Friday, January 28, 2011

Ceres - Goddess of Agricultural

In the Governor’s mansion in Denver, Colorado, there hangs a very nice painting of Ceres, the goddess of agriculture, fertility and mother earth. The origin of Ceres is unknown, but she is credited with the discovery of spelt wheat, an important crop, and from which the name “cereal” is derived. Ceres had a cult-like following of people who believed that specific rites and rituals had to be performed each year to ensure a good harvest. One of those rites involved the tying of blazing torches to foxes’ tails. The poor foxes were then set free to race across the fields, setting the stubble alight. It’s believed this method purified the fields of all vermin and disease, and therefore promised a good yield on harvest day.

On the British Isles, the ancient Britons performed a different (and kinder) ritual. Sylvia Kent writes in her book Folklore of Essex ISBN 0-7524 3677 5.

“A corn dolly, fashioned from the last stalks of the previous harvest, was laid in the first furrow and ploughed into the earth. This was done so the corn goddess, whose spirit was believed to reside in the corn dolly, would look kindly on the farmers and ensure that the forthcoming harvest would be bountiful.”