In Pagan times the spirit of the Corn God or Lugh was thought to be housed in the last sheaf of wheat left standing in the field and when cut the God's life would be sacrificed, spilling his symbollic blood upon the earth to ensure fertility in the year to come.
Understandably therefore plenty of superstition built up around the cutting of this final sheaf and the reaper responsible for throwing his sickle at it was seen as taking the life of the deity. To avoid this somewhat inauspicious task, the Irish Celts came up with a solution which involved everyone standing around the sheaf blindfolded in a semi circle and hurling their sickles at the wheat. In this way no one would know who was ultimately responsible for the Corn God's demise.
Once cut however, the last sheaf took on a more positive aspect and was taken home by one of the reapers where it was 'dressed' either with a simple red ribbon to represent the blood of the God, or fashioned far more elaborately into a person or shape which became known by a myriad of names according to the region. The name that stuck however was 'kern baby', from which derives the more popular name of 'corn dolly' and has since become a modern day symbol of fertility.
Enjoy this Lammas season and may the year ahead be a fertile and happy one!