Articles

Significance of Corn Pollen in Navajo Culture and Religion

by Jonshon Matthew Consultant

The use of corn pollen has today seeped in from rituals to art. If you visit a Native American gallery, you will find that images and symbols of corn and corn pollen feature prominently on various native Navajo artwork, such as weaved rugs and jewelry.

“Pass the corn pollen”: This is a phrase so recurring and commonplace in Navajo rituals that it hardly demands any special attention. However, that is what begs the question- why is corn pollen such an intrinsic part of all Navajo rituals? How is it that the ingredient is used both in celebratory ceremonies like Blessing way as well as healing ceremonies such as Shooting way? In some Indian American art galleries, there are entire sections devoted to depicting and explaining the use of pollen in Navajo rituals. They also believed in the stones such as the Turquoise Ring that can give mind peace to people.


Turquoise Ring


Unlike the Pueblos, the Navajo do not have a corn-centered religion or culture, but corn pollen plays an important role in their religion. They consider it so powerful that not everyone can collect it. Only an “unwed maiden,” who is usually a virgin, can go to collect it at the break of dawn.

In order to understand the significance of corn pollen in Navajo rituals, let us go through some of its manifold uses:

It is scattered as an act accompanying prayer.

The Navajo people have a daily ritual of sprinkling pollen at dusk and dawn. In the morning, they scatter it towards the East to pray to Talking God. During sunset, they scatter it towards the West and pray to Hogan God. This ritual accompanies prayers even during public ceremonies such as Kinaaldá. 

It is scattered on someone or something as an act of blessing.

When a baby is born, he or she is anointed with pollen. The pollen is seen as a symbol of life, creation, and protection. First, the pollen is applied to the right knee cap, then the left, followed by the right palm and then the left palm. The Navajo people believe that it gives the baby “the power of life” and keeps him or her protected.

It is used as an offering to the gods.

During the Kinaaldá ceremony, after the corn cake is cooked, parts of the cake are taken from each corner and buried in the pit in which it was cooked. This is a sign of reciprocity. Burying a bit of the corn cake is a way of thanking the earth for allowing the people to grow corn. It also serves as a sacrifice for the Holy People. There is plenty of Native American Jewelry that are signs of their wisdom at that time.

It is used to create a pathway for mankind to reach the gods.

If you look at Navajo sand paintings, you will find that they often feature footprints made of pollen on which the patient is supposed to walk. Footprints are a common symbol, often used to represent the “road of life”. The pollen is considered to be a bridge between the humans and the gods.


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About Jonshon Matthew Innovator   Consultant

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Joined APSense since, November 18th, 2019, From CA, United States.

Created on Jul 2nd 2020 06:58. Viewed 345 times.

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