Cerridwen

"Ceridwen", watercolour painting on commission for the lovely Mellow Traumatic.

Ceridwen is the shapeshifting Celtic goddess of knowledge, transformation and rebirth. The Awen, cauldron of poetic inspiration, is one of her main symbols.
In one part of the Mabinogion, which is the cycle of myths found in Welsh legend, Cerridwen brews up a potion in her magical cauldron to give to her son Afagddu (Morfran). She puts young Gwion in charge of guarding the cauldron, but three drops of the brew fall upon his finger, blessing him with the knowledge held within. Cerridwen pursues Gwion through a cycle of seasons until, in the form of a hen, she swallows Gwion, disguised as an ear of corn. Nine months later, she gives birth to Taliesen, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.

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"For mine is the secret door which opens upon the Land of Youth; and mine is the Cup of the Wine of Life, and the Cauldron of Cerridwen, which is the Holy Grail of Immortality.

I am the Gracious Goddess, who gives the gift of joy unto the heart. Upon earth, I give the knowledge of the spirit eternal; and beyond death, I give peace, and freedom, and reunion with those who have gone before. Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold I am the Mother of All Living, and my love is poured out upon the earth.”

- Doreen Valiente
The Charge of the Goddess - The Poetry of Doreen Valiente
http://amzn.to/1DF4qly

Image Credit: Julie Dillon

Cerridwen

The Celtic goddess of inspiration, witchcraft, wisdom and the cauldron. There’s a tale behind her magickal cauldron that is said to be lost in Avalon, which *coincidentally* is where Glastonbury is, where the Holy Grail is supposedly lost.

Welsh Goddess - Cerridwen

Cerridwen embodies all three lunar aspects of the Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone although she is primarily worshipped in her Crone aspect, by and through her Cauldron of Wisdom, Inspiration, Rebirth and Transformation. The cauldron in her story has an intimate association with femininity, together with the cave, the cup and the chalice, and the association of femininity with justice, wisdom and intelligence goes back to very ancient times. Her cauldron is the primary female symbol of the pre-Christian world, and represents the womb of the Great Goddess from which all things are born and reborn again.

Cerridwen was originally worshipped by the people of Wales. It is told that she lived on an island, in the middle of Lake Tegid, named after her husband, with her two children, a beautiful daughter, Creidwy, and a very ugly son, Afagdu. To compensate her son for his unfortunate appearance, Cerridwen brewed a magickal formula, known as “greal”, which would make Afagdu the most brilliant and inspired of men. For a year and a day, she kept six herbs simmering in her magickal cauldron, known as “Amen”, under the constant care of a boy named Gwion.


One day, while Gwion was stirring the cauldron, a few drops of the bubbling liquid spattered on his hand. Unthinkingly, and in pain, Gwion, sucked his burned hand, and, suddenly, he could hear everything in the world, and understood all the secrets of the past and future. With his newly enchanted foresight, Gwion knew how angry Cerridwen would be when she found he had acquired the inspiration meant for her son.

He ran away, but Cerridwen pursued him. Gwion changed into a hare, and Cerridwen chased him as a greyhound; he changed into a fish, and Cerridwen pursued him as an otter; he became a bird, and she flew after him as a hawk; finally, he changed into a grain of corn, and Cerridwen, triumphant, changed into a hen, and ate him.

When Cerridwen resumed her human form, she conceived Gwion in her womb, and, nine months later, gave birth to an infant son, whom she, in disgust, threw into the water of a rushing stream. He was rescued by a Prince, and grew into the great Celtic bard, Taliesin.

The image of her cauldron, holding the magickal potion of wisdom, is the mythical origin of the Halloween image of a cauldron-stirring hag, making up her witch’s brew. The brew had to simmer for a year and a day, a common passage of time in Celtic lore. A festival in her honour is celebrated on July 3rd, and the pink sow, a symbol of fertility, good fortune and enrichment, is said to be her matron animal.

Created by Kerritwyn )0( and taken from The White Moon Gallery.
Image from Something Wiccan This way Comes Genni )O(

Source: Witchcraft, Paganism & Wiccan


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Cerridwen

Cerridwen (“White Sow”, or “White Crafty One”) is the Welsh grain and sow-goddess, keeper of the cauldron of inspiration and goddess of transformation. Her son Afagddu was so horribly ugly She set to making a brew of wisdom for him, to give him a quality that could perhaps overcome his ugliness. Every day for a year and a day She added herbs at the precise astrological times, but on the day it was ready the three magical drops fell instead on the servant boy, Gwion Bach, who was set to watch the fire. Instantly becoming a great magician, the boy fled from Her wrath, and as She pursued him they each changed shape—a hound following a rabbit, an otter chasing a salmon, a hawk flying after a sparrow—until finally the boy changed to a kernel of wheat, settling into a pile of grain on a threshing-floor. Cerridwen, becoming a black hen, found him out and swallowed him down.

Nine months later she gave birth to Taliesin, who would be the greatest of all bards.

Called “the White Lady of Inspiration and Death”, Cerridwen’s ritual pursuit of Gwion Bach symbolizes the changing seasons. Her cauldron contains awen, meaning the divine spirit, or poetic or prophetic inspiration. Her link as the Mother of Poetry is seen in Her reborn son Taliesin, and in the Welsh word that makes up part of Her name, cerdd, which also means poetry.

Variant spellings: Ceridwen, Caridwen, Kyrridwen

Cerridwen is a Welsh hag or crone goddess associated with the pig, the Underworld, and with fertility derived from the Underworld a prototype of many subsequent hag fairies. She brewed a magic potion in her cauldron that contained both know­ledge and inspiration. This was intended for her ugly son Afagddu (‘Utter Darkness’) but was accidentally drunk by the little boy called Gwion who was set to stirring the cauldron. He spattered some liquid onto his thumb and when he sucked it to cool it, he was instantly privy to all the wisdom of the ages. When Cerridwen found out what had happened she pursued him in a variety of animal forms. He also shapeshifted into a variety of guises to evade her until eventually he turned into a grain of corn, and she, in the shape of a black hen, ate him. He stayed in her womb for nine months before being reborn as the bard Taliesin (`Radiant Brow’). It has been argued that this story is the description of a shamanic initiation, or a metaphor for the changing seasons.

Cerridwen is a Celtic goddess associated with cauldrons and the Underworld. Her name refers to the color white and is connected to a Celtic legend related to “the White One,” a mythical sow.  Some people believe her name means “White Grain.” In Celtic lore Cerrid­wen had the ability to transform into various creatures such as a greyhound, otter, hawk, and a hen. Her ability to change shape and the connection of her name to the color white has led some people to conclude that Cerridwen was a moon goddess.

In modern Wicca/Witchcraft many people believe that Cerridwen is a Mother Goddess of Welsh origin. She dwelled in caer siddi, also known as caer feddwidd, an Otherworld realm represented in the stars as a spiral. The magickal cauldron belonging to Cerrid­wen was kept hid­den in her secret realm. Nine maidens tended the fire beneath the cauldron. The rim of the cauldron was deco­rated with nine pearls, and a brew of inspiration simmered within the caul­dron. In the cauldron mysteries we find a con­nection here between the nine maidens of Cerridwen’s cauldron and the nine Muses of Greek mythology who gave inspiration to humankind.

Original picture found here.

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favourite faces for favourite mythic ladies: Cerridwen with Lucy Liu

The child was so hideous that Cerridwen didn’t want to look at him on that day when she first brought him into the world, screaming and bleeding, a tiny, selfish new life violently demanding to join the world and willing to tear apart the mother that bore him.

Already Cerridwen had a daughter, a girl so beautiful to behold that it made Cerridwen’s heart ache. (Because it wouldn’t be long before someone decided they would have that beauty for themselves, that such a fair thing needed to belong to them. When that day came, even Cerridwen’s great powers would mean nothing. Wily, talented Cerridwen with her magic and her cleverness would only be able to bid her daughter goodbye with a kiss and whatever spell of strength she could muster.)

But this boy… Cerridwen spent the first months of his life in despair, weeping as she fed him, plagued with awful things she wanted to do to him when he cried and cried, his ugly face even uglier then. Cerridwen thought she didn’t love him and this only brought her more suffering. A mother who could not love her child. She named him Afagddu - utter darkness - because it was all she could see.

Yet love him she did and after many long months she set out to bless Afagddu with what she could so that, one day, he would be beloved by the world despite that face. It would be a potion and in her immense cauldron she would brew it for a year. She would chart the stars and collect the herbs and do each thing by exactness and then, when it was done, three drops she would place upon his tongue  Three drops and he would know all that had been and all that would be. Three drops and her ugly baby boy would become a man greater than any that the world had known before.

the signs as celtic goddesses

aries - maeve (warrior queen)

taurus - badb (life and death)

gemini - flidais (woodland goddess and protector of animals)

cancer - caireen (mother and patron of children)

leo - aine (growth and light)

virgo - danu (fairy of knowledge)

libra - brigid (fire and light)

scorpio - macha (battles injustice of women)

sagittarius - epona (protector of horses)

capricorn - sheela n gig (godess of fertility)

aquarius - fand (other worlds)

pisces - cerridwen (chiding love witch)

Cerridwen: Celtic Mother Goddess. Cerridwen, associated with Astate or Demeter, is teh mother goddess of the moon and grain. she is especially known for her fearsome death totem, a white, corpse-eating sow. Cerridwens harvest celebrations express her ability to both give and take away life. Her symbols include the cauldron, cup, sow, and hound.