What does an ear of corn mean?
Symbol: grain, ear of corn and sower - symbolism
The ear of corn and the grain: a symbol of fertility and resurrection.
In ancient Egypt
The symbolism around the grain is ancient and even the Egyptians associated the dying grain with the idea of a resurrection.
The symbol in the understanding of antiquity
With the Romans and Greeks, ears of corn or corn sheaves were a main symbol in the mystery cults. The silently mowed ear of corn was the main symbol of the Eleusinian Mysteries and was considered the most perfect object of mystical contemplation. In the Cybele cult, Attis is the mowed golden ear of corn, and the Romans planted grain on the graves and thus took over the power of the dead for the living.
Grain symbolism in Christianity
Jesus used grain in some of his parables. The best known is probably the parable of the sower.
Jesus compares his death to the dying grain of wheat:
Verily, verily, I say to you: if the grain of wheat does not fall into the earth and perish, it remains alone; but when it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it; and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever wants to serve me, follow me; and where I am, my servant should also be there. And whoever will serve me, my father will honor him. Gospel according to John, chapter 12 verses 24, 25 and 26
Here are the well-known biblical parables on the subject:
The parable of the sower
See, a sower went out to sow. And while sowing some things fell on the road; then the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground where there was not much earth and soon rose because there was no deep earth. But when the sun rose it withered, and because it had no roots it withered. Some fell under the thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it. Some fell on good land and bore fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. If you have ears, listen! Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13, verses 3 to 9
The interpretation of the parable of the sower
So now you hear this parable of the sower: If anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the wicked one comes and tears away what is sown in his heart; that is the one in whom the path is sown. But with whom it is sown on rocky ground, that is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; but it has no root in itself, but it is weather-turning; if affliction or persecution arises because of the word, it immediately falls away. But with whom is sown among the thorns, that is he who hears the word, and the worries of the world and deceitful riches choke the word, and he bears no fruit. But he who is sown on good land, he who hears and understands the word and then also bears fruit; and one carries a hundred times, the other sixty times, the third thirty times. Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13, verses 18 to 23
From the weeds under the wheat
He put before them another parable, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. When the people were asleep, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the seed grew and bore fruit, the weeds were also found. Then the servants came to the householder and said, Lord, did you not sow good seeds in your field? Where did he get the weeds from? He said to them, An enemy did this. Then said the servants, Do you want us to go and weed it out? He said: No! so that you do not pull up the wheat at the same time as you pull up the weeds. Let both grow together until the harvest; And at harvest time I will say to the reapers: First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but collects the wheat for me in my barn. Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 13, verses 24 to 30
In mysticism, the grain that is transformed in secret is a parable for the transformation of the human heart, which remains hidden from the eye. (Man sees what is in front of his eyes, but God looks at the heart). In this sense, the ear of corn symbol is used in the secret brotherhood of Freemasons, whose work on the heart is also supposed to take place in secret.
Corn symbols of the ancient mysteries became modern again in the Renaissance. For example, there is a depiction of Ceres, the Greek goddess of harvest and fertility, in the Renainssance castle of Cormatin (Burgundy / France). Here is the symbol for the perfect, fully mature human soul.
Symbolic use in the design of tombs
In the grave design, the ear of corn can be found a lot in the rural grave design. The tombs of the farmers are often lavishly decorated and the symbolism of the ears of corn can be found in every village cemetery. The hanging, full and ripe ears stand for a fulfilled life. But mostly the ears of corn are just an image for the farming profession, but always of course in connection with the wider Christian interpretation.
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