Crafting Corn

Crafting Corn

The very oldest of legends.

Ceres - Life giving godess of agriculture, grain and harvest.

In Roman mythology, Ceres provided mortals with plants, food and vegetables. She gave them the ability to cultivate wheat, as well as showing them how to plants seed, nurture and harvest them. She is even attributed to teaching humans how to grind grain into flour which they could turn into bread.

One day, while Ceres was attending her duties her daughter Proserpina wandered off to admire a beautiful narcissus flower. As she bent down to pick it the ground opened and Pluto emerged in a chariot pulled with black horses. Proserpina was grabbed and whisked into the underworld. 


Ceres searched endlessly for her daughter, neglecting her duties on earth. Plants whithered, animals died and famine ravished the earth.
In mythology freedom from the underworld can only be achieved if nothing has been eaten in it. As the world could not continue in the state it was, the gods agreed that as Proserpina had eaten 6 pomegranate seeds, she could be freed for half a year and spend half a year in the underworld.
And was believed that the story explained the seasons of the year. The time spent away is Autumn and Winter. The daughter's arrival brings signs of hope, fertility and fruitfullness for Spring and Summer 

Corn gods and godesses

The first country to grow corn was Mexico, about 5.000 years ago. It was the most important food crop in Central and North America. As the facts about the growth of seed was unknown much was attributed to an invisible corn god or gods.  

The Zuni people, for example have a myth about eight corn maidens. They love to dance and despite being invisible their movements can be seen in the corn as they move with the wind. One day a young god called Paiyatemu fell in love with the maidens so they fled from him. As a result a terrible famine spread across the land. Paivatemu was forced to beg them to return, which they did. When they resumed their dancing, the crops began to grow again.  


Harvest was obviously a great time for celebration and people used the straw to make representation of these corn spirits.
Naturally when the corn is harvested the corn spirits are forced to retreat to the centre of the field. If they had no where to live they would not survive the harsh winters and so the last bunches of corn were woven into a hollow shape. This was carefully taken into the farm houses and placed above the fireplace where it would remain all Winter. When Spring returned, it was taken into the field, split open and the corn spirit could return to the field

Two interpretations of idols -1. a representation of human form. 2. A place for the corn spirits to retreat