Well, this is going to piss a bunch of people off…

Neptunesdolphins wrote the following:

You know that is one definition for impiety – the presumption that the Gods are always on your side, because you said so.

Beckett tries to couch his writing in terms of well this is the Gods, and this is me, which is fine. But getting into the weeds and writing about Pagans in general, he links the two such as the Gods are for a woman’s right to choose (i.e., abortion). Well, I can think of several Gods who might baulk at that such as the Gods of Childbirth and Fertility. I can be pro-choice, but I cannot assume any of the Gods I follow are.

A God may tell me to do something political since that may be what They do, which is fine. But as you state there is a difference between me and Them.

What I find interesting is when Beckett rails about Christian Nationalists (and others) who do the same thing – assume that God and they think exactly the same.

BTW, nice tea cozy.

To which I replied:

Much appreciated. I think the cozy is rather stylish myself.

And precisely. Although Dionysos is very much about choice and bodily autonomy I’ve found a number of instances where abortion is discouraged or carefully regulated within his cults. I can think of a number of reasons for this – uniquely among the Gods Dionysos is represented as a fetus or premature child; he also has a strong concern for life in general, and young life in particular; as a God of luxuriant vitality, and growth and fertility more generally, abortion is the antithesis of that. I also strongly suspect that the purification rites imposed weren’t punitive but designed to help the woman process what happened and deal with grief and other unresolved emotions which might not otherwise have been addressed within their society before undergoing a process of reintegration and resuming their religious obligations.

So it’s complicated, especially since we’re left with the prescription in isolation. And interestingly the word used can either refer to the intentional termination of a pregnancy or an accidental miscarriage – not only is no context provided to help determine which is meant (assuming they saw a distinction between them) – but most sacred laws don’t even touch on this, so you can’t look to other sources for clarification either. (I will note that in the instances where this regulation shows up we’re either dealing with a Dionysiac cult interested in promoting fertility or else there’s a strong Orphic and Pythagorean influence which means we’re dealing with a non-normative form of the God; in other Dionysiac cults, as with Greco-Roman religion generally, abortion/miscarriage tends to be overlooked.)

Unsurprisingly this is something that’s gone unnoticed and uncommented on by the majority of contemporary Dionysians, most of whom are left-leaning and take it for granted that Dionysos shares their liberal viewpoint. I generally don’t bring it up because I don’t want contemporary politics to get in the way of them having a rich and satisfying relationship with Dionysos. However reflecting on this has definitely shifted my views on the subject – to the point that I’m no longer in favor of abortion, though I don’t want to see restrictive laws imposed since I have an inherent mistrust of the government and history has shown that such legislation just makes a bad situation many, many times worse. I’d rather see effort put into education, moral and societal reform, access to contraception and the morning after pill as well as sterilization procedures, eliminating some of the bureaucracy and hoops around adoption and surrogacy, providing support and resources both during and after pregnancy, and whatever else it takes to make sure that every child born is wanted, loved, healthy and properly cared for as well as ensuring the health and wellbeing of the mother – not to mention a bunch of needs and services I’m not aware of because I’m a dude, and early on made the decision to remain child-free.

And I think everyone needs to step up to make this happen – the nuclear family is unnatural and ineffective. In any properly functioning society you’ve got the grandparents, and older children, a pack of aunties and uncles, friends and neighbors, etc. etc. etc. all willing to pitch in and help the young couple out. It truly does take a village to raise a child. But today everything is so atomized and disconnected it’s no wonder we’re producing Millennials and Gen Zers, with all of their defects, dysfunction, and degeneracy. It’s not their fault they are so entirely lacking in virtue and functionality – that’s a failure of society at large. No wonder millions of mothers would rather murder their babies than raise them in the world we have collectively created. We can do better.

And that’s my Ted Talk, folks.

And just to be clear: I think abortion is wrong, not the women who get them. I don’t consider it my place to pass judgment on an individual’s decisions about their body, especially when they find themselves in such a personal and desperate situation. My place is to help create a society where abortion isn’t considered necessary except in the case of medical emergencies. And that, I think, can only be done on the tribal level.

And I have no idea what Dionysos thinks on the subject, as it’s never come up. And if I did I wouldn’t mention it, because I believe that my arguments are morally correct, logically consistent, humane, and capable of standing on their own.

7 thoughts on “Well, this is going to piss a bunch of people off…

  1. This is an excellent post and I say that being extremely pro-abortion. I’m not pro choice, I go well beyond that. I actually think abortion should be mandatory I some cases. Religiously, I have suspicions that there are many Gods Who would not be in favor of abortion and I know several Who don’t seem to care or for Whom it’s a sacrament. Our Gods are many and varied. What I haven’t seen is any of Them acting in a punitive manner toward women who do get abortions. I do wish that sterilization for women was easier to obtain. I believe it was 2019 that a woman in the UK had to sue the NHS (she won) for the right at age 25 to be sterilized. Women are denied it, told they might want children one day, or that their husbands might, etc. etc. they’re faced with obstacles that men seeking to be fixed don’t have to deal with. We need better contraception, better access to sterilization, and far more respect and societal support for those women who do choose to be mothers.

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    1. Oh yeah, that shit is ridiculous. When my mom had my siblings they had to do a C-section on her. Since they already had her open she wanted them to tie her tubes, as none of us were planned (and indeed I was several failed contraception methods.) However the doctor had to get her husband’s permission to go ahead with the procedure, just in case he might have wanted more kids in the future – and this was in 1986, not the 50s. Meanwhile when I got a vasectomy they asked a couple routine questions and that was it, and the guy didn’t even look up from his clipboard as he was checking off my responses. He certainly didn’t ask my partner at the time if she gave permission for me to have a procedure on my own body done in case at some theoretical future date she might want kids. Fucking ridiculous and a clear indication of double standards and sexism in the medical field.

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      1. yah, this is par for the course with women and sterilization. it’s paternalistic bullshit. My earliest memory is of never, ever wanting children. My opinion on the matter hasn’t changed. I like them well enough to visit but don’t want them to stay lol


  2. I imagine it is difficult to know much about ancient practices or attitudes re abortion. We know that physicians trained in the traditions of Hippocrates were forbidden to perform them. This may not have applied to all who provided medical care. Most care for pregnant women was provided by midwives. I doubt that they discussed their practice or methods with men, unless questioned for some legal reason about a pregnancy. It is possible that the midwives had knowledge of abortifacient herbs or procedures that have since been lost. I learned in anthropology classes that some tribal peoples had such knowledge and that in some cultures the men were (officially at least) clueless. The woman went to the menstrual hut as usual or went to the woman only market and what went on there was women’s business. We do know that Roman doctors had the instruments for performing Dilation and Curettage, but not the circumstances under which they used those instruments. There are whole areas of life that are simply not discussed in the texts that survive. There may never have been such written discussion, since most women could neither read nor write, or they may have been destroyed by the mostly male scholars who preserved what texts we do have.

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    1. Women were actually far, far more literate in Ancient Greece and Rome than was originally thought, both with reading and writing. There is quite a bit of surviving literary material and it is inaccurate to say that most women couldn’t read and write. –not to mention it treats Ancient Greece as a monolith, which it never was. As far as the Hippocratic oath forbidding abortions, which it does — I always thought that was precisely as you note, because that was the specialty of midwives, not physicians per se. There were other medical schools that didn’t have that prohibition but I suspect based on the sources that an awful lot of that was handled by women. (Greek Magical Papyri include a ton of recipes, herbs, etc. for contraception, abortion, etc. and that is only one source that comes to mind atm.).

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      1. Based on what I’ve been learning about herbs, I would say that I personally favor the school of thought that suggests that the reason for the Hippocratic Oath’s ban on abortion was that the herbs typically used to induce miscarriages tend to need exactly the right dosage and administration or else the mother will get sick and die. Taking into consideration what everyone else has already mentioned regarding this kind of thing mostly being treated by women and not by men, Hippocrates probably felt that he’d rather leave it to the professionals. Even today, medicine is such a broad field that it’s impossible to know everything and it’s best to acknowledge when something is out of your wheelhouse

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