I is for Infertility Interdicted

We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses. Each post highlights one or more balms to soothe and cure our struggles of today with oral tradition and lore of the past. At times, a post will make a connection to history. You can guess what inspired this theme. Yes, the COVID-19. What better time to delve into tales where things can and do turn out “happily ever after”?

Infertility Interdicted-

From the Egypt-

Heket is the Egyptian goddess of birthing and fertility. She collaborated—and sometimes schemed for the better—with other goddesses as shared in this story involving triplets. Her name can be broken down to “heka,” which means magic. Power over fertility was considered by Ancient Egyptians as truly magical. She is depicted as the frog-headed goddess as the frog represents fertility, Think of 10,000 tadpoles from one frog. The Nile Rivers becomes overrun with frogs, and it is considered the most fertile time of the year.

50-word-or-less summary:

Raddjedet suffered with triplets in womb. Ra sent four goddesses including Heket. They disguised as dancers/musicians and let in by Raddjedet’s husband. They said they were also midwives. Heket sped up birth. Triplets healthy! They left sack with grain and three crowns. Said would return. Didn’t. Meant as gift. Received!

Version of Raddjedet and the Triplets story: http://www.thekeep.org/~kunoichi/kunoichi/themestream/egypt_magic.html#.XpENi8hKiUk and details http://folkheartpressblog.blogspot.com/2013/04/frog-lore.html?m=1

Compare to History:

The Ancient Egyptians had friends, neighbors, or servants within the household who usually assisted as midwives. Noble homes, such as in the story with Raddjedet, would have delivery in a temple and usually surrounded by statues of goddesses who blessed births in one way or another. As Heket sped up delivery, the Ancient Egyptians used rushes from the Nile placed on the woman’s abdomen. Interestingly, Heket was connected to frogs that also came from the Nile.

More on the History: https://www.midwiferysupplies.ca/blogs/ancient-midwifery-blog/295322-ancient-egyptian-midwifery-and-childbirth

From China-

Jade is dominant in many Chinese folktales to bring goodness. In this case, the Jade Emperor himself blesses Jiang Yuan who longed to bear children for Emperor Ku.

50-word-or-less summary:

Emperor’s wife, Jiang Yuan, was infertile. Sky god/Jade Emperor walked on earth and left footprint. While walking, Jiang Yuan stepped in footprint. Pregnant! Son became god of agriculture, Houji. He was an expert with millet, could grow anything. Fertile gift given to mother and fertile gift of earth given to son.

Finding the Story: https://books.google.com/books?id=LPlOO3_s898C&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=emperor+ku+giant%27s+footprint&source=bl&ots=kEP9q5_MhY&sig=ACfU3U2N_lrHS0x8NSuQ0YDCm7ZvF4Oe6g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiT5-_2ud_oAhXGGc0KHUcIDj8Q6AEwAHoECAMQAQ#v=onepage&q=emperor%20ku%20giant’s%20footprint&f=false

Compare to History:

Emperor Ku is considered a semi-historical character. People still debate on details of his life, especially in relation to his wives and consorts. More than one have had fantastic and hard-to-believe stories of how the descendants of Emperor Ku were born. One swallowed a black bird’s egg that fell from the sky and was then able to conceive. Another had a dream she swallowed the sun and the next day realized she was pregnant. Earth and water are common symbols of fertility. With Jiang Yuan stepping in the god’s footprint in the earth, it would be considered sacred earth.

More on the History: about Emperor Ku https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Ku and also article on myths and fertility https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4769851/

Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings in process of being adapted due to COVID-19. Our postponed Festival is now scheduled for May 12, 2021 with other plans that can be seen here: https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/ and http://www.storycrossroads.org/virtual.

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