Axis Mundi
The beginning of a circle is also its end. Not I, but the world says it: all is one. And yet everything comes in season.
- Heraklietos of Ephesos

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"Corn" from Jilli Roberts, Tasmania

There is, I believe, a very important omission in Amethyst's recent article on Corn (Axis Mundi Vol 2 Issue 9), which causes confusion for American and Australian Pagans interested in ancient European paganism, one which I see in many pagan writings using American references:

Amethyst says:
This (Indian corn) is truly one of the great Religious Herbes of all peoples, although "corn" was sometimes actually "barley" in ancient myths, which may have created hybrid legends.

'Corn' was not "sometimes actually barley" as Amethyst says, it was always actually wheat, barley, oats or rye. Indian corn/maize belongs to the ancient myths of the peoples of the Americas, and has different botanical, medicinal, religious and magical properties entirely. Yes, cereal crops have had fundamental religious meanings in ancient history for all (well, most) people but this article infers that Corn (Indian Corn/maize) is interchangeable with the 'corn' of Europe.

Why has European pagan myth been overlaid onto Indian Corn? Not only does it have its own cultural myths (which don't need the imposition of European ones), it has also lost the use of its original indigenous name in modern language. For today's Pagans, herein lies the confusion in the meaning of the word 'corn', to the point where the reader of Amethyst's article is invited to invoke European Goddesses using Indian corn.

'Corn' is an American shorted version of the term Indian corn/maize (sweet corn, cornflour or starch in European and Australian supermarkets). In Europe, 'corn' means something else entirely.

Throughout European history to the present day, 'corn' means 'grain', that is, wheat, barley, oats or rye, and has never included Indian corn/maize. Indeed Indian corn was named 'maize' when introduced to Europe in 15th century precisely to eliminate confusion between wheat/barley/oats/rye and the newly discovered mais/Indian corn. To the European, maize was deemed only fit for stock feeding and it never acquired a pagan patina. 'Corn' has an ancient and deep meaning for Europeans, and Europe has never changed its understanding of what 'corn' means. European and Ancient World 'corn' myths and pagan beliefs have nothing to do with the article's subject matter, other than them both being staple foods in their own parts of the world.

In the Ancient World (Greek, Roman etc) 'corn' is specifically wheat/ barley/oats/rye. Ancient World references to Gods/Goddesses and 'corn' refer to these grains only. The cornfields of Britain and Europe were/are fields of wheat/ barley/oats/rye. Amethyst's reference correctly cites corn(maize), and The Corn Mother of the Americas, and makes no reference to Europe.

John Barleycorn, that icon of British agricultural magic, was just that, the God of barley grain, a major cereal crop of Old Europe. When reading about Mithra cutting corn, he is in fact cutting wheat. And you can see Demeter clearly on Greek vases with wheat sheafs. And so on for other European deity references. 'Corn' in European literature always means wheat, barley, oats or rye.

Amethyst's article/section on the Corn Spirit cites the Corn Mother running through German fields of corn, corn dollies and the like, which have nothing to do with Indian corn and the myths of the New World Amerindian people. Such European pagan myths, rites and practices refer and still refer to the four European grains. I believe invocations to Demeter, Persephone, Ceridwyn, Bride/Bridget, The Cailleach cannot correspond with Indian corn, as cited in the article. They most definitely do have a correspondence with wheat/barley/oats/rye. This is important when practicing magic or indeed pagan rites with regard to them.

To incorporate Indian corn into pagan magical/religious practice, one must be aware that this is a plant of the Americas (and possibly Asia), and that you acknowledge this in whatever you are doing in your pagan practice. You should be aware of what you are doing, and why.

But I can't honestly see how ancient European pagan references should be attributed to Indian corn (where they don't belong) and when we have perfectly good access to wheat/barley/oats/rye for invoking European deities. This may be of particular interest to pagans in Australia where we are so used to reading and referencing American pagan literature. Modern American Pagans may be quite used to using Indian corn for agricultural magic, but I would think an invoked European Goddess (or God) would be somewhat perplexed, if they responded at all. One may argue that it is surely one's intent that matters rather than the 'correct' herb, but this article's omission is a perfect example of how Old Knowledge is confused and eventually lost. And I think that's important.

Indian corn has no historic place in European paganism and a perfectly good home of its own, and its ancient importance for its own people should be acknowledged correctly. It's a pity that Amethyst's article has fused Indian corn references/visuals and European grain references. (An article on the Amerindian myths relating to Indian corn would be really interesting.) What is missing is the common (and accurate) European understanding of the word 'corn'. It is so fundamental to established European/British pagan practice.

This may appear to be a small point, but I have come across the confusion time and again in pagan books and magazines. Why doesn't anybody say anything? I have, in a very small voice.

Hearth Blessings
Jilli Roberts

Editor's Note: Thank you Jilli for taking the time to make such a well-researched critique of two of the articles written by Amethyst: "Herbs - Corn" and "Corn Spirit". Constructive feedback of this type is appreciated and it gives our readers an alternate point of view.

"Scrying Weekend" from Maria, NSW

I got so much out of the scrying weekend -- well, not the mirror, that is a work in progress. The bowl, got a lot of information and was totally blown away with the crystal ball. I have had it for a long time but struggled to see anything with it, until the scrying weekend, thank you.

I was so pleased that I can do it and I learnt so much, eg. Best meditation for the crystal ball was to open the chakras, but I feel that I don't need to do that for the bowl. And let's not forget the incredible images at the pond and of course the elementals. How amazing was that! Now that out does anything for the weekend.

While scrying down at the pond in the evening I saw images moving across the water heading towards me, then disappear. Did anyone else get anything?

Bev and Sam did a great job on organising the cooking -- there was plenty. Overall I must admit I learnt a lot of both scrying and other.

I would like to say thank you for the weekend, I learnt a lot.


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