“Why do you choose to give birth to your young?” I asked the Seahorse. “It is rather peculiar behaviour…”
“Peculiar to you, but not to me…”
The Fertility of the Land
The Fertility of the Land was a strong and recurring theme in the mythology of the ancient world. This theme has a deep and strong relationship to the primal human desire to survive and perpetuate its own existence. Regardless of how this urge is structured and expressed, it has dominated and shaped human and ancient thinking for millennia.
An inextricable link exists between history and mythology. Through our myths, we tell the world what we care about and why it is important to us. Through the study of these ancient myths, we discover that Goddess Worship permeated and persisted throughout the world’s first civilisations. It was the Mother Goddess who was chiefly associated with fertility.
Ancient civilisations were largely formed around the valleys of large rivers. Our ancient predecessors considered the feminine principal to be the source of life. This link was tied to agriculture and farming and its relationship to wealth creation.
By 4th century CE, however, the myths shifted away from Goddess Worship and towards the conceptualisation of a God. This trend appears to have taken place all over the world within a similar timeframe. The reasons for why this happened are many–some pragmatic and some happenstance. As the population grew, so did its needs. Once our basic survival needs were met, the population turned its attention to more complex needs that could not be met with bread alone.
It could be said that that is why the state was born.
Seahorses and their cousins–the pipefish and the seadragons–are very unusual. It is the Father that gets pregnant and gives birth. Father Seahorse will carry his babies in a pouch and in some species, the seahorse can give birth to more than 1,000 babies at once.
After Father Seahorse has made his babies, he does nothing more for them. They must fend for themselves and hide from their predators. Of the hundreds of babies that Father Seahorse gives birth to; only one or two will survive to become adults and have babies of their own.
Even though sea horses are actually fish, seahorse babies have a relatively high shot at long-term survival because they are protected in the father’s pouch during their earliest stages of development. The eggs of most other fish are abandoned immediately after fertilisation. Seahorses, who follow truly unique courtship rituals, are mostly monogamous and mate for life.
The reason why this anomaly exists may be due to the fact that seahorse babies are popular prey for bigger animals. Therefore, by the time the male gives birth, the female can develop another batch of eggs to be fertilized. Thus, a seahorse dad might give birth in the morning and be pregnant again by nightfall.
As to why this wonder of nature exists, I suppose my conclusion is that there must have been a desire in the masculine principle to give birth…