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The Spirit of Corn

Posted on August 8, 2017

We celebrated Lammas Saturday with a corn ceremony. Lammas is the festival of the first harvest, traditionally grains. In fact, the word Lammas is a short form of a Saxon name for the celebration “loaf-mass” when the first loaves of bread from the new wheat were presented and blessed in a harvest ceremony.

We decided to have a corn ritual, since we are new world people and we honor the original people of this continent, along with the riches this side of the world brings us. It is worth reading what Michael Pollan has to say about corn. Two of his salient points inspired this ceremony: 1. We are corn people because it is so much of what we each and 2. The interdependence of corn and people.

Pollan talks about corn’s domestication of the human race. It cannot grow on its’ own and must be planted, and at least in this hemisphere, people could not have existed without it. The history of people and corn is completely intertwined. It is the most planted and most eaten grain in the world. Even if you do not eat corn on the cob, corn is in almost everything produced, from the old-fashioned corn syrup in candy to corn meal on the bottom of the pizza. Pigs fed the corn cobs. Farm-grown salmon is fed corn pellets. The protein in our bodies can be analyzed to show that we eat a lot of corn.

For this reason, we decided to honor corn. We took roles as the Corn Maiden, Corn Mother, Corn Sage or the Spirit of Corn. In turn, the Corn Maiden celebrated the seed corn with a symbolic planting. The Corn Mother cut corn from an ear of corn and offered it as food to all the participants. The Corn Sage prepared the batter from corn bread, which was baked and eaten with dinner after the ritual. The Spirit of the Corn created a corn dolly, which we all dressed in a skirt, a hat, a sash and a corsage.

We raised the power over the corn and set it out for healing. We finished with a wonderful poem about the corn and sunflowers from Amy Lowell.

I don’t have a picture of the altar (I so often forget in the excitement of the ritual), but I do have a picture of the Corn Dolly.

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