The following article appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Currents Magazine.
The Corn Whisperer
by Kathryn Lucariello
“The corn has been the easiest vegetable to hear for most people,” Dianna Snow Eagle Seeds Sing Henry told a group of women gathered recently, “but every plant can communicate. The seed holds a huge library that we don’t realize.”
They were gathered at the Women Be Wise conference at Fire Om Earth in Eureka Springs, where Dianna taught a workshop on accessing what she calls the “Seeds Sing Library.”
She has worked with native, heirloom varieties of corn for 30 years, accessing the library for information about its history and the food, medicinal and ceremonial uses of the people who carried and cultivated it.
The library is esoteric, accessed through prayerful meditation, most powerfully in groups of three or four people.
Dianna has recently published a book about her history with the corn, readings she and others have obtained from it and how anyone can do this. It is called Whispering Ancestors: The Wisdom of Corn.
“I call this the corn’s Wisdom,” she writes on her website. “This is what the seeds have been giving me for many years…So, this book on corn is a differing approach. Creator has guided each part of this book carefully.”
An avid organic gardener, Dianna was a founding member of the Central Prairie Seed Exchange. She found out she had a special connection to the corn when she and a friend began meditating together and the seeds and plants began to ‘speak’ to them.
Dianna asked, “What in God’s name is this?”
They told her, “We’re a tool to read seeds. You can call us The Library.”
And thus the journey began, during which Dianna was to meet other “corn carrier,” such as Cherokee corn grower and keeper Carl White Eagle Barnes, who gave her the “Seeds Sing” portion of her name.
Not having any idea she had another special connection to corn, Dianna found out at her grandmother’s funeral that she had Blackfoot, Sioux and Cherokee, Irish and German roots on her father’s side, and Oglala-Apache, Scot-Irish, French and English on her mother’s side.
She acquired 37 varieties of corn seeds from a seed vault in the museum at the Kansas State Historical Society, where she worked as a lay archeologist.
She was guided to quit her job and begin working more intensely with the corn.
Dianna has given many workshops on accessing The Library to people from all walks fo life, including schoolchildren and scientific and medical professionals.
In her work with corn, Dianna has also discovered its healing properties.
Old Iroquois Rose was a prescription for a woman with multiple sclerosis. Directions were to give her a sack of seed and have her eat one a day until it was gone.
“This woman did what she was told with it, and she’s now doing fine.”
At the Fire Om workshop, Dianna brought two varieties of corn: Sioux flint blue corn from the Dakotas area and Big Horse Spotted, a corn grown in this area by the Osage Indians.
“The corn can tell you if it’s a hybrid or genetically modified,” she told participants. “Start by asking if it has loving energy. If it doesn’t, you’ll compost it because it won’t be useful for your body.”
She also directed groups to ask what the corn has to say about drought conditions and what it needs to thrive.
Responses were varied and interesting. One woman held Osage corn seeds in her hand and her arm began to pivot back in the direction of a tub pond behind the house. Another said the corn needs a lot of water and would like to be planted near a bend in the river.
Sitting with the group, Dianna also received: “Opening rivers of light for many.”
At her home, Dianna has a “corn room” with all the varieties she has collected over the years.
Indigenous corn comes in six families: pod, flint, flour, dent, sweet and pop, and used to come in all seven colors, but no longer. Commercial corn comes only in white or yellow. Dianna said Carl White Eagle Barnes has worked to restore corns to their original colors.
Some of Dianna’s work involves returning the corns to the tribes that originally had them.
“I’m carrying very, very old and sacred things,” Dianna said. “And I asked, ‘What difference does it make?’ I heard, ‘Spread it far and wide. Keep it with loving patterns.'”
So she has attempted to do just that.
“I’ve been at powwows and had Cherokee come up to me – those big, old men with the belt buckles, boots and hats – with big old tears running down their faces and saying, ‘I didn’t think anything was left.’ If I can get the seeds back to them, I do, pretty quick.”
The old varieties are beautiful, she says.
‘I have seen hundreds of varieties of wonderful Old Ones Corn,” Dianna wrote. “They can stop you right in your tracks. The beauty is unbelievable. The tastes are profound. Your body is hungry for the nutrition of these Old Ones. Your spirit is hungry for them too. If you get an opportunity to grow one that calls, you will never again see corn the same. It has changed my life profoundly.”
For more information about Dianna or Whispering Ancestors: The Wisdom of Corn, visit her website at www.wisdomofcorn.com