A Confusion of Grain Gods

Our culture is confused about food and farming. We believe that we are in a power-over relationship with the world, and particularly with our food. We are so enamored with dominance that we’ve lost sight of the inherent partnership between plants and animals, between prey and predator, between the farmer and the fields. Both sides benefit, always. This is true of all life. An unbalanced advantage does not last long in the real world, even with all our artificial efforts.

Our confusion leads us to telling tales of sacrifice in spring, to focusing on death in this time of rebirth. This is sad and bizarre. But even worse, our grain god death cults hide both the cleverness of plants and the beneficent role of humans in creating and sustaining life. We don’t spread death on spring fields; we plant life. Without the mobility of animal partners, plants would not be as successful. And then none of us would breathe… So we are their servants, spreading them wherever we go. Our favorite food plants have to do nothing but make millions of seeds in fruit and grain, and the next generation of life is assured.

Our confusion also obscures one salient point about fruit and grain — what we harvest is not a living plant… it is the seed. We are killing nothing. And yet, our grain gods are all murdered… strange fruit from this confused culture…


no sacrifice necessary

i do not celebrate sacrifice in spring
death has its barren days
it need not encroach on rejuvenation

nor do grain gods die at human hands
theirs is a life tied to the sun
one round and done

we harvest what is gone
spreading seeds for future cycles
becoming feet for the rooted

mine are the hands of the midwife
planting green life in partnership
that we two may grow anew

we forget balance under the spell of spilled blood
we forget that passion is love 
we forget what comes first
     ...and lasts

there is no scythe in spring
and autumnal reaping takes no living
all is holy in itself 
no death needed to confer sanctity

©Elizabeth Anker 2022