Generous Corn – A Tribute to Those Who Came Before Us

“A thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” William Blake

Last year, in front of Seton Castle, Academy Faculty member Chrissie Orr and I planted a sacred red corn that she brought from a revered source. It sprouted confidently and grew at least seven feet tall, towering over the low wall that borders the south side of the castle. It was surprising how robust and luscious it was, given that the soil at first seemed rocky and lifeless. We plowed trenches and filled them with our own compost generated from vegetable and fruit scraps, and lots of coffee grounds. Our harvest was abundant, and we integrate that corn into our meals for our guests as polenta, cornmeal desserts and stews with chicos.

This year, we, along with Sarah Spearman, the Academy’s Event Production Manager, decided to plant blue corn, once again brought to us by a sacred source.

“This special blue corn was gifted to my tocayo, Chris Wells, by Tellis Goodmorning of Taos Pueblo at the Kokopelli Natural Law Conference. Chris has been growing this corn for many moons and I joined him in this journey six years ago. It is now our turn to gift this corn to those who honor the way of the seed, ask permission of the earth, and tend the corn with love and song as it sacrifices its life to feed us.” – Chrissie Orr

Chrissie Orr with Tilly the Pup

Many Native peoples practice offerings and ceremonies based on their reciprocal relationship to the land and recurrent cycles. In the Americas, corn is rooted in those cycles, corn dances, sacred pollen and even creation stories. The Maya, for example, believe that the Death Lords of the Underworld summoned the Hero Twins to a ball game. After their victory, the Twins rose to the heavens to become the sun and the moon, preparing the way to plant the corn so that humans could live on earth. The Maya believe that their ancestors were made from white and yellow corn. They nourish both their bodies and their spirit with these sacred ancestors.

“One of the remarkable treasures of the Academy is the organization’s reverence for the land, our world and the stories contained within each of these. It is such an honor to be a part of this beautiful ceremony of planting corn – where each kernel is held, given a breath and blessed before placing it into the soil.” – Sarah Spearman

Sarah Spearman with seeds

For me, planting corn at the Academy is a gesture of gratitude to the land, the native ancestors and a symbol of growth and nourishment. At a time when many varieties of ancient corn have been lost due to agribusiness practices, growing out these “sacred ancestors” ensures their perseverance. So far, the beauty, resilience and generosity of the corn are undeniable.

Marita planting corn