Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cerridwen, Celtic Goddess of the Cauldron, Scorpio Patroness

Joanna Powell Colbert

Cerridwen (pronounced ker'rid-when) is the Welsh Goddess of the Cauldron, the many-faceted cauldron of life, death and rebirth, which is also the cauldron of plenty and inspiration.  She is a goddess to call on during the month of Scorpio because her cauldron gives us knowledge and inspiration when we are faced with change, transformation and rebirth.  Like the watery sign of Scorpio, we get transformed in the boiling waters of life. 

In Welsh legend, Cerridwen represents the Crone, the dark aspect of the Moon goddess. As we know, the Dark is the power of the Unknown, the power to see further than the eyes, to hear deeper than the ears, to know as deep as the Heart’s Wisdom.  So Cerridwen also holds the power of prophecy, and is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge and inspiration in the Underworld.  She is often associated with Brighid as the Goddess of Inspiration and poets.

The Cauldron is the central image for the Celtic shamanic tradition, the feminine vessel of heat, plenty and inspiration.  Just as the cauldron is the source of physical nurturance, it is also the source of spiritual sustenance, as seen in the image of the Holy Grail.  The Cauldron symbolizes the Great Mother’s cosmic womb, the source of cyclical recurrence, as opposed to the patriarchal view of linear time.  It symbolizes nourishment, sustenance, abundance, fertility, inspiration, wisdom, renewal and rebirth.

For the Celts, this Cauldron is the miraculous vessel, dispensing youth and life, the power to heal and the Wisdom and inspiration of life.  The Cauldron is also the vessel of transformation, since it transforms death into life, life into inspiration and wisdom. The Cauldron of Cerridwen has three powers of inexhaustibility, regeneration and inspiration. Cerridwyn's cauldron holds the secret of immortality, seeing death as an integral part of the cycle of life, where every death brings rebirth and every ending a new beginning. 
With this month’s Scorpio solar eclipse, the image of Cerridwen’s Cauldron can help us release old emotional patterns that no longer serve life.  She boils the emotions down to their essence and heals them with her magical herbs.  What lessons have you learned from your barriers to intimacy and passion (Scorpio)?  It’s time to let them go if you want to be intimate and passionate about life!
Cerridwen’s Story:
Cerridwen's magical cauldron held a potion that granted wisdom and inspiration -- however, it had to be brewed for a year and a day to reach its full potency.  This indicates that the shamanic transformation takes time and focus.  So don’t expect instantaneous changes, but work with this story for a year and a day to bring about the transformations you need.  As you go through this journey, you will also receive Cerridwen’s gift of inspiration, to help you make the right choices for your life. 

In this time when we need to be inspired (filled with breath/Spirit), here is the story of how Cerridwen gave birth to the great Penbeirdd Taliessin.

The Cauldron of Inspiration belonged to Cerridwen, the great Wise Woman of Wales.  By her husband, Tegid Foel, she had given birth to a beautiful daughter, Creirwy (Dear One) and an ill-favored son, called Avagddu/Morfran (Utter Darkness).  To compensate for his ugliness, Cerridwen decided to concoct a potion of inspiration for him.  She collected the necessary ingredients and cooked them in her cauldron.  She got Gwion Bach, a boy from the nearby village, to stir the cauldron for a year and a day, and an old man called Morda to stoke the fire and keep it burning.  Alas, when the task was nearly complete, Gwion became sleepy and dropped in the spoon—splashing his hand in the process.  He quickly put his burnt fingers in his mouth and –Eureka!—received the distilled wisdom meant for Avagddu.  The rest of the potion was poisonous, and split the cauldron asunder, its contents spilling into a nearby river, killing the horses of Gwyddno, which drank there. 

Meanwhile, Gwion knew Cerridwen would have his heart on a platter if he didn’t get out of there quick, so he turned himself into a rabbit and ran!  Rabbits understand fear and know how to hop to it.  But when Cerridwen returned home and discovered what had happened, in her fury she poked out Morda’s eyes with his fire poker, then shape-shifted into a greyhound and gave chase to that rabbit.  

Soon she was nipping at his heels, so Taliessin jumped into a swift stream and changed himself into a salmon.  Not to be outwitted, Cerrdwen shifted into a she-otter and gave chase.  Just as he was about to be captured Taliessin turned himself into a tiny wren, king of birds.  But Cerridwen was a goddess and turned from an otter into an eagle in a blink of an eye and gave chase.  In a flash the eagle grabbed for the wren, and so Taliessin turned into a grain of wheat and fell onto the threshing floor of a farm.

Eagle-eyed Cerridwen flew down and turned into a beautiful black hen and ate that grain of wheat.  Once she turned back into a women, Cerridwen grew large with child, and in 9 moons, she gave birth to a boy so beautiful she could not kill him.  But because of her son Avagddu, she could not keep him, for Taliessin shone with the light of Wisdom meant for her son.  So Cerridwen wrapped up her beautiful twice-born son and put him in a coracle and cast him out to sea.   

He is found in a salmon weir by Elphin the son of Gwyddno on May 1st, and is called Taliessin, the Radiant or Shining Brow.1   

Cerridwen's Blessing

          I give you life
I give you death
it is all one
You travel the spiral path
the eternal path
that is existence
ever becoming
ever growing
ever changing
Nothing dies that is not reborn
nothing is born that does not die
When you come to me I welcome you home
then I take you into my womb
my cauldron of transformation
where you are stirred and sifted
blended and boiled
melted and mashed
reconstituted then recycled
You always come back to me
you always go forth renewed
Death and Rebirth are but points of transition
along the Eternal Path.

~Amy Sophia Marashinsky~

1.       Kevan Manwaring, The Bardic Handbook, (England: Gothic Images Publication, 2006), pp. 48-49.


  1. Just came across your blog and thought you may be interested in a drawing I have just completed today called 'Flight From Ladye Park' with the goddess 'Kerrid' at http://danielanthonytaylorpaintersprogress.blogspot.co.uk/

  2. Just came across your blog and thought you may be interested in a drawing I have just completed today called 'Flight From Ladye Park' with the goddess 'Kerrid' at http://danielanthonytaylorpaintersprogress.blogspot.co.uk/