Corn – Zea mays

Sacred to: Sacred to harvest goddesses such as Greek Demeter and Roman Ceres.

Selu (of the Cherokee whose very name means corn!)

Myth: In Central America, the Maya believed that human beings were made from maize. After attempts with other materials failed, the gods succeeded in creating people by using ground maize mixed with water.

Other Notes: The Corn Mother, or Goddess, is a deity of plenty and of fertility, long worshipped throughout the East and North America. The Zunis utilize different colors of corn in their religious rituals. Blue corn meal is used to bless and is scattered as an offering.

The Ear of Corn – Grimms Fairy Tales

In former times, when God himself still walked the earth, the fruitfulness of the soil was much greater than it is now. Then the ears of corn did not bear fifty or sixty, but four or five hundred-fold. Then the corn grew from the bottom to the very top of the stalk, and according to the length of the stalk was the length of the ear. Men however are so made, that when they are too well off they no longer value the blessings which come from God, but grow indifferent and careless. One day a woman was passing by a corn-field when her little child, who was running beside her, fell into a puddle, and dirtied her frock. On this the mother tore up a handful of the beautiful ears of corn, and cleaned the frock with them. When the Lord, who just then came by, saw that, he was angry, and said, henceforth shall the stalks of corn bear no more ears, men are no longer worthy of heavenly gifts. The by-standers who heard this, were terrified, and fell on their knees and prayed that he would still leave something on the stalks, even if the people were undeserving of it, for the sake of the innocent chickens which would otherwise have to starve. The Lord, who foresaw their suffering, had pity on them, and granted the request. So the ears were left as they now grow.

The Strange Origin of Corn – An Abnaki Tale

A long time ago, when the Indians were first made, one man lived alone, far from any others. He did not know fire, and so he lived on roots, bark, and nuts. This man became very lonely for companionship. He grew tired of digging roots, lost his appetite, and for several days lay dreaming in the sunshine. When he awoke, he saw someone standing near and, at first, was very frightened.

But when he heard the stranger’s voice, his heart was glad, and he looked up. He saw a beautiful woman with long light hair! “Come to me,” he whispered. But she did not, and when he tried to approach her, she moved farther away. He sang to her about his loneliness, and begged her not to leave him.

At last she replied, “If you will do exactly what I tell you to do, I will also be with you.”

He promised that he would try his very best. So she led him to a place where there was some very dry grass. “Now get two dry sticks,” she told him, “and rub them together fast while you hold them in the grass.”

Soon a spark flew out. The grass caught fire, and as swiftly as an arrow takes flight, the ground was burned over. Then the beautiful woman spoke again: “When the sun sets, take me by the hair and drag me over the burned ground.”

“Oh, I don’t want to do that!” the man exclaimed.

“You must do what I tell you to do,” said she. “Wherever you drag me, something like grass will spring up, and you will see something like hair coming from between the leaves. Soon seeds will be ready for your use.”

The man followed the beautiful woman’s orders. And when the Indians see silk on the cornstalk, they know that the beautiful woman has not forgotten them.

The Goddess of Corn – A Huichol Tale

It is told that one time a young man went out in search of food. He met some ants along the way that invited him to search for corn, but that very night [while he slept], they walked off with his hair and eyelashes. This left him blind, and he couldn’t continue his search until he heard the song of a dove that led him to the house of the com goddess, Our Mother Kukuruku.

The goddess introduced him to the five different-colored daughters who symbolize the different colors of the com that Huichols have. He selected the black one to take home as his wife. He was warned by the goddess that she must be placed in the caiihuey for five days and not be allowed to work. But the mother-in-law became impatient and shamed the girl into grinding com. She immediately began to bleed.

As soon as that happened, the com was diminished and the young man went out again to ask for more corn. This time he was given five ears of corn that he planted with the utmost of ceremony, as prescribed by the com goddess.” [To this day, the Huichol farmer selects a part of his milpa, or cornfield, to plant the seeds from those first five ears of corn that have been passed down from generation to generation .

The Corn Maidens – A Zuni Myth

The Zuni people of the southwestern United States have a myth about eight corn maidens. The young women are invisible, but their beautiful dancing movements can be seen when they dance with the growing corn as it waves in the wind. One day the young god Paiyatemu fell in love with the maidens, and they fled from him. While they were gone, a terrible famine spread across the land. Paiyatemu begged the maidens to turn back, and they returned to the Zuni and resumed their dance. As a result, the corn started to grow again.

The Corn Husk Doll Legend       

Many years ago, the Creator made Three Sisters (Corn, Beans, and Squash) to feed the people. Corn wanted to give the people a gift, so she asked the Creator to make a person out of her husks to play with the children. The Creator made a corn husk doll with a beautiful face. At first the doll played nicely and helped to take care of the children.

Then, one day, the corn husk doll looked into a pond of water and saw her face. She saw that she was very beautiful. After that the corn husk doll changed. All she thought about was her pretty face. She stopped playing with the children and spent all of her time looking in mirrors.

The Creator was not happy and warned her to be good. The corn husk doll promised to be humble, but she was not. All she could think about was her beauty. Finally, the Creator decided to punish her and take away her face. Since then, corn husk dolls do not have faces.

“You see,” Grandma said, “The corn husk doll had to stop thinking about herself and learn to help others.”

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