Womb, Egg, Phallus, Seed: The Birth of NILVX

 "Mothers" by Ona Loots

"Mothers" by Ona Loots


Nadi and Children of the Waters

My little cabbage bloom
come before spine could fuse.

How should I plant you
One loosed from the womb?

Head no bigger than a pap
— excerpt from "Wortcunning" by Brenda Mann Hammack, NILVX I(I)

** Content Advisory **

During the Spring Equinox of 2015, I performed a private naming and memorial ceremony for my dear friend, Nadi, and her husband shortly after they had suffered their fifth miscarriage. 

Prior to their most recent loss, Nadi had tried infertility injections and various alternative treatments to conceive a child.  She eventually went to a local, and well-respected, pagan shop for help.  

She texted me a picture of her pregnancy test showing she was pregnant.   She was ecstatic.  I was happy, but cautious.  She returned to the same store, beaming, with her hands placed lovingly on her belly, seeking protective magic for the baby. 

About three weeks passed, and she lost the pregnancy.  She was devastated.  I was furious.

She suffered nightmares, reliving graphic images night after night.  On top of her grief, more often than not, her experience was met with avoidance or indifference.  A trip to the doctor’s office became agonizing as she saw her documentation printed with a diagnosis of infertility.   She pleaded with the administrator to remove the diagnosis off any forms they gave her.  She didn’t want to see it.  She was suffering deeply, and for the most part, privately. 

Our friendship went back over 20 years, and I wanted to do something, anything, to soothe her pain.  Also, a part of me felt guilty for not helping her initially.  I was the one who pointed her to the pagan shop, because I believed this type of work needed a person experienced in fertility practices.   That was not my area of expertise.

I was angry, too.  I felt there should have been more counseling and follow-up with such a delicate situation.  Even a simple divination could have offered guidance.  I understand it's a business, but it has its roots in service to the community.   My friend was not seeking a love spell to get the hunky neighbor.  She wanted a baby.

Today is the Spring Equinox, an auspicious day. The sun has descended into the watery depths of Pisces, the last zodiac sign, and will be reborn again through the fires of Aries. The day and night have balanced, but after tonight, the darkness of winter will surrender to the growing light of spring. Light will overcome darkness.

Is the mother ready to make this transition with the sun?

Is the father ready to make this transition with the sun?

In an attempt to redress the spiritual, mental, and emotional damage amplified by a well-intentioned attempt at fertility magic, I wrote a ceremony, inspired by the mizuko kuyo rituals of Japanese Buddhism. 

I researched, read about the experiences of other women's suffering, pored through practices and prayers from around the world.   I infused my own magical knowledge, borrowed when my experience fell short, to create a ceremony that would shape both of our lives. 

I guided Nadi and her husband into the Underworld to retrieve their children, name them, and to say goodbye.  I watched my friend hurl expletives into the flames rising before the Dark Goddess.  And at the end, exhausted, they could finally begin to heal.

This experience gave rise to the first issue of NILVX: A Book of Magic and inspired the theme of "Womb, Egg, Phallus, Seed."  In the introduction to the issue, I reveal that the theme is a generative chant reminiscent of the "earth, air, fire, water" chant.   And I was compelled to share this generative energy with my friend and dedicate the issue to her: "For Nadi and the Children of the Waters."

I set out to make the first issue of NILVX: A Book of Magic truly live up to its name.

Out of the Darkness and into… the Darkness?

Literary journals are not lucrative enterprises.   I knew this from the start.  I was prepared to self-fund as long as I could with the hope that if NILVX could be self-sustaining, that would be my goal.   If NILVX did come to a grinding halt, at least I would have had the opportunity to shine a light on extraordinary writers and artists from around the world. 

I handled all aspects of the journal, from design to paper selection and content.   I recruited another longtime friend, Cassandra, to help with editing.  I toured the printing facility and met the people that would be working to make NILVX come into existence.  It was important for me to see the faces, even if I couldn’t remember names, of the people involved in creating the project. 

If I only published one issue,  I was committed to producing a journal that reflected my love for art, literature, and magic and the extraordinary souls that live to create.

Other Mother Dances

"Still in a Dream" by Marcela Bolivar

Megan Merchant’s poem “Other Mother dances” is the very first poem I accepted into NILVX. The poem is the energy source of NILVX, the prime mover, an invocation of creation and fertility, through the “unhinged” energy-raising dance of Other Mother.  

I needed that energy to bring NILVX into being.   The poem gave me the boost of confidence that people would be interested in NILVX, and I could provide quality content. The journal was unknown, unconventional, and (seemingly) unpronounceable, and I was afraid I would have to settle for the best of the worst just to have something to publish. 

To this day, the poem is very special to me.   I even find myself at times reciting aloud from memory, to remind myself where I started, perhaps hoping to extract a little more creative energy from it.

The Birth of NILVX and …

About a month before the release of the first issue of NILVX: A Book of Magic, Nadi texted me to tell me she was pregnant.   I was happy, and again cautious, but it felt different this time.  She was the inspiration for everything that was about to come into being. She and I felt optimistic. I wanted to believe that something extraordinary was manifesting for both of us.  

In October of 2017, Nadi and her husband gave birth to a healthy baby girl, my goddaughter.

NILVX continues to grow, and I along with it.  I'm grateful for the positive and supportive feedback during this first year, which always seem to come when I am brooding over imperfections that made it to print or doubting my skills and ability to keep this going.  As we enter the new cycle, the Tide of Sowing, I plant the seed of continued growth for this unconventional and (seemingly) unpronounceable journal.

M.L. Anderson