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The Cornucopia (Latin, ‘horn of plenty’), a spiraling, woven basket overflowing with an abundance of produce, is an ever-present symbol of harvest prosperity. The symbol dates back to an ancient tale of the Nymph Amalthea,* who, as a reward from the infant Zeus for a meal of Goat’s milk, was given an enchanted goat’s horn which gave whatever one wished for.**

The cornucopia became a ubiquitous symbol of fortune and plenty, and was associated with many Goddesses, including Fortuna, the goddess of good fortune, and Ceres, Goddess of agriculture.

Amalthea feeds Zeus from the horn

*Sometimes, Amalthea herself is the goat.

**Similar tales include the Finnish Sampo and the Celtic legend of the Cauldron of Plenty.

Related Symbols:

Triple hornGorgon

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Horned serpent deities figure in the mythology of most Native American and Meso-American peoples. Most of these horned and/or feathered serpents are associated with rain and thunder, or waterways.


Some, like the Cherokee horned serpent Utkena, or the Australian aborigine monster, bunyip, are malevolent beings or monsters who devour their enemies.



Others, like the the Choktaw deity Sint holo, are givers of inspiration, promethian spirits who introduce agriculture, language, and other gifts of knowledge to mankind. The Tewa deity Avanyu is the feathered sky serpent of the Pueblos (Zuni, Kolowisi, and Hopi, Paluluka), a rain and lightning deity who is believed to have given birth to the waterways, and whose voice is thunder.


Algonquin pictographs commonly depict a horned, feathered serpent known as Mishipizheu. Similar icons are scattered across North america.



Moundville, Alabama

The best known feathered serpent of the New world is, of course, the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, (Mayan Kukulkan, Incan Urcaguey) who was exiled by the gods for his gifts of knowledge to the Aztec people.


The horned serpent is not restricted to the Americas- some version of this creature can be found on every continent. There are literally hundreds of “cosmic serpents” peppered throughout world mythology, whose origin and meaning are never satisfactorily explained. There is the Celtic, ram-horned serpent associated withThe forerunner to the biblical serpent was Ningiszida- in Sumerian texts, this horned serpent guarded the tree of life and the gateway to the underworld. Wadjet, the winged serpent of Egypt, protected the Pharoahs and controlled the waters of the nile.



For more on serpent symbolism, see: The Secret language of symbols: The Egg and the serpent


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