Feasts & Festivals – Using Your Corn Dolly

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Here is a simple technique for your own use, which commemorates the Burryman and shows you how to make use of a corn dolly. Ideally at Homstrom you would be getting rid of an old dolly, simply by burning it. Lammas would be the time to make a new one for you to keep over the winter.


  • White candle
  • Corn dolly
  • Fireproof receptacle
  • Either the sticky burrs from a cleavers plant (which has a cleansing effect) or several pieces of paper on which you have written your irritations


  • Light the candle.
  • Cup the corn dolly in your hands and review the previous year, particularly winter. Attach as many of the sticky burrs as you can to the corn dolly, making each one represent something that has irritated you. Alternatively, tuck the pieces of paper into the corn dolly.
  • Carefully set the dolly alight and place it in the receptacle. As the dolly burns say these words or similar: “Begone dull and nasty times. Welcome moments fine, I greet the new times with joy and laughter.”
  • When the corn dolly has burnt out, bury the ashes as an offering to the earth or dispose of them in running water.

Nature-based religions gave way to the Christian in other ways as well. For example, the four-leaved clover has long been associated with the sun, good fortune and luck. To pagans it also represented the Goddess form, the quaternity – the fourfold aspects of deity. In Ireland, St Patrick is thought to have used the trefoil (three-leaved clover) to demonstrate the principle of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – to his followers. He would have used material that was readily available to him rather than the rarer and more magical four-leaved plant, and would thus have signified the move away from intrinsic magical knowledge associated with Mother Earth. Incidentally, the clover plant is thought to give the wearer the ability to see the fairy form.