Radical Fertility and Collective Abundance : A Story and a Recipe
As a person who never really sought the motherhood path, I never studied herbal fertility, except to understand pregnancy prevention and induced abortion- a topic very complicated and controversial. Fertility is a word and a concept that has triggered many people- hearing the word has always made me think about forced & homogenized femininity, about a long standing cultural obligation for motherhood. Many of our ancestors, those born with vaginas and assigned as women, lived lives to produce, and to raise new generations.
Born a child and young person with dreams of travel, adventure, revolution and artistic creation, the idea of imposed motherhood felt oppressive, and I know that I’m not the only one. Traditional gender roles never seemed to fit. A lot of times I felt more masculine than feminine, and getting dressed up and putting on make up sometimes felt like drag. Relationships with men, both sexual or otherwise, often felt like a great act of performance and I rarely felt seen for who I was. Teenage me dyed her hair blue, stayed up writing stories, wanted to write books instead of make babies.
My Abortion Story - Unwanted fertility
At age 30, when first moving to Oaxaca to teach English, I found myself captivated by a emotionally wounded and substance addled genderqueer presenting yet yearning for traditional masculinity bartender who I could barely communicate with, & I became pregnant for the first time in my life. My womb felt like a bloated bag of fluids, my mind raced from anger, heating to rage, exploding into sadness. I never felt so spiritually connected, though, to this part of me that was growing, growing with the part of someone else who was only meant to be a temporary character in the story of my life.
My sexual relationships with cis-men, up until that point, had been relatively minimal. Mostly drunken, failed one night stands where no one finished. A couple of relationships that were limited in P in V sex- a teenage boyfriend with silky blonde hair and the gentlest hands who would rollerblade to my house and throw rocks at my window. Being queer, also on the aromantic/asexual spectrum, and dealing with trauma from sexualized violence and emotional abuse that I had spent years immersed in work, community organizing and an eating disorder to avoid, had made pregnancy a thing I simply didn’t think or worry about. Who knew that the first time I had ever, in my life, had condomless sex to completion, this thing would grow inside of me.
Because of this, people started to use the word fertile to describe me. That I was so fertile, at least this meant that someday, when and if I chose, I would be able to become pregnant and give birth easily! But I felt that my body had betrayed me. The womanhood I had rejected, the solitary lifestyle I had embraced, had gone against me. There I was, in all my feminine presentation, rounded hips and big breasts, with this this bloated lower abdomen, holding the seeds of a life I had no desire to carry.
At that time, I had already studied herbal abortion and emmenagogues. One of my first gardens of my own, when I had moved back to Humboldt to be an americorps member at a public high school, was full of herbs I bought at the farmers market, that I read could be used to induce abortion. I hadn’t been having sex at the time, but I figured I knew other women who were, and I might again someday too. Plus, George W. Bush was president, and a lot of us were buzzing with the fear that Roe V. Wade might be overturned.
So there I was, a few years later, living in a city I was just getting to know, in a country not mine, where they spoke a language I was still learning. I turned to a friend, a salsa dancer, I cried explaining to her in Spanish my dilemma, and to my joy within a day she had made lots of phone calls and found many recipes, used by grandmothers and other relatives, to induce a miscarriage. Since abortion was illegal in Oaxaca, I heard stories of others who had been in the same situation. The look in some friends’ eyes hinted at a possibility that maybe many of these childless women I had befriended had also been faced with this same decision.
Consulting the invaluable Sister Zeus website, I unsuccessfully tried the three days of parsley tea & vitamin C with parsley inserted in the vagina. This is a method I since have frequently used but instead of after fertilization, I do it after a potential exposure, to decrease the chance of fertilization or implementation of the egg to the uterine wall. Eventually, I ended up getting my hands on some of the abortion pills, sold over the counter as an aid for ulcers.
I share this story because when discussing issues of fertility, it’s important to know that while fertility is sought by some, it is also something very triggering and unwanted by others, such as myself. The grief I experienced from my abortion was all consuming and overwhelming. Outside of the politics of abortion and reproductive choice, there is the reality that for some of us, having something grow in our bodies that we cannot accept is an intense and deep grieving process. I have no regrets, and I am so thankful to have been able to let this life go and preserve my own as it was. I will forever fight for reproductive justice, but those of us who have experienced abortion, identify as feminists and pro-choice, must allow room for the grieving process without it being weaponized by anti-choice activists.
Reclaiming fertility with the magic of the moon, garden rituals & tarot
I am learning to embrace fertility, see it as an all inclusive tool for capacity, growth and change. It is how we embrace things that makes them work for us. So, I was fertile. Like my mother and grandmothers who gave birth, or became pregnant, sometimes when unwanted, but there was no debate about what there was to do. My fertile body could have grown this child but instead I now grow plants, I make medicine, I write, I tell stories, I read cards. My short lived relationship with that being who I never met deepened my psychic and healing abilities. I absorbed him back into me. He was not without life, even if he never became a physical body.
Fertility magic relates to the moon & it’s cycles. A new moon is a time of the consideration of new seeds. A time to grow what you’d like to cultivate. Utilize her magic to create a fertile abundant harvest for the full moon- that time when us witches roll around in our beds and our own heads awake with a million questions, manic connection to spirit guides.
Embrace fertility as health, as wellness, as sexuality, as expression. To bring the energy of fertility to your garden, plant sunflowers, poppies and daffodils. The evidence of their fertility is in their resilience- their ability to grow and reproduce on their own, one season after the next.
Fertility is abundance; it is magic. Fertility means the space to grow- so what do you want to grow? For me, I know a fertile soil is the only way to start things a new. My friend Annie, interviewed on episode 13 of the podcast, always said that we were like cakes. Those of us who were told we were beautiful, who were nurtured, we were baked with sugar and sweet flavors, so we’d be good to eat. Those of us who were not, maybe nails and dirt were added to our cake, so maybe we wouldn’t be. Fertility is represented in the four of wands in the tarot- the four corners creating support for a roof- a garden bed with tilled soil. This now is the time to grow what we’d like to cultivate. Matched with Taurus season, we now can grow what we need for our abundance.
I see the four of wands as the place where cards of absolute abundance was been created- archetypes like the nine, ten and queen of pentacles. The four of wands creates that space for growth, is an invitation. The Nine, Ten and Queen of Pentacles asks us to examine our harvest, and give back where we are able. When we arrive at the full moon of our growth cycle, we arrive at harvest, at abundance, and we give back. For those of us who chose not to mother in the traditional sense, those of us like myself, then we give back that magic to the earth, to our communities. So far this month, I have given away and donated more than $200 worth of my medicine. When I utilize my fertility, by transforming my pain and trauma and life lessons into magic, then I create a glorious harvest. There is no better way to appreciate a harvest than to share it.
Plants as reproductive allies
If you stumbled across this blog post because you were looking for information on fertility in herbalism, chances are you’ve gone on your way. If you are still here, I will provide a few resources. If you are here to learn about herbal abortion, than I’ll give you these same resources. Working with plants is potent and as with western medicine and pharmacueticals, each body is different. What is one person’s experience couldn’t be everyone’s. The most important thing we can do as women, femmes, people assigned female at birth, is to know our bodies and trust them. If you deal with trauma, if you deal with chronic illness, this is going to look a lot different for you than for someone else.
For more information, check out Sister Zeus, or Samantha Zipporah. Googling “herbalism for fertility” will get you a million websites listing plants and supplements to help you “get pregnant fast”. Remember, listen to and trust your body first.
Strangely enough- many of the plants used to boost uterine and reproductive health are the same that can induce abortion, it all depends on how you use them. Parsley and vitamin C, for example, are touted as the best ways to prevent implementation. Once the egg has been fertilized and attached to the uterine wall, it is much more complicated to use herbs for pregnancy prevention. This is when reaching out to a full spectrum doula, or visiting planned parenthood or another pro-choice clinic will be helpful.
A uterine tonic/reproductive wellness infusion
2 tablespoons red clover
2 tablespoons nettles
1 tablespoon red raspberry leaf
A slice of fresh ginger
This gentle tonic has so many amazing benefits, and not only can boost fertility but also the regularity of your cycle and reduce pain and inflammation during the days leading up to and beginning your cycle. Red raspberry leaf has been such a powerful ally in pain prevention. This same infusion can be taken during the beginning of a cycle if painful cramping is present and a bit of white willow bark could be added. Vitex, or chaste tree berry are also effective, but might be better tinctured since the seeds aren’t always absorbed as effectively in an infusion. Ginger is a true gift to us all in the realm of pain reduction and energy. Mood too- since we can tend to feel more emotional during our cycles.
Red clover is high in vitamin C- but when heated it loses a lot of that potency. So if you want a boost of vitamin C, add a slice of lemon, or you can take a tincture of red clover, or cold brew your infusion. Red clover has a cooling effect, almost like hibiscus, it has a tangy flavor, and is a major ally for hormonal regulation. Any person with a uterus looking for regulation in their cycle should try this plant friend out. Since so many other factors regarding our health- such as our weight, our immune system, and our mood are related to hormones, red clover is very beneficial.
The journey to using plants for our health is one that can take a lot of time. Their medicinal properties can be potent, and even dangerous. In these tough times where abortion services are limited, and birth control can be expensive, and in bodies which have been affected by environmental pollution to the point of fertility issues, it’s amazing to be able to turn to the wisdom of plants.
to buy medicine to support the reproductive system, check out moon cycle blend, radical acceptance or the cinnamon rose love elixir in the witch shop