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.

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
It originally marked the bringing in of the harvest, and a large corn dolly would be made to last for the coming year, with the old one being burned.
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Also on from Saturday to Monday is the chance to celebrate May Day by making a corn dolly. Choose a traditional style or get creative and make your own.
Today and tomorrow, a corn dolly maker will demonstrate her age old craft and on Sunday, a silhouette cutter will show off his skill.
An expert at the traditional art of corn dolly making, Philip would teach the skill for the University of the Third Age at Greenhead College.
Explore a fascinating display of horse-powered farm machinery nearby along with country crafts demonstrations of basket, corn dolly and harness making and traditional pole lathing.
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The corn dolly thus started life as a store for good fortune, but by the late-19th Century the weaving of elaborate shapes had developed into regionally distinctive designs.
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