five Corn Mothers

Wise Women of the Southwest: Return of the Corn Mothers

What is A Corn Mother? A woman who shares an ability to pull from the past all that is sacred and holy, and to create a future that is filled with promise.

Colorado has expereinced an extremely dry winter but on this day heavy rain was forecast   - thunder, downpour, lightning and snow. So though the weather may have been ominous the gift of moisture was wonderful. It seemeds appropriate that the Symposium: Wise Women of the Southwest: Return of the Corn Mothers should occur on the day moisture returned to Colorado, and we were blessed with three days of renewing soaking rain and snow.

We planned to attend the Corn Mothers Workshop on The Role of Traditional Arts in Healing. The blurb stated that, “Women have long used touch to treat illness, whether physical or emotional. Hear firsthand accounts of women who see, feel, and touch the human condition and who help us heal our personal and community wounds, using story, touch, song, music and ceremony”.
How could anyone turn down an invitation like that and we weren’t disappointed!

It had been a while since we visited the Metro Campus in downtown Denver, so navigating our way through the reconditioned downtown area, crisscrossing freeways, parkways, past amusement parks, entertainment centers and ballparks was a little hairy. Then negotiating parking lots for visitors, locating where the workshop was to be held was also a bit of a maze because no one, including the information center, knew where exactly where the room was.

So slightly frustrated we wandered outside to locate the church where the registration was taking place when suddenly walking towards us were a group of women dressed ceremonially from various cultures, Native American, Hispanic, Jewish etc. We just sensed these were the women we were looking for. We asked and they were! So in one moment we were part of their group and all swept inside, upstairs and right into the room that wasn’t there before.

All journeys worthwhile are thwart with difficulty at the beginning as ours was but the effort to connect makes you somehow more a part of the experience. We entered the room where all the chairs had been set up like a lecture hall lined up like good troops facing the podium. The first thing that these beautiful women did was scatter the formation and form a circle and as more people kept arriving more chairs were needed eventually the circle ended up more egg shaped. W hich was fine as it was representative of the womb, very female and welcoming.



The six corn mothers sharing their story and their stories were

Concha Garcia Allen (Uruapan, Michoacan Mexican),
Carrie Howell (Pawnee/Flandeau Santee Sioux)
Cherie Karo Schwartz (Jewish, of Polish, Russian, Hungarian, English, Spanish, Greek, Israeli background)
Sara Ransom (Welsh, Irish, English)
Rose Red Elk (Lakota, Chippewa, Seneca)
Christina M. Sigala – (Chicano)

All had stories which had been passed down through their culture and teachers. Compassion, Understanding, Feeling, Permission, Anger, Self-Healing were topics of each story.


These women were generous with their spirits. There was modesty about their knowledge. Warmth, and genuine appreciation was felt for the people who had come to sit in circle with them.

Their healings were personalized, individual but not separate. They imparted their wisdom with unique energy but all communicated from the same source – their centers.

Cherie Karo Schwartz shared the oral tradition of the Jewish stories appealing to your intellect. She told stories that dealt with fear and compassion.

Rose Red Elk used music and storytelling to relay the teaching of the four directions representing the four nations red, yellow, black and white, reminding your heart and mind that all people have gifts and stories.

Sara Ransom used puppets and marionettes representing European fairy tales that engaged your magical and imaginative side.

Carrie Howell’s gift was dance using the body’s rhythm to connect to the earth.  Relaying the wisdom behind the Hoop Dance of the Plains taught the strength of unity and the weakness of division.

Christina M. Sigala demonstrated her enormous capacity for compassion and understanding especially about the passing over of loved ones. She used her arms to embrace and support your body and heart.

 Concha Garcia Allen with frank open honesty shared her journey of learning, healing and understanding from her nurturing center. Embracing you with all your frailties and lessons, giving you hope for your journey.

We talked, shared, listened and questioned trying to understand what we need to do right now, how to make the change less painful in this transitioning world.

There are no quick answers. Each one of us must learn to walk in balance, share our gifts, and be open to change, speak from the heart, be proud but not arrogant and listen to the mother with respect. Have faith; this was the lesson of the Corn Mothers.

We left walking in the rain feeling blessed by both the earth and the sky. The stories we heard made us feel connected and nurtured.


Symposium: Wise Women of the Southwest: Return of the Corn Mothers
at Metropolitan State College Denver Thursday April 16th.

Thank you.