Creation : Loss of the Corn Maidens

Corn Maiden

Corn Maiden (Image:Copyright Fr. John Giuliani )

“When they returned to their fathers in Zuni, the warriors told of all that they had seen and heard. Forthwith, the priests and elders prepared the dance of the corn-maidens. A great bower was placed in the court of the pueblo, wither went the mothers and priests of the Seed-clan. The priests of the Macaw, Sun and Water clans were there.

“A terrace of sacred meal was marked on the ground, an altar set up over its base, and along its middle were placed the E’-ta-e, or Medicine Seeds of corn and water. Along the outer edges were planted the sticks of prayer, plumed with the feathers of summer birds, and down in front of the altar and terrace were set basket-bowls covered with sacred mantles made of the flesh of the Cotton-mother, whose down grows from the earth and floats in the skies. (Cotton and clouds are one in Zuni mythology).

“By the side of each basket-bowl sat a mother of the clan, silent in prayer and meditation. To the right were the singers, to the left the corn maidens. Night was coming on. The dance began and a fire was built in front of the bower beyond where the maidens danced. More beautiful than all human maidens, so were they, irresistibly beautiful.

“As the night deepened, the sound of music and flutes was heard up the river, and then followed the players of the rainbow-cave with their sisters, led by the God of Dew. When the players entered and saw the maidens their music ceased and they were impassioned. And when their turn came for leading the dance, they played their softest strains over their medicine bowl – the terraced bowl of the world – whence arose the rainbow.

“The people were delighted, but the corn maidens were sad; for no sooner had the dancing ceased a little than the flute players sought their hands and persons. In vain, the corn maidens pleaded they were immortal virgins and the mothers of men! The flute players continually renewed their suits ’till the next day, and into the night which followed, while the dance went on.

“At last the people grew weary. The guardian warrior-priests nodded, and no longer wakened them. Silently the corn maidens stole up between the basket-trays and the sleeping people. There, passing their hands over their persons they placed something under the mantles, vanishing instantly, as do the spirits of the dying, leaving only their flesh behind.

“Still the people slept, and ere long even the flute-players and dancers ceased.

About Running Elk

My given native name, Running Elk, was bestowed in 2008 as I took my first steps as a fully fledged Medicine Man of the Zuni tradition. A most unlikely candidate for the role, my journey as a healer began some four years prior. The detour onto the shamanic way was most unexpected, yet has been one of the most rewarding challenges to date.
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