Corn Mother

http://one-elevenbooks.com/introducing-american-indian-myths-and-legends/Corn Mother

Penobscot

Kloskurbeh the All-Maker lived on the Earth alone. One day a young man came to him out of the foam of the sea and called him uncle. The young man lived with Kloskurbeh and helped him created things. Another day a maiden appeared. She came from a ray of sun in the middle of the day. She was married to the young man and Kloskurbeh left to live in the North to come back when he was needed.

The two had children and more children. The amount of people on Earth grew and grew. They hunted game, but it soon came to be that game was scarce. The woman was sad for her hungry children. Her husband asked her what he could do and she told him to kill her.

The husband didn’t want to do this, so he went to ask Kloskurbeh and he told the husband that he would have to do as his wife wished. The husband went back to his wife. She told him that he would have to kill her at noon. Then her two sons should take hold of her by her long hair and drag her back and forth across the Earth until her flesh was gone. Then her bones should be ground up and buried in a clearing. They were to come back seven months later.

The act was carried out. The mother was killed and her instructions were followed. When they returned to the location where her body had been dragged upon the Earth, they found a plant; it was corn. It was sweet to eat. The mother had told them not to eat all of it and same some of it to plant the next year, which they did. They went to the clearing where her bones had been buried and found a broad-leafed plant growing. It was tobacco. It was sacred. They were to smoke it.

The husband admonished all his children to take car of Mother’s flesh and her breath. She died so that they could eat.

Observations

Corn is a pretty big deal for us. It’s in a lot of the stuff we eat, even if we don’t know that it’s in there. We’ve used corn and used corn and used corn. The natives in the Americas used corn for a long time before any European explorers ever landed on American soil. It was very important to them. It was food. It was their life. Back in the day before our modern society, your life revolved around your food. Did you hunt it? Did you grow it? Did your food move around and you had to follow it? Corn was incredibly important to multiple groups of people as their main food source and still is today in areas, especially in the central Americas.

This is an origin story for corn and there are many others.

I don’t know what specifically equated corn mother’s flesh to corn and her bones to tobacco. It would be interesting to figure that out.

Themes

I’m not a mother, but I do know that a mother would give up almost anything for her children and would trade anything so that they wouldn’t have to suffer, of course there are a few women who are exceptions to the way things work. Corn Mother didn’t want her children to go hungry so she sacrificed herself. How do you get any more motherly than that? You really can’t.

The ultimate act of loving someone is sacrificing yourself for them, now don’t get all weird on me and think you got to go jump off a bridge to prove to your girlfriend that you love her. I’m saying that if you loved someone and an invading alien wanted to kill your girlfriend, you would volunteer to take her place because you loved her so much that you didn’t want her to die, but you know, who knows what happens to your girlfriend after the alien kills you…off topic.

In addition to sacrificing herself for her children, Corn Mother is a mother in multiple ways. The thing about the word mother is that it’s not simply a label. A mother is someone who brings life into the world. Corn mother brought forth both children and plants. She created the corn for her family to eat and she created the tobacco for her family to smoke. Corn Mother was able to go on being a mother, in the sense that she was bringing life into the world, long after her actual death.

Overall

The next time you eat corn, knowingly, think about the impact that it has on your life and maybe Corn Mother will smile upon you.

Weigh In

Do you think Corn Mother’s children appreciated her for this?

What food is so important to you that you could tell a story about it?

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