Kitchen Witch: Corn

(Zea mays)

Planet: Sun

Element: Fire

Energies: Protection, spirituality

Lore:

Corn has played a central role in North and Central American religion for thousands of years. The Quiche Mayas of Guatemala and the Navajo believed that the first humans were created from corn.

The Mayas, Incans, Aztecs, and nearly every American Indian tribe ate corn and incorporated it into their religious beliefs and rituals. The corn mother was perhaps the most widely worshipped deity in the pre-Columbian Americas.

As a symbol of life, fertility, eternity, and resurrection, corn was a sacred gift of the Mother Goddess. To the Zuni, various colors of corn were related to the four directions:

Yellow corn—north

White corn—east

Red corn—south

Blue corn—west

Blue corn was often considered to be the most sacred form, and so was the most useful for spiritual rituals.

The Hopi offered corn meal during religious rituals of all types in thanks to the corn mother.

Divination with corn was common throughout the Americas and Mexico, and a corn-divination ritual from early Mexico has survived. Originally used to diagnose illness or the extent of sickness, this ritual can also be called upon to answer other types of questions.

Fill a small bowl with exactly thirty dried kernels of corn of any colour. Concentrating on a specific question, take a random number of kernels from the bowl. Place them on the floor (or the table) and divide them into groups of four. If you create an even number of piles with an even number of leftover kernels, the answer is favourable. However, if you form an odd number of piles with an odd number of kernels, the answer is negative. Finally, if you come up with an even number of piles, but an odd number of leftovers, no answer can be given.

Another form of corn divination was apparently practised by the ancient Aztecs. During a preliminary curing session for a severe illness, a priestess would lay a piece of whitebark cloth before an image of the god Quetzalcoatl. A bowl of corn was then placed before the cloth. Inspired by the god, the priestess would take a handful of the corn kernels and scatter them on the cloth. If the corn was evenly scattered, the patient would eventually attain good health. If the corn was separated into two portions, death would eventually result from the illness.

Corn was one of America’s priceless gifts to the world. As it was introduced into other countries, its sacredness was forgotten; but it still feeds millions of persons, especially vegetarians who combine beans with corn to form a complete protein. It is still used in magic. A curious Ozark ritual for curing hiccups consists of naming three kernels of corn for three friends, placing these into a vessel of water, and holding it above the head.

Many still feel that corn is sacred and that wasting it will cause poverty. This belief is similar to the Asian taboo against wasting rice.

Magical uses:

Place ears of blue corn on the altar or hang them in the home to induce spirituality.

Scatter cornmeal around outdoor ritual sites for blessings and heightened spiritual rituals.

Now that blue corn is being offered for retail sale, utilize it in spirituality producing diets. Blue popcorn and blue cornbread are two possibilities.

Place ears of red corn in baskets on the floor to protect the home. Corn is also added to protection diets. To make cornbread for this purpose, run a knife through the top of the unbaked dough in the shape of a pentagram. Bake and eat with visualization.

Maize (from the Haitian or Cuban name for corn) is known as corn only in the United States. In other English-speaking countries, “corn” refers to any grain except maize. Maize is not an Indian term.

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