It’s a representation of Brigid
I always get asked what is a corn dolly and is it made from corn? Simply put, it is a representational doll and no, it is not always corn. Corn Dollies are a versatile and environmentally friendly way for using sympathetic and representational magic. I love making these dolls with my family during the fire festivals as it’s a great way to get arts and crafts time in and a little magic for me.
I will try my best to explain the traditional use and the modern use for these dolls.
So what is a corn dolly?
Traditionally, a corn dolly is made from harvested sheafs of grain, not corn, and is a representation of the goddess, Brigid. A Corn Dolly is of European origin and the introduction of Corn Dolly made from corn only, came from the American belief system. In the case of “Corn Dolly”, the term “corn” refers to any kind of grain/grass that is fed to livestock.
I mean sure, dollies made from corn husks do an excellent job and make terrific skirts for the dolly. That and the fact that almost every country now can grow plants from all over the world given the right conditions. But I am someone that likes to slightly stick to my roots and ancestry. So during Lughnasadh I create the dolly from whatever I harvest and I have always failed at corn crops. So since oats grow wild around my home, I use them for the Harvest period. During Imbolc however, I use lemongrass and palm leaves to create the doll as that is what is growing in abundance.
Traditional Corn Dolly Uses
Traditionally, these dollies represent Brigid and her blessings of warmth, light and abundance. These are put around windows to bless the home, bedrooms to keep away nightmares, on top of the hearth for warmth, by entrances for protection and lastly, placed outside to look over the fields.
In another tradition, corn dollies are used to represent the Crone aspect of Brigid during the Harvest period, Lughnasadh. However, these dolls are also made during Imbolc to represent the Maiden aspect of Brigid. Sometimes the dolls made during Lughnasadh are stored over the winter months and brought back out during Imbolc to represent the Crone transforming into the Maiden. In this tradition, during the time of Imbolc, the Biddy (corn doll) is placed into a little bed along with a symbol of male fertility. Which makes sense as Imbolc is the time of planing and planting seeds, so to speak.
Modern Corn Dollies Uses
These dollies now represent any being that fits your vision. Use it for a goddess or god, helper, a friend or loved one or even yourself. Have the dolly as a protector, helper, healer, magic weaver or beacon of magic.
I personally use the female version as a way to represent myself or my elders who have passed. It’s almost like a magical assistant helping with spells and rituals as I have it watching over my altar. Usually, I will make two of these dolls. One is for Lughnasadh and the other is for Imbolc. After the celebration period, these will go back into the earth at the end of their time and will give thanks for their magic.
Can i make one?
You sure can! Corn dollies are fun, easy and a little messy to make but they’re well worth it. Best part is, it all goes back into the earth once it decomposes. So please make sure to throw the left over grass/husks/sheafs into the compost or your green waste bin.
If you would like to know how to create one, I have a little blog post called “how to make a corn dolly” under witchcraft guides, or you can click the title!