Last week my mom and I were scrolling through Netflix trying to find our next show to watch before Casa de Papel’s new season came out. We stumbled upon a three season documentary titled The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. My mom and I are both really interested in world religions and the way that different cultures express their faith and beliefs. Morgan Freeman traveled around the world asking different people and spiritual leaders questions about creation, God, and other spiritual questions. Watching the documentary a lot of religious ceremonies and historic religions used food as parts of their rituals. It made me think of food as a pathway to exploring religion, creation and religious expression.
Corn is a food that is used and idolized in many current day Central and South American, historic religions. The Mayans in current day Guatemala idolized the Corn God who was said to give way to the Mayan People. The Mayans sustained their existence thanks to corn and because of this they honor the corn God and in ceremonies still performed today they burn corn and mix it with water creating a drink that they pass around, similar to the way the chalice with wine is passed around in the Christian community. In current day New Mexico in the Navajo Nation they perform something called a Kinaalda, which is a coming of age ceremony for girls. The girls have to make a giant corn cake to honor the Sun God. That caked is then passed around and consumed in a family circle. In the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, the Mayans believed that in underwater caverns called cenotes, there was an underground heaven. There they would make sacrifices to Chac, the God of water to bless them with rainfall for their corn crops to grow.
Learning all of this gave me so much insight into how significant corn is to different cultures. It also reminded me of how corn was thought to be in-pure and flour was given to those higher up in society. Corn that was used in religious ceremonies and sustained people for countless years is now bing seen as the other and replaced with a new religion and a new crop. It is so interesting how food can be a lens into so many topics such as culture, colonization, and religion.