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Zea Mays: “Bringer of Life”


A miraculous find, a gift that keeps giving, sustenance for the people and animals, a reciprocal relationship, an offering to the sun and earth.

Corn is called by many names in all the traditions throughout the Americas. These sentiments reflect its natural generosity. Corn is the life giving food that has sustained our relations for 9,000 years. The DNA of her lives in all of us; she is our ancestor. We are her children and in my garden, she continues to sustain our community. When we say, “all our relations”, it all started with her, this food of the gods and of the people. She is the mother of all.


Creation stories throughout the Americas speak of the people coming from maize. In these stories a human was made from a kernel of colored corn—each race a different color of shimmering earthy reds and deep mysterious blues, golden like the sun yellows and pearly whites as the winter snow. Each color a sacred maiden of mother earth’s diversity. Robin Wall Kimmermer says that “People made of maize were most pleasing to the gods for their gratitude for life, their care for other beings, and their joy.”


Zea Mays’ pollen and the hand ground meal are sacred to the people of the southwest. Collecting pollen is an act of love—it takes time and precision. Each powdery golden pinch is then given as a precious offering. It is the medicine of gratitude for the sun rising and the gift of life. The ground corn is offered back, too: white to father sky and yellow to mother earth.


Between people and corn, Thanksgiving arose as a sacred holiday. The Painted Hill corn grown on the high altitude land of western Colorado will grace our table on this holy day, ground into a violet colored meal, we will taste the freshest and sweetest corn bread ever. To corn we sing our praise, as she is the life bringer of all.



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