Maize Mother


The ancient lore of the maize culture
in the Americas is central to the life
and rituals of their native peoples.
Surely the many mysterious legends
about Mother Maize and the Corn Maidens
were inspired by the vigorous physique
of this unusual plant which stands as
tall and straight as a proud young tree.
Each strong maize stalk – the long leaves
twisted into sharp angular patterns,
the ears sprouting from the body like
hard multiple breasts with silky hair
falling from each, the milky seed teeth,
the pollinating tassels trembling and
dancing in the slightest breeze – exudes
a strong female body magic, intensified
by brilliant yellows, purples, greens,
and reds.

Most of the stories which centre on maize
describe the motherhood of the earth, the
emergence of mankind from a dark
underworld into the sun world through the
body of Mother Maize, and the mystery
of her body as the food by which mankind
is sustained. The words of this Corn
Maidens’ chant evoke the rhythms of

Before the World was we were all within the Earth.
Mother Corn caused movement. She gave life.
Life being given we moved toward the surface….
Mother Corn commands that the people ascend to the surface.
Mother Corn has gathered them together, they move half way to the surface;
Mother Corn leads them near to the surface of the Earth;
Mother Corn brings them to the surface. The first light appears!
Mother Corn leads them forth. They have emerged to the waist.
They step forth to the surface of the Earth.
Now all have come forth; and Mother Corn leads them from the East toward the West.
Mother Corn leads them to the place of their habitation….
All is completed! All is perfect!

Page 116 Sign of the Tree
Meinrad Craighead
1970s; Stanbrook Abbey; Ink on Scratchboard; 12×10; Mat is signed.

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