The Mysterious Corn Dolly

When farmers, and those who worked the land, were less dependent on technology to produce our food Mother Earth and nature played a much more important role in the annual cycle of life. In particular, the 'harvest' of cereal crops was a major event in the calendar.

When it came to summer a 'Lord of the Harvest' would be given the responsibility of planning the harvest and marshalling the workforce, and when the harvest was finally over there would be the 'Harvest Home' celebratory feast.

The first and last sheaves of corn to be cut had major significance... grain from the first sheaf would be made into a loaf of bread while the last sheaf was reserved for transforation into a corn dolly; symbolic of Mother Earth or the Corn Spirit.

Straw from this last sheaf was woven or plaited into the complex shapes of the corn dollies - sometimes as a horn of plenty, or as horse shoes, knots, fans or lanterns. Ultimately the shape was dependent on local traditions, but in every case the symbolic 'dolly' graced the top table at the 'end of harvest' feast and was then carefully looked after over the winter months. After the spring crops were sown the dolly re-emerged to be carried round the fields to ensure that nature and corn goddess delivered up another good crop.

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