The third group of instances consists of the harvest customs of northern Europe the harvest supper and the rites of the Corn-mother or the Corn-maiden or the Kern Baby.
Her title "maiden" may be compared with the Semitic title "mistress," mentioned above, and with the names expressing family relations, "sister," "mother" only this particular designation defines her simply as an unmarried female divinity. The "corn-maiden" of modern European folk-lore may be the cultic degradation of an old deity.
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.
XLV. The Corn-Mother and the Corn-Maiden in Northern Europe
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!"
This puppet is called the Maiden or the Corn-maiden. Sometimes the corn-spirit is conceived as a child who is separated from its mother by the stroke of the sickle. This last view appears in the Polish custom of calling out to the man who cuts the last handful of corn, "You have cut the navel-string."