Corn Images
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Ashland, Oregon Garden Project
Planting Report 2007
Corn Ceremonies
Container Gardens
Author's Resume

Five Corn Ceremonies

I've been in corn ceremony a lot of times, alone. I did not realize it until I was past my half-century on Turtle Island, aka the North American continent. To be "in ceremony" means to me to be in a state of receiving, which could also be called "super connectivity" or simply felt,  as one would feel a special time spent with a close friend. In these times, the connection itself is the first and foremost feeling, and then there is often some detail which emerges from observation in the moment.

As a small child, I was once allowed to sit on the plow horses and hold on while they plowed the field. Later I played in that field, acutely aware of the life of the corn and the magic of the planting. Growing up in a family of 8 children often meant housing in large farmhouses. When I was twelve, we lived on a 500 acre farm and I would eat some of the "horse corn" as it was called, when it was freshly growing and milky. It tasted like the corn smelled, like earthen medicine for our bodies.

Much later, when I had children of my own late in life, almost 40 when my second daughter was born, I raised corn a lot of years, sweet corn for the children and my sister and her children, six of us, and many times we fed the people who came to the sweat lodge that was on the land in the apple orchard. I learned a song of the corn from a woman whose people were Todo O'ohono and the ways to use it from other types of ceremonies that are traditional on Turtle Island.

These ceremonies translated into written form are a compilation of things that I was doing, and then the ways that developed this summer, 2007, in the Rogue Valley are included also. Know that the feelings that are expressed came through myself, and it seems that other people, raising the same corn in other years on other land will find their own good feelings with the plants as well. It can happen for anyone who is there on the land doing the work.

Peace and planting,
Stella Jane

Opening the Field

This is best done as soon as local conditions allow. Once the field is ready, through cover cropping and plowing when the weather dries up enough, then gather all the families who hope to be part of the corn, and have everyone bring food, water, tools and other needs.

When the people are ready, then everyone gathers in the East of the field in a wedge shape behind the person singing. In other ways to say it, the person singing can only see the CORN and not anyone or anything else. Everyone faces the center of the field each time the corn song is sung 4x in the four directions. Once the drum is struck for the first time there is no talking or signaling others but all concentration kept on the center of the field and the distance of the seven generations into the future of humankind. The energy is held by each individual's will and in alignment, like fiber optics, we form a huge cable of energy pouring to the future.

These are the words to the corn song, but how the song feels varies intensely to my perception, each direction, each time it is sung. These words are only a part of the experience and it can only be truly known directly, through the seasonal progression as the corn develops and the people care for its life. It is sung 4x for each stanza, and four stanzas in each of the four directions, so sixteen times in all.

Sometimes a greeting prayer happens first, and sometimes a personal prayer time at the end so anyone can express their personal wish for the corn. This does not mean individuals can "express themselves" and give their resumes, their deepest wish and hope for humanity, or any other personal spiritual matters. All energy in these ceremonies is to be concentrated on the larger communication of HUMANITY to PLANT and PLANT to HUMANITY. So these ceremonies are not for verbiage, and not for walking your dog along either. Those things can happen after the planting, during the feasting time.


He he ho yana aiii....

The people walk to the South, eyes on the ground and right hand open to the earth, palms down, and assemble again, in the South corner facing the center. The four stanzas are sung again, and the ceremony continues as above through the West and the North.

The song is the same for all of the corn ceremonies, and the four directions are always addressed with the focus being the present time until the future, for our agreement, for corn and humanity.


When the corn begins to tassel, then very shortly silk starts to appear in the joints of the stalks. The tassels open and the wonderfully colored pollen begins to hang delicately from each section of the tassel. The pollen itself is nearly invisible, but the little sacks can be readily seen and collected in the pollen ceremony. The pollen is the male part of the corn plant and the silk is the tube that carries a pollen into the ear of corn and each silk makes a single corn kernel grow. Each corn kernel is a unique individual, and by carrying pollen to the silk of a different plant, and blowing it delicately on the silk, cross pollenization can occur Corn is wind pollinated, and touching or handling the silks can cause the silk to be damaged and no seed will appear for that silk. So attention is paid during the ceremony to not disturb the pollen process much by over handling the tassels nor to cause any damage to the silks.

In the pollen ceremony however, the goal is to save some pollen in case a storm were to wash it away this year or in the future. If the harvest gave corn, then pollen can also used to bless the people or in other blessing ceremonies during the winter. Like cornmeal, it can be used to draw lines around certain areas to be used for ceremony. It can be sprinkled where fertility is prayed for, for example around a wedding site or at a blessing or gifting for a baby expected, or upon entering new land.

People walk down the rows, the men first, and they gently bend down the stalks toward woman who shake a little into paper folders by tapping on the stalk near the tassels. They also write the plant type or number if needed, depending on the type of corn. The plants are selected by the farmer, and the little marked folders collected in the corn seed keeper's medicine bag. This is very beautiful to watch, as the men, usually taller, bend the male tassels of the corn toward the women, who catch the pollen just as the corn silk does below the tassels.

The corn song is sung in the four directions before the pollen ceremony, and there is also another ceremony that can be done during this time of fertility. The farmer can bring a partner to the field, and if there is a large community, other people can choose to bring partners into the four directions so that each couple is surrounded in a private room. Then the couple faces outward from the center of the field, and prays to the four directions for the fertility to enter the corn and their own lives. After the song, the couples lie on blankets for their own private fertility prayers. This is a night ceremony, in the full moon of the pollen falling. Sleeping there and dreaming in the field is also enriching.

The prayer focus for both pollen and night fertility is recognition that the corn and its reproduction on the earth and the humans and their reproduction on earth are very closely tied. Corn is used for so many foods, and it also feeds so many animals which are our foods. This is an aspect of synergistic reproduction, with communication taking place between species here on Mother Earth.

Harvest Ceremony

The farmer and a partner of opposite sex stand side by side in the four directions, just as in the Opening Ceremony. Both persons can sing or just the corn keeper. When this ceremony came through it presented itself as a "Corn Wedding" and while the persons are in the ceremony, it is agreed heart soul mind body that it is our intention to serve the people ... god/goddess all there is... together, joined for all time, in the prayer which is a no time, no space intentional wavelength, a permanent standing vibrational prayer for themselves, their community and all of humanity in the future. This transcendental ceremony Corn Wedding stands as the most full and satisfying experience of union in my personal life. It is the knowing joining of intention forever and ever with whole essential male presence and whole essential female presence in the service of the all.

At any time, in any ceremony of the corn, persons can be "Wedded" to the Corn, the way of life, through their intentions and prayers. Each time someone new came into the field, for any reason doing any type of work, this feeling of joining something, of being a part of the whole ongoing vibrational prayer, was often spoken of and acknowledged as truth. People can be wedded to the corn, to the way with the earth. The way provides life through reproduction for corn and for humans via synergistic reproduction, a far more advanced approach than simple strategies like symbiosis and parasitic raids.

Harvest, when the whole community benefits, is a natural time to draw people to the way, to the beauty of life that unfolds when you raise your own food and share it with others. Everyone who is present brings corn in baskets to the edge of the field, and depending on the climate and weather, the corn may be carried into storage with husks intact or stripped at the edge of the field and the husks left to replenish the soil, along with the stalks. Persons can be instructed at this time how to save seed in dry places, in paper but never closed in glass or plastic, and never in direct sunlight or heat. The bulk of the seed stock is kept by the seed keeper and the remaining corn is shared according to the agreements made during planting and working.

Closing The Field

When all the late ears of corn are harvested, and stakes are removed from the field, and any tools and watering equipment is properly stored, and only the stalks remain, then the field can be closed and rest. Sometimes the closing is done on the fourth full moon, if a community must gather at a specific time. The ceremony proceeds just as the Spring Ceremony did, but it will feel very different, and the song will have changed, as did the people and the plants. There is really no way to quantify or qualify these feelings, but they are felt in the doing, in the praying, and in the flow of energy between corn and humans. Peace and planting is the prayer for the seven generations of the people in the future.

Stella Jane
Ashland, Oregon


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