Atina, Selu, Corn Mother, First Mother—different tribes speak of the woman who first taught them the way to plant and harvest corn. With many variations in the story, one steadfast facet of the story is this: the Corn Mother gives of her own body, makes sacrifices to provide for those next to her, and teaches them ways in which they may continue the tradition. Sacrifices are not unknown to folx in any way related to the traditionally feminine. The violence following in her story is also nigh on unavoidable, as it is in most women’s stories.
There are two versions usually depicted; in one, the Corn Mother is an old woman who produces grain by rubbing her body. When the secret of the food the tribe has consumed is revealed, the tribe accuses her of witchcraft. Some stories say she gives her consent for the tribe ending her life, but before her death, she provides instructions on how to treat her body. Grains sprout from her, around her, where she has lain. In the other version, she is a young woman marrying into a hungry tribe. The production of corn in this version is also considered ‘disgusting’ and condemns her from society.
A cross-section of the sacrifices, policing of bodies, and general violence femme folxs of any background face, Corn Mother’s story should be presented as the complex story it is, faults and all. Especially, when the perseverance and strength of the Corn Mother is also such a universal story for every woman I have ever known, whether they’d describe themselves as such or not.