A Veritable Cornucopia

Originally published in October 2020 but even more valid today.

In ancient lore, certain gods and goddesses provided goats’ horns from which that sustenance which was needed was supplied. Whether it was goat’s milk for Zeus hiding from Cronus or fruits and flowers for Heracles out of the horn ripped from the head of the river god Achelous, the Horn of Plenty has come to symbolize a never-ending supply of good things.

Now, in truth, the cornucopia is more likely associated with the baskets farm workers carried on their backs while harvesting corps. The baskets were woven of willow and shaped like a horn with the closed part at the bottom and the wider open mouth at the top ready to accept the produce and when full would be poured out to be sorted, used and stored as required. Thus, the pouring out of the produce came to represent a good harvest and the “Horn of Plenty.” Since a good harvest was attributed to any number of gods the horn became the symbol of crops blessed by those gods. Really one of the more simple explanations in mythology to parse.

Not represented in all the paintings where cornucopias are displayed is the hard work necessary to fill those horn-shaped baskets with the harvested produce. The clearing of land, the plowing, the seeding, the cultivation, the weeding and such. Nor, are we shown the afterwards of the preparation for storage through the coming winter. For those who see the paintings or read the stories it seems the cornucopias are somehow magically filled by the gods for the benefit of those who worship them. Now, you might think that this myth, like other myths, has evaporated when exposed to the sun of reality but Alas, it has not. Today, we have tens of millions of people in the United States who believe there is a cornucopia that will supply them with whatever they need be it; medical care, college tuition, a living wage, housing, a cellular telephone and such. Whatever they need can be had from that open-ended basket provided by government. And like in days of yore, those who receive from the horn will worship at the altar of the god that provides. These people believe that if they continue to worship and bring others to worship this god they will continue to receive everything and more. After all a cornucopia can only disappear if God becomes displeased with the worshipping of his/her/their followers.

And thus we have created a new and growing religion in the United States. Government is the god and the more one worships the more one will receive. An entire new mythology has been created in less than one-hundred years. No longer is the individual responsible for their choices or actions for they are a member of the larger collective that worships government and as a loyal worshiper they will be cared for. Prophets abound and an entire new religious order has formed to carry out the dictates of this benevolent god “Government.” There are the high priests and priests who dispense the proceeds of the horn and the judges who tell us what government demands of its worshipers and what proceeds can be expected. Like Pilate, Robespierre, Marat and Roy Bean they also tell the worshipers what penalties will be extracted for violations of the commandments of Government. The prophets proselytize, singing the praises of the new religion and promising that if you convert you will be cared for and will no longer be whatever it is you aren’t for you will be subsumed into the body of the whole and protected by Government, the greatest of gods. “Come, join, worship our god and everything can be yours in our new utopia where the god Government will provide for you from his/her/their never empty cornucopia.”

A cornucopia often occupies place of prominence in paintings of Thanksgiving but again there is no depiction of the work required to fill those baskets with the produce the artist has flowing from them. The new religion will tell you only that such plenty comes from those with too much and is to be shared with those with too little, so that all have enough. The question of how much is enough is never answered for there is never enough as long as someone has more. And that is how the new god fills the cornucopia.

As I’ve said this is a new myth and like all myths it will eventually be deconstructed to demonstrate where reality begins and fantasy ends. There is, of course, another group of tens of millions of the “ungodly” whose own prophets continue to cry into the wilderness about the consequences of worshiping false gods. But they struggle to be heard for the god of Government is a great god and his/her/their prophets abound throughout the land, superbly aided in their praiseful singing by the choirs of the airwaves.

And so, in this time of harvest, remember, when you gaze admiringly at a painting of plenty flowing from the horn, just how that horn was really filled.

What do you think?

One thought

  1. Very good write up. You obviously have a creative brain to use this metaphor. I am going to try to share it

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