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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in grain goddess
Corn and Whiskey: Sacredness and Community Borne from the Earth

A significant portion of my family originated along the borderlands between Scotland and England, mostly in Northumberland and the Scottish Border. A number of them were reivers, opportunistic and clannish cattle- and sheep-thieving mafiosos of the Tudor and Stuart periods. When King James I of England (the VI of Scotland) wrestled them into submission, they migrated at his behest with other lowland Scots into Ulster, Ireland, before eventually immigrating to Turtle Island, settling in what we now call Western North Carolina. Once again, they dwelled in a borderland, a liminal space between the lands still freely occupied by Native peoples in the west and the European colonies in the east. It’s a breathtakingly beautiful region, with rolling ancient mountains and fertile valleys, carved through with rivers and creeks and patches of swamps. They lived in this area from the middle of the 18th century to the early 20th century. For much of this time, they were listed as farmers in tax and census records, like many other settlers of the area.

Corn Goddesses, Myths, and Traditions

Maize, what we Americans call corn (in Europe, corn can mean any grain), was a crucial and sacred crop to many Native tribes. As explained on the Native Languages website: “Corn played an important mythological role in many tribes as well-- in some cultures Corn was a respected deity, while in others, corn was a special gift to the people from the Creator or culture hero.” For the Cherokee, the Goddess Selu is the Corn Woman. She was the first woman Who came into being, and She was ultimately killed by Her twin sons, who feared Her power. Yet, as She died, She taught Her boys how to farm corn so that She could be reborn (“Selu, the Cherokee Corn Mother”). The Iroquois Corn Goddess is Onatah, Who with Her two sisters formed the Deohako, the “Life Supporters” -- more familiar to us settlers as the Three Sisters. In an Iroquois agricultural myth, Onatah was kidnapped and hidden underground, which caused a famine that only ended when She was liberated and returned (“Onatah, the Iroquois Spirit of the Corn”). In both myths, there is a theme of descent into the underworld -- through death in one, and being hidden in the other -- and a reemergence, which we see every year in the farming of maize.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Sif is the grain goddess in heathen mythology. She is married to Thor. Continuing my Novel Gnosis series, in which I present religious insights gained through writing fiction, today I'm talking about Sif and also Kvasir, the being made from brew. In Russian the word Kvas means a beer-like beverage.

In the Fireverse, Sif looks young with her shining gold hair, but her son Ullr looks old. Thor notices this when he marries Sif but he dismisses the thought because the appearance of age and actual age are not always related when it comes to gods and goddesses. Sif enjoys baking bread, and also enjoys eating it and other grain based foods. Sif’s representative color is gold. The cutting and regrowing of Sif's hair is an obvious agricultural metaphor, a snapshot of the wheat harvest.

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Grains, Spirits, and the Spurtle

It started when I was having trouble buying grains -- rice, flour, oats, you name it -- due to the quarantine panic. I looked in the pantry and realized that we had somehow previously amassed 10 lbs of grits along with 5 lbs of cornmeal -- plenty to get us through a temporary grain shortage. I was relieved, and my gratitude made me think of my ancestors and their reliance on grains, and of the ancestors of peoples around the world who did the same. Grains are sacred everywhere, although the specific grains will differ according to location.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    It's my understanding that cherry wood is toxic containing cyanide. Your land spirits are looking after you to have left the mapl
  • The Cunning Wīfe
    The Cunning Wīfe says #
    Cherry wood does contain traces of cyanide -- definitely not good to eat (unlike the fruits)! Because the wood contains such a sma
Red and White: The clues in the colors of Minoan art

For a long time, I wondered what on Earth possessed the Minoans to paint women as white (not Caucasian-toned, but the color of a sheet of paper) and men as dark-dark red. After all, DNA evidence shows that, like their ancestors in Neolithic Anatolia, the Minoans all had skin in various shades of brown. So why the weirdness in the art, like the Bull Leaper fresco above?

Then I began to learn about Mediterranean folk dance. Dance ethnology isn't a field I ever really thought about much before, to be honest. Then a talented dance ethnologist who happens to be a member of the MMP Board began to share her insights with us, and a lot of things began to make sense.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My copy of "The Ancient & Martial Dances" arrived in the mail today. It looks intriguing. Thank you for mentioning it.

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