Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Love Tokens

Dorothy's Work
Originally uploaded by notionnanny.
Dorothy Horsfall made these two love tokens. The horseshoe is used in weddings as a good luck charm and a fertility symbol.

In M. Lambeth's 1974 book "Discovering Corn Dollies", it is explained that the history of corn dollies goes back to ancient times when the sun, moon, and elements became gods to be appeased with gifts and sacrifices. She writes, "Because early people realized the necessity for moisture to germinate the seeds they thought it part of the ritual of sowing that the sower should weep and so all corn dieties were weeping gods, who shed fertilizing tears."

"Many European countries had a custom of cutting the last handful of corn in the field. In Britain it varied from country to country; some preferred to throw their sticks at it until there was nothing left, others thought it held an evil spirit and trampled it into the ground. Many treated it with honor for they believed the corn spirit had retreated into it as a refuge when the rest of the crop was cut."

Harvest emblems were made using this handful of straw as thank offerings to their gods or idols. In fact, it is from the word 'idol' rather than 'doll' that the term 'corn dollies' comes from. The first shapes made were simple sheaves or bunches of wheat decorated with wild flowers, resembling a vaguely female form. These had names such as Mother Earth, Harvest Dame, Maiden, Old Man, Hag, Cripple Goat, Harvest Queen, Harvest Gosling, and Quail.


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