Plowing Eve: Corn King and the Spring Queen

Novelist Naomi Mitchison penned a wonderful historic novel and published it in 1931 called The Corn King and the Spring Queen. It was a favorite among many Elders of the coven at one time and is one of my favorites today.  This book was strongly recommended to Seeker’s if they want to get an idea or feeling of intent behind many coven rituals.

As a Wiccan, the most interesting parts to pay attention to is the descriptions and narrative feel of the rituals. One such ritual she beautifully described is called “Plowing Eve,” which for some witches it is called the “Spring or Vernal Equinox.”  For some witches as well, they may perform a ritual at this time around the full moon closest to the spring equinox.  Some covens may even call the ritual performed at this time of year the “Spring Rite” or “Rite of Spring.” (of course, each coven and tradition has their own specific rituals)

The ritual of “Plowing Eve,” which was co-led by one of the main characters of the book, Erif Der (a witch) was the Spring Queen and her husband Tarrick is the Corn King.

Mitchison described their roles in this ritual as such:

“Tarrick was the plow, the seed, the warmth and force of growth.  Erif was the hard, fallow field; the cold reluctant spring.” (1)

Partaking in Seasonal Rituals myself, I can totally see this beautiful scene played out and the feelings behind the words where she as the Spring Queen stands firm and he, the Corn King riding in on the ox-led plow.  This is just like the play between the two primal deities: the sun and the earth, which is what the Seasonal and Sabbat rituals are all about!  The solar and celestial changes that occur in the sky (The God) initiate the earth’s terrestrial response. (The Goddess)

During this ritualistic fertility play, Mitchison describes the response of the crowds….

“…..the women shouting at the Corn King to plow deep and hard, the men calling on the Spring Queen to be kind.” (1)

Finally at the height of the ritual, she leaps up to the Corn King and they dance and court each other and the people cry, “The spring is awake!”

This ritual drama is a great description of the Celestial and Earth response when spring rolls around.  The earth continues to be reluctant and cold until finally embracing the sun’s influences.  It is a beautiful play of Nature’s changes that can be observed year after year.  It can also be fun to re-enact at Seasonal Celebrations and gatherings as well as radiating out good, magnetic thoughts of blessings for man, crops and animals.

Other festivals are written about in this historical novel such as Midsummer, Harvest and Winter Solstice.

This novel, at over 700 pages, is quite a read!  It is one I also would recommend for those interested in historical novels, witchcraft and pagan ritual.

Blessed Be!

Bibliography:

  1. Mitchison, Naomi. The Corn King and the Spring Queen. J. and J. Gray, Edinburgh. 1931. Print.

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