The Green Corn Festival

& Ritual (Lammas)

Background History of the Green Corn Festival

The Native American holiday of the Green Corn Feast (or Festival, or Dance) varies from tribe to tribe, and in some tribes is, indeed, celebrated to this day. It is considered such an important and sacred festival. Some tribes celebrate it earlier than August 1st, believing that the green corn must be blessed, and the homes & people of the tribe cleansed, and made worthy, before the first corn could be harvested. There is a tremendous, wise, and insightful book about the Cherokee relationship to Selu, the Corn-Mother, and modern life, Selu: Seeking the Corn Mother’s Wisdom (Fulcrum Press, 1993), written by Marilou Awiaktka. Some tribes believe that they were even made from corn by the Great Spirits. Dragonfly's Tale by Kristina Rodanas and People of Corn, A Mayan Story retold by Mary-Joan Gerson tell of such beliefs.  

The Green Corn Dance (or Festival) is held by many Native American tribes, such as the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Muscogee, Yuchi, and Iroquois Indians, as well as most Pueblo tribes of the Southwest, such as the Hopi and Santa Clara. Sometimes it is called the Peace Festival among the Shawnees and other corn-growing tribes and might also properly be called the First Fruits Festival.

 

Authentic corn festivals typically last for three to four days.  The opening day of the ceremony varies across tribes depending when the corn is ripe.  During the festival, members of the tribe give thanks for the corn, rain, sun, and a good harvest.  Another part of the religious ceremony is the busk. The word busk comes from the word “boskita” and means to fast. Corn is not to be eaten until the Great Spirit has been properly thanked. 

 

The Green Corn Festival is also a religious renewal.  The overriding themes are: cleansing, renewal, forgiveness, diversity and respect, and most importantly, gratitude for what they had been blessed with in their lives.

 

The festival begins by participants entering through and arbor decorated with corn, brush, and other plants. This is the true Mohegan “wigwam”. The name "Wigwam" comes from the word “wigwomun”, meaning "welcome" or "come in the house." In many ways, the wigwam is a community “open house” and homecoming. 

 

Ceremonies were held for both planting and harvesting corn. The New England tribes’ spring Green Corn ceremony was to ask for bountiful harvest. In August, also the month of the Celtic Lughnasadh (lu-na-sa) or Lammas, the Green Corn celebrated the first harvest. Cornmeal symbolizes fertility, healing, and powers of people, animals, rituals and objects.

 

The ritual itself may be proceeded by games, including traditional native ball games, and craft making.  People should council with each other for forgiveness of wrongdoings and debts.  Young people should be given council as to their new spirit names to be announced in ritual.  This is a good opportunity for palmistry, tea leaf reading, and tarot readings before ritual.

 

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Suggested Traditional Native Ball Games: Before Ritual

The Iroquois tribes throw a ball at a pole to see who can throw it the highest.

The Yuchi tribes have teams (boys against girls) that try to get the ball into baskets at opposite ends of a field. The boys throw and catch the ball, but may not run with the ball. The girls may run with the ball as well as catch and throw the ball in order to get it into the basket.

Suggested Adult & Childrens’ Make Craft items: Before Ritual

Sand Paintings, cardboard Totem Poles, paper Parfleches, Corn Husk Dolls, and paper Masks.  Beaded necklaces, arm bands, leather wrist bands.

 

 

 

The Native American-style Green Corn Ritual

DISCLAIMER:  No attempt is made to accurately replicate any particular native tribes’ sacred rite.  All words, music, and activities here were either originally written material or gathered from open access information. The activities carried out are with good intention, respect, admiration, and strictly for the purposes of education of others in the general customs and beliefs of native peoples.  

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1.  Preparation & Purification - To be done at home, beforehand

Purification of Self -  Bathe at home before arriving and fast (do not eat) until the “cakes & ale” portion of the ritual and feast after the ritual.  If you are female, please wear leg-covering clothing.

Purification of Home - Everyone is to bring a small, worn-out item from home to burn in the fire as part of the ritual cleansing and renewal.  Any small item that will burn up, without releasing toxic fumes will do (no plastics, rubber, styrofoam). Suggested items to burn: small ripped clothing items, old shoe (no rubber parts), broken baskets, candle stubs, small portion of old furniture (chair leg or scrap of the upholstery), credit card or loan statements you wish forgiven or paid off this year, rotten food from the fridge (in a brown paper bag, please). You may bring extra items for those who forget.

 

Purification of Ritual Space –  Once arbor has been blessed & procession starts, please do not enter or cut across circle area until told do so in ritual.

Quarters:  Quarters and Minions, please set up your tables appropriately. It is preferable to bring Native American items, such as dream catchers, bows & arrows, arrow points, pottery, baskets, rattles, drums, prayer fans, feathers, Kachinas, ears of corn, Be sure to have a bowl of corn meal at each quarter alter to sprinkle about as you cast and open the circle.

Colors & Correlations: Gold, yellow, olive green, navy blue, turquoise. Incense: Sweetgrass, Sage, Cedar, Copal, sandalwood, frankincense, heather, yarrow, hazelwood. Traditional Motifs: Corn, wheat, native designs.

 

East (Wind, Air): White, Gray; Eagle; Power of Vision

South (Fire): Yellow, Gold, Red; Hare & White Buffalo Woman; Power of Energy

West (Water): Blue, Navy Blue, Turquoise; Bear; Power of Strength

North (Earth): Olive Green, Grass Green, Yellow; Wolf; Power of Wisdom

Needs:  Arbor decorated with greenery, flowers, ears of corn; spring (bottled) water in bowl; sage smudge stick, sweetgrass, and cedar chips (in pot to burn); tobacco (to sprinkle on ground; supply of candles in big basket, placed to the East of the circle (enter from the east); thorns (for scratching); 5 bowls of cornmeal.

People needed: Leaders (priest & priestess), water sprinkler, smudge-person, candle-handler person, Drummers, quarters, and minions. ** IMPORTANT! Drummers will be positioned to the NORTH SIDE of the circle.

 

µ Ritual Begins µ

2. Ritual and Purification of Space  (Notes for procession:  (do not read aloud) After pre-ritual entertainment, the Priest & Priestess will call out for the ritual participants to gather by the patio and remind all to bring along old items to burn. Priest & Priestess will lead all in procession around the garden and through the wigwam (arbor) from the east.  Exiting the arbor, participants will be sprinkled with spring water and smudged with sweetgrass, cedar, and sage smoke as purification.  Everyone will receive an unlit candle. Tobacco is to be sprinkled on the ground in the arbor (wigwam) beforehand.)

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Priest:  (Recite this by the patio, lead the procession around the garden, and enter through the arbor FROM THE EAST.)

This is the time of year we celebrate the first harvest.  We honor the Earth Mother and thank her for her bounty. It is a time of togetherness and renewal.  In some cultures, it is called Lughnasadh or Lammas, but in the Native American cultures, it is frequently referred to as the Green Corn Festival or First Fruits Festival.

 

The Green Corn Dance (or Festival) is held by many corn-growing tribes, such as the Creek, Shawnees, Cherokee, Seminole, Muscogee, Yuchi, Iroquois, and most Pueblo tribes, such as the Hopi and Santa Clara.

 

The themes of tonight’s ritual are cleansing, renewal, forgiveness, diversity and respect, and most importantly, gratitude for what we have been blessed with in our lives.

 

A wigwam, otherwise known as an arbor, in the language of the Mohegan tribe, means “Welcome; come into the house.” Please bring your old items to burn and follow me in procession through the WIGWAM from the East.

                                      

 

* Cue CD:  #1:  “The Gathering” by Mary Youngblood, Album: “The Offering”  

* Drummers: Play softly, slowly, solemnly, like a heartbeat over this piece until the circle is formed.

3. Creating Sacred Space Casting of the circle and inviting of energies from the four directions. Circle is formed by guests (participants).

Priestess:   (Drummers: Stop)           (“Grandfather Great Spirit Prayer” ~ Sioux)

Grandfather Great Spirit,

All over the World -  The faces of living things are alike.

With tenderness - They have come up out of the ground.

Look upon your children - That they may face the winds

And walk The Good Road, to The Day of Quiet.

 

Grandfather Great Spirit,

Fill us with the Light.

Give us the strength to understand

And the eyes to see.

Teach us - To walk the soft earth as relatives to all that live.

Priest:

The Great Spirit created the Sky, the Moon, the Earth, and all of the Beings on it.  

We are gathered here to celebrate the renewal of our Earth Mother and her bountiful blessings.

 

Now please call the quarters starting with the East.

After each quarter all may repeat, “Blessed are you.”

 

*Drummers: Play slow, steady, solemn Native-American style beat while each 

Quarter & Minion rounds the circle.

 

*Drummers: Stop as Quarter calls Spirits.

 

East Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the East, where the Wind blows…..

We call forth the Spirit of Brother Eagle!

Eagle! Teach us to learn your Power of Vision!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

 

Audience:  “Blessed are you!”

 

South Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the South, where the warmth grows…

We call forth the Spirits of Sister Hare & White Buffalo Woman!

Hare! Guide us to have your Power of Great Energy!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

 

Audience:  “Blessed are you!”

 

West Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the West, where the water flows…

We call forth the Spirit of Brother Bear!

Bear! Guide us to have your Power of Strength!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

 

Audience:  “Blessed are you!”

 

North Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

The North, where the cold wind blows…

We call forth the Spirit of Brother Wolf!

Wolf! Teach us to have your Power of Wisdom!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

 

Audience:  “Blessed are you!”

 

Priestess:

Oh, Great Spirit, we honor and give thanks to you.

Protect us from harm in this Sacred Space.

In Peace and Togetherness, let us begin our renewal.

Blessed be!                                                                 (~ Black Diamond)

 

4.        Statement of the Purpose “What is the Corn Festival?”;

                                                      “I am Corn!” (Hopi Traditional Thought)

 

Priest:

Some people believe that human beings were made from corn by the Great Spirits. Ask a Hopi what he's made of and he or she will probably reply, "I am corn"!

 

Mother Earth is the Corn Mother and the Sun, Earth, Rain, Corn, and humankind are obliged to live in a natural harmonic rhythm with the Universe.

 

Through the transmutation of food: corn,…our blood becomes the liquefied energy of the sun and stars. 

 

It comes to us through the shifting patterns of the cosmos and the ecological phases of the earth before it delivers the essences of life to us through our blood.

 

Thereby, setting within us a rhythm of life which should be observed and respected!

 

Priestess:

The First People  -  understood, in their Wisdom, that the Earth was a living entity like themselves. She was their mother.  They were made from her flesh.

Her milk was the grass upon which all animals grazed -   

and the corn that was created especially for food for humankind.

 

But the corn plant is also a living entity with a body -  

And the people built its flesh into their own.

Hence, corn was also their Mother.

 

Thusly, we know our Mother in two aspects, as Mother Earth and the Corn Mother.

 

And in their wisdom, the First People also knew their father in two ways.

He was the Sun - the solar god of the Universe.

His was the face….   through which looked…   the Great Creator.

 

These two universal entities are our real parents.

Our human parents - being but instruments - through which their power is made manifest.

 

Priest:

This, our Green Corn Festival, is a celebration of the first harvest of the bounty to sustain us for another year.  It is a time of cleansing and renewal.

 

Corn is a life-giving essential to the native peoples of this land.  Therefore, the green corn must be blessed, and the homes and the people of our tribe must be cleansed and made worthy before the first corn can be harvested.

 

We worship tonight in the style of the Creek, the Cherokee, Seminole, Muscogee, Iroquois, the Hopi, many Pueblo peoples.  We give thanks for the corn, rain, sun, and a good harvest. 

 

 

Priestess: (Walk around, if possible, but return to alter to get cornmeal or take it with)

We clean and bless ourselves and our homes.

 

We council with each other in our families and community for the forgiveness of wrongdoings and debts.

 

It is also a time of honoring young people with names and rites of passage.

 

We give respect and gratitude to each other and to the Great Spirit, our Creator, for the blessing bestowed upon our lives.  

 

(Pick up a handful of corn meal)

This Cornmeal we bless with symbolizes abundance of life, health, fertility, and the power from the Creator.

(Sprinkle cornmeal in four directions).

5. The Work, the Magick, Ritual Observance  

 

Cleansing (Appeal to the Corn Mother)

 

*Drumming & Chanting:  “Earth is Our Mother”  - (Do all 4 Verses)

   Note - Lisa: Bring extra Mike to put at drum area

 

The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of Her.

The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of Her.

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

 

The Earth is our Mother; She will take care of us.

The Earth is our Mother; She will take care of us.

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

 

The sacred ground we walk upon, with every step we take

The sacred ground we walk upon, with every step we take

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

 

The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of Her.

The Earth is our Mother; we must take care of Her.

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

Hay-on, Hay-on, Hay-on-ya

 

*Drummers: Stop

 

(Notes on Ritual Scratching – Cleansing of self (Priest & Priestess only) Done during the prayer. Priest and Priestess will ritually open a small scratch on their arm. This is a symbolic “bloodletting” to let the evil spirits and sickness out of the body. It traditionally is done with thorns on a branch or an animal claw tied to a stick.)

 

 

Priest:

The Priestess & I will now perform, for the benefit of all, a ritual and collective cleansing of self.  This is to let the evil and disease out of our bodies and restore us all to balance.  At the appropriate pause you may respond with, “Hear your children!”                                                

 

Priest: (Sprinkle cornmeal in four directions.)   (“A Prayer to the Corn Mother” 

We bless with cornmeal.                                                      ~Pawnee, adapted)

Mother Corn, hear your children!
Mother Corn, open the way!  

(Pick up thorn – scratch wrist)

 

Audience: Hear your children!

 

Priestess: (Sprinkle cornmeal in four directions.)

Mother Corn, hear your children!
Mother Corn, let us through you, open the way!
(Pick up thorn – scratch wrist)

 

Audience: Hear your children!

 

Priest:

Mother Corn, we pray to you.
Mother Corn, open the way!

                         

Audience: Hear your children!                        

 

*Drumming & Chanting - “Wani Wachi Elo, Wakan Kataya”

(I want to live, Great Spirit) (Repeat 4 times)

 

Wani Wachi Elo

Wani Wachi Elo

Wakan Kataya

Wakan Kataya (Repeat all 4 times)

 

*Drummers: Stop

 

Forgiveness

 

Priest:

As part of our renewal process, we are to council with each other, with loved ones, friends, and our Creator to forgive any transgressions against us, and resolve our arguments with each other.  If you have those friends and loved ones near you at this moment, do so now, if not, you may silently council with your Creator.

 

(Priest & Priestess Pause to Reflect for a moment.)

 

Priest:                                     (“Great Spirit Prayer”, - Yellow Hawk, Sioux Chief)

"Oh, Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the wind,

Whose breath gives life to all the world.

Hear me; I need your strength and wisdom.

 

 

Priestess:

Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.

Make my hands respect the things you have made,

My ears sharp to hear your voice.

Make me wise, so that I may understand the things you have taught my people.

The lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.

 

Help me to remain calm and strong in the face of all that comes towards me.

Help me seek pure thoughts and act with the intention of helping others.

 

Priest:

Help me find compassion without pain overwhelming me.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brothers,

But to be able to fight my greatest enemy …………. Myself.

 

Make me ever ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes,

So when life fades, as a fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.

 

Snake (or Spiral) Dance 

 

Priest:

We will all now have the Snake Dance. It’s purpose is for the cleansing of the home. Similar to the Jewish custom at Rosh Hashonah, this is the time of year the native people clean out their homes and discard broken, worn out possessions by burning them. It is somewhat solemn in nature.

 

Everyone pick up and carry your items brought to burn in fire. Starting with the East Quarter, the men will go first until all men are in single-file within the circle, then the women will follow after, starting from the east.  After all the women are within the circle, any children may follow.

 

Always follow the leaders, do and say what they do.  As you get close to the fire you may toss your item in to it.  Continue to spiral your way back out to your spot in the circle. This is not unlike a “conga line.”

 

*Drumming:  Somewhat solemn, to the rhythm of the children’s game “Rattlesnake”, but speeding up and raising energy as crowd gets toward center of circle. May use shakers and jingles only on the downbeat, if wanted.

 

(Notes on Snake Dance:  The purpose is for the cleansing of home.  It also serves to raise, channel, and release energy. This dance is done in a serpentine fashion. All intertribal dances are done COUNTERCLOCKWISE. Suggested dance directions: Yell, “Ah ho ho”, another yell, "Ha ja ha ha nay", while bowing to right and to left. “Ha ja ho ha nay" in sing-song; hands on hips, & sashay side-to-side. All kick up left foot; right-foot, then all circle in line, can join hands; forward and back. In a single-file, make the circle smaller and smaller until the dancers are wound up tight; sing, “Wa ha ho ho!!” Everyone tosses their worn item into the fire as they approach the center and slowly makes their way back out to the circle, and the dance is over. Priest signals the drummers to stop.)

 

*Drummers: Stop

Naming & Rite of Passage Ritual

 

Storytelling

 

Priest:  (Signal drummers to stop) 

All return to the circle, please.  (Pause)

Now is the time we would like to invite all of the children present to come forward and sit down together in front of the main altar to hear a story.

(Priest or Priestess will now read a native legend)

 

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The Penobscot Tribal Legend of the Corn Mother

(also similar to the Cherokee Tale of “Selu, the Corn Mother”)

 

In the time before human people, this young man was born from the foam of the waves, foam quickened by the wind and warmed by the sun. It was the wind, the water, and the sun's warmth which gave him life - warmth above all, because warmth is life.

 

The young man lived with Klos-kur-beh, the Great Uncle, and became his chief helper.  Now, after these two powerful beings had created all manner of things, there came to them, as the sun was shining at high noon, a beautiful girl.

 

She was born of the wonderful earth plant, and of the dew, and of warmth. Because a drop of dew fell on a leaf and was warmed by the sun, and the warming sun is life, this girl came into being - from the green living plant, from moisture, and from warmth.

 

"I am love," said the maiden. "I am a strength-giver, the nourisher, I am the provider to men and animals."  The Great Uncle thanked the Great Mystery Above for having sent them the maiden.

 

The young man married her.  The young woman gave birth and thus, became the First Mother. And the Great Uncle, who teaches humans all they need to know, taught their children how to live.

 

Now the people increased and became numerous. They lived by hunting, and the more people there were, the less animals they found. They were hunting them out, and as the animals disappeared, starvation came upon the people.

 

First Mother pitied them.  The little grandchildren came to First Mother and said: "We are hungry. Feed us."  But she had nothing to give them, and she wept. She told them: "Be patient. I will make some food. Then your little bellies will be full." But she kept weeping.

 

Her husband asked: "How can I make you smile? How can I make you happy?" "There is only one thing that can stop my tears." "What is it?" asked her husband. "It is this: you must kill me," she said. "I could never do that," he said. She said, "You must, or I will go on weeping and grieving forever."

 

Then the husband traveled far, to the end of the Earth, to ask the Great Uncle what he should do.  "You must do what she wants," said Klos-kur-beh.

 

Then the young man went back to his home, and it was his turn to weep. But First Mother said: "Tomorrow at high noon you must do it.  After you have killed me, let two of our sons take hold of my hair and drag my body over that empty patch of earth. Let them drag me back and forth, over every part of the patch. Don’t miss a spot. 

 

Afterwards, take my bones and bury them in the middle of this field. She smiled (pause, look quizzical) …….“Leave and wait seven moons and then come back.”  “You will find my flesh there, flesh given out of love, and it will nourish and strengthen you forever and ever."

 

So it was done. The husband and her sons, praying as they went, dragged her body to and fro as she had commanded, until her flesh covered all the earth. Then they took up her bones and buried them in the middle of it. Weeping loudly, they went away.

 

When the husband and his children came back to that place after seven moons had passed, they found the earth covered with tall, green, tasseled plants. The tassles remind them of their mother’s hair. The plants' fruit, corn, was First Mother's flesh, given so that the people of the Earth might live and flourish.

 

And so, they ate of First Mother's flesh and found it sweet beyond words. Following her instructions, they did not eat all, but put many kernels back into the earth. In this way, her flesh and spirit renewed themselves every seven months, generation after generation.  And so, it is finished.                                ***

 

Naming Ritual (Notes on Naming: If not many children, anyone

who wants to can come forward and announce a new magical or spirit name.)

 

Priest: (Before drumming, please give instructions) 

Children who are to have their spirit (or magical) names announced tonight, please stay here and stand.  And will the parents of these young ones come forth, please.  Any adult wishing to announce their new spirit name can also come forth. 

 

Remain here until all are named and blessed. After all are named and the Blessing is said, please do not clap, but cheer, hoot, howl, whistle, bird call, and stomp your feet in appreciation. 

*Drumming & Chanting – “Mother I Feel You Under My Feet” (4 verses)

Mother, I feel you under my feet.

Mother, I feel your heartbeat.

Mother, I feel you under my feet.

Mother, I feel your heart beat.

 

Hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-yo

Hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-ya, hay-yo  (repeat both verses 2 times)

 

*Drummers: Stop

 

Priestess: (After drumming & chant, turn to Devon & Dominic)

Devon, your spirit name is “Alah’Ayōō.”  That is your name in Diné, the language of the Navajo people. It means, beloved friend, bringer of joy. You are a seeker of knowledge. (Sprinkle him with cornmeal)

Dominic, your spirit name is “Diyin.” That is your name in Diné, the language of the Navajo people. It means, you are one with the Great Spirit. You are a sensitive, and one of action. (Sprinkle him with cornmeal)

(Turn to others)

Proud Parents, will you announce the spirit name of this child and what it signifies?  

(Priestess repeats the name and sprinkles the child (or adult) with corn meal.)

 

Blessing of Youth  

 

Priestess:                          (“Beauty Blessing” ~Traditional Navajo Blessing)

Young People of the tribe,

As you walk through the world, know that you do not walk alone

Know that the Universe is walking with you.

 

May you walk with beauty before you,

With beauty behind you,

With beauty below you,

With beauty above you,

And with beauty on all sides of you.

May you walk in Beauty and Harmony all your days.                

 

Priest: (After all are named)

Please do not clap. You may congratulate the named. Cheer, hoot, howl, whistle, bird call, and stomp your feet with spirit! 

All parents and children, you may return to circle.

                                                           

*Fire Tender: Burst of Fire

*Drummers:  Burst of Noise / Stop

 

Energy Raising

 

Seminole-style Stomp Dance – (Notes on Stomp Dance:  Drumming, Rattles, Maracas, Shakers, Jingle Bells, Tambourines, etc. are permitted and encouraged. Also, during this dance typically koshares, or holy clowns, representing the spirits of the ancestors would weave among the dancers, spoofing, pranking, merry-making, and carrying evergreens that symbolize growth. Practiced by the Hopi, Zuni, and Santo Domingo and other Pueblos of New Mexico.  We will omit this, as the custom is too sacred to replicate.)

 

Priestess:

We will now have our Stomp Dance. This dance is to visualize and send this energy into the universe to make happen what you have envisioned: forgiveness, protection, health, fertility, strength, prosperity, good harvest, connections with new friends.

 

Priest:

In the Seminole-style Stomp Dance, individual dancers can, if they wish, do their own styles of dance, depicting animals of their choice, such as the "fire ant," "grasshopper”, “crow", “wild turkey”, "catfish", “eagle”, and so on. Rattles, and noise-makers are permitted.  This is your chance to build up and shoot off that energy - go wild, sing, yell, go crazy, do your own thing!

 

Men and Ladies enter and dance together. All dancers circulate clockwise around the fire. Feel free to invite others in by grabbing their hand and pulling them in.

 

*Drumming - Note: Drummers will eventually get faster and faster until breaking with, 3 half notes, then a pause and all end on one huge downbeat.  Dance ends, all return to circle.

 

*Drummers: Stop - Dance should last about 5 minutes.

 

Priest:  (Signal drummers to stop after 5 minutes or so)

All please return to the circle.

 

6. The Blessing of the Corn - Ritual Feast (Normally known as “Cakes and Ale”)

 

Priestess: (Hold cup of tea up high.)

This is a sharing of the ritual cleansing “BLACK DRINK”, in our case black tea.

Besides cleansing the body, it also gives courage and daring during times of trouble and strength to keep ties of friendship. 

 

(Hold corn cake up high.)

This is the fruit of our Corn Mother as she gives us life.

This is the ending of our fast and the blessing of the CORN.

 

Priest:

Minions, please distribute so all may partake of CORN BREAD and BLACK DRINK.  Please do not eat or drink until after the Blessing is finished. And then you may throw your cups in the fire.

 

*Cue CD #2 – “The Offering” by Mary Youngblood, Album: “The Offering”

 

*Drumming & Chanting – (Drum over the CD,  Play while Minions distribute ritual cornbread and “Black Drink” tea.)

“Earth Our Body” (4 verses).  

 

Earth, our Body; Water, our Blood;

Air, Our Breath; and Fire, our Spirit. (repeat 4 times)

 

Minions:  (Distribute corn cakes and tea to each quarter of the circle.)  

 

Thanking the Deities –  The Offering

 

*Drummers: Stop

 

Priest: (When all are served, signal drummers & CD music to stop, hold four ears of corn up high, point them toward the four directions.)

We make an offering to the Thunder Beings and to the Ancestor Spirits as a gesture of thanks for a fruitful corn harvest.  

Priestess: (Sprinkles cornmeal in four directions.)

Let us now give our Prayer of Thanksgiving.

 

P & P (alternate lines):         (“Thanksgiving Prayer”, ~Iroquois adapted)

We return thanks to our Mother, the Earth, which sustains us.

We return thanks to the rivers and streams, which supply us with water.

We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.

We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given us their light when the sun was gone.

We return thanks to the sun that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye.

Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in who is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of Her children.

                                                                                                           

Priest: (Take the four ears of corn and place them in the fire.)

This is Thanksgiving for another year of life! 

You may eat and drink now! You may throw you cups into the fire.

 

Priestess: (After eating & drinking)(“Thanks to the Corn Mother” Iroquois, adapted)

Please respond with, “Hear your Children!”               

Mother Corn, hear your children! Mother Corn, thank you for this day.

 

Audience: Hear your children!

Priest:

Mother Corn, hear your children! Mother Corn, we feast on you!

We are grateful are we for the life you give.

 

Audience: Hear your children!

Priestess:

Mother Corn, we pray to you! Mother Corn, bless our harvest, bless this day!

 

Audience: Hear your children!

 

Passing of the New Fires

 

*Cue CD:  #3 “Wishes of Happiness” traditional arranged by Peter Kater, Album: “Sacred Spirits”.

 

*Fire bearer: Light a torch off of the central fire.  Bring it to the main altar.

 

Priest: Fire Bearer, the Torch, please.

Minions, please come forth with your candles. Light them from the torch and then distribute the new fire to each person in your quarter circle.

Candles may be kept or discarded in the fire after the final prayers are finished at the end.

 

 

7. Opening the CircleDismissing of energies from the four directions that you have called. Bid them farewell on their way and thank them for their teachings. (All stand holding lit candles until the end).

Priestess:

Oh, Great Spirit, we honor and give thanks to you.

Protect us from harm as we open this Sacred Space.

Let us remember your teachings:

To live in balance and harmony with all the Beings of the Earth.

As the quarters are called, please respond with, “Bless you and farewell!”

 

Priest: 

Quarters, starting with the North, please release your spirits.  All please respond with “Bless you and farewell!”

 

*Drummers: Play slow, steady, solemn Native-American style beat while each 

Quarter & Minion rounds the circle.

 

*Drummers: Stop as Quarter calls Spirits.

 

North Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

The North, where the cold wind blows…

We bid farewell to the Spirit of Brother Wolf!

Wolf! Thank you for your Power of Wisdom!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

Bless you and farewell!

 

Audience: Bless you and farewell!

 

West Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the West, where the water flows…

We bid farewell to the Spirit of Brother Bear!

Bear! Thank you for your Power of Strength!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

Bless you and farewell!

 

Audience: Bless you and farewell!

 

South Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the South, where the warmth grows…

We bid farewell to the Spirits of Sister Hare and White Buffalo Woman!

Hare! Thank you for your Power of Great Energy!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

Bless you and farewell!

 

Audience: Bless you and farewell!

 

East Quarter: (Sprinkle cornmeal as you go around the circle)

To the East, where the Wind blows…..

We bid farewell to the Spirit of Brother Eagle!

Eagle! Thank you for your Power of Vision!

Blessed by the Great Spirit are you!

Bless you and farewell!

 

Audience: Bless you and farewell!

Priest:

Great Spirit who created the Sky, the Moon, the Earth, and all of the Beings on it.

We have thanked the Corn Mother for her blessings upon us and our harvest.

We have cleansed and renewed our bodies and homes. 

We celebrate this renewal and enjoy the Mother’s bounty.

We thank you for these blessings.                          (~Black Diamond)

 

Priestess:                  (“Beauty Blessing” - Traditional Navajo Blessing”)

As I walk, as I walk,

The Universe is walking with me.

In beauty, it walks before me.

In beauty, it walks behind me.

In beauty, it walks below me.

In beauty, it walks above me.

Beauty is on every side,

As I walk, I walk with Beauty.

I walk the Turquoise Trail.                      

 

Priest:           (“Cherokee Prayer Blessing” – Traditional Cherokee Blessing)

May the Warm Winds of the Heavens blow softly upon your house.

May the Great Spirit bless all who enter there.

May your moccasins make happy tracks in many seasons,

And may the Rainbow always touch your shoulder.        

                                                           

“It is finished.” ß(Do not skip this line – it is traditional to say this!!)

“We are renewed.  Appreciate your neighbor and ….Let’s FEAST!!”

 

*Cue CD: #4:  “On My Way” by Mary Youngblood, Album: “Feed The Fire”

 

 

 

Green Corn Festival Feast

SUGGESTED DISHES TO BRING:

*Roasted Corn - (Required) Corn on the Cob, great numbers of roasting ears were prepared, and all the people ate as freely as they desired. Seasoned with butter, salt, and red chile powder.

Blue Corn Chips & Salsa – Blue corn is considered sacred, good idea to bring.

Sofk - a traditional Seminole drink made of watery corn grits, served hot or cold, can be sweetened with corn or maple syrup.

Fry bread, Baked, or Boiled Corn Bread: The Iroquois Indians made a wonderful boiled corn bread. They made flour by pounding corn into flour. To make bread, they mixed water with corn flour. Sometimes cooked beans were added, or berries or nuts. The bread was kneaded and formed into small loaves. The loaves were dropped into boiling water and cooked until the bread floated. Boiled corn bread was served both hot and cold. They also used the same bread mix to bake bread by putting it on clay tablets in the fire. They used sunflower oil to fry bread.

Recipe: If you want to try making Iroquois corn bread, mix flour with water and a little salt. Knead it. Turn it out on a floured board. Keep kneading until you can handle the bread without it sticking to your fingers. Then either boil it or fry it. If you want it to puff up, add a little baking soda. 

New Mexico Spicy Corn Bread  - Baked with diced jalapenos or diced green chiles added are great!

New Mexico Sopapillas – Fry bread served plain drizzled with Honey.

*Seminole Fry Bread  - (Highly desired), served topped with cherry pie filling and powered sugar  - makes a super dessert item!!

Pot of Hot Soup or Posole – Chicken soup or Posole which is stew of corn pone (large corn kernels) and boiled beef, seasoned with bay leaf, garlic, cumin, salt pepper.

BBQ Beef Ribs – no explanation needed.

Yokeag - (parched and ground corn), Grinding Muskogee yokeag is a part of the Wigwam (homecoming or corn harvest) festival. Similar to Grits.

*SuccotashRequired, as the "Three Sisters" is a sacred and traditional dish of most Native American Cultures a combination of corn, beans, and squash.

Taal-hole-lke (Boiled Swamp Cabbage Palm) or "Hearts of Palm" -  Cook slowly in very little water for 20-30 minutes, adding two tablespoons of cane syrup or sugar and salt to taste. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Seminole dish.

Hearts of Palm Salad(Highly desired) for those who prefer a green salad with a meal - add canned, chilled hearts of palm to a mixed salad, vinaigrette dressing.

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NATIVE AMERICAN

DRUMMING & DANCING NOTES:

 

The drum is the heartbeat and central pulse of the powwow. There are always one or several groups of singers who sing as they beat in unison a rhythm on a large drum. Each group of singers is called a drum (usually 5-10 members or entire families). Each drum group has a lead singer and a "second" who repeats the lead line on a different or similar key. 

The singers are very important to the structure of the powwow because they must know several types of songs for all the different dances, honorings and events that take place.

Drum groups play several different kinds of songs, some of which are very old and traditional. Each drum has its own style, such as Northern or Southern. Northern singing is a higher pitch than Southern. Songs are sung four times, a sacred number in Indian tradition.

Most songs have no actual words but are syllables that carry the melody and the meaning of the song. These syllables are called vocables.

Some songs are sung in English or Native languages.

Socials within all Iroquois communities are meant to be enjoyed by all in attendance, especially when everyone dances. Social songs vary in length, verses and tempo depending on the song selection of the singers.  Northern dances are done counter-clockwise, southern dances are done clockwise, intertribal dances are done in a clockwise direction.

All dances are introduced.  In some instances, instructions are provided to ensure that dances are carried out properly.

The instruments used in the social dances in various combinations are the water drum, the horn rattle, hard sticks and the beating of the feet on the floor.

The social dances can be categorized into three types of step styles: "stomp," "fish" and "side-step shuffle". 

Stomp is a shuffling type of dance, the right foot leads and the left foot is brought up to meet the right.  The feet "hit" the floor with just enough impact to maintain the beat of the song. 

Fish is a dance where each foot hits in two or more consecutive beats. 

Side-step shuffle is done by the women, the right foot and the left foot shuffle oppositely.
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More Corn Legends:

 

The Lenni Lenape (Delaware Algonquins) Tribal Legend of the Corn Mother-

To the Lenni Lenape People, the Corn Mother was called Kahesana Xaskwim (Kah-hes-san-a Zas-kwim).  In this legend, the people took her gifts for granted and stopped believing in her. Hurt by this, Corn Mother gave all the corn seed wings, and it all flew away.

With no corn the people began to fight and panic, because winter was approaching. Feeling sorry for the people, the Great Creator slowed winter for them and sent an old wise man from the spirit world to help them.

The wise man taught the people how to get enough oysters to help them survive for awhile.  He took a young boy from the village with him and set off on a journey to find the Corn Mother.

Old Man and Boy went far across a frozen sea. After some time, they came to a hole in the ice and jumped through it. Instead of there being water beneath this hole, there was a huge barren corn field.

In the middle of the field was a small hut. Old Man told Boy that this was the home of the Corn Mother, and that they would visit her after they ate. They made a small fire and began to cook some oysters.

The scent of the cooking oysters brought the Corn Mother out to them, and she asked them if they would share since she was nearly starving. They willingly shared with her, and after they finished eating, Old Man and Boy sang and danced for Corn Mother.

After this, Old Man asked Corn Mother for corn seed to take to the village. Sadly, Corn Mother said that she could not give the people any corn because they were greedy and not thankful for her gifts. Boy began to cry and plead with Corn Mother, telling her how other children like him, would starve to death. This made Corn Mother cry, but instead of tears falling from her eyes, corn seed fell.

She told Boy and Old Man that they could each take a handful of the seed back to the people, but that people must sing songs and dance to thank her for her gifts. She said that when she heard these songs and saw these dances it would make her very happy.  She would know the people were grateful, so then she would bless them with abundant crops.

Boy and Old Man returned to the people and taught them the songs and dances to honor the Corn Mother.

All over the world, people believe in the Corn Mother, and she plays important roles throughout the year. This harvest season, we thank the Corn Mother for her gifts of food to sustain us through the fall and winter. We honor her with songs and dances.

Plant seeds to blossom in the warmth of spring, when she awakens. As the cold season sets in, she will wither and die.  Remember that she will be reborn in the spring.