When early humans ceased their nomadic existence as hunter-gatherers and settled down to cultivate the earth and produce food, they believed that the success of their labours was highly dependent on deities who would oversee the fruitfulness of their crops. To this end, various sacrifices and ceremonies were held to propitiate the gods.
In Britain it was believed that the corn spirit lived amongst the crop and at harvest time it retreated before the oncoming reapers, taking refuge in the last of the standing corn. The last sheaf was often given a nickname personifying it as an animate being. The reapers sometimes displayed fear of it, wielding scythes blindfolded and cutting it by throwing sickles from a distance. They celebrated its fall with a formal ceremony of acclamation and display.
The sheaf was then fashioned into a receptacle (or effigy) believed to contain the essence of the spirit. This ‘trophy’ was taken to the farmer’s home and kept safe indoors throughout the winter and only returned to the earth with the coming of the new season. By giving the spirit a home during the dark and cold winter months, it was believed to ensure good luck and that the forthcoming crop would be a bounteous one #spirit #sculpture #wip #contemporaryart #ancientbeliefs