Pagan Musings (A Wonderful Read for All Pagans)

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Pagan Musings

Tony Kelly of the Selene Community in Wales wrote these words in 1970. Modern Paganism still draws inspiration, unity, and peace from these words. Blessings upon you all…please read, and enjoy…

We’re of the old religion, sired of Time, and born of our beloved Earth Mother. For too long the people have trodden a stony path that goes only onward beneath a sky that goes only upwards. The Horned God plays in a lonely glade for the people are scattered in this barren age and the wind carries his plaintive notes over deserted heaths and reedy moors and into the lonely grasses. Who knows now the ancient tongue of the Moon? And who speaks still with the Goddess? The magic of the Land of Larine and the old Pagan God shave withered in the dragon’s breath; the old ways of magic have slipped into the wells of the past, and only the rocks now remember what the moon told us long ago, and what we learned from the trees, and the voices of grasses and the scents of flowers.

We’re Pagans and we worship the Pagan Gods, and among the people there are Witches yet who speak with the Moon and dance with the Horned One. But a Witch is a rare Pagan these days, deep and inscrutable, recognized only by her own kind, by the light in her eyes and the love in her breast, by the magic in her hands and the lilt of her tongue and by her knowledge of the real. But the Wiccan Way is one way. There are many; there are Pagans the world over who worship the Earth Mother and the Sky Father, the Rain God and the Rainbow Goddess, the Dark one and the Hag on the mountain, the Moon Goddess and the Little People in the mists on the other side of the veil. A Pagan is one who worships the Goddesses and Gods of Nature, whether by observation or study, whether by love or admiration, or whether in their sacred rites with the Moon, or the great festivals of the Sun.

Many suns ago, as the pale dawn of reason crept across the Pagan sky, man grew out of believing in the Gods. He has yet to grow out of disbelieving in them. He who splits the Goddess on an existence-nonexistence dichotomy will earn himself only paradoxes, for the Gods are not so divided and nor the magic lands of the Brother of Time. Does a mind exist? Ask her and she will tell you yes, but seek her out and she’ll elude you. She is in every place, and in no place, and you’ll see her works in all places, but herself in none. Existence was the second-born from the Mothers womb and contains neither the first-born or the unborn. Show us your mind and we’ll show you the Gods! No matter that you can’t for we can’t show you the Gods. But come with us and the Goddess herself will be our love and the God will call the tune. But a brass penny be your reason!, for logic is a closed ring, and the child doesn’t validate the Mother, nor the dream the dreamer. And what matter the wars of opposites to she who has fallen in love with a whirlwind or to the lover of the arching rainbow.

But tell us of your Goddess as you love her, and the Gods that guide your works, and we’ll listen with wonder, for to do less would be arrogant. But we’ll do more, for the heart of man is aching for memories only half forgotten, and the Old Ones only half unseen. We’ll write the old myths as they were always written and we’ll read them on the rocks and in the caves and in the deep of the greenwood’s shade, and we’ll hear them in the rippling mountain streams and in the rustling of the leaves, and we’ll see them in the storm clouds, and in the evening mists. We’ve no wish to create a new religion of our; religion is as old as the hills and older, and we’ve no wish to bring difference together. Differences are like different flowers in a meadow, and we are all one in the Mother.

What need is there for a Pagan movement since our religion has no teachings and we hear it in the wind and feel it in the stones and the Moon will dance with us as she will? There is a need. For long the Divider has been among our people and the tribes of man are no more. The sons of the Sky Father have all but conquered nature, but they have poisoned Her breast and the Mother is sad for the butterflies are dying and the night draws on. A curse on the conquerers! But not of us, for they curse themselves for they are nature too. They have stolen our magic and sold it to the mindbenders and the mindbenders tramp a maze that has no outlet for they fear the real for the One who guards the path.

Where are the Pagan shrines? And where do the people gather? Where is the magic made? And where is the Goddess and the Old Ones? Our shrines are in the fields and mountains, in the stars and in the wind, deep in the greenwood and on the algal rocks where two streams meet. But the shrines are deserted, and if we gathered in the arms of the moon for our ancient rites to be with our Gods as we were of old, we would be stopped by the dead who now rule the Mother’s land and claim rights of ownership on the Mother’s breast, and make laws of division and frustration for us. We can no longer gather with our gods in a public place and the old rites of communion have been driven from the towns and cities ever deeper into the heath where barely a handful of heathens have remained to guard the old secrets and enact the old rites. There is magic in the heath far from the cold grey society, and there are islands of magic hidden in the entrails of the metropolis behind closed doors, but the people are few, and the barriers between us are formidable. The old religion has become a dark way, obscure, and hidden in the protective bosom of the night. Thin fingers turn the pages of a Book Of Shadows while the Sunshine seeks in vain his worshippers in his leafy glades.

Here, then, is the basic reason for a Pagan Movement; we must create a Pagan society wherein everyone shall be free to worship the Goddesses and Gods of Nature, and the relationship between the worshipper and her Gods shall be sacred and inviolable, provided only that in her love of her own gods, she doesn’t curse the names of the gods of others.

It’s not yet our business to press the lawmakers with undivided endeavor to unmake the laws of repression and, with the Mother’s love, it may never become our business for the stifling tides of dogmatism are at last already in ebb. Our first work, and our greatest wish, is to come together, to be with each other in our tribes for we haven’t yet grown from our Mother’s breast to the stature of the Gods. We’re of the Earth, and sibs to all the children of wild nature, born long ago in the warm mud of the ocean floor; we were together then, and we were together in the rain forests long before that dark day when, beguiled by the pride of the Sky Father, and forgetful of the Mothers’ love, we killed her earlier-born children and impoverished the old genetic pool. The Red Child lives yet in America; the Black Child has not forsaken the Gods; the old Australians are still with their Nature Gods; the Old Ones still live deep in the heart of Mother India, and the White Child still has a foot in the old Wiccan Way, but Neanderthal is no more and Her magic faded as the Lilt and Archon burst their banks and the ocean flowed in to divide the land of Erin from the land of the White Goddess.

Man looked with one eye on a two-faced God when he reached for the heavens and scorned the Earth which alone is our life and our provider and the bosom to which we have ever returned since the dawn of Time. He who looks only to reason to plumb the unfathomable is a fool, for logic is an echo already implicit in the question, and it has no voice of its own; but he is no greater fool than he who scorns logic or derides its impotence from afar, but fears to engage in fair combat when he stands on his opponents threshold. Don’t turn your back on Reason, for his thrust is deadly; but confound him and he’ll yeild for his code of combat is honorable. So here is more of the work of the Pagan Movement. Our lore has become encrusted over the ages with occult trivia and the empty vaporing’s of the lost. The occult arts are in a state of extreme decadence; astrology is in a state of disrepute and fears to confront the statisticians sword; alien creeds oust our native arts and, being as little understood as our own forgotten arts, are just as futile for their lack of understanding, and more so for their unfamiliarity. Misunderstanding is rife. Disbelief is black on every horizon, and vampires abound on the blood of the credulous. Our work is to reject the trivial, the irrelevant and the erroneous, and to bring the lost children of the Earth Mother again into the court of the Sky Father where reason alone will avail. Belief is the deceit of the credulous; it has no place in the heart of a Pagan.

But while we are sad for those who are bemused by Reason, we are deadened by those who see no further than his syllogisms as he turns the eternal wheel of the Great Tautology. We were not fashioned in the mathematician’s computations, and we were old when the first alchemist was a child. We have walked in the magic forest, bewitched in the old Green Thinks; we have seen the cauldron and the one become many and the many in the one; we know the Silver Maid of the moonlight and the sounds of the cloven feet. We have heard the pipes on the twilight ferns, and we’ve seen the spells of the Enchantress, and Time be stilled. We’ve been into eternal darkness where the Night Mare rides and rode her to the edge of the Abyss, and beyond, and we know the dark face of the Rising Sun. Spin a spell of words and make a magic knot; spin it on the magic loom and spin it with the Gods. Say it in the old chant and say it to the Goddess, and in her name. Say it to a dark well and breathe it on a stone. There are no signposts on the untrod way, but we’ll make our rituals together and bring them as our gifts to the Goddess and her God in the great rites. Here, then, is our work in the Pagan Movement; to make magic in the name of our gods, to share our magic where the gods would wish it, and to come together in our ancient festivals of birth, and life, of death and of change in the old rhythm. We’ll print the rituals that can be shared in the written word; we’ll do all in our power to bring the people together, to teach those who would learn, and to learn from those who can teach. We will initiate groups, bring people to groups, and groups to other groups in our common devotion to the Goddesses and Gods of Nature. We will not storm the secrets of any coven, nor profane the tools, the magic, and still less, the gods of another.

We’ll collect the myths of the ages, of our people and of the Pagans of other lands, and we’ll study the books of the wise and we’ll talk to the very young. And whatever the Pagan needs in her study, or her worship, then it is our concern, and the Movement’s business, to do everything possible to help each other in the worship of the gods we love.

We are committed with the lone Pagan on the seashore, with he who worships in the vastness of a mountain range or she who sings the old chant in a lost valley far from the metaled road. We are committed with the wanderer, and equally with the prisoner, disinherited from the Mother’s milk in the darkness of the industrial webs. We are committed too with the coven, with the circular dance in the light of the full moon, with the great festivals of the sun, and with the gatherings of the people. We are committed to build our temples in the towns and in the wilderness, to buy the lands and streams from the landowners and give them to the Goddess for her children’s use, and we’ll replant the greenwood as it was of old for the Dryad stillness, and for love of our children’s children.

When the streams flow clear and the winds blow pure, and the sun never more rises unrenowned nor the moon ride in the skies unloved; when the stones tell of the Horned God and the greenwood grows deep to call back her own ones, then our work will be ended and the Pagan Movement will return to the beloved womb of our old religion, to the nature goddesses and gods of Paganism.

Flowing with Life’s Current (A Meditation on Water)

Flowing with Life’s Current

A Meditation on Water

by Melanie Fire Salamander

Water appears in pagan rituals as  one of the four magickal elements,  associated in some traditions with the  West, the autumnal equinox and sunset. Its colors are blues and greens; it  corresponds to the magickal power  to dare and to the Tarot suit of cups.  At Imbolc, this series began with a  meditation on fire; water comes next  as we travel deosil around the circle.

From water, traditionally associated with emotion, you get the emotional flow so required in ritual. To me,  water also connects with the liquid  state of matter, as air corresponds  to the gaseous state, earth to the  solid state, and fire to the process of  changing state. I think, however, it’s  important not only to learn traditional  or other elemental associations but  also to discover and understand our  own elemental associations, to have  our own personal relationship with  each element. To know water better,  we can meditate upon it.

To use the following meditation  on water, either record it on tape and  play it back or have someone read it  to you. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

Before starting, find a comfortable  place where you won’t be disturbed;  take the phone off the hook and if  necessary shut the door on your pets.  If you’re prone to falling asleep during  meditation, perform this meditation  sitting up; if you have problems relaxing, stretch out on a bed, couch or  the floor.

The Meditation

Relax. Deeply relax, and take a few  deep breaths. In, out; in, out. Feel your  body, wiggle your fingers, your toes,  your nose, your hips and arms; roll your  head. Feel where your body ends and  what’s around you begins: the air  around you, the surface underneath  you. Be here now, present in your body,  in the present moment. Begin to release the cares of your day and week,  and be completely here in the present  moment.

Throughout this meditation, you  will have a complete, deep experience,  and you will remember everything you  sense and learn. If you need to return,  you can always do so. You can recall  yourself to the physical world by moving your fingers and toes. You will be  utterly safe and protected throughout.

Continue to relax and to breathe  deeply, and in your center, a little below and behind your navel, feel a drop  of water. It starts as a tiny drop and  grows to a puddle, perfectly warm and  contained, filling the center of your  body comfortably.

This pool of water flows outward,  into your body, pouring down into your  pelvis, your genitals, your legs and  feet; flowing upward filling your torso,  your chest and shoulders, your neck,  your head. It fills your body, easing  tension as it does, relaxing and calming you. The elemental water fills you  completely.

Now the water overflows downward from your body, safely and comfortably. It soaks through the floor and  the concrete under the building, downward through the moist, cold earth.  The flow from your center joins an  underground stream in the stony rock  below the soil and plunges into bedrock deep beneath the earth.

Let the elemental water pour down  in a cascade from your center and  make a connection to the Earth, to the  heart of Earth. Feel the water flow out  as a waterfall and connect to the flowing, liquid heart of the Mother. (Pause  briefly.)

Let the waterfall wash away old  anger, guilt, fear, sadness into the  Earth, safely giving this energy to the  Earth. Feel the water wash away all the  negative energy into the Earth. (Pause  briefly.)

Now feel the elemental water burst  up again from the earth with joy, rushing effortlessly up through the rock,  past the downward flow that still continues. The liquid energy from the  Mother fills you completely, healing and  cleansing you. (Pause briefly.)

Then the liquid earth energy  bubbles out the top of your head,  upward like a fountain through the air  of the room, through the ceiling,  through the roof into the outside air.  It kisses the tree branches and bursts  into the sky, scattering drops and mist.

In the sky, feel this liquid force  connect to and absorb the energies  of the Sky-Father, the starlight and the  cool energy of the sun and moon.  Connect to the cool, clear energy of  the sky. (Pause briefly.)

The liquid energy condenses as  rain and tumbles down onto your forehead, your shoulders, all over your  body. Feel the raindrops soaking  through your skin and into you, bringing with them the sky energy. Feel the  cool, clear sky energy fill you, cleansing and healing. (Pause briefly.)

Feel the life water passing through  you, downward and upward, drawing  upward warm earth energy, carrying  downward cool liquid sky-energy. Bring  the liquid energies of earth and sky  together in your center and mingle  them gently and thoroughly, mix them  completely and smoothly. Let the combined energy spread into the whole of  your body, healing you, dissolving and  washing away any remaining trouble or  pain into the earth. (Pause for some  time.)

Now imagine yourself standing in  a meadow, under the night sky. The  stars are out, and a few clouds, lit by  a crescent moon. It’s summertime, and  the meadow smells sweet, like newly  cut grass. Feel the cool night breeze  on your body and face. Against your  ankles you feel dew on the grass, and  in the distance you hear the sound of  waves.

Look around a bit; see where you  are. Know that throughout this meditation, you will remember everything  important to you.

You see before you a gravel path,  stones pale and a little phosphorescent in the moonlight. You begin to  walk down the path, slowly; it slopes  gently down a hill. Before you and to  either side stand tall grasses that  rustle in the wind, and a few gnarled  trees. You hear more strongly the  sound of waves, and smell the salt of  the ocean in the breeze.

The path goes under a row of trees  whose limbs have tangled together  above you, twisting to grasp each  other, casting darkness onto the path.  The air is close here and a little  warmer. Despite the deeper darkness,  you feel utterly safe and calm. Through  the tangled branches you see one star  in the silver-lit sky above you, twinkling.

You come out from under the dark trees and see you are at the top of a beach, in the solid sand amid a scattering of beach grass. You go forward, down the beach, breathing deeply in the salt air. Ahead of you the night sky lies calm above a quiet ocean. The crescent moon scatters a path of light along the peaceful flat water, which moves gently. Waves, lips of water, cast gently upon the beach, each leaving a rim of foam shining in the moonlight. You walk forward down the shifting sand to the very edge of the wet sand. It is high tide.

You squat and put your hands in  the ocean water. It feels cool and  soothing. It laps onto your feet, a little  cold, but you don’t mind.

You stand and see down the  beach there’s a pool formed where a  stream runs into the ocean, just a few  feet above the waves’ edge. You walk  to the pool, sit on its bank. You hear  the rushing of the stream down the  rocks to the pool; you hear the lapping surf, the steady breathing of the  sea. The water in the pool is perfectly  clean and transparent, but deeper than  you expected, deep and wide enough  to swim in freely. The cool, clear water moves gently, a current within it  flowing to the sea.

As you look at the pool, raindrops  begin to patter on its surface. Feel the  light drops tap your skin, cool. Sense  what it is to be rain. (Pause briefly.)

You study the water in the pool,  lowering your thought into the cool,  clean water. Dip your hands in the water, feel its coolness gentle on your  hands and arms. Lift water to your lips  and taste it; perceive it with all your  senses. (Pause briefly.)

As you study the water, you notice it has associations for you. Let  these come up freely. (Pause for some  time.) You will remember all parts of  your experience you want to remember.

What emotions do you have for  water? (Pause briefly.)

Do images or symbols or words  float up through the water? (Pause for  some time.)

You continue to study the water,  seeing it, sensing its feel, its taste, its  sounds. You sense now that the water is asking you to come still closer.  In utter confidence and safety, you  lower yourself completely into the  water, over your head. You find you  are warm and breathing easily and  safely underwater. You stand on the  bottom of the pool at its deepest  point, calm and invigorated. You become one with the water. Be the water; see how that feels. (Pause briefly.)

Feel each particle of the water.  (Pause briefly.) Feel the whole water.  (Pause for some time.)

You ask the water what it is, what  its nature is, and the water replies.  (Pause briefly.)

The water may have something else  to communicate to you, about yourself or work or life. (Pause briefly.) It  may have something to communicate  about the world at large. (Pause for  some time.)

Now you look out from the deep  pool, out through its mouth to the  great ocean beyond. You swim effortlessly into the unknown ocean, deep  with life. Greet the ocean; descend into  it. (Pause for some time.)

Now return again out of the water. You’re able to walk easily out onto  the beach, and you find your clothes  perfectly dry. Separate into yourself  sensing the water, keeping everything  you need from the experience, remembering everything. You feel cleansed  and invigorated.

Now say good-bye to the pool, the  ocean and the rain. Thank them for  their presence and the insight they  have conveyed and for allowing you  to become water. (Pause briefly.)

Now turn and take the path back  across the beach to the trees. You  walk under the dark trees, the  branches tangled above you, feel the  warmth of the enclosed space. You  walk back out again, up the gravel path  through the grasses, smelling the salt  of the ocean, feeling the night breeze  gentle on your skin. You return to the  meadow where you started, under the  moonlit sky.

You begin once more to feel your  body. You are coming up from trance,  remembering everything that has happened to you, retaining everything that  was important that you learned from  the water, feeling warm and relaxed  yet energetic. Feel your body; wiggle  your fingers and toes. Be present here  and now. Feel the air above and the  surface below you. You will remember  everything you want to remember.  Breathe deeply, and open your eyes.

Mabon Activities and Correspondences

Mabon Activities and Correspondences

Symbolism of Mabon: The completion of the Harvest begun. Day and night are equal and the God prepares to leave His physical body and begin the great adventure into the unseen.

Symbols of Mabon: all harvest symbols, corn, autumn flowers, red poppies,nuts, grains, leaves, acorns, pine and cypress cones, oak sprigs, wreaths, vine, grapes, cornucopia, horns of plenty, burial cairns, apples, marigolds, harvested crops. wine, gourds

Colors : Orange, Dark Red, Yellow, Indigo, Maroon and Brown.

Goddesses: Modron(Welsh), Bona Dea, Harvest Dieties, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan(Welsh- Cornish), Snake Woman(Aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona(Roman), the Muses(Greek).

Gods: Mabon, Modron(Welsh), Sky Father, John Barleycorn , the Wicker-Man, the Corn Man, Thoth(Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei(Japanese), Thor, Dionysus(Roman), Bacchus(Greek) and all wine Deities.

Tarot Cards: Judgment and The World

Altar Decorations: acorns, pinecones, autumn leaves, pomegranate, statue of the Triple Goddess in her Mother phase.

Mabon Herbs: Rue, yarrow, rosemary, marigold, sage, walnut leaves and husks, mistletoe, saffron, chamomile, almond leaves, passionflower, frankincense, rose hips, bittersweet, sunflower, wheat, oak leaves, dried apple or apple seeds.

Foods of Mabon: cornbread, wheat products, bread, grains, berries, nuts, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, apples, pomegranates, carrots, onions, potatoes, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale and ciders, breads, apples, pomegranates

Animals: dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, eagle, birds of prey, salmon & goat, Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaur, Cyclops, Andamans and Gulons.

Element: water.

Incense : pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss

Mabon Stones : During Mabon, stones ruled by the Sun will help bring the Sun’s energy to you.clear quartz, amber, peridot, diamond, gold, citrine, yellow topaz, cat’s-eye, adventurine.

Customs: offerings to land, preparing for cold weather by bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands( Druidic), leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walks in forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine,picking ripe produce, stalk bundling

Spellworkings of Mabon: Protection, prosperity, security, and self- confidence. Also those of harmony and balance. Taboos:It was considered unlucky to cut down the very last of the Harvest, and so was also left to stand in the field by some traditions.

Activities of Mabon: Select the best of each vegetable, herb, fruit, nut, and other food you have harvested or purchased and give it back to Mother Earth with prayers of thanksgiving. Hang dried ears of corn around your home in appreciation of the harvest season. Do meditations and chanting as you store away food for the Winter. Do a thanksgiving circle, offering thanks as you face each direction – – for home, finances, and physical health (North); for gifts of knowledge (East); for accomplishments in career and hobbies (South); for relationships (West); and for spiritual insights and messages (Center). Decorate the table with colorful autumn leaves in a basket. Display the fruits of the harvest – corn, gourds, nuts, grapes, apples – preferably in a cornucopia. Or decorate with wildflowers, acorns, nuts, berries, cocoons, anything that represents the harvest to you. Like its sister equinox, halfway across the Wheel of the Year, the Autumn Equinox is a good occasion for a ritual feast. Plan a meal that uses seasonal and symbolic fruits and vegetables. You can serve bread, squash, corn, apples, cider and wine. Make some homemade wine or cordial gather and dry herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods. Make grapevine wreaths using dried bitter-sweet herb for protection. Use ribbons of gold and yellow to bring in the energy of the Sun, and decorate with sprigs of dried yarrowor cinnamon sticks. Make a protection charm of hazelnuts (filberts) strung on red thread. Make a witch’s broom. Tie dried corn husks or herbs (broom, cedar, fennel, lavender, peppermint, rosemary) around a strong, relatively straight branch of your choice. Make magic Apple Dolls Gifts of the Harvest can be used to make tools and emblems that will remind us of their bounty all year round. Look for colored leaves. Collect fallen leaves and make a centerpiece or bouquet for your home. Save the leaves to burn in your Yule fire. Vist an apple orchard and, if possible, pick your own apples. Hang apples on a tree near your home. Watch the birds and other small animals who will enjoy your gift. This is also the time for replacing your old broom with a new one. As the broom corn is ripe now, besom making is traditional and magickal this time of year. Begin the festival with a vineyard or orchard harvest. You might check the farm lands in your area to see if there’s an orchard or pumpkin patch that allows customers to harvest produce for themselves. Traditionally Sabbat festivals begin at sun set on the eve of the Holiday. You can use the daytime hours of this holiday eve to prepare baskets for harvesting the next day. Baking a pumpkin pie (from scratch if possible) is a wonderful way to bring in the fragrance of the holiday season

Calendar of the Sun for March 12th

Calendar of the Sun
12 Hrethemonath

Blot to Odhinn All-Father

Color: Dark blue
Element: Air
Altar: On a cloth of dark blue place a horn of mead, an evergreen branch, and a set of runes laid out in concentric circles.
Offerings: Mead. Do something in a leadership position, especially if it is difficult.
Daily Meal: Bread. Cheese. Goat milk. Meat. Mead.

Invocation to Odhinn All-Father

Hail Odhinn, Lord of Asgard,
Warrior and wanderer, valiant and wise,
You to whom all the gods of Asgard look,
Sky Father on the eight-legged steed,
You who traded an eye for wisdom
And ruled a turbulent realm,
Give us the wisdom to accept
The twists and turns of Fate
Even as you surrendered yourself
To the mercies of the Norns.
Protect us, All-Father,
From what harm may come to us.
Lead us through the wilderness
And bring us safely to that great hall
That you reserve only for the brave of spirit.

(Each comes forward and is purified with the evergreen branch. They choose a rune with their eyes closed, and one who is studied in such things tells them the meaning of the rune that they have selected. Then the mead is passed around in a toast, and the rest poured out in a libation to Odhinn.)

CORN HERITAGE

CORN HERITAGE

As the preeminent native grain of the Americas, the importance of  corn to the
cosmology of Native Americans is inestimable. In most instances, corn alone
initiated the evolution from nomadic life to sustained farming life; changed
only by the Northward rumbling of  wild horses in the 16th Century.  Just as the
nursing mother and hungry baby need each other, corn needed the people to
replicate it: its seeds are too closely packed to self germinate.  Likewise,
the people needed the corn as a dependable food source, and so experience
settled village life.

To the Maya, the cosmic world family tree is a corn plant in the shape of a
cross: at each stalk grows an ear of corn, on each cob grows a human head. The
Maya Maize God is akin to the European Green Man in that he is a foliate deity,
whose thoughts germinate the corn, whose blood nourishes it.  His hair is made
of corn silk and it sprouts cobs and leaves, his hands are made of waving
leaves, and his eyes are always closed as he dreams to life the grains.  Maya   
hieroglyphs of “growth,” “finding” and “beginning” are all interrelated with
symbols for maize.  Even now, Mayan descendants save their best grains of maize
to pass on to relatives when they are near death.  They especially save the red
pearls for, as Betty Fussell writes in her comprehensive The Story of
Corn(1992), in it the “Maya see not only the cosmic globe but a drop of blood
that condenses all human history into a single germ of life.”

For Zuni people, their legendary seven maidens of the corn actually define
Earth’s elements.  Oldest yellow corn daughter comes from the North and cold. 
Blue corn maiden hails from the rainy and wet fertile West.  Red sister comes
from the hot South. From Eastern daybreak of light, comes White corn maiden. 
Speckled corn maiden comes from the clouds above, the spirit world.  Black corn
sister grows in the womb cave of the Earth Mother.  Littlest baby sister is
sweet corn.  After they perform their “Beautiful Corn Wands” Dance, the
mischievous and fertile flute players, whose humpbacks contain seeds for all
that grows–the Kokopelli, make love with them. Instantly they disappear to the
Summerland, but are brought back by the God of Dew.  Like Persephone of Greece,
they may only return to the world for part of the year, and so took care to tell
the people to love their bodies in the Spring, then bury their flesh in the
dying time of Autumn.

The Hopi creation myth revolves around an Earth Mother who gives birth to a corn
plant baby who is presented to its Sky Father at dawn, and is then sown into the
sky.  Hopi real life birth rituals are intimately intertwined with corn.  A
grandmother presents mama and baby-sized corn dolls to the newborn, whose face
is rubbed with white cornmeal, the symbol of new beginnings.  Babies’ first
taste of maize comes from a tiny blessing of this gift from the Earth Mother
placed in its’ mouth with the whisper that it will be so nourished lifelong. 
Before marriage, the young woman offers cornmeal and bread to the groom; then
she spends four days in meditative grinding of meal within his house, as his
womenfolk daily bring gifts of corn in a rainbow of  colors.  Village women
prepare cornmeal for the feast, while men weave the bride’s dress from pure
white cotton.  The ceremonial wedding cake is made of blue corn.  Likewise, at
death, one enters the spirit world with a face dusted with cornmeal.

Just as the Inuit of the Arctic have hundreds of different words for snow, so
too have the Central and Southwestern American tribes hundreds of ways to
prepare corn. The Hopi make a thin, wafer like bread called piki made from
powder-fine, silkily fine cornmeal. Betty Fussell claims that some kinds taste
salty from fermented lime, some rich and milky as biscuits, some red, sweet and
delicate; and that this labor-intensive piki-making skill is undergoing a
revival among young Hopi women.  Powdered corn can become an instant drink
called pinole or atole lately flavored with maple, cinnamon and sugar or cocoa
when mixed with milk or water. Fussell describes a Peruvian/Spanish hybrid sweet
soup recipe of dried purple corn revived with water, cooked with dried fruit and
sweet potato flour and spices. Mexicans in the time of Montezuma used cornmeal
to make all manner and shape of tamales: some sweet, some savory, with meat,
turkey eggs, honey or beeswax, and fruit. Eastern and Midwestern tribes dried,
grilled, roasted corn, and scraped the kernels and sweet milk for stews. Hidatsa
tribal life (formerly located in North Dakota) centered on rhythms of corn
farming.  Before Autumn frost they usually ate corn roasted with the husks on,
later storing their corn and squash underground in uterus-shaped cellars winter
long.  Most tribes parched corn: popping it dry in sand then grinding it fine to
make light “journeying corn” to be taken on travels and reconstituted with water
to make a paste. For the Seneca tribe, corn was so central to life that their 
vocabulary contains nearly thirty words defining various stages of corn growth
and harvest.

It is raining up there under the mountain.
The corn tassels are shaking under the mountain.
The horns of the child corn are glistening.
Papago song