it was practically guaranteed to ensure that the field would be fertile and productive once your slaves got the planting done.
  • In some traditions, menstruating women add a bit of their blood to the soil to add potency. It's a scientific fact that blood contains a lot of nutrients, so it makes sense to blend this in with the dirt before planting.
  • Farmers in the Congo region of Africa make offerings to the spirits of the land before they begin clearing it for planting. In addition to the offerings, there is also a great deal of chanting, drumming and singing, and it is only after the spirits indicate that they are pleased with the gifts and performances that the farmers may plant their crops.
  • The Algonquin peoples of the mid-Atlantic region performed ritual dances to ensure a bountiful agricultural crop each year. Dances involved a lot of noise, in order to wake the sleeping earth.
  • In Crete, a sword dance called the Kuortes was held each spring. During the Kourtes, a group of men gathered together, moving in unison with sticks or swords. Although it sounds warrior-like, it wasn't a martial dance but one that scholars say promoted fertility, instead. If you think about it, banging a stick or sword on the freshly plowed earth has quite a bit of fertility symbolism.
  • Roman women paid tribute to Flora, the goddess of flowers, in order to ensure fertility of both the land and the womb. A woman who was having trouble conceiving a child might offer flowers at Bona Dea's temple on the Aventine Hill. In an interesting paradox, Bona Dea was a goddess of both virginity and fertility, and was represented by the snake, often connected to fertility as well.
  • In Nagoya, Japan, residents still celebrate the annual Honen-sai festival. This is held each year in the spring, to make sure the crops will be plentiful, and includes a parade - the highlight of which is a giant penis on a float (the penis, carved from a cypress tree, is about fourteen feet long and quite impressive indeed).

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