In England, Scotland and Germany this is an animal or human figure made from the last sheaf of corn of the harvest. Sometimes it is kept to insure a bountiful crop next year. According to other folk customs the corn dolly is burned in a harvest fire. When burned it is symbolic of the sacrifice of the 'Green' or vegetation aspect of the God. This is the corn spirit, the grain which is cut and then replanted; the seeds that dies at every harvest and is eternally reborn each spring.
The burning of corn dollies also symbolizes the death force of the Male principle. Whereas, the Goddess, or Female principle, represents birth, the Male principle, or the Horned God, represents death in the cycle of life as viewed by many Wiccans, Neo-Pagans and Neo-Pagan Witches. Both are considered necessary to maintain the balance of the cycle.
According to some Wiccans and Neo-Pagans, an unchecked life force breeds cancer, just as an unchecked death force leads to war and destruction. The perfect balance of this life cycle is said to be displayed in the changing of the seasons, the ecological balance of the natural world, and the progression of human life from birth, the fulfillment and decline to death, and rebirth.
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.
Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans. Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.
Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church. Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.
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