Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cornucopia



We are about to come into the harvest months, with Mabon on our heals, then Samhain and afterwards the modern holiday, Thanksgiving. This is the season the we see the woven basket that holds fruits or flowers on someone's table as a centerpiece or when we walk into the deco stores.
A lot of people knows them as the Horn of Plenty or Cornucopia.
The word Cornucopia comes from two Latin words. The first being Cornu meaning horn and the 2nd, copia meaning plenty.
There are 2 myths in explaining the origin of the Cornucopa. They are both from Greek Mythology.
The first, Amalthea was a goat who helped raising Zeus while he was being kept in a cave because his mother Rhea was afraid that his father, Kronos, would eat Zeus as he did the rest of Zeus' brothers and sisters. Zeus was making a lot of noise so Rhea got the goat nypmh to keep him quiet by feeding him some of her breast milk.
Amalthea and Zeus was playing one day, when Zeus accidentally broke off one of her horns. This changed Amalthea into a unicorn. The horn then had supernatural powers which would give anyone in possession of it whatever they would like.
Before today's modern version of the Cornucopia being a woven basket filled with fruit and flowers, in the ancient times it was depicted as a goat's horn intstead.
The second myth is about a feud between Hercules and the river god Achelous. Achelous was the biggest river in all of Greece at the time. The two men had their eyes for a young beautiful maiden and daughter of the King Oeneus of Calydin, whose name was Dejanira.
The two powerful men got into a huge wrestling match one day. Hercules, being the son of Zeus, kept getting the upperhand in the match. Achelous, who could change into anything that he wanted, kept changing into different animal forms to gain the upperhand. At first he changed into a snake, then he changed into a bull. During the time he was a bull, Hercules tore off one of his horns. According to the myth this diverted the river, Achelous.
The water nymphs of Achelous, Naiads got the horn and treated it as a sacred object. They filled it with flowers and then named it The Horn of Plenty.
The deities that were associated with the Cornucopia were Tyche ( Greek ), Fortuna ( Rome ), which were goddesses of riches and abundance, Dionysus ( Bacchus ) and Demeter ( Ceres ).
Now during these coming harvest festivals and holidays, when the family gathers together to celebrate, you have something to talk about. The little woven basket on the table as a centerpiece now can become the centerpiece for a conversation.
-written by Grannulus

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