Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Golden Bough by Sir James George Frazer

Part 12 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.3 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

bury in the field some betel as an offering to the spirits who cause
the rice to grow. The rice that is planted round this spot is the
last to be reaped at harvest. At the commencement of the reaping the
stalks of this patch of rice are tied together into a sheaf, which
is called "the Mother of the Rice" (_ineno pae_), and offerings in
the shape of rice, fowl's liver, eggs, and other things are laid
down before it. When all the rest of the rice in the field has been
reaped, "the Mother of the Rice" is cut down and carried with due
honour to the rice-barn, where it is laid on the floor, and all the
other sheaves are piled upon it. The Tomori, we are told, regard the
Mother of the Rice as a special offering made to the rice-spirit
Omonga, who dwells in the moon. If that spirit is not treated with
proper respect, for example if the people who fetch rice from the
barn are not decently clad, he is angry and punishes the offenders
by eating up twice as much rice in the barn as they have taken out
of it; some people have heard him smacking his lips in the barn, as
he devoured the rice. On the other hand the Toradjas of Central
Celebes, who also practice the custom of the Rice-mother at harvest,
regard her as the actual mother of the whole harvest, and therefore
keep her carefully, lest in her absence the garnered store of rice
should all melt away and disappear.

Again, just as in Scotland the old and the young spirit of the corn
are represented as an Old Wife (_Cailleach_) and a Maiden
respectively, so in the Malay Peninsula we find both the Rice-mother
and her child represented by different sheaves or bundles of ears on
the harvest-field. The ceremony of cutting and bringing home the
Soul of the Rice was witnessed by Mr. W. W. Skeat at Chodoi in
Selangor on the twenty-eighth of January 1897. The particular bunch
or sheaf which was to serve as the Mother of the Rice-soul had
previously been sought and identified by means of the markings or
shape of the ears. From this sheaf an aged sorceress, with much
solemnity, cut a little bundle of seven ears, anointed them with
oil, tied them round with parti-coloured thread, fumigated them with
incense, and having wrapt them in a white cloth deposited them in a
little oval-shaped basket. These seven ears were the infant Soul of
the Rice and the little basket was its cradle. It was carried home
to the farmer's house by another woman, who held up an umbrella to
screen the tender infant from the hot rays of the sun. Arrived at
the house the Rice-child was welcomed by the women of the family,
and laid, cradle and all, on a new sleepingmat with pillows at the
head. After that the farmer's wife was instructed to observe certain
rules of taboo for three days, the rules being in many respects
identical with those which have to be observed for three days after
the birth of a real child. Something of the same tender care which
is thus bestowed on the newly-born Rice-child is naturally extended
also to its parent, the sheaf from whose body it was taken. This
sheaf, which remains standing in the field after the Rice-soul has
been carried home and put to bed, is treated as a newly-made mother;
that is to say, young shoots of trees are pounded together and
scattered broadcast every evening for three successive days, and
when the three days are up you take the pulp of a coco-nut and what
are called "goat-flowers," mix them up, eat them with a little
sugar, and spit some of the mixture out among the rice. So after a
real birth the young shoots of the jack-fruit, the rose-apple,
certain kinds of banana, and the thin pulp of young coco-nuts are
mixed with dried fish, salt, acid, prawn-condiment, and the like
dainties to form a sort of salad, which is administered to mother
and child for three successive days. The last sheaf is reaped by the
farmer's wife, who carries it back to the house, where it is
threshed and mixed with the Rice-soul. The farmer then takes the
Rice-soul and its basket and deposits it, together with the product
of the last sheaf, in the big circular rice-bin used by the Malays.
Some grains from the Rice-soul are mixed with the seed which is to
be sown in the following year. In this Rice-mother and Rice-child of
the Malay Peninsula we may see the counterpart and in a sense the
prototype of the Demeter and Persephone of ancient Greece.

Once more, the European custom of representing the corn-spirit in
the double form of bride and bridegroom has its parallel in a
ceremony observed at the rice-harvest in Java. Before the reapers
begin to cut the rice, the priest or sorcerer picks out a number of
ears of rice, which are tied together, smeared with ointment, and
adorned with flowers. Thus decked out, the ears are called the
_padi-peengantèn,_ that is, the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom;
their wedding feast is celebrated, and the cutting of the rice
begins immediately afterwards. Later on, when the rice is being got
in, a bridal chamber is partitioned off in the barn, and furnished
with a new mat, a lamp, and all kinds of toilet articles. Sheaves of
rice, to represent the wedding guests, are placed beside the
Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom. Not till this has been done may
the whole harvest be housed in the barn. And for the first forty
days after the rice has been housed, no one may enter the barn, for
fear of disturbing the newly-wedded pair.

In the islands of Bali and Lombok, when the time of harvest has
come, the owner of the field himself makes a beginning by cutting
"the principal rice" with his own hands and binding it into two
sheaves, each composed of one hundred and eight stalks with their
leaves attached to them. One of the sheaves represents a man and the
other a woman, and they are called "husband and wife." The male
sheaf is wound about with thread so that none of the leaves are
visible, whereas the female sheaf has its leaves bent over and tied
so as to resemble the roll of a woman's hair. Sometimes, for further
distinction, a necklace of rice-straw is tied round the female
sheaf. When the rice is brought home from the field, the two sheaves
representing the husband and wife are carried by a woman on her
head, and are the last of all to be deposited in the barn. There
they are laid to rest on a small erection or on a cushion of
rice-straw. The whole arrangement, we are informed, has for its
object to induce the rice to increase and multiply in the granary,
so that the owner may get more out of it than he put in. Hence when
the people of Bali bring the two sheaves, the husband and wife, into
the barn, they say, "Increase ye and multiply without ceasing." When
all the rice in the barn has been used up, the two sheaves
representing the husband and wife remain in the empty building till
they have gradually disappeared or been devoured by mice. The pinch
of hunger sometimes drives individuals to eat up the rice of these
two sheaves, but the wretches who do so are viewed with disgust by
their fellows and branded as pigs and dogs. Nobody would ever sell
these holy sheaves with the rest of their profane brethren.

The same notion of the propagation of the rice by a male and female
power finds expression amongst the Szis of Upper Burma. When the
paddy, that is, the rice with the husks still on it, has been dried
and piled in a heap for threshing, all the friends of the household
are invited to the threshing-floor, and food and drink are brought
out. The heap of paddy is divided and one half spread out for
threshing, while the other half is left piled up. On the pile food
and spirits are set, and one of the elders, addressing "the father
and mother of the paddy-plant," prays for plenteous harvests in
future, and begs that the seed may bear many fold. Then the whole
party eat, drink, and make merry. This ceremony at the
threshing-floor is the only occasion when these people invoke "the
father and mother of the paddy."

3. The Spirit of the Corn embodied in Human Beings

THUS the theory which recognises in the European Corn-mother,
Corn-maiden, and so forth, the embodiment in vegetable form of the
animating spirit of the crops is amply confirmed by the evidence of
peoples in other parts of the world, who, because they have lagged
behind the European races in mental development, retain for that
very reason a keener sense of the original motives for observing
those rustic rites which among ourselves have sunk to the level of
meaningless survivals. The reader may, however, remember that
according to Mannhardt, whose theory I am expounding, the spirit of
the corn manifests itself not merely in vegetable but also in human
form; the person who cuts the last sheaf or gives the last stroke at
threshing passes for a temporary embodiment of the corn-spirit, just
as much as the bunch of corn which he reaps or threshes. Now in the
parallels which have been hitherto adduced from the customs of
peoples outside Europe the spirit of the crops appears only in
vegetable form. It remains, therefore, to prove that other races
besides our European peasantry have conceived the spirit of the
crops as incorporate in or represented by living men and women. Such
a proof, I may remind the reader, is germane to the theme of this
book; for the more instances we discover of human beings
representing in themselves the life or animating spirit of plants,
the less difficulty will be felt at classing amongst them the King
of the Wood at Nemi.

The Mandans and Minnitarees of North America used to hold a festival
in spring which they called the corn-medicine festival of the women.
They thought that a certain Old Woman who Never Dies made the crops
to grow, and that, living somewhere in the south, she sent the
migratory waterfowl in spring as her tokens and representatives.
Each sort of bird represented a special kind of crop cultivated by
the Indians: the wild goose stood for the maize, the wild swan for
the gourds, and the wild duck for the beans. So when the feathered
messengers of the Old Woman began to arrive in spring the Indians
celebrated the corn-medicine festival of the women. Scaffolds were
set up, on which the people hung dried meat and other things by way
of offerings to the Old Woman; and on a certain day the old women of
the tribe, as representatives of the Old Woman who Never Dies,
assembled at the scaffolds each bearing in her hand an ear of maize
fastened to a stick. They first planted these sticks in the ground,
then danced round the scaffolds, and finally took up the sticks
again in their arms. Meanwhile old men beat drums and shook rattles
as a musical accompaniment to the performance of the old women.
Further, young women came and put dried flesh into the mouths of the
old women, for which they received in return a grain of the
consecrated maize to eat. Three or four grains of the holy corn were
also placed in the dishes of the young women, to be afterwards
carefully mixed with the seed-corn, which they were supposed to
fertilise. The dried flesh hung on the scaffold belonged to the old
women, because they represented the Old Woman who Never Dies. A
similar corn-medicine festival was held in autumn for the purpose of
attracting the herds of buffaloes and securing a supply of meat. At
that time every woman carried in her arms an uprooted plant of
maize. They gave the name of the Old Woman who Never Dies both to
the maize and to those birds which they regarded as symbols of the
fruits of the earth, and they prayed to them in autumn saying,
"Mother, have pity on us! send us not the bitter cold too soon, lest
we have not meat enough! let not all the game depart, that we may
have something for the winter!" In autumn, when the birds were
flying south, the Indians thought that they were going home to the
Old Woman and taking to her the offerings that had been hung up on
the scaffolds, especially the dried meat, which she ate. Here then
we have the spirit or divinity of the corn conceived as an Old Woman
and represented in bodily form by old women, who in their capacity
of representatives receive some at least of the offerings which are
intended for her.

In some parts of India the harvest-goddess Gauri is represented at
once by an unmarried girl and by a bundle of wild balsam plants,
which is made up into the figure of a woman and dressed as such with
mask, garments, and ornaments. Both the human and the vegetable
representative of the goddess are worshipped, and the intention of
the whole ceremony appears to be to ensure a good crop of rice.

4. The Double Personification of the Corn as Mother and Daughter

COMPARED with the Corn-mother of Germany and the Harvest-maiden of
Scotland, the Demeter and Persephone of Greece are late products of
religious growth. Yet as members of the Aryan family the Greeks must
at one time or another have observed harvest customs like those
which are still practised by Celts, Teutons, and Slavs, and which,
far beyond the limits of the Aryan world, have been practised by the
Indians of Peru and many peoples of the East Indies--a sufficient
proof that the ideas on which these customs rest are not confined to
any one race, but naturally suggest themselves to all untutored
peoples engaged in agriculture. It is probable, therefore, that
Demeter and Persephone, those stately and beautiful figures of Greek
mythology, grew out of the same simple beliefs and practices which
still prevail among our modern peasantry, and that they were
represented by rude dolls made out of the yellow sheaves on many a
harvest-field long before their breathing images were wrought in
bronze and marble by the master hands of Phidias and Praxiteles. A
reminiscence of that olden time--a scent, so to say, of the
harvest-field--lingered to the last in the title of the Maiden
(_Kore_) by which Persephone was commonly known. Thus if the
prototype of Demeter is the Corn-mother of Germany, the prototype of
Persephone is the Harvest-maiden which, autumn after autumn, is
still made from the last sheaf on the Braes of Balquhidder. Indeed,
if we knew more about the peasant-farmers of ancient Greece, we
should probably find that even in classical times they continued
annually to fashion their Corn-mothers (Demeters) and Maidens
(Persephones) out of the ripe corn on the harvest-fields. But
unfortunately the Demeter and Persephone whom we know were the
denizens of towns, the majestic inhabitants of lordly temples; it
was for such divinities alone that the refined writers of antiquity
had eyes; the uncouth rites performed by rustics amongst the corn
were beneath their notice. Even if they noticed them, they probably
never dreamed of any connexion between the puppet of corn-stalks on
the sunny stubble-field and the marble divinity in the shady
coolness of the temple. Still the writings even of these town-bred
and cultured persons afford us an occasional glimpse of a Demeter as
rude as the rudest that a remote German village can show. Thus the
story that Iasion begat a child Plutus ( "wealth," "abundance") by
Demeter on a thrice-ploughed field, may be compared with the West
Prussian custom of the mock birth of a child on the harvest-field.
In this Prussian custom the pretended mother represents the
Corn-mother (Zytniamatka_); the pretended child represents the
Corn-baby, and the whole ceremony is a charm to ensure a crop next
year. The custom and the legend alike point to an older practice of
performing, among the sprouting crops in spring or the stubble in
autumn, one of those real or mimic acts of procreation by which, as
we have seen, primitive man often seeks to infuse his own vigorous
life into the languid or decaying energies of nature. Another
glimpse of the savage under the civilised Demeter will be afforded
farther on, when we come to deal with another aspect of those
agricultural divinities.

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?

In the Breton custom the mother-sheaf--a large figure made out of
the last sheaf with a small corn-doll inside of it--clearly
represents both the Corn-mother and the Corn-daughter, the latter
still unborn. Again, in the Prussian custom just referred to, the
woman who plays the part of Corn-mother represents the ripe grain;
the child appears to represent next year's corn, which may be
regarded, naturally enough, as the child of this year's corn, since
it is from the seed of this year's harvest that next year's crop
will spring. Further, we have seen that among the Malays of the
Peninsula and sometimes among the Highlanders of Scotland the spirit
of the grain is represented in double female form, both as old and
young, by means of ears taken alike from the ripe crop: in Scotland
the old spirit of the corn appears as the Carline or _Cailleach,_
the young spirit as the Maiden; while among the Malays of the
Peninsula the two spirits of the rice are definitely related to each
other as mother and child. Judged by these analogies Demeter would
be the ripe crop of this year; Persephone would be the seed-corn
taken from it and sown in autumn, to reappear in spring. The descent
of Persephone into the lower world would thus be a mythical
expression for the sowing of the seed; her reappearance in spring
would signify the sprouting of the young corn. In this way the
Persephone of one year becomes the Demeter of the next, and this may
very well have been the original form of the myth. But when with the
advance of religious thought the corn came to be personified no
longer as a being that went through the whole cycle of birth,
growth, reproduction, and death within a year, but as an immortal
goddess, consistency required that one of the two personifications,
the mother or the daughter, should be sacrificed. However, the
double conception of the corn as mother and daughter may have been
too old and too deeply rooted in the popular mind to be eradicated
by logic, and so room had to be found in the reformed myth both for
mother and daughter. This was done by assigning to Persephone the
character of the corn sown in autumn and sprouting in spring, while
Demeter was left to play the somewhat vague part of the heavy mother
of the corn, who laments its annual disappearance underground, and
rejoices over its reappearance in spring. Thus instead of a regular
succession of divine beings, each living a year and then giving
birth to her successor, the reformed myth exhibits the conception of
two divine and immortal beings, one of whom annually disappears into
and reappears from the ground, while the other has little to do but
to weep and rejoice at the appropriate seasons.

This theory of the double personification of the corn in Greek myth
assumes that both personifications (Demeter and Persephone) are
original. But if we suppose that the Greek myth started with a
single personification, the aftergrowth of a second personification
may perhaps be explained as follows. On looking over the harvest
customs which have been passed under review, it may be noticed that
they involve two distinct conceptions of the corn-spirit. For
whereas in some of the customs the corn-spirit is treated as
immanent in the corn, in others it is regarded as external to it.
Thus when a particular sheaf is called by the name of the
corn-spirit, and is dressed in clothes and handled with reverence,
the spirit is clearly regarded as immanent in the corn. But when the
spirit is said to make the crops grow by passing through them, or to
blight the grain of those against whom she has a grudge, she is
apparently conceived as distinct from, though exercising power over,
the corn. Conceived in the latter mode the corn-spirit is in a fair
way to become a deity of the corn, if she has not become so already.
Of these two conceptions, that of the cornspirit as immanent in the
corn is doubtless the older, since the view of nature as animated by
indwelling spirits appears to have generally preceded the view of it
as controlled by external deities; to put it shortly, animism
precedes deism. In the harvest customs of our European peasantry the
corn-spirit seems to be conceived now as immanent in the corn and
now as external to it. In Greek mythology, on the other hand,
Demeter is viewed rather as the deity of the corn than as the spirit
immanent in it. The process of thought which leads to the change
from the one mode of conception to the other is anthropomorphism, or
the gradual investment of the immanent spirits with more and more of
the attributes of humanity. As men emerge from savagery the tendency
to humanise their divinities gains strength; and the more human
these become the wider is the breach which severs them from the
natural objects of which they were at first merely the animating
spirits or souls. But in the progress upwards from savagery men of
the same generation do not march abreast; and though the new
anthropomorphic gods may satisfy the religious wants of the more
developed intelligences, the backward members of the community will
cling by preference to the old animistic notions. Now when the
spirit of any natural object such as the corn has been invested with
human qualities, detached from the object, and converted into a
deity controlling it, the object itself is, by the withdrawal of its
spirit, left inanimate; it becomes, so to say, a spiritual vacuum.
But the popular fancy, intolerant of such a vacuum, in other words,
unable to conceive anything as inanimate, immediately creates a
fresh mythical being, with which it peoples the vacant object. Thus
the same natural object comes to be represented in mythology by two
distinct beings: first by the old spirit now separated from it and
raised to the rank of a deity; second, by the new spirit, freshly
created by the popular fancy to supply the place vacated by the old
spirit on its elevation to a higher sphere. In such cases the
problem for mythology is, having got two distinct personifications
of the same object, what to do with them? How are their relations to
each other to be adjusted, and room found for both in the
mythological system? When the old spirit or new deity is conceived
as creating or producing the object in question, the problem is
easily solved. Since the object is believed to be produced by the
old spirit, and animated by the new one, the latter, as the soul of
the object, must also owe its existence to the former; thus the old
spirit will stand to the new one as producer to produced, that is,
in mythology, as parent to child, and if both spirits are conceived
as female, their relation will be that of mother and daughter. In
this way, starting from a single personification of the corn as
female, mythic fancy might in time reach a double personification of
it as mother and daughter. It would be very rash to affirm that this
was the way in which the myth of Demeter and Persephone actually
took shape; but it seems a legitimate conjecture that the
reduplication of deities, of which Demeter and Persephone furnish an
example, may sometimes have arisen in the way indicated. For
example, among the pairs of deities dealt with in a former part of
this work, it has been shown that there are grounds for regarding
both Isis and her companion god Osiris as personifications of the
corn. On the hypothesis just suggested, Isis would be the old
corn-spirit, and Osiris would be the newer one, whose relationship
to the old spirit was variously explained as that of brother,
husband, and son; for of course mythology would always be free to
account for the coexistence of the two divinities in more ways than
one. It must not, however, be forgotten that this proposed
explanation of such pairs of deities as Demeter and Persephone or
Isis and Osiris is purely conjectural, and is only given for what it
is worth.

XLVII. Lityerses

1. Songs of the Corn Reapers

IN THE PRECEDING pages an attempt has been made to show that in the
Corn-mother and Harvest-maiden of Northern Europe we have the
prototypes of Demeter and Persephone. But an essential feature is
still wanting to complete the resemblance. A leading incident in the
Greek myth is the death and resurrection of Persephone; it is this
incident which, coupled with the nature of the goddess as a deity of
vegetation, links the myth with the cults of Adonis, Attis, Osiris,
and Dionysus; and it is in virtue of this incident that the myth
finds a place in our discussion of the Dying God. It remains,
therefore, to see whether the conception of the annual death and
resurrection of a god, which figures so prominently in these great
Greek and Oriental worships, has not also its origin or its analogy
in the rustic rites observed by reapers and vine-dressers amongst
the corn-shocks and the vines.

Our general ignorance of the popular superstitions and customs of
the ancients has already been confessed. But the obscurity which
thus hangs over the first beginnings of ancient religion is
fortunately dissipated to some extent in the present case. The
worships of Osiris, Adonis, and Attis had their respective seats, as
we have seen, in Egypt, Syria, and Phrygia; and in each of these
countries certain harvest and vintage customs are known to have been
observed, the resemblance of which to each other and to the national
rites struck the ancients themselves, and, compared with the harvest
customs of modern peasants and barbarians, seems to throw some light
on the origin of the rites in question.

It has been already mentioned, on the authority of Diodorus, that in
ancient Egypt the reapers were wont to lament over the first sheaf
cut, invoking Isis as the goddess to whom they owed the discovery of
corn. To the plaintive song or cry sung or uttered by Egyptian
reapers the Greeks gave the name of Maneros, and explained the name
by a story that Maneros, the only son of the first Egyptian king,
invented agriculture, and, dying an untimely death, was thus
lamented by the people. It appears, however, that the name Maneros
is due to a misunderstanding of the formula _maa-ne-hra,_ "Come to
the house," which has been discovered in various Egyptian writings,
for example in the dirge of Isis in the Book of the Dead. Hence we
may suppose that the cry _maa-ne-hra_ was chanted by the reapers
over the cut corn as a dirge for the death of the corn-spirit (Isis
or Osiris) and a prayer for its return. As the cry was raised over
the first ears reaped, it would seem that the corn-spirit was
believed by the Egyptians to be present in the first corn cut and to
die under the sickle. We have seen that in the Malay Peninsula and
Java the first ears of rice are taken to represent either the Soul
of the Rice or the Rice-bride and the Rice-bridegroom. In parts of
Russia the first sheaf is treated much in the same way that the last
sheaf is treated elsewhere. It is reaped by the mistress herself,
taken home and set in the place of honour near the holy pictures;
afterwards it is threshed separately, and some of its grain is mixed
with the next year's seed-corn. In Aberdeenshire, while the last
corn cut was generally used to make the _clyack_ sheaf, it was
sometimes, though rarely, the first corn cut that was dressed up as
a woman and carried home with ceremony.

In Phoenicia and Western Asia a plaintive song, like that chanted by
the Egyptian corn-reapers, was sung at the vintage and probably (to
judge by analogy) also at harvest. This Phoenician song was called
by the Greeks Linus or Ailinus and explained, like Maneros, as a
lament for the death of a youth named Linus. According to one story
Linus was brought up by a shepherd, but torn to pieces by his dogs.
But, like Maneros, the name Linus or Ailinus appears to have
originated in a verbal misunderstanding, and to be nothing more than
the cry _ai lanu,_ that is "Woe to us," which the Phoenicians
probably uttered in mourning for Adonis; at least Sappho seems to
have regarded Adonis and Linus as equivalent.

In Bithynia a like mournful ditty, called Bormus or Borimus, was
chanted by Mariandynian reapers. Bormus was said to have been a
handsome youth, the son of King Upias or of a wealthy and
distinguished man. One summer day, watching the reapers at work in
his fields, he went to fetch them a drink of water and was never
heard of more. So the reapers sought for him, calling him in
plaintive strains, which they continued to chant at harvest ever

2. Killing the Corn-spirit

IN PHRYGIA the corresponding song, sung by harvesters both at
reaping and at threshing, was called Lityerses. According to one
story, Lityerses was a bastard son of Midas, King of Phrygia, and
dwelt at Celaenae. He used to reap the corn, and had an enormous
appetite. When a stranger happened to enter the corn-field or to
pass by it, Lityerses gave him plenty to eat and drink, then took
him to the corn-fields on the banks of the Maeander and compelled
him to reap along with him. Lastly, it was his custom to wrap the
stranger in a sheaf, cut off his head with a sickle, and carry away
his body, swathed in the corn-stalks. But at last Hercules undertook
to reap with him, cut off his head with the sickle, and threw his
body into the river. As Hercules is reported to have slain Lityerses
in the same way that Lityerses slew others, we may infer that
Lityerses used to throw the bodies of his victims into the river.
According to another version of the story, Lityerses, a son of
Midas, was wont to challenge people to a reaping match with him, and
if he vanquished them he used to thrash them; but one day he met
with a stronger reaper, who slew him.

There are some grounds for supposing that in these stories of
Lityerses we have the description of a Phrygian harvest custom in
accordance with which certain persons, especially strangers passing
the harvest field, were regularly regarded as embodiments of the
corn-spirit, and as such were seized by the reapers, wrapt in
sheaves, and beheaded, their bodies, bound up in the corn-stalks,
being after-wards thrown into water as a rain-charm. The grounds for
this supposition are, first, the resemblance of the Lityerses story
to the harvest customs of European peasantry, and, second, the
frequency of human sacrifices offered by savage races to promote the
fertility of the fields. We will examine these grounds successively,
beginning with the former.

In comparing the story with the harvest customs of Europe, three
points deserve special attention, namely: I. the reaping match and
the binding of persons in the sheaves; II. the killing of the
corn-spirit or his representatives; III. the treatment of visitors
to the harvest field or of strangers passing it.

I. In regard to the first head, we have seen that in modern Europe
the person who cuts or binds or threshes the last sheaf is often
exposed to rough treatment at the hands of his fellow-labourers. For
example, he is bound up in the last sheaf, and, thus encased, is
carried or carted about, beaten, drenched with water, thrown on a
dunghill, and so forth. Or, if he is spared this horse-play, he is
at least the subject of ridicule or is thought to be destined to
suffer some misfortune in the course of the year. Hence the
harvesters are naturally reluctant to give the last cut at reaping
or the last stroke at threshing or to bind the last sheaf, and
towards the close of the work this reluctance produces an emulation
among the labourers, each striving to finish his task as fast as
possible, in order that he may escape the invidious distinction of
being last. For example, in the Mittelmark district of Prussia, when
the rye has been reaped, and the last sheaves are about to be tied
up, the binders stand in two rows facing each other, every woman
with her sheaf and her straw rope before her. At a given signal they
all tie up their sheaves, and the one who is the last to finish is
ridiculed by the rest. Not only so, but her sheaf is made up into
human shape and called the Old Man, and she must carry it home to
the farmyard, where the harvesters dance in a circle round her and
it. Then they take the Old Man to the farmer and deliver it to him
with the words, "We bring the Old Man to the Master. He may keep him
till he gets a new one." After that the Old Man is set up against a
tree, where he remains for a long time, the butt of many jests. At
Aschbach in Bavaria, when the reaping is nearly finished, the
reapers say, "Now, we will drive out the Old Man." Each of them sets
himself to reap a patch of corn as fast as he can; he who cuts the
last handful or the last stalk is greeted by the rest with an
exulting cry, "You have the Old Man." Sometimes a black mask is
fastened on the reaper's face and he is dressed in woman's clothes;
or if the reaper is a woman, she is dressed in man's clothes. A
dance follows. At the supper the Old Man gets twice as large a
portion of the food as the others. The proceedings are similar at
threshing; the person who gives the last stroke is said to have the
Old Man. At the supper given to the threshers he has to eat out of
the cream-ladle and to drink a great deal. Moreover, he is quizzed
and teased in all sorts of ways till he frees himself from further
annoyance by treating the others to brandy or beer.

These examples illustrate the contests in reaping, threshing, and
binding which take place amongst the harvesters, from their
unwillingness to suffer the ridicule and discomfort incurred by the
one who happens to finish his work last. It will be remembered that
the person who is last at reaping, binding, or threshing, is
regarded as the representative of the corn-spirit, and this idea is
more fully expressed by binding him or her in corn-stalks. The
latter custom has been already illustrated, but a few more instances
may be added. At Kloxin, near Stettin, the harvesters call out to
the woman who binds the last sheaf, "You have the Old Man, and must
keep him." As late as the first half of the nineteenth century the
custom was to tie up the woman herself in pease-straw, and bring her
with music to the farmhouse, where the harvesters danced with her
till the pease-straw fell off. In other villages round Stettin, when
the last harvest-waggon is being loaded, there is a regular race
amongst the women, each striving not to be last. For she who places
the last sheaf on the waggon is called the Old Man, and is
completely swathed in corn-stalks; she is also decked with flowers,
and flowers and a helmet of straw are placed on her head. In solemn
procession she carries the harvest-crown to the squire, over whose
head she holds it while she utters a string of good wishes. At the
dance which follows, the Old Man has the right to choose his, or
rather her, partner; it is an honour to dance with him. At Gommern,
near Magdeburg, the reaper who cuts the last ears of corn is often
wrapt up in corn-stalks so completely that it is hard to see whether
there is a man in the bundle or not. Thus wrapt up he is taken by
another stalwart reaper on his back, and carried round the field
amidst the joyous cries of the harvesters. At Neuhausen, near
Merseburg, the person who binds the last sheaf is wrapt in ears of
oats and saluted as the Oatsman, whereupon the others dance round
him. At Brie, Isle de France, the farmer himself is tied up in the
_first_ sheaf. At Dingelstedt, in the district of Erfurt, down to
the first half of the nineteenth century it was the custom to tie up
a man in the last sheaf. He was called the Old Man, and was brought
home on the last waggon, amid huzzas and music. On reaching the
farmyard he was rolled round the barn and drenched with water. At
Nördlingen in Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing
is wrapt in straw and rolled on the threshing-floor. In some parts
of Oberpfalz, Bavaria, he is said to "get the Old Man," is wrapt in
straw, and carried to a neighbour who has not yet finished his
threshing. In Silesia the woman who binds the last sheaf has to
submit to a good deal of horse-play. She is pushed, knocked down,
and tied up in the sheaf, after which she is called the corn-puppet

"In all these cases the idea is that the spirit of the corn--the Old
Man of vegetation--is driven out of the corn last cut or last
threshed, and lives in the barn during the winter. At sowing-time he
goes out again to the fields to resume his activity as animating
force among the sprouting corn."

II. Passing to the second point of comparison between the Lityerses
story and European harvest customs, we have now to see that in the
latter the corn-spirit is often believed to be killed at reaping or
threshing. In the Romsdal and other parts of Norway, when the
haymaking is over, the people say that "the Old Hay-man has been
killed." In some parts of Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke
at threshing is said to have killed the Corn-man, the Oats-man, or
the Wheat-man, according to the crop. In the Canton of Tillot, in
Lorraine, at threshing the last corn the men keep time with their
flails, calling out as they thresh, "We are killing the Old Woman!
We are killing the Old Woman!" If there is an old woman in the house
she is warned to save herself, or she will be struck dead. Near
Ragnit, in Lithuania, the last handful of corn is left standing by
itself, with the words, "The Old Woman (_Boba_) is sitting in
there." Then a young reaper whets his scythe and, with a strong
sweep, cuts down the handful. It is now said of him that "he has cut
off the Boba's head"; and he receives a gratuity from the farmer and
a jugful of water over his head from the farmer's wife. According to
another account, every Lithuanian reaper makes haste to finish his
task; for the Old Rye-woman lives in the last stalks, and whoever
cuts the last stalks kills the Old Rye-woman, and by killing her he
brings trouble on himself. In Wilkischken, in the district of
Tilsit, the man who cuts the last corn goes by the name of "the
killer of the Rye-woman." In Lithuania, again, the corn-spirit is
believed to be killed at threshing as well as at reaping. When only
a single pile of corn remains to be threshed, all the threshers
suddenly step back a few paces, as if at the word of command. Then
they fall to work, plying their flails with the utmost rapidity and
vehemence, till they come to the last bundle. Upon this they fling
themselves with almost frantic fury, straining every nerve, and
raining blows on it till the word "Halt!" rings out sharply from the
leader. The man whose flail is the last to fall after the command to
stop has been given is immediately surrounded by all the rest,
crying out that "he has struck the Old Rye-woman dead." He has to
expiate the deed by treating them to brandy; and, like the man who
cuts the last corn, he is known as "the killer of the Old
Rye-woman." Sometimes in Lithuania the slain corn-spirit was
represented by a puppet. Thus a female figure was made out of
corn-stalks, dressed in clothes, and placed on the threshing-floor,
under the heap of corn which was to be threshed last. Whoever
thereafter gave the last stroke at threshing "struck the Old Woman
dead." We have already met with examples of burning the figure which
represents the corn-spirit. In the East Riding of Yorkshire a custom
called "burning the Old Witch" is observed on the last day of
harvest. A small sheaf of corn is burnt on the field in a fire of
stubble; peas are parched at the fire and eaten with a liberal
allowance of ale; and the lads and lasses romp about the flames and
amuse themselves by blackening each other's faces. Sometimes, again,
the corn-spirit is represented by a man, who lies down under the
last corn; it is threshed upon his body, and the people say that
"the Old Man is being beaten to death." We saw that sometimes the
farmer's wife is thrust, together with the last sheaf, under the
threshing-machine, as if to thresh her, and that afterwards a
pretence is made of winnowing her. At Volders, in the Tyrol, husks
of corn are stuck behind the neck of the man who gives the last
stroke at threshing, and he is throttled with a straw garland. If he
is tall, it is believed that the corn will be tall next year. Then
he is tied on a bundle and flung into the river. In Carinthia, the
thresher who gave the last stroke, and the person who untied the
last sheaf on the threshing-floor, are bound hand and foot with
straw bands, and crowns of straw are placed on their heads. Then
they are tied, face to face, on a sledge, dragged through the
village, and flung into a brook. The custom of throwing the
representative of the corn-spirit into a stream, like that of
drenching him with water, is, as usual, a rain-charm.

III. Thus far the representatives of the corn-spirit have generally
been the man or woman who cuts, binds, or threshes the last corn. We
now come to the cases in which the corn-spirit is represented either
by a stranger passing the harvest-field (as in the Lityerses tale),
or by a visitor entering it for the first time. All over Germany it
is customary for the reapers or threshers to lay hold of passing
strangers and bind them with a rope made of corn-stalks, till they
pay a forfeit; and when the farmer himself or one of his guests
enters the field or the threshing-floor for the first time, he is
treated in the same way. Sometimes the rope is only tied round his
arm or his feet or his neck. But sometimes he is regularly swathed
in corn. Thus at Solör in Norway, whoever enters the field, be he
the master or a stranger, is tied up in a sheaf and must pay a
ransom. In the neighbourhood of Soest, when the farmer visits the
flax-pullers for the first time, he is completely enveloped in flax.
Passers-by are also surrounded by the women, tied up in flax, and
compelled to stand brandy. At Nördlingen strangers are caught with
straw ropes and tied up in a sheaf till they pay a forfeit. Among
the Germans of Haselberg, in West Bohemia, as soon as a farmer had
given the last corn to be threshed on the threshing-floor, he was
swathed in it and had to redeem himself by a present of cakes. In
the canton of Putanges, in Normandy, a pretence of tying up the
owner of the land in the last sheaf of wheat is still practised, or
at least was still practised some quarter of a century ago. The task
falls to the women alone. They throw themselves on the proprietor,
seize him by the arms, the legs, and the body, throw him to the
ground, and stretch him on the last sheaf. Then a show is made of
binding him, and the conditions to be observed at the harvest-supper
are dictated to him. When he has accepted them, he is released and
allowed to get up. At Brie, Isle de France, when any one who does
not belong to the farm passes by the harvest-field, the reapers give
chase. If they catch him, they bind him in a sheaf an dbite him, one
after the other, in the forehead, crying, "You shall carry the key
of the field." "To have the key" is an expression used by harvesters
elsewhere in the sense of to cut or bind or thresh the last sheaf;
hence, it is equivalent to the phrases "You have the Old Man," "You
are the Old Man," which are addressed to the cutter, binder, or
thresher of the last sheaf. Therefore, when a stranger, as at Brie,
is tied up in a sheaf and told that he will "carry the key of the
field," it is as much as to say that he is the Old Man, that is, an
embodiment of the corn-spirit. In hop-picking, if a well-dressed
stranger passes the hop-yard, he is seized by the women, tumbled
into the bin, covered with leaves, and not released till he has paid
a fine.

Thus, like the ancient Lityerses, modern European reapers have been
wont to lay hold of a passing stranger and tie him up in a sheaf. It
is not to be expected that they should complete the parallel by
cutting off his head; but if they do not take such a strong step,
their language and gestures are at least indicative of a desire to
do so. For instance, in Mecklenburg on the first day of reaping, if
the master or mistress or a stranger enters the field, or merely
passes by it, all the mowers face towards him and sharpen their
scythes, clashing their whet-stones against them in unison, as if
they were making ready to mow. Then the woman who leads the mowers
steps up to him and ties a band round his left arm. He must ransom
himself by payment of a forfeit. Near Ratzeburg, when the master or
other person of mark enters the field or passes by it, all the
harvesters stop work and march towards him in a body, the men with
their scythes in front. On meeting him they form up in line, men and
women. The men stick the poles of their scythes in the ground, as
they do in whetting them; then they take off their caps and hang
them on the scythes, while their leader stands forward and makes a
speech. When he has done, they all whet their scythes in measured
time very loudly, after which they put on their caps. Two of the
women binders then come forward; one of them ties the master or
stranger (as the case may be) with corn-ears or with a silken band;
the other delivers a rhyming address. The following are specimens of
the speeches made by the reaper on these occasions. In some parts of
Pomerania every passer-by is stopped, his way being barred with a
corn-rope. The reapers form a circle round him and sharpen their
scythes, while their leader says:

"The men are ready,
The scythes are bent,
The corn is great and small,
The gentleman must be mowed."

Then the process of whetting the scythes is repeated. At Ramin, in
the district of Stettin, the stranger, standing encircled by the
reapers, is thus addressed:

"We'll stroke the gentleman
With our naked sword,
Wherewith we shear meadows and fields.
We shear princes and lords.
Labourers are often athirst;
If the gentleman will stand beer and brandy
The joke will soon be over.
But, if our prayer he does not like,
The sword has a right to strike."

On the threshing-floor strangers are also regarded as embodiments of
the corn-spirit, and are treated accordingly. At Wiedingharde in
Schleswig when a stranger comes to the threshing-floor he is asked,
"Shall I teach you the flail-dance?" If he says yes, they put the
arms of the threshing-flail round his neck as if he were a sheaf of
corn, and press them together so tight that he is nearly choked. In
some parishes of Wermland (Sweden), when a stranger enters the
threshing-floor where the threshers are at work, they say that "they
will teach him the threshing-song." Then they put a flail round his
neck and a straw rope about his body. Also, as we have seen, if a
stranger woman enters the threshing-floor, the threshers put a flail
round her body and a wreath of corn-stalks round her neck, and call
out, "See the Corn-woman! See! that is how the Corn-maiden looks!"

Thus in these harvest-customs of modern Europe the person who cuts,
binds, or threshes the last corn is treated as an embodiment of the
corn-spirit by being wrapt up in sheaves, killed in mimicry by
agricultural implements, and thrown into the water. These
coincidences with the Lityerses story seem to prove that the latter
is a genuine description of an old Phrygian harvest-custom. But
since in the modern parallels the killing of the personal
representative of the corn-spirit is necessarily omitted or at most
enacted only in mimicry, it is desirable to show that in rude
society human beings have been commonly killed as an agricultural
ceremony to promote the fertility of the fields. The following
examples will make this plain.

3. Human Sacrifices for the Crops

THE INDIANS of Guayaquil, in Ecuador, used to sacrifice human blood
and the hearts of men when they sowed their fields. The people of
Cañar (now Cuenca in Ecuador) used to sacrifice a hundred children
annually at harvest. The kings of Quito, the Incas of Peru, and for
a long time the Spaniards were unable to suppress the bloody rite.
At a Mexican harvest-festival, when the first-fruits of the season
were offered to the sun, a criminal was placed between two immense
stones, balanced opposite each other, and was crushed by them as
they fell together. His remains were buried, and a feast and dance
followed. This sacrifice was known as "the meeting of the stones."
We have seen that the ancient Mexicans also sacrificed human beings
at all the various stages in the growth of the maize, the age of the
victims corresponding to the age of the corn; for they sacrificed
new-born babes at sowing, older children when the grain had
sprouted, and so on till it was fully ripe, when they sacrificed old
men. No doubt the correspondence between the ages of the victims and
the state of the corn was supposed to enhance the efficacy of the

The Pawnees annually sacrificed a human victim in spring when they
sowed their fields. The sacrifice was believed to have been enjoined
on them by the Morning Star, or by a certain bird which the Morning
Star had sent to them as its messenger. The bird was stuffed and
preserved as a powerful talisman. They thought that an omission of
this sacrifice would be followed by the total failure of the crops
of maize, beans, and pumpkins. The victim was a captive of either
sex. He was clad in the gayest and most costly attire, was fattened
on the choicest food, and carefully kept in ignorance of his doom.
When he was fat enough, they bound him to a cross in the presence of
the multitude, danced a solemn dance, then cleft his head with a
tomahawk and shot him with arrows. According to one trader, the
squaws then cut pieces of flesh from the victim's body, with which
they greased their hoes; but this was denied by another trader who
had been present at the ceremony. Immediately after the sacrifice
the people proceeded to plant their fields. A particular account has
been preserved of the sacrifice of a Sioux girl by the Pawnees in
April 1837 or 1838. The girl was fourteen or fifteen years old and
had been kept for six months and well treated. Two days before the
sacrifice she was led from wigwam to wigwam, accompanied by the
whole council of chiefs and warriors. At each lodge she received a
small billet of wood and a little paint, which she handed to the
warrior next to her. In this way she called at every wigwam,
receiving at each the same present of wood and paint. On the
twenty-second of April she was taken out to be sacrificed, attended
by the warriors, each of whom carried two pieces of wood which he
had received from her hands. Her body having been painted half red
and half black, she was attached to a sort of gibbet and roasted for
some time over a slow fire, then shot to death with arrows. The
chief sacrificer next tore out her heart and devoured it. While her
flesh was still warm it was cut in small pieces from the bones, put
in little baskets, and taken to a neighbouring corn-field. There the
head chief took a piece of the flesh from a basket and squeezed a
drop of blood upon the newly-deposited grains of corn. His example
was followed by the rest, till all the seed had been sprinkled with
the blood; it was then covered up with earth. According to one
account the body of the victim was reduced to a kind of paste, which
was rubbed or sprinkled not only on the maize but also on the
potatoes, the beans, and other seeds to fertilise them. By this
sacrifice they hoped to obtain plentiful crops.

A West African queen used to sacrifice a man and woman in the month
of March. They were killed with spades and hoes, and their bodies
buried in the middle of a field which had just been tilled. At Lagos
in Guinea it was the custom annually to impale a young girl alive
soon after the spring equinox in order to secure good crops. Along
with her were sacrificed sheep and goats, which, with yams, heads of
maize, and plantains, were hung on stakes on each side of her. The
victims were bred up for the purpose in the king's seraglio, and
their minds had been so powerfully wrought upon by the fetish men
that they went cheerfully to their fate. A similar sacrifice used to
be annually offered at Benin, in Guinea. The Marimos, a Bechuana
tribe, sacrifice a human being for the crops. The victim chosen is
generally a short, stout man. He is seized by violence or
intoxicated and taken to the fields, where he is killed amongst the
wheat to serve as "seed" (so they phrase it). After his blood has
coagulated in the sun, it is burned along with the frontal bone, the
flesh attached to it, and the brain; the ashes are then scattered
over the ground to fertilise it. The rest of the body is eaten.

The Bagobos of Mindanao, one of the Philippine Islands, offer a
human sacrifice before they sow their rice. The victim is a slave,
who is hewn to pieces in the forest. The natives of Bontoc in the
interior of Luzon, one of the Philippine Islands, are passionate
head-hunters. Their principal seasons for head-hunting are the times
of planting and reaping the rice. In order that the crop may turn
out well, every farm must get at least one human head at planting
and one at sowing. The head-hunters go out in twos or threes, lie in
wait for the victim, whether man or woman, cut off his or her head,
hands, and feet, and bring them back in haste to the village, where
they are received with great rejoicings. The skulls are at first
exposed on the branches of two or three dead trees which stand in an
open space of every village surrounded by large stones which serve
as seats. The people then dance round them and feast and get drunk.
When the flesh has decayed from the head, the man who cut it off
takes it home and preserves it as a relic, while his companions do
the same with the hands and the feet. Similar customs are observed
by the Apoyaos, another tribe in the interior of Luzon.

Among the Lhota Naga, one of the many savage tribes who inhabit the
deep rugged labyrinthine glens which wind into the mountains from
the rich valley of Brahmapootra, it used to be a common custom to
chop off the heads, hands, and feet of people they met with, and
then to stick up the severed extremities in their fields to ensure a
good crop of grain. They bore no ill-will whatever to the persons
upon whom they operated in this unceremonious fashion. Once they
flayed a boy alive, carved him in pieces, and distributed the flesh
among all the villagers, who put it into their corn-bins to avert
bad luck and ensure plentiful crops of grain. The Gonds of India, a
Dravidian race, kidnapped Brahman boys, and kept them as victims to
be sacrificed on various occasions. At sowing and reaping, after a
triumphal procession, one of the lads was slain by being punctured
with a poisoned arrow. His blood was then sprinkled over the
ploughed field or the ripe crop, and his flesh was devoured. The
Oraons or Uraons of Chota Nagpur worship a goddess called Anna
Kuari, who can give good crops and make a man rich, but to induce
her to do so it is necessary to offer human sacrifices. In spite of
the vigilance of the British Government these sacrifices are said to
be still secretly perpetrated. The victims are poor waifs and strays
whose disappearance attracts no notice. April and May are the months
when the catchpoles are out on the prowl. At that time strangers
will not go about the country alone, and parents will not let their
children enter the jungle or herd the cattle. When a catchpole has
found a victim, he cuts his throat and carries away the upper part
of the ring finger and the nose. The goddess takes up her abode in
the house of any man who has offered her a sacrifice, and from that
time his fields yield a double harvest. The form she assumes in the
house is that of a small child. When the householder brings in his
unhusked rice, he takes the goddess and rolls her over the heap to
double its size. But she soon grows restless and can only be
pacified with the blood of fresh human victims.

But the best known case of human sacrifices, systematically offered
to ensure good crops, is supplied by the Khonds or Kandhs, another
Dravidian race in Bengal. Our knowledge of them is derived from the
accounts written by British officers who, about the middle of the
nineteenth century, were engaged in putting them down. The
sacrifices were offered to the Earth Goddess. Tari Pennu or Bera
Pennu, and were believed to ensure good crops and immunity from all
disease and accidents. In particular, they were considered necessary
in the cultivation of turmeric, the Khonds arguing that the turmeric
could not have a deep red colour without the shedding of blood. The
victim or Meriah, as he was called, was acceptable to the goddess
only if he had been purchased, or had been born a victim--that is,
the son of a victim father, or had been devoted as a child by his
father or guardian. Khonds in distress often sold their children for
victims, "considering the beatification of their souls certain, and
their death, for the benefit of mankind, the most honourable
possible." A man of the Panua tribe was once seen to load a Khond
with curses, and finally to spit in his face, because the Khond had
sold for a victim his own child, whom the Panua had wished to marry.
A party of Khonds, who saw this, immediately pressed forward to
comfort the seller of his child, saying, "Your child has died that
all the world may live, and the Earth Goddess herself will wipe that
spittle from your face." The victims were often kept for years
before they were sacrificed. Being regarded as consecrated beings,
they were treated with extreme affection, mingled with deference,
and were welcomed wherever they went. A Meriah youth, on attaining
maturity, was generally given a wife, who was herself usually a
Meriah or victim; and with her he received a portion of land and
farm-stock. Their offspring were also victims. Human sacrifices were
offered to the Earth Goddess by tribes, branches of tribes, or
villages, both at periodical festivals and on extraordinary
occasions. The periodical sacrifices were generally so arranged by
tribes and divisions of tribes that each head of a family was
enabled, at least once a year, to procure a shred of flesh for his
fields, generally about the time when his chief crop was laid down.

The mode of performing these tribal sacrifices was as follows. Ten
or twelve days before the sacrifice, the victim was devoted by
cutting off his hair, which, until then, had been kept unshorn.
Crowds of men and women assembled to witness the sacrifice; none
might be excluded, since the sacrifice was declared to be for all
mankind. It was preceded by several days of wild revelry and gross
debauchery. On the day before the sacrifice the victim, dressed in a
new garment, was led forth from the village in solemn procession,
with music and dancing, to the Meriah grove, a clump of high forest
trees standing a little way from the village and untouched by the
axe. There they tied him to a post, which was sometimes placed
between two plants of the sankissar shrub. He was then anointed with
oil, ghee, and turmeric, and adorned with flowers; and "a species of
reverence, which it is not easy to distinguish from adoration," was
paid to him throughout the day. A great struggle now arose to obtain
the smallest relic from his person; a particle of the turmeric paste
with which he was smeared, or a drop of his spittle, was esteemed of
sovereign virtue, especially by the women. The crowd danced round
the post to music, and addressing the earth, said, "O God, we offer
this sacrifice to you; give us good crops, seasons, and health";
then speaking to the victim they said, "We bought you with a price,
and did not seize you; now we sacrifice you according to custom, and
no sin rests with us."

On the last morning the orgies, which had been scarcely interrupted
during the night, were resumed, and continued till noon, when they
ceased, and the assembly proceeded to consummate the sacrifice. The
victim was again anointed with oil, and each person touched the
anointed part, and wiped the oil on his own head. In some places
they took the victim in procession round the village, from door to
door, where some plucked hair from his head, and others begged for a
drop of his spittle, with which they anointed their heads. As the
victim might not be bound nor make any show of resistance, the bones
of his arms and, if necessary, his legs were broken; but often this
precaution was rendered unnecessary by stupefying him with opium.
The mode of putting him to death varied in different places. One of
the commonest modes seems to have been strangulation, or squeezing
to death. The branch of a green tree was cleft several feet down the
middle; the victim's neck (in other places, his chest) was inserted
in the cleft, which the priest, aided by his assistants, strove with
all his force to close. Then he wounded the victim slightly with his
axe, whereupon the crowd rushed at the wretch and hewed the flesh
from the bones, leaving the head and bowels untouched. Sometimes he
was cut up alive. In Chinna Kimedy he was dragged along the fields,
surrounded by the crowd, who, avoiding his head and intestines,
hacked the flesh from his body with their knives till he died.
Another very common mode of sacrifice in the same district was to
fasten the victim to the proboscis of a wooden elephant, which
revolved on a stout post, and, as it whirled round, the crowd cut
the flesh from the victim while life remained. In some villages
Major Campbell found as many as fourteen of these wooden elephants,
which had been used at sacrifices. In one district the victim was
put to death slowly by fire. A low stage was formed, sloping on
either side like a roof; upon it they laid the victim, his limbs
wound round with cords to confine his struggles. Fires were then
lighted and hot brands applied, to make him roll up and down the
slopes of the stage as long as possible; for the more tears he shed
the more abundant would be the supply of rain. Next day the body was
cut to pieces.

The flesh cut from the victim was instantly taken home by the
persons who had been deputed by each village to bring it. To secure
its rapid arrival, it was sometimes forwarded by relays of men, and
conveyed with postal fleetness fifty or sixty miles. In each village
all who stayed at home fasted rigidly until the flesh arrived. The
bearer deposited it in the place of public assembly, where it was
received by the priest and the heads of families. The priest divided
it into two portions, one of which he offered to the Earth Goddess
by burying it in a hole in the ground with his back turned, and
without looking. Then each man added a little earth to bury it, and
the priest poured water on the spot from a hill gourd. The other
portion of flesh he divided into as many shares as there were heads
of houses present. Each head of a house rolled his shred of flesh in
leaves, and buried it in his favourite field, placing it in the
earth behind his back without looking. In some places each man
carried his portion of flesh to the stream which watered his fields,
and there hung it on a pole. For three days thereafter no house was
swept; and, in one district, strict silence was observed, no fire
might be given out, no wood cut, and no strangers received. The
remains of the human victim (namely, the head, bowels, and bones)
were watched by strong parties the night after the sacrifice; and
next morning they were burned, along with a whole sheep, on a
funeral pile. The ashes were scattered over the fields, laid as
paste over the houses and granaries, or mixed with the new corn to
preserve it from insects. Sometimes, however, the head and bones
were buried, not burnt. After the suppression of the human
sacrifices, inferior victims were substituted in some places; for
instance, in the capital of Chinna Kimedy a goat took the place of
the human victim. Others sacrifice a buffalo. They tie it to a
wooden post in a sacred grove, dance wildly round it with brandished
knives, then, falling on the living animal, hack it to shreds and
tatters in a few minutes, fighting and struggling with each other
for every particle of flesh. As soon as a man has secured a piece he
makes off with it at full speed to bury it in his fields, according
to ancient custom, before the sun has set, and as some of them have
far to go they must run very fast. All the women throw clods of
earth at the rapidly retreating figures of the men, some of them
taking very good aim. Soon the sacred grove, so lately a scene of
tumult, is silent and deserted except for a few people who remain to
guard all that is left of the buffalo, to wit, the head, the bones,
and the stomach, which are burned with ceremony at the foot of the

In these Khond sacrifices the Meriahs are represented by our
authorities as victims offered to propitiate the Earth Goddess. But
from the treatment of the victims both before and after death it
appears that the custom cannot be explained as merely a propitiatory
sacrifice. A part of the flesh certainly was offered to the Earth
Goddess, but the rest was buried by each householder in his fields,
and the ashes of the other parts of the body were scattered over the
fields, laid as paste on the granaries, or mixed with the new corn.
These latter customs imply that to the body of the Meriah there was
ascribed a direct or intrinsic power of making the crops to grow,
quite independent of the indirect efficacy which it might have as an
offering to secure the good-will of the deity. In other words, the
flesh and ashes of the victim were believed to be endowed with a
magical or physical power of fertilising the land. The same
intrinsic power was ascribed to the blood and tears of the Meriah,
his blood causing the redness of the turmeric and his tears
producing rain; for it can hardly be doubted that, originally at
least, the tears were supposed to bring down the rain, not merely to
prognosticate it. Similarly the custom of pouring water on the
buried flesh of the Meriah was no doubt a rain-charm. Again, magical
power as an attribute of the Meriah appears in the sovereign virtue
believed to reside in anything that came from his person, as his
hair or spittle. The ascription of such power to the Meriah
indicates that he was much more than a mere man sacrificed to
propitiate a deity. Once more, the extreme reverence paid him points
to the same conclusion. Major Campbell speaks of the Meriah as
"being regarded as something more than mortal," and Major Macpherson
says, "A species of reverence, which it is not easy to distinguish
from adoration, is paid to him." In short, the Meriah seems to have
been regarded as divine. As such, he may originally have represented
the Earth Goddess or, perhaps, a deity of vegetation; though in
later times he came to be regarded rather as a victim offered to a
deity than as himself an incarnate god. This later view of the
Meriah as a victim rather than a divinity may perhaps have received
undue emphasis from the European writers who have described the
Khond religion. Habituated to the later idea of sacrifice as an
offering made to a god for the purpose of conciliating his favour,
European observers are apt to interpret all religious slaughter in
this sense, and to suppose that wherever such slaughter takes place,
there must necessarily be a deity to whom the carnage is believed by
the slayers to be acceptable. Thus their preconceived ideas may
unconsciously colour and warp their descriptions of savage rites.

The same custom of killing the representative of a god, of which
strong traces appear in the Khond sacrifices, may perhaps be
detected in some of the other human sacrifices described above. Thus
the ashes of the slaughtered Marimo were scattered over the fields;
the blood of the Brahman lad was put on the crop and field; the
flesh of the slain Naga was stowed in the corn-bin; and the blood of
the Sioux girl was allowed to trickle on the seed. Again, the
identification of the victim with the corn, in other words, the view
that he is an embodiment or spirit of the corn, is brought out in
the pains which seem to be taken to secure a physical correspondence
between him and the natural object which he embodies or represents.
Thus the Mexicans killed young victims for the young corn and old
ones for the ripe corn; the Marimos sacrifice, as "seed," a short,
fat man, the shortness of his stature corresponding to that of the
young corn, his fatness to the condition which it is desired that
the crops may attain; and the Pawnees fattened their victims
probably with the same view. Again, the identification of the victim
with the corn comes out in the African custom of killing him with
spades and hoes, and the Mexican custom of grinding him, like corn,
between two stones.

One more point in these savage customs deserves to be noted. The
Pawnee chief devoured the heart of the Sioux girl, and the Marimos
and Gonds ate the victim's flesh. If, as we suppose, the victim was
regarded as divine, it follows that in eating his flesh his
worshippers believed themselves to be partaking of the body of their

4. The Corn-spirit slain in his Human Representatives

THE BARBAROUS rites just described offer analogies to the harvest
customs of Europe. Thus the fertilising virtue ascribed to the
corn-spirit is shown equally in the savage custom of mixing the
victim's blood or ashes with the seed-corn and the European custom
of mixing the grain from the last sheaf with the young corn in
spring. Again, the identification of the person with the corn
appears alike in the savage custom of adapting the age and stature
of the victim to the age and stature, whether actual or expected, of
the crop; in the Scotch and Styrian rules that when the corn-spirit
is conceived as the Maiden the last corn shall be cut by a young
maiden, but when it is conceived as the Corn-mother it shall be cut
by an old woman; in the warning given to old women in Lorraine to
save themselves when the Old Woman is being killed, that is, when
the last corn is being threshed; and in the Tyrolese expectation
that if the man who gives the last stroke at threshing is tall, the
next year's corn will be tall also. Further, the same identification
is implied in the savage custom of killing the representative of the
corn-spirit with hoes or spades or by grinding him between stones,
and in the European custom of pretending to kill him with the scythe
or the flail. Once more the Khond custom of pouring water on the
buried flesh of the victim is parallel to the European customs of
pouring water on the personal representative of the corn-spirit or
plunging him into a stream. Both the Khond and the European customs
are rain-charms.

To return now to the Lityerses story. It has been shown that in rude
society human beings have been commonly killed to promote the growth
of the crops. There is therefore no improbability in the supposition
that they may once have been killed for a like purpose in Phrygia
and Europe; and when Phrygian legend and European folk-custom,
closely agreeing with each other, point to the conclusion that men
were so slain, we are bound, provisionally at least, to accept the
conclusion. Further, both the Lityerses story and European
harvest-customs agree in indicating that the victim was put to death
as a representative of the corn-spirit, and this indication is in
harmony with the view which some savages appear to take of the
victim slain to make the crops flourish. On the whole, then, we may
fairly suppose that both in Phrygia and in Europe the representative
of the corn-spirit was annually killed upon the harvest-field.
Grounds have been already shown for believing that similarly in
Europe the representative of the tree-spirit was annually slain. The
proofs of these two remarkable and closely analogous customs are
entirely independent of each other. Their coincidence seems to
furnish fresh presumption in favour of both.

To the question, How was the representative of the corn-spirit
chosen? one answer has been already given. Both the Lityerses story
and European folk-custom show that passing strangers were regarded
as manifestations of the corn-spirit escaping from the cut or
threshed corn, and as such were seized and slain. But this is not
the only answer which the evidence suggests. According to the
Phrygian legend the victims of Lityerses were not simply passing
strangers, but persons whom he had vanquished in a reaping contest
and afterwards wrapt up in corn-sheaves and beheaded. This suggests
that the representative of the corn-spirit may have been selected by
means of a competition on the harvest-field, in which the vanquished
competitor was compelled to accept the fatal honour. The supposition
is countenanced by European harvest-customs. We have seen that in
Europe there is sometimes a contest amongst the reapers to avoid
being last, and that the person who is vanquished in this
competition, that is, who cuts the last corn, is often roughly
handled. It is true we have not found that a pretence is made of
killing him; but on the other hand we have found that a pretence is
made of killing the man who gives the last stroke at threshing, that
is, who is vanquished in the threshing contest. Now, since it is in
the character of representative of the corn-spirit that the thresher
of the last corn is slain in mimicry, and since the same
representative character attaches (as we have seen) to the cutter
and binder as well as to the thresher of the last corn, and since
the same repugnance is evinced by harvesters to be last in any one
of these labours, we may conjecture that a pretence has been
commonly made of killing the reaper and binder as well as the
thresher of the last corn, and that in ancient times this killing
was actually carried out. This conjecture is corroborated by the
common superstition that whoever cuts the last corn must die soon.
Sometimes it is thought that the person who binds the last sheaf on
the field will die in the course of next year. The reason for fixing
on the reaper, binder, or thresher of the last corn as the
representative of the corn-spirit may be this. The corn-spirit is
supposed to lurk as long as he can in the corn, retreating before
the reapers, the binders, and the threshers at their work. But when
he is forcibly expelled from his refuge in the last corn cut or the
last sheaf bound or the last grain threshed, he necessarily assumes
some other form than that of the corn-stalks, which had hitherto
been his garment or body. And what form can the expelled corn-spirit
assume more naturally than that of the person who stands nearest to
the corn from which he (the corn-spirit) has just been expelled? But
the person in question is necessarily the reaper, binder, or
thresher of the last corn. He or she, therefore, is seized and
treated as the corn-spirit himself.

Thus the person who was killed on the harvest-field as the
representative of the corn-spirit may have been either a passing
stranger or the harvester who was last at reaping, binding, or
threshing. But there is a third possibility, to which ancient legend
and modern folk-custom alike point. Lityerses not only put strangers
to death; he was himself slain, and apparently in the same way as he
had slain others, namely, by being wrapt in a corn-sheaf, beheaded,
and cast into the river; and it is implied that this happened to
Lityerses on his own land. Similarly in modern harvest-customs the
pretence of killing appears to be carried out quite as often on the
person of the master (farmer or squire) as on that of strangers. Now
when we remember that Lityerses was said to have been a son of the
King of Phrygia, and that in one account he is himself called a
king, and when we combine with this the tradition that he was put to
death, apparently as a representative of the corn-spirit, we are led
to conjecture that we have here another trace of the custom of
annually slaying one of those divine or priestly kings who are known
to have held ghostly sway in many parts of Western Asia and
particularly in Phrygia. The custom appears, as we have seen, to
have been so far modified in places that the king's son was slain in
the king's stead. Of the custom thus modified the story of Lityerses
would be, in one version at least, a reminiscence.

Turning now to the relation of the Phrygian Lityerses to the
Phrygian Attis, it may be remembered that at Pessinus--the seat of a
priestly kingship--the high-priest appears to have been annually
slain in the character of Attis, a god of vegetation, and that Attis
was described by an ancient authority as "a reaped ear of corn."
Thus Attis, as an embodiment of the corn-spirit, annually slain in
the person of his representative, might be thought to be ultimately
identical with Lityerses, the latter being simply the rustic
prototype out of which the state religion of Attis was developed. It
may have been so; but, on the other hand, the analogy of European
folk-custom warns us that amongst the same people two distinct
deities of vegetation may have their separate personal
representatives, both of whom are slain in the character of gods at
different times of the year. For in Europe, as we have seen, it
appears that one man was commonly slain in the character of the
tree-spirit in spring, and another in the character of the
corn-spirit in autumn. It may have been so in Phrygia also. Attis
was especially a tree-god, and his connexion with corn may have been
only such an extension of the power of a tree-spirit as is indicated
in customs like the Harvest-May. Again, the representative of Attis
appears to have been slain in spring; whereas Lityerses must have
been slain in summer or autumn, according to the time of the harvest
in Phrygia. On the whole, then, while we are not justified in
regarding Lityerses as the prototype of Attis, the two may be
regarded as parallel products of the same religious idea, and may
have stood to each other as in Europe the Old Man of harvest stands
to the Wild Man, the Leaf Man, and so forth, of spring. Both were
spirits or deities of vegetation, and the personal representatives
of both were annually slain. But whereas the Attis worship became
elevated into the dignity of a state religion and spread to Italy,
the rites of Lityerses seem never to have passed the limits of their
native Phrygia, and always retained their character of rustic
ceremonies performed by peasants on the harvest-field. At most a few
villages may have clubbed together, as amongst the Khonds, to
procure a human victim to be slain as representative of the
corn-spirit for their common benefit. Such victims may have been
drawn from the families of priestly kings or kinglets, which would
account for the legendary character of Lityerses as the son of a
Phrygian king or as himself a king. When villages did not so club
together, each village or farm may have procured its own
representative of the corn-spirit by dooming to death either a
passing stranger or the harvester who cut, bound, or threshed the
last sheaf. Perhaps in the olden time the practice of head-hunting
as a means of promoting the growth of the corn may have been as
common among the rude inhabitants of Europe and Western Asia as it
still is, or was till lately, among the primitive agricultural
tribes of Assam, Burma, the Philippine Islands, and the Indian
Archipelago. It is hardly necessary to add that in Phrygia, as in
Europe, the old barbarous custom of killing a man on the
harvest-field or the threshing-floor had doubtless passed into a
mere pretence long before the classical era, and was probably
regarded by the reapers and threshers themselves as no more than a
rough jest which the license of a harvest-home permitted them to
play off on a passing stranger, a comrade, or even on their master

I have dwelt on the Lityerses song at length because it affords so
many points of comparison with European and savage folk-custom. The
other harvest songs of Western Asia and Egypt, to which attention
has been called above, may now be dismissed much more briefly. The
similarity of the Bithynian Bormus to the Phrygian Lityerses helps
to bear out the interpretation which has been given of the latter.
Bormus, whose death or rather disappearance was annually mourned by
the reapers in a plaintive song, was, like Lityerses, a king's son
or at least the son of a wealthy and distinguished man. The reapers
whom he watched were at work on his own fields, and he disappeared
in going to fetch water for them; according to one version of the
story he was carried off by the nymphs, doubtless the nymphs of the
spring or pool or river whither he went to draw water. Viewed in the
light of the Lityerses story and of European folk-custom, this
disappearance of Bormus may be a reminiscence of the custom of
binding the farmer himself in a corn-sheaf and throwing him into the
water. The mournful strain which the reapers sang was probably a
lamentation over the death of the corn-spirit, slain either in the
cut corn or in the person of a human representative; and the call
which they addressed to him may have been a prayer that he might
return in fresh vigour next year.

The Phoenician Linus song was sung at the vintage, at least in the
west of Asia Minor, as we learn from Homer; and this, combined with
the legend of Syleus, suggests that in ancient times passing
strangers were handled by vintagers and vine-diggers in much the
same way as they are said to have been handled by the reaper
Lityerses. The Lydian Syleus, so ran the legend, compelled
passers-by to dig for him in his vineyard, till Hercules came and
killed him and dug up his vines by the roots. This seems to be the
outline of a legend like that of Lityerses; but neither ancient
writers nor modern folk-custom enable us to fill in the details.
But, further, the Linus song was probably sung also by Phoenician
reapers, for Herodotus compares it to the Maneros song, which, as we
have seen, was a lament raised by Egyptian reapers over the cut
corn. Further, Linus was identified with Adonis, and Adonis has some
claims to be regarded as especially a corn-deity. Thus the Linus
lament, as sung at harvest, would be identical with the Adonis
lament; each would be the lamentation raised by reapers over the
dead spirit of the corn. But whereas Adonis, like Attis, grew into a
stately figure of mythology, adored and mourned in splendid cities
far beyond the limits of his Phoenician home, Linus appears to have
remained a simple ditty sung by reapers and vintagers among the
corn-sheaves and the vines. The analogy of Lityerses and of
folk-custom, both European and savage, suggests that in Phoenicia
the slain corn-spirit--the dead Adonis--may formerly have been
represented by a human victim; and this suggestion is possibly
supported by the Harran legend that Tammuz (Adonis) was slain by his
cruel lord, who ground his bones in a mill and scattered them to the
wind. For in Mexico, as we have seen, the human victim at harvest
was crushed between two stones; and both in Africa and India the
ashes or other remains of the victim were scattered over the fields.
But the Harran legend may be only a mythical way of expressing the
grinding of corn in the mill and the scattering of the seed. It
seems worth suggesting that the mock king who was annually killed at
the Babylonian festival of the Sacaea on the sixteenth day of the
month Lous may have represented Tammuz himself. For the historian
Berosus, who records the festival and its date, probably used the
Macedonian calendar, since he dedicated his history to Antiochus
Soter; and in his day the Macedonian month Lous appears to have
corresponded to the Babylonian month Tammuz. If this conjecture is
right, the view that the mock king at the Sacaea was slain in the
character of a god would be established.

There is a good deal more evidence that in Egypt the slain
corn-spirit--the dead Osiris--was represented by a human victim,
whom the reapers slew on the harvest-field, mourning his death in a
dirge, to which the Greeks, through a verbal misunderstanding, gave
the name of Maneros. For the legend of Busiris seems to preserve a
reminiscence of human sacrifices once offered by the Egyptians in
connexion with the worship of Osiris. Busiris was said to have been
an Egyptian king who sacrificed all strangers on the altar of Zeus.
The origin of the custom was traced to a dearth which afflicted the
land of Egypt for nine years. A Cyprian seer informed Busiris that
the dearth would cease if a man were annually sacrificed to Zeus. So
Busiris instituted the sacrifice. But when Hercules came to Egypt,
and was being dragged to the altar to be sacrificed, he burst his
bonds and slew Busiris and his son. Here then is a legend that in
Egypt a human victim was annually sacrificed to prevent the failure
of the crops, and a belief is implied that an omission of the
sacrifice would have entailed a recurrence of that infertility which
it was the object of the sacrifice to prevent. So the Pawnees, as we
have seen, believed that an omission of the human sacrifice at
planting would have been followed by a total failure of their crops.
The name Busiris was in reality the name of a city, _pe-Asar,_ "the
house of Osiris," the city being so called because it contained the
grave of Osiris. Indeed some high modern authorities believe that
Busiris was the original home of Osiris, from which his worship
spread to other parts of Egypt. The human sacrifice were said to
have been offered at his grave, and the victims were red-haired men,
whose ashes were scattered abroad by means of winnowing-fans. This
tradition of human sacrifices offered at the tomb of Osiris is
confirmed by the evidence of the monuments.

In the light of the foregoing discussion the Egyptian tradition of
Busiris admits of a consistent and fairly probable explanation.
Osiris, the corn-spirit, was annually represented at harvest by a
stranger, whose red hair made him a suitable representative of the
ripe corn. This man, in his representative character, was slain on
the harvest-field, and mourned by the reapers, who prayed at the
same time that the corn-spirit might revive and return
(_mââ-ne-rha,_ Maneros) with renewed vigour in the following year.
Finally, the victim, or some part of him, was burned, and the ashes
scattered by winnowing-fans over the fields to fertilise them. Here
the choice of the victim on the ground of his resemblance to the
corn which he was to represent agrees with the Mexican and African
customs already described. Similarly the woman who died in the
character of the Corn-mother at the Mexican midsummer sacrifice had
her face painted red and yellow in token of the colours of the corn,
and she wore a pasteboard mitre surmounted by waving plumes in
imitation of the tassel of the maize. On the other hand, at the
festival of the Goddess of the White Maize the Mexicans sacrificed
lepers. The Romans sacrificed red-haired puppies in spring to avert
the supposed blighting influence of the Dog-star, believing that the
crops would thus grow ripe and ruddy. The heathen of Harran offered
to the sun, moon, and planets human victims who were chosen on the
ground of their supposed resemblance to the heavenly bodies to which
they were sacrificed; for example, the priests, clothed in red and
smeared with blood, offered a red-haired, red-cheeked man to "the
red planet Mars" in a temple which was painted red and draped with
red hangings. These and the like cases of assimilating the victim to
the god, or to the natural phenomenon which he represents, are based
ultimately on the principle of homoeopathic or imitative magic, the
notion being that the object aimed at will be most readily attained
by means of a sacrifice which resembles the effect that it is
designed to bring about.

The story that the fragments of Osiris's body were scattered up and
down the land, and buried by Isis on the spots where they lay, may
very well be a reminiscence of a custom, like that observed by the
Khonds, of dividing the human victim in pieces and burying the
pieces, often at intervals of many miles from each other, in the

Thus, if I am right, the key to the mysteries of Osiris is furnished
by the melancholy cry of the Egyptian reapers, which down to Roman
times could be heard year after year sounding across the fields,
announcing the death of the corn-spirit, the rustic prototype of
Osiris. Similar cries, as we have seen, were also heard on all the
harvest-fields of Western Asia. By the ancients they are spoken of
as songs; but to judge from the analysis of the names Linus and
Maneros, they probably consisted only of a few words uttered in a
prolonged musical note which could be heard at a great distance.
Such sonorous and long-drawn cries, raised by a number of strong
voices in concert, must have had a striking effect, and could hardly
fail to arrest the attention of any wayfarer who happened to be
within hearing. The sounds, repeated again and again, could probably
be distinguished with tolerable ease even at a distance; but to a
Greek traveller in Asia or Egypt the foreign words would commonly
convey no meaning, and he might take them, not unnaturally, for the
name of some one (Maneros, Linus, Lityerses, Bormus) upon whom the
reapers were calling. And if his journey led him through more
countries than one, as Bithynia and Phrygia, or Phoenicia and Egypt,
while the corn was being reaped, he would have an opportunity of
comparing the various harvest cries of the different peoples. Thus
we can readily understand why these harvest cries were so often
noted and compared with each other by the Greeks. Whereas, if they
had been regular songs, they could not have been heard at such
distances, and therefore could not have attracted the attention of
so many travellers; and, moreover, even if the wayfarer were within
hearing of them, he could not so easily have picked out the words.

Down to recent times Devonshire reapers uttered cries of the same
sort, and performed on the field a ceremony exactly analogous to
that in which, if I am not mistaken, the rites of Osiris originated.
The cry and the ceremony are thus described by an observer who wrote
in the first half of the nineteenth century. "After the wheat is all
cut, on most farms in the north of Devon, the harvest people have a
custom of 'crying the neck.' I believe that this practice is seldom
omitted on any large farm in that part of the country. It is done in
this way. An old man, or some one else well acquainted with the
ceremonies used on the occasion (when the labourers are reaping the
last field of wheat), goes round to the shocks and sheaves, and
picks out a little bundle of all the best ears he can find; this
bundle he ties up very neat and trim, and plats and arranges the
straws very tastefully. This is called 'the neck' of wheat, or
wheaten-ears. After the field is cut out, and the pitcher once more
circulated, the reapers, binders, and the women stand round in a
circle. The person with 'the neck' stands in the centre, grasping it
with both hands. He first stoops and holds it near the ground, and
all the men forming the ring take off their hats, stooping and
holding them with both hands towards the ground. They then all begin
at once in a very prolonged and harmonious tone to cry 'The neck!'
at the same time slowly raising themselves upright, and elevating
their arms and hats above their heads; the person with 'the neck'
also raising it on high. This is done three times. They then change
their cry to 'Wee yen!'--'Way yen!'--which they sound in the same
prolonged and slow manner as before, with singular harmony and
effect, three times. This last cry is accompanied by the same
movements of the body and arms as in crying 'the neck.' . . . After
having thus repeated 'the neck' three times, and 'wee yen,' or 'way
yen' as often, they all burst out into a kind of loud and joyous
laugh, flinging up their hats and caps into the air, capering about
and perhaps kissing the girls. One of them then gets 'the neck' and
runs as hard as he can down to the farmhouse, where the dairymaid,
or one of the young female domestics, stands at the door prepared
with a pail of water. If he who holds 'the neck' can manage to get
into the house, in any way unseen, or openly, by any other way than
the door at which the girl stands with the pail of water, then he
may lawfully kiss her; but, if otherwise, he is regularly soused
with the contents of the bucket. On a fine still autumn evening the
'crying of the neck' has a wonderful effect at a distance, far finer
than that of the Turkish muezzin, which Lord Byron eulogises so
much, and which he says is preferable to all the bells of
Christendom. I have once or twice heard upwards of twenty men cry
it, and sometimes joined by an equal number of female voices. About
three years back, on some high grounds, where our people were
harvesting, I heard six or seven 'necks' cried in one night,
although I know that some of them were four miles off. They are
heard through the quiet evening air at a considerable distance
sometimes." Again, Mrs. Bray tells how, travelling in Devonshire,
"she saw a party of reapers standing in a circle on a rising ground,
holding their sickles aloft. One in the middle held up some ears of
corn tied together with flowers, and the party shouted three times
(what she writes as) 'Arnack, arnack, arnack, we _haven,_ we
_haven,_ we _haven._' They went home, accompanied by women and
children carrying boughs of flowers, shouting and singing. The
manservant who attended Mrs. Bray said 'it was only the people
making their games, as they always did, _to the spirit of
harvest._'" Here, as Miss Burne remarks, "'arnack, we haven!' is
obviously in the Devon dialect, 'a neck (or nack)! we have un!'"

Another account of this old custom, written at Truro in 1839, runs
thus: "Now, when all the corn was cut at Heligan, the farming men
and maidens come in front of the house, and bring with them a small
sheaf of corn, the last that has been cut, and this is adorned with
ribbons and flowers, and one part is tied quite tight, so as to look
like a neck. Then they cry out 'Our (my) side, my side,' as loud as
they can; then the dairymaid gives the neck to the head farming-man.
He takes it, and says, very loudly three times, 'I have him, I have
him, I have him.' Then another farming-man shouts very loudly, 'What
have ye? what have ye? what have ye?' Then the first says, 'A neck,
a neck, a neck.' And when he has said this, all the people make a
very great shouting. This they do three times, and after one famous
shout go away and eat supper, and dance, and sing songs." According
to another account, "all went out to the field when the last corn
was cut, the 'neck' was tied with ribbons and plaited, and they
danced round it, and carried it to the great kitchen, where
by-and-by the supper was. The words were as given in the previous
account, and 'Hip, hip, hack, heck, I have 'ee, I have 'ee, I have
'ee.' It was hung up in the hall." Another account relates that one
of the men rushed from the field with the last sheaf, while the rest
pursued him with vessels of water, which they tried to throw over
the sheaf before it could be brought into the barn.

In the foregoing customs a particular bunch of ears, generally the
last left standing, is conceived as the neck of the corn-spirit, who
is consequently beheaded when the bunch is cut down. Similarly in
Shropshire the name "neck," or "the gander's neck," used to be
commonly given to the last handful of ears left standing in the
middle of the field when all the rest of the corn was cut. It was
plaited together, and the reapers, standing ten or twenty paces off,
threw their sickles at it. Whoever cut it through was said to have
cut off the gander's neck. The "neck" was taken to the farmer's
wife, who was supposed to keep it in the house for good luck till
the next harvest came round. Near Trèves, the man who reaps the last
standing corn "cuts the goat's neck off." At Faslane, on the
Gareloch (Dumbartonshire), the last handful of standing corn was
sometimes called the "head." At Aurich, in East Friesland, the man
who reaps the last corn "cuts the hare's tail off." In mowing down
the last corner of a field French reapers sometimes call out, "We
have the cat by the tail." In Bresse (Bourgogne) the last sheaf
represented the fox. Beside it a score of ears were left standing to
form the tail, and each reaper, going back some paces, threw his
sickle at it. He who succeeded in severing it "cut off the fox's
tail," and a cry of "_You cou cou!_" was raised in his honour. These
examples leave no room to doubt the meaning of the Devonshire and
Cornish expression "the neck," as applied to the last sheaf. The
corn-spirit is conceived in human or animal form, and the last
standing corn is part of its body--its neck, its head, or its tail.
Sometimes, as we have seen, the last corn is regarded as the
navel-string. Lastly, the Devonshire custom of drenching with water
the person who brings in "the neck" is a raincharm, such as we have
had many examples of. Its parallel in the mysteries of Osiris was
the custom of pouring water on the image of Osiris or on the person
who represented him.

XLVIII. The Corn-Spirit as an Animal

1. Animal Embodiments of the Corn-spirit

IN SOME of the examples which I have cited to establish the meaning
of the term "neck" as applied to the last sheaf, the corn-spirit
appears in animal form as a gander, a goat, a hare, a cat, and a
fox. This introduces us to a new aspect of the corn-spirit, which we
must now examine. By doing so we shall not only have fresh examples
of killing the god, but may hope also to clear up some points which
remain obscure in the myths and worship of Adonis, Attis, Osiris,
Dionysus, Demeter, and Virbius.

Amongst the many animals whose forms the corn-spirit is supposed to
take are the wolf, dog, hare, fox, cock, goose, quail, cat, goat,
cow (ox, bull), pig, and horse. In one or other of these shapes the
corn-spirit is often believed to be present in the corn, and to be
caught or killed in the last sheaf. As the corn is being cut the
animal flees before the reapers, and if a reaper is taken ill on the
field, he is supposed to have stumbled unwittingly on the
corn-spirit, who has thus punished the profane intruder. It is said
"the Rye-wolf has got hold of him," "the Harvest-goat has given him
a push." The person who cuts the last corn or binds the last sheaf
gets the name of the animal, as the Rye-wolf, the Rye-sow, the
Oats-goat, and so forth, and retains the name sometimes for a year.
Also the animal is frequently represented by a puppet made out of
the last sheaf or of wood, flowers, and so on, which is carried home
amid rejoicings on the last harvest-waggon. Even where the last
sheaf is not made up in animal shape, it is often called the
Rye-wolf, the Hare, Goat, and so forth. Generally each kind of crop
is supposed to have its special animal, which is caught in the last
sheaf, and called the Rye-wolf, the Barley-wolf, the Oats-wolf, the
Pea-wolf, or the Potato-wolf, according to the crop; but sometimes
the figure of the animal is only made up once for all at getting in
the last crop of the whole harvest. Sometimes the creature is
believed to be killed by the last stroke of the sickle or scythe.
But oftener it is thought to live so long as there is corn still
unthreshed, and to be caught in the last sheaf threshed. Hence the
man who gives the last stroke with the flail is told that he has got
the Corn-sow, the Threshing-dog, or the like. When the threshing is
finished, a puppet is made in the form of the animal, and this is
carried by the thresher of the last sheaf to a neighbouring farm,
where the threshing is still going on. This again shows that the
corn-spirit is believed to live wherever the corn is still being
threshed. Sometimes the thresher of the last sheaf himself
represents the animal; and if the people of the next farm, who are
still threshing, catch him, they treat him like the animal he
represents, by shutting him up in the pig-sty, calling him with the
cries commonly addressed to pigs, and so forth. These general
statements will now be illustrated by examples.

2. The Corn-spirit as a Wolf or a Dog

WE begin with the corn-spirit conceived as a wolf or a dog. This
conception is common in France, Germany, and Slavonic countries.
Thus, when the wind sets the corn in wave-like motion the peasants
often say, "The Wolf is going over, or through, the corn," "the
Rye-wolf is rushing over the field," "the Wolf is in the corn," "the
mad Dog is in the corn," "the big Dog is there." When children wish
to go into the corn-fields to pluck ears or gather the blue
corn-flowers, they are warned not to do so, for "the big Dog sits in
the corn," or "the Wolf sits in the corn, and will tear you in
pieces," "the Wolf will eat you." The wolf against whom the children
are warned is not a common wolf, for he is often spoken of as the
Corn-wolf, Rye-wolf, or the like; thus they say, "The Rye-wolf will
come and eat you up, children," "the Rye-wolf will carry you off,"
and so forth. Still he has all the outward appearance of a wolf. For
in the neighbourhood of Feilenhof (East Prussia), when a wolf was
seen running through a field, the peasants used to watch whether he
carried his tail in the air or dragged it on the ground. If he
dragged it on the ground, they went after him, and thanked him for
bringing them a blessing, and even set tit-bits before him. But if
he carried his tail high, they cursed him and tried to kill him.
Here the wolf is the corn-spirit whose fertilising power is in his

Both dog and wolf appear as embodiments of the corn-spirit in
harvest-customs. Thus in some parts of Silesia the person who cuts
or binds the last sheaf is called the Wheat-dog or the Peas-pug. But
it is in the harvest-customs of the north-east of France that the
idea of the Corn-dog comes out most clearly. Thus when a harvester,
through sickness, weariness, or laziness, cannot or will not keep up
with the reaper in front of him, they say, "The White Dog passed
near him," "he has the White Bitch," or "the White Bitch has bitten
him." In the Vosges the Harvest-May is called the "Dog of the
harvest," and the person who cuts the last handful of hay or wheat
is said to "kill the Dog." About Lons-le-Saulnier, in the Jura, the
last sheaf is called the Bitch. In the neighbourhood of Verdun the
regular expression for finishing the reaping is, "They are going to
kill the Dog"; and at Epinal they say, according to the crop, "We
will kill the Wheat-dog, or the Rye-dog, or the Potato-dog." In
Lorraine it is said of the man who cuts the last corn, "He is
killing the Dog of the harvest." At Dux, in the Tyrol, the man who
gives the last stroke at threshing is said to "strike down the Dog";
and at Ahnebergen, near Stade, he is called, according to the crop,
Corn-pug, Rye-pug, Wheat-pug.

So with the wolf. In Silesia, when the reapers gather round the last
patch of standing corn to reap it they are said to be about "to
catch the Wolf." In various parts of Mecklenburg, where the belief
in the Corn-wolf is particularly prevalent, every one fears to cut
the last corn, because they say that the Wolf is sitting in it;
hence every reaper exerts himself to the utmost in order not to be
the last, and every woman similarly fears to bind the last sheaf
because "the Wolf is in it." So both among the reapers and the
binders there is a competition not to be the last to finish. And in
Germany generally it appears to be a common saying that "the Wolf
sits in the last sheaf." In some places they call out to the reaper,
"Beware of the Wolf"; or they say, "He is chasing the Wolf out of
the corn." In Mecklenburg the last bunch of standing corn is itself
commonly called the Wolf, and the man who reaps it "has the Wolf,"
the animal being described as the Rye-wolf, the Wheat-wolf, the
Barley-wolf, and so on according to the particular crop. The reaper
of the last corn is himself called Wolf or the Rye-wolf, if the crop
is rye, and in many parts of Mecklenburg he has to support the
character by pretending to bite the other harvesters or by howling
like a wolf. The last sheaf of corn is also called the Wolf or the
Rye-wolf or the Oats-wolf according to the crop, and of the woman
who binds it they say, "The Wolf is biting her," "She has the Wolf,"
"She must fetch the Wolf" (out of the corn). Moreover, she herself
is called Wolf; they cry out to her, "Thou art the Wolf," and she
has to bear the name for a whole year; sometimes, according to the
crop, she is called the Rye-wolf or the Potato-wolf. In the island
of Rügen not only is the woman who binds the last sheaf called Wolf,
but when she comes home she bites the lady of the house and the
stewardess, for which she receives a large piece of meat. Yet nobody
likes to be the Wolf. The same woman may be Rye-wolf, Wheat-wolf,
and Oats-wolf, if she happens to bind the last sheaf of rye, wheat,
and oats. At Buir, in the district of Cologne, it was formerly the
custom to give to the last sheaf the shape of a wolf. It was kept in
the barn till all the corn was threshed. Then it was brought to the
farmer and he had to sprinkle it with beer or brandy. At
Brunshaupten in Mecklenburg the young woman who bound the last sheaf
of wheat used to take a handful of stalks out of it and make "the
Wheat-wolf" with them; it was the figure of a wolf about two feet
long and half a foot high, the legs of the animal being represented
by stiff stalks and its tail and mane by wheat-ears. This Wheat-wolf
she carried back at the head of the harvesters to the village, where
it was set up on a high place in the parlour of the farm and
remained there for a long time. In many places the sheaf called the
Wolf is made up in human form and dressed in clothes. This indicates
a confusion of ideas between the corn-spirit conceived in human and
in animal form. Generally the Wolf is brought home on the last
waggon with joyful cries. Hence the last waggon-load itself receives
the name of the Wolf.

Again, the Wolf is supposed to hide himself amongst the cut corn in
the granary, until he is driven out of the last bundle by the
strokes of the flail. Hence at Wanzleben, near Magdeburg, after the
threshing the peasants go in procession, leading by a chain a man
who is enveloped in the threshed-out straw and is called the Wolf.
He represents the corn-spirit who has been caught escaping from the
threshed corn. In the district of Treves it is believed that the
Corn-wolf is killed at threshing. The men thresh the last sheaf till
it is reduced to chopped straw. In this way they think that the
Corn-wolf, who was lurking in the last sheaf, has been certainly

In France also the Corn-wolf appears at harvest. Thus they call out
to the reaper of the last corn, "You will catch the Wolf." Near
Chambéry they form a ring round the last standing corn, and cry,
"The Wolf is in there." In Finisterre, when the reaping draws near
an end, the harvesters cry, "There is the Wolf; we will catch him."
Each takes a swath to reap, and he who finishes first calls out,
"I've caught the Wolf." In Guyenne, when the last corn has been
reaped, they lead a wether all round the field. It is called "the
Wolf of the field." Its horns are decked with a wreath of flowers
and corn-ears, and its neck and body are also encircled with
garlands and ribbons. All the reapers march, singing, behind it.
Then it is killed on the field. In this part of France the last
sheaf is called the _coujoulage,_ which, in the patois, means a
wether. Hence the killing of the wether represents the death of the
corn-spirit, considered as present in the last sheaf; but two
different conceptions of the corn-spirit--as a wolf and as a
wether--are mixed up together.

Sometimes it appears to be thought that the Wolf, caught in the last
corn, lives during the winter in the farmhouse, ready to renew his
activity as corn-spirit in the spring. Hence at midwinter, when the
lengthening days begin to herald the approach of spring, the Wolf
makes his appearance once more. In Poland a man, with a wolf's skin
thrown over his head, is led about at Christmas; or a stuffed wolf
is carried about by persons who collect money. There are facts which
point to an old custom of leading about a man enveloped in leaves
and called the Wolf, while his conductors collected money.

3. The Corn-spirit as a Cock

ANOTHER form which the corn-spirit often assumes is that of a cock.
In Austria children are warned against straying in the corn-fields,
because the Corn-cock sits there, and will peck their eyes out. In
North Germany they say that "the Cock sits in the last sheaf"; and
at cutting the last corn the reapers cry, "Now we will chase out the
Cock." When it is cut they say, "We have caught the Cock." At
Braller, in Transylvania, when the reapers come to the last patch of
corn, they cry, "Here we shall catch the Cock." At Fürstenwalde,
when the last sheaf is about to be bound, the master releases a
cock, which he has brought in a basket, and lets it run over the
field. All the harvesters chase it till they catch it. Elsewhere the
harvesters all try to seize the last corn cut; he who succeeds in
grasping it must crow, and is called Cock. Among the Wends it is or
used to be customary for the farmer to hide a live cock under the
last sheaf as it lay on the field; and when the corn was being
gathered up, the harvester who lighted upon this sheaf had a right
to keep the cock, provided he could catch it. This formed the close
of the harvest-festival and was known as "the Cock-catching," and
the beer which was served out to the reapers at this time went by
the name of "Cock-beer." The last sheaf is called Cock, Cock-sheaf,
Harvest-cock, Harvest-hen, Autumn-hen. A distinction is made between
a Wheat-cock, Bean-cock, and so on, according to the crop. At
Wünschensuhl, in Thüringen, the last sheaf is made into the shape of
a cock, and called the Harvest-cock. A figure of a cock, made of
wood, pasteboard, ears of corn, or flowers, is borne in front of the
harvest-waggon, especially in Westphalia, where the cock carries in
his beak fruits of the earth of all kinds. Sometimes the image of
the cock is fastened to the top of a May-tree on the last
harvest-waggon. Elsewhere a live cock, or a figure of one, is
attached to a harvest-crown and carried on a pole. In Galicia and
elsewhere this live cock is fastened to the garland of corn-ears or
flowers, which the leader of the women-reapers carries on her head
as she marches in front of the harvest procession. In Silesia a live
cock is presented to the master on a plate. The harvest-supper is
called Harvest-cock, Stubble-cock, etc., and a chief dish at it, at
least in some places, is a cock. If a waggoner upsets a
harvest-waggon, it is said that "he has spilt the Harvest-cock," and
he loses the cock, that is, the harvest-supper. The harvest-waggon,
with the figure of the cock on it, is driven round the farmhouse
before it is taken to the barn. Then the cock is nailed over or at
the side of the house-door, or on the gable, and remains there till
next harvest. In East Friesland the person who gives the last stroke
at threshing is called the Clucking-hen, and grain is strewed before
him as if he were a hen.

Again, the corn-spirit is killed in the form of a cock. In parts of
Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Picardy the reapers place a live cock
in the corn which is to be cut last, and chase it over the field, or
bury it up to the neck in the ground; afterwards they strike off its
head with a sickle or scythe. In many parts of Westphalia, when the
harvesters bring the wooden cock to the farmer, he gives them a live
cock, which they kill with whips or sticks, or behead with an old
sword, or throw into the barn to the girls, or give to the mistress
to cook. It the Harvest-cock has not been spilt--that is, if no
waggon has been upset--the harvesters have the right to kill the
farmyard cock by throwing stones at it or beheading it. Where this
custom has fallen into disuse, it is still common for the farmer's
wife to make cockie-leekie for the harvesters, and to show them the
head of the cock which has been killed for the soup. In the
neighbourhood of Klausenburg, Transylvania, a cock is buried on the
harvest-field in the earth, so that only its head appears. A young
man then takes a scythe and cuts off the cock's head at a single
sweep. If he fails to do this, he is called the Red Cock for a whole
year, and people fear that next year's crop will be bad. Near
Udvarhely, in Transylvania, a live cock is bound up in the last
sheaf and killed with a spit. It is then skinned. The flesh is
thrown away, but the skin and feathers are kept till next year; and
in spring the grain from the last sheaf is mixed with the feathers
of the cock and scattered on the field which is to be tilled.
Nothing could set in a clearer light the identification of the cock
with the spirit of the corn. By being tied up in the last sheaf and
killed, the cock is identified with the corn, and its death with the
cutting of the corn. By keeping its feathers till spring, then
mixing them with the seed-corn taken from the very sheaf in which
the bird had been bound, and scattering the feathers together with
the seed over the field, the identity of the bird with the corn is
again emphasised, and its quickening and fertilising power, as an
embodiment of the corn-spirit, is intimated in the plainest manner.
Thus the corn-spirit, in the form of a cock, is killed at harvest,
but rises to fresh life and activity in spring. Again, the
equivalence of the cock to the corn is expressed, hardly less
plainly, in the custom of burying the bird in the ground, and
cutting off its head (like the ears of corn) with the scythe.

4. The Corn-spirit as a Hare

ANOTHER common embodiment of the corn-spirit is the hare. In
Galloway the reaping of the last standing corn is called "cutting
the Hare." The mode of cutting it is as follows. When the rest of
the corn has been reaped, a handful is left standing to form the
Hare. It is divided into three parts and plaited, and the ears are
tied in a knot. The reapers then retire a few yards and each throws
his or her sickle in turn at the Hare to cut it down. It must be cut
below the knot, and the reapers continue to throw their sickles at
it, one after the other, until one of them succeeds in severing the
stalks below the knot. The Hare is then carried home and given to a
maidservant in the kitchen, who places it over the kitchen-door on
the inside. Sometimes the Hare used to be thus kept till the next
harvest. In the parish of Minnigaff, when the Hare was cut, the
unmarried reapers ran home with all speed, and the one who arrived
first was the first to be married. In Germany also one of the names
for the last sheaf is the Hare. Thus in some parts of Anhalt, when
the corn has been reaped and only a few stalks are left standing,
they say, "The Hare will soon come," or the reapers cry to each
other, "Look how the Hare comes jumping out." In East Prussia they
say that the Hare sits in the last patch of standing corn, and must
be chased out by the last reaper. The reapers hurry with their work,
each being anxious not to have "to chase out the Hare"; for the man
who does so, that is, who cuts the last corn, is much laughed at. At
Aurich, as we have seen, an expression for cutting the last corn is
"to cut off the Hare's tail." "He is killing the Hare" is commonly
said of the man who cuts the last corn in Germany, Sweden, Holland,
France, and Italy. In Norway the man who is thus said to "kill the
Hare" must give "hare's blood," in the form of brandy, to his
fellows to drink. In Lesbos, when the reapers are at work in two
neighbouring fields, each party tries to finish first in order to
drive the Hare into their neighbour's field; the reapers who succeed
in doing so believe that next year the crop will be better. A small
sheaf of corn is made up and kept beside the holy picture till next

5. The Corn-spirit as a Cat

AGAIN, the corn-spirit sometimes takes the form of a cat. Near Kiel
children are warned not to go into the corn-fields because "the Cat
sits there." In the Eisenach Oberland they are told "the Corn-cat
will come and fetch you," "the Corn-cat goes in the corn." In some
parts of Silesia at mowing the last corn they say, "The Cat is
caught"; and at threshing, the man who gives the last stroke is
called the Cat. In the neighbourhood of Lyons the last sheaf and the
harvest-supper are both called the Cat. About Vesoul when they cut
the last corn they say, "We have the Cat by the tail." At Briançon,
in Dauphiné, at the beginning of reaping, a cat is decked out with
ribbons, flowers, and ears of corn. It is called the Cat of the
ball-skin (_le chat de peau de balle_). If a reaper is wounded at
his work, they make the cat lick the wound. At the close of the
reaping the cat is again decked out with ribbons and ears of corn;
then they dance and make merry. When the dance is over the girls
solemnly strip the cat of its finery. At Grüneberg, in Silesia, the
reaper who cuts the last corn goes by the name of the Tom-cat. He is
enveloped in rye-stalks and green withes, and is furnished with a
long plaited tail. Sometimes as a companion he has a man similarly
dressed, who is called the (female) Cat. Their duty is to run after
people whom they see and to beat them with a long stick. Near Amiens
the expression for finishing the harvest is, "They are going to kill
the Cat"; and when the last corn is cut they kill a cat in the
farmyard. At threshing, in some parts of France, a live cat is
placed under the last bundle of corn to be threshed, and is struck
dead with the flails. Then on Sunday it is roasted and eaten as a
holiday dish. In the Vosges Mountains the close of haymaking or
harvest is called "catching the cat," "killing the dog," or more
rarely "catching the hare." The cat, the dog, or the hare is said to
be fat or lean according as the crop is good or bad. The man who
cuts the last handful of hay or of wheat is said to catch the cat or
the hare or to kill the dog.

6. The Corn-spirit as a Goat

FURTHER, the corn-spirit often appears in the form of a goat. In
some parts of Prussia, when the corn bends before the wind, they
say, "The Goats are chasing each other," "the wind is driving the
Goats through the corn," "the Goats are browsing there," and they
expect a very good harvest. Again they say, "The Oats-goat is
sitting in the oats-field," "the Corn-goat is sitting in the
rye-field." Children are warned not to go into the corn-fields to
pluck the blue corn-flowers, or amongst the beans to pluck pods,
because the Rye-goat, the Corn-goat, the Oats-goat, or the Bean-goat
is sitting or lying there, and will carry them away or kill them.
When a harvester is taken sick or lags behind his fellows at their
work, they call out, "The Harvest-goat has pushed him," "he has been
pushed by the Corn-goat." In the neighbourhood of Braunsberg (East
Prussia) at binding the oats every harvester makes haste "lest the
Corn-goat push him." At Oefoten, in Norway, each reaper has his
allotted patch to reap. When a reaper in the middle has not finished
reaping his piece after his neighbours have finished theirs, they
say of him, "He remains on the island." And if the laggard is a man,
they imitate the cry with which they call a he-goat; if a woman, the
cry with which they call a she-goat. Near Straubing, in Lower
Bavaria, it is said of the man who cuts the last corn that "he has
the Corn-goat, or the Wheat-goat, or the Oats-goat," according to
the crop. Moreover, two horns are set up on the last heap of corn,
and it is called "the horned Goat." At Kreutzburg, East Prussia,
they call out to the woman who is binding the last sheaf, "The Goat
is sitting in the sheaf." At Gablingen, in Swabia, when the last
field of oats upon a farm is being reaped, the reapers carve a goat
out of wood. Ears of oats are inserted in its nostrils and mouth,
and it is adorned with garlands of flowers. It is set up on the
field and called the Oats-goat. When the reaping approaches an end,
each reaper hastens to finish his piece first; he who is the last to
finish gets the Oats-goat. Again, the last sheaf is itself called
the Goat. Thus, in the valley of the Wiesent, Bavaria, the last
sheaf bound on the field is called the Goat, and they have a
proverb, "The field must bear a goat." At Spachbrücken, in Hesse,
the last handful of corn which is cut is called the Goat, and the
man who cuts it is much ridiculed. At Dürrenbüchig and about Mosbach
in Baden the last sheaf is also called the Goat. Sometimes the last
sheaf is made up in the form of a goat, and they say, "The Goat is
sitting in it." Again, the person who cuts or binds the last sheaf
is called the Goat. Thus, in parts of Mecklenburg they call out to
the woman who binds the last sheaf, "You are the Harvest-goat." Near
Uelzen, in Hanover, the harvest festival begins with "the bringing
of the Harvest-goat"; that is, the woman who bound the last sheaf is
wrapt in straw, crowned with a harvest-wreath, and brought in a
wheel-barrow to the village, where a round dance takes place. About
Luneburg, also, the woman who binds the last corn is decked with a
crown of corn-ears and is called the Corn-goat. At Münzesheim in
Baden the reaper who cuts the last handful of corn or oats is called
the Corn-goat or the Oats-goat. In the Canton St. Gall, Switzerland,

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest