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A bolt of lightning in the sky

A bolt of lightning in the sky, like the one that split open Maize Mountain

Where did this story come from?

Maya people liked to tell a story about how people first got corn (maize) to eat. There were a lot of different versions of this story. But they mostly had the same basic idea.

Who were the Maya?
The Corn God
The Green Corn ceremony
Where does corn come from really?
Maya gods and rituals
All our Central America articles

They said that at one time all the corn was hidden inside a mountain. People were hungry! They had nothing good to eat and just were eating leaves and berries. They asked the gods to help them get better food. So the gods took pity on them. The gods sent a bolt of lightning down to split open Maize Mountain so people could get in and find the secret of growing corn. (Compare this story to the the African story of how Anansi got the secret of farming, or the Greek story of Demeter giving the people wheat).

What is lightning?

From then on, people were happy and had good food. Since that time, people in Central America have always grown a lot of corn. They eat corn tortillas and corn tacos, tamales and empañadas, all made out of corn. They make popcorn for special occasions, and they brew beer out of corn too. People learned to grow corn together with squash and beans, in the same fields. They called these three plants the Three Sisters.

The Three Sisters (a story)
Growing the Three Sisters

Corn, beans, and squash growing together

Corn, beans, and squash growing together

More about the history of corn

Bibliography and further reading about early Central American religion:


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