Creation : Return of corn

Maize field


“Soon Pai’-a-tu-ma came to the home of the maidens, whom he greeted, bidding them, as he waved his flute over them, to follow him to the home of their children. The maidens arose, and each taking a tray covered with embroidered cotton, followed him as he strode with folded arms, swiftly before them.

“At last they reached the home of our fathers. Then Pai’-a-tu-ma gravely spoke to the council.

“Behold, I have returned with the lost maidens, yet may they not remain or come again, for you have not loved their beautiful custom – the source of your lives – and men would seek to change the blessings of their flesh itself into suffering humanity were they to remain amongst you.

“As a mother, of her own blood and being, gives life to her offspring, so have these given of their flesh to you. Once more their flesh they give to you, as it were their children. From the beginning of the new Sun each year, ye shall treasure their gift, during the moon of the sacred fire, during the moon of the snow-broken boughs, during the moon of the great sand-driving winds, during the moon of the lesser sand-driving winds, ye shall treasure their flesh.

“Then, in the new soil that the winter winds and water have brought, ye shall bury their flesh as ye bury the flesh of the dead, and as the flesh of the dead decays, so shall their flesh decay; and as from the flesh of the dead springs the other being (the soul), so from their flesh shall spring new being, like to the first, yet in eight-fold plenitude.

“Of this shall ye eat and be bereft. Behold these maidens, beautiful and perfect are they, and as this, their flesh, is derived from them, so shall it confer on those whom it feeds perfection of person and beauty, as of those whence it was derived.”

“He lifted the tray from the head of the maiden next to him. She smiled and was seen no more; yet when the people opened the tray it was filled with yellow seed corn. And so Pai’-a-tu-ma lifted the trays, each in turn from the heads of the other maidens, and, as he did so, each faded from view. In the second tray the people found blue corn; in the third, red; in the fourth, white; in the fifth, variegated; and in the sixth, black.

“These they saved, and in the spring-time they carefully planted the seeds in separate places. The breaths of the corn maidens blew rain-clouds from their homes in Summer-land, and when the rains had passed away green corn plants grew everywhere the grains had been planted. And when the plants had grown tall and blossomed, they were laden with ears of corn; yellow, blue, red, white, speckled and black.

“Thus, to this day grows the corn, always eight-fold more than is planted, and of six colours, which our women preserve separately during the moons of the sacred fire, snow-broken boughs, great sand-driving winds and lesser sand-driving winds.

“It was Pai’-a-tu-ma who found the corn maidens and brought them back. He took the trays from their heads and gave them to the people; hence, when in winter, during the moon of the sacred fire, the priests gather to bless the seed corn for the coming year, when the chief priest of the Ne’-we-kwe hands the trays of corn seed into the estufa.

“Ever since these days, the beautiful corn maidens have dwelt in the Land of Everlasting Summer. This we know. For does not their sweet-smelling breath come from that flowery country, bringing life to their children, the corn plants? It is the south wind which we feel in spring-time.

“Thus was born Ta-a or the “Seed of Seeds.”

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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