The Golden Bough Readalong, Part the Eighth

 Wow, this is taking a long time!  We're almost to the end of summer and I am on track with my reading, which means it's going to take, I think, another three months.  Still, I think this is the best way for me to be reading it; three chapters a reasonably easy weekly assignment to fulfill and I would probably give up in despair if I tried to read it all at once.  Since I fell behind on the notes, I decided to just take two weeks off, and I'm going to start back up now.

Boy these sections had a lot of examples.  This is all about popular folk-customs of the harvest (now mostly gone), and obviously those customs varied slightly according to the region.  

XLVI.  The Corn-Mother in Many Lands.

  1. The Corn-Mother in America:  Native American customs around maize (short).
  2. The Rice-Mother in the East Indies: So many examples of customs around rice.
  3. The Spirit of the Corn Embodied in Human Beings:  That last ceremonial reaper is often considered to be the corn-spirit at that moment.
  4. The Double Personification of the Corn as Mother and Daughter:  "The reader may have observed that in modern folk-customs the corn-spirit is generally represented either by a Corn-mother (Old Woman, etc.) or by a Maiden (Harvest-child, etc.), not both by a Corn-mother and by a Maiden. Why then did the Greeks represent the corn both as a mother and a daughter?" 

XLVII.  Lityerses.

  1. Songs of the Corn Reapers: Many peoples have sung a lament over the first or last sheaf of the harvest.
  2. Killing the Corn-Spirit: "Lityerses" was the name of a son of King Midas, whom Hercules defeated.  He would invite strangers to reap with him and then murder them.  Harvest songs were often called Lityerses after him, and folk-customs might trace back that far too.
  3. Human Sacrifices for the Crops: Some peoples have even sacrificed people to the crops/soil, to encourage fertility.
  4. The Corn-Spirit Slain in His Human Representatives: the imagined form of the corn-spirit usually accords with the 'age' of the crops -- that is, it might be thought of as an old woman, or a maiden, and then the last sheaf would be reaped by the right sort of person.  Or a passing stranger might have been pulled in, in some places.

XLVIII.  The Corn-Spirit as an Animal.

  1. Animal Embodiment of the Corn-Spirit: The crops are also often imagined as animals, which may go along with the right deity.  So here are 3 million examples (which I am not going to do more than list).
  2. The Corn-Spirit as a Wolf or Dog
  3. ...Cock
  4. ...Hare
  5. ...Cat
  6. ...Goat
  7. ...Bull, Cow, or Ox
  8. ...Horse or Mare
  9. ...Pig (Boar or Sow)
  10. On the Animal Embodiments of the Corn-Spirit: So you might even sacrifice that sort of animal, and possibly eat it (in the case of an edible animal).  The examples could go on to list every sort of creature!

OK, now it's on to "Ancient Deities of Vegetation as Animals"!  I've got about 300 pages to go.  This still counts as a summer book though!


  1. Wow! Your dedication to this classic is admirable! You’re creating a great resource for future readers 😊


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