Corn Dolly

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Corn Dolly

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The Corn Mother is made from the harvest at Lughnasadh, and is laid to rest for the winter at Samhain. Three months later at Imbolc, this figure is taken up again to become the Maiden. Straws are plucked from the figure and fashioned into the Imbolc Corn Dolly, the Maiden aspect of the Mother Goddess. In Gaelic this is called Brídeóg, or the "Biddy."

The Corn Dolly figure is carried from the fields to the farmhouse with great ceremony. It is sometimes lowered to the ground with a great display of sorrow, or lifted high with cries of joy, signifying death and rebirth. The Corn Dolly is dressed and laid in a miniature bed made of corn and hay with Candles burning around it. A club representing the male energy of the God of Fertility is placed beside the bed.

In the Highlands of Scotland this Corn Dolly is an effigy of Bride, or Brigid, and was carried around the community while gifts were collected for the Bride Feast. A small bed as described above was placed near the door of the house. Bride was then invited into the house to prepare for the coming spring. The festival was strictly matriarchal, and the door of the feasting place was barred to the men of the community who had to plead humbly to honor Bride. This is similar to the Greek agricultural rites of Demeter and Kore, which were principally feminine and excluded males.

Some Corn Dollies are a crude representation of a human, but many are elaborate knots—intricate designs of braided corn stalks in spirals woven into squares or formed into crosses. In Germany the Dolly represented animals—pigs, goats, wolves, hares— and was referred to as the Corn Cock.