Sunday, February 2, 2020

The island where children are born in pots

Not this island. Autumn sunset in Omijima, Japan by /u/hunter07ar

Humor me for a moment, and imagine an island. Warm summers, mild winters, fertile soil, and plentiful game. The people of this island are just like any other, except for one thing. No matter how hard they try, the people of this island cannot get pregnant. Humans here do not go through the menstrual cycle. Women have no eggs, and men have no sperm.

Luckily, the people of this island do not all die out after a generation. They have a way to reproduce, though it takes some magical help. It involves ritual, and praise for a fertility god.

First, acquire a clay pot, large enough to comfortably fit a newborn child. Paint it with images of fertility: budding flowers, sprouting fruits, growing trees. Use bright colors and lavish the pot with images of the Fertility God. When the paint has dried, go to a river, and fill the pot with water. Boil the water to remove contaminants, and set it in a safe, dry location in your home. Go into the forest and find the three life-giving flowers. Once you have a handful of each, bring them back to the pot and submerge them. With your partner, sing a hymn to the Fertility God, walk around the pot six times, then have sex in its vicinity.

If the rituals have been performed correctly, the pot will be warm to the touch, and the water will turn red with blood. For nine months, the water in the pot will act as a perfect womb for the developing infant. Take care not to disturb the pot, for a careless bump might induce miscarriage. Do not add anything to the birth-water, especially not alcohol. You might want to cover pot, just in case. When the time comes, the water will disappear from the pot, leaving only the newborn infant.

Each morning, check the pot and listen for crying.
You wouldn't want to miss the birth of your own child, would you?

This method of conception through ritual has many social effects. First and foremost, the lack of pregnancy or menstruation makes women's lives significantly safer and easier. Death in childbirth, a scourge for so many people in the real world, is nonexistent on this island. A woman does not have to risk her life to carry a child to term, but why should there have to be a woman involved? After all, this process depends on magic, not biology. The only elements required to conceive are two consenting adults, the act of sexual intercourse, and the ritualized birth-pot. The child will be a genetic mixture of both parents, no matter their gender or sex.

The birth-pot also solves a number of compilations with inheritance. Because of the ritual required to conceive, an accidental pregnancy is impossible. There is no such thing as an unwanted child, and there is almost never a question over whose child is whose. Add that to the fact that both parents invest an equal measure of effort into the process of birth, the pressures toward a patriarchal social system in most real-world societies are nonexistent on the island. The task of raising children is more evenly distributed as well.

The people of this island have little need for contraceptives if sex alone cannot result in pregnancy. They might still be useful for the prevention of STIs, but the islanders are a long way from germ theory. So for now, contraception is an entirely foreign concept. Family planning is, of course, universal, because the decision to have a child is by nature very deliberate and intentional.

What about outsiders? Foreigners procreate as normal, and cannot make use of the birth-pot ritual. Islanders, meanwhile, are sterile. It is thus impossible for them to have children together. The people of the island find outsiders’ pregnancies tantamount to body horror. Expanding stomachs, half-grown children inside the body, deaths in childbirth — they're stories islander parents tell their children to scare them out of misbehavior. Pregnancy is for animals, not people! The islanders believe the Fertility God has given them a very special gift indeed. In their minds, since the birth-pot ritual is only accessible to those who were themselves born from the pot, then it follows that the islanders are a chosen people, created separately from all other humans by the Fertility God. This may or may not be true, but they certainly believe it.

I leave you on a grim note. An islander child could very well outlive both parents before even being born.

Near Llangollen, Wales by /u/shieldbro19

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