The Golden Bough A study of magic and religion
Page: 336In the neighbourhood of Lille the idea of the corn-spirit in horse form in clearly preserved. When a harvester grows weary at his work, it is said, “He has the fatigue of the Horse.” The first sheaf, called the “Cross of the Horse,” is placed on a cross of boxwood in the barn, and the youngest horse on the farm must tread on it. The reapers dance round the last blades of corn, crying, “See the remains of the Horse.” The sheaf made out of these last blades is given to the youngest horse of the parish (commune) to eat. This youngest horse of the parish clearly represents, as Mannhardt says, the corn-spirit of the following year, the Corn-foal, which absorbs the spirit of the old Corn-horse by eating the last corn cut; for, as usual, the old corn-spirit takes his final refuge in the last sheaf. The thresher of the last sheaf is said to “beat the Horse.”
9. The Corn-spirit as a Pig (Boar or Sow)
THE LAST animal embodiment of the corn-spirit which we shall notice is the pig (boar or sow). In Thüringen, when the wind sets the young corn in motion, they sometimes say, “The Boar is rushing through the corn.” Amongst the Esthonians of the island of Oesel the last sheaf is called the Ryeboar, and the man who gets it is saluted with a cry of “You have the Rye-boar on your back!” In reply he strikes up a song, in which he prays for plenty. At Kohlerwinkel, near Augsburg, at the close of the harvest, the last bunch of standing corn is cut down, stalk by stalk, by all the reapers in turn. He who cuts the last stalk “gets the Sow,” and is laughed at. In other Swabian villages also the man who cuts the last corn “has the Sow,” or “has the Rye-sow.” At Bohlingen, near Radolfzell in Baden, the last sheaf is called the Rye-sow or the Wheat-sow, according to the crop; and at Röhrenbach in Baden the person who brings the last armful for the last sheaf is called the Corn-sow or the Oats-sow. At Friedingen, in Swabia, the thresher who gives the last stroke is called Sow—Barley-sow, Corn-sow, or the like, according to the crop. At Onstmettingen the man who gives the last stroke at threshing “has the Sow”; he is often bound up in a sheaf and dragged by a rope along the ground. And, generally, in Swabia the man who gives the last stroke with the flail is called Sow. He may, however, rid himself of this invidious distinction by passing on to a neighbour the straw-rope, which is the badge of his position as Sow. So he goes to a house and throws the straw-rope into it, crying, “There, I bring you the Sow.” All the inmates give chase; and if they catch him they beat him, shut him up for several hours in the pig-sty, and oblige him to take the “Sow” away again. In various parts of Upper Bavaria the man who gives the last stroke at threshing must “carry the Pig”—that is, either a straw effigy of a pig or merely a bundle of straw-ropes. This he carries to a neighbouring farm where the threshing is not finished, and throws it into the barn. If the threshers catch him they handle him roughly, beating him, blackening or dirtying his face, throwing him into filth, binding the Sow on his back, and so on; if the bearer of the Sow is a woman they cut off her hair. At the harvest supper or dinner the man who “carried the Pig” gets one or more dumplings made in the form of pigs. When the dumplings are served up by the maidservant, all the people at table cry “Süz, süz, süz !” that being the cry used in calling pigs. Sometimes after dinner the man who “carried the Pig” has his face blackened, and is set on a cart and drawn round the village by his fellows, followed by a crowd crying “Süz, süz, süz !” as if they were calling swine. Sometimes, after being wheeled round the village, he is flung on the dunghill.