Friday, January 18, 2008

Determination of Life, Christianity and the Craft

Merry Meet,

I have been checking out the news on the net and noticed that it will soon be the 35th anniversary of the Roe V Wade decision legalizing abortion.

It is a controversial subject. I suppose that from the beginning of time, there were women who felt slaves to their bodies because they were unable to limit the number of pregnancies they would have. Of course we all know that the only sure way there would be no births was to be celibate unless you wished to increase your family size. Of course men also dictated when and how often sex was to occur. Women died like flies from being "bred out" and it was not uncommon for men to have three or four wives as each successive wife died in child birth. I believe that St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the spouse of Mary was likely a widower, which explains the reference to Jesus' brothers and sisters (I won't get into the Protestant argument against the perpetual sexual virginity of Mary at this time).

As humans became more sophisticated, there was some thought of how to keep women from being pregnant. Cleopatra was known to use a contraceptive sponge dipped in vinegar which kept her from getting pregnant until, presumably, it worked in her favor to become pregnant. Later, mid wives learned how to prescribe herbs for baths and teas that would prevent pregnancy or induce an abortion early in the pregnancy. Manual abortions appear later in Midwifery and are always more dangerous. And though there are many who would deny it, there were infanticides performed by Midwives. They smothered or strangled babies or pierced their temples with long needles and the babies would die.

Why did women have to go through this? Primarily because there was little in the way of choice. Women were the chattel of fathers, brothers and husbands. And this is long before the coming of the Judeo- Christian Church. Even among aboriginal tribes of North America, we know the culture was dominated by men, as in Asian cultures, Norse cultures, Celtic cultures and Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.

And the Catholic Church is not the only Christian church to ban the use of contraceptives. Many primitive Protestant and orthodox Jewish sects either prohibit or curtail the use of birth control.

As a Catholic, I wrestle with the issue of Abortion. There is a part of me who disagrees with it as an on demand medical practice namely because I believe in Birth Control, unlike many Catholic people and the Catholic hierarchy. I recall a Catholic priest I knew that said: "Anyone Catholic against Birth Control has never worked in an African mission."

But there is a part of me that would hate to see a day when a woman cannot make a decision to terminate a pregnancy she finds untenable for whatever reason. I don't think any woman should use Abortion as Birth Control, but I think every woman should be able to make a choice and I don't think any man, whether it be a father, brother, husband or lover has the right to make that choice either.

As a Christian, I believe in Birth Control and limited abortion on demand, but as a Christian I think we must start making decisions to take responsibility for ourselves. If you are out there living a promiscuous life (and only you can determine whether you are or not)you may want to decide whether or not children will ever be a factor in your life. If you know they won't, do something permanent about it. Have a surgical procedure to prevent you from ever becoming pregnant. It is easy, simple and effective and if you don't have the money, your family planning clinic can help you by getting the procedure free of charge. And if they turn down your request you have the right to appeal the decision.

But what about the Craft? What about the aspects of fertility and growth and maternal earth? Can you be a good witch and be in balance if you don't procreate within yourself? Some say that you can't. Many say that you can, that creation is about more than being a baby factory , that you can still nurture and grow things and people and help people become whoever they want to be by being a mentor, a teacher/tutor, an advocate or just a good listener to a young person. You can be a helper to that young couple who has a couple of children and a couple of jobs and not a lot of down time by volunteering to babysit for free a couple of times a month. You can donate time to a local school to tutor kids. You can volunteer at your Church or coven group to organize a sports team or an arts and crafts group or even a reading circle at the local library.

Though I am not a mother, and cannot be a mother, I know I can contribute to the lives of children and other people. I also know that sometimes, despite the best laid plans of mice and men, we have things that happen to us beyond our control. I know too, there are ways to try to avoid the worst case scenario. But above all, I know that no woman should be forced to be pregnant when she does not want to be and I know that no man has the right to make those decisions for her. And I know that though I don't believe in abortion as birth control, I further know that we must preserve a woman's right to chose.

Brightest Blessings Be
Aslinn Dhan Dragonhawk