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 neo-Pagans and neo-Pagan Witches. Both are considered necessary to maintain the balance of the cycle.
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 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. A.G.H.