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Psychle: Mortal Reproduction
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Mature male plants and animals pollenate female plants and animals, at which point the pollen and semen travels deeper into its womb, where new life first sparks. This is called conception for animals and fertilization for plants. Hermaphroditic plants, animals and humans can use male and female organs to pollenate and fertilize both others and themselves. Offspring then grows into fruits and babies, which mature towards sexual adulthood.
The alignment of the reproductive narratives shared by plants, animals and humans bears a cornucopia of familiar metaphors. The earth in which seeds gestate becomes seen as a mother’s womb. To be born is to sprout. To bear fruit is to bear children.
Birds and the bees, which carry out the masculine task of delivering pollen, become seen as male suitors. Flowers—the mature sexual organs of plants—become associated with sexual maturity. This is why Persephone, before abducted by Hades, plucks the narcissus. The flower is a narrative motif that symbolically communicates her stage in life—sexual maturity. Where the flower uses smell to drive its procreation, so do animals, so do humans. We use pheromones—a chemical mating call. Male animals are particularly attracted to the smell of females when they’re in heat or rutting. Despite the analogy’s crudeness, the cycle of a man’s attraction to a woman’s pheromones is driven by her ovulation pattern. A more elegant veneer can be seen in the conflation of perfume and scented flowers with seduction.
The cycles of procreation are prominent in the mythic imagination. This is especially seen in the myths of great mothers—Inanna, Persephone, Mary, Isis, whose journey into the underworld is one of death, begins labor at the bottom. The return from the underworld is then represented by the labor and birth of her child. The return of Persephone is similarly conflated with the birth of her mysterious child, which follows her impregnation by seed from her husband. Isis’ story is mimetic—her conception is associated with the bottom of the Duat, and the birth of her son comes at the end of the journey through death. Like the other divine mothers, Mary was impregnated by a god. And as with Isis, the birth of her child is seen as the bringing of new light into the world.
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