C is for Ceridwen, the Crone Goddess of Celtic Mythology.
Ceridwen is a Celtic Triple Goddess, Maiden, Mother and Crone.
She is best known as The Keeper of the Cauldron.
The cauldron signifies the womb of The Goddess, the place from where all of creation stems from.
Cauldrons are connected to the element of water and the moon.
Ceridwen’s cauldron is a very mystical and magickal pot indeed.
Within its depths she brews the elixir of knowledge, inspiration, transformation and rebirth.
Ceridwen’s cauldron is said to hold the secrets of the universe.
It takes Ceridwen a year and a day to brew a potion, which is a time frame often referred to in Wicca.
A Year and a day of study is ideal between degrees, initiations and such.
The story of Ceridwen is heavy with symbolism, it is one you can give a lot of thought too, and come up with a different meaning each time.
Ceridwen was married to a man named Tegid Foel and they lived in a beautiful, big house in the country.
Together, they had three children; A beautiful and fair daughter, Creirfyw, and two sons, Morfran and Afagddu.
Morfran was a handsome and good-hearted young lad, poor Afagdduu was hideously ugly.
He was not only terribly ugly, he was mean-spirited and cruel.
Ceridwen despaired for her son, Afagddu, she desperately wanted to improve his lot.
So she took to her trusty cauldron.
She knew the potion, she was about to brew, was going to take a lot of work, so she hired two young lads to help with the job, Gwion and Morda.
Gwion was to keep the pot stirred and Morda’s job was to keep the heat up to the cauldron, bringing the wood to keep the fire stoked.
A year had passed and all was going well, the brew was almost done.
Then disaster struck.
While stirring the pot with the big wooden spoon, Gwion accidentally splashes his hand with the boiling liquid.
He yelps with pain, and unconsciously raises his hand to his mouth.
As he sucks at his scalded hand, he has a sudden flash of the most brilliant insight.
It is then that he realizes, he has inadvertently swallowed three drops of the potion!
Three drops just happens to be the required dose, the dose that was meant for Ceridwen’s ugly son, Afagddu.
The cauldron cracks in two, right before the eyes of the disbelieving Morda and Gwion.
The remaining brew gushes out, and the once sweet-smelling liquid is now a noxious goo.
With his newly gained intelligence and prophecy, Gwion takes to his heels, knowing Ceridwen will be murderous once she knows the fate of her spell.
As Gwion runs as far and as fast as he can, Ceridwen shows up to check the progress of her potion.
She launches into a fury, poor Morda copping the brunt of her anger.
She grabs a lump of wood from beside the busted cauldron, and thumps Morda over the head with it, swearing and cursing for all she is worth.
She hits him with such anger behind the blow, she knocks out his eyeball, striking him blind.
Morda pleads his case, it was not he, but Gwion, it is all Gwion’s fault.
Ceridwen sees this as true and, taking pity on Morda, she drops the wood.
She now turns her fury towards Gwion.
Morda points out the direction of his retreat, and Ceridwen is soon on his heels.
When Gwion realises his furious employer is gaining on him, and fast, he transforms himself into a hare, drawing on his new-found powers of transformation.
Just as he thinks his escape is assured, he glances around, only to see Ceridwen change into the guise of a greyhound.
It is useless, a hare cannot outrun a greyhound.
Gwion the hare runs as fast as his furry little paws can carry him and arrives at the river.
He quickly dives in and changes himself into a salmon.
He thinks he has surely outsmarted her now, as he deftly swims upstream.
Until he looks around himself to see an otter swimming closely behind him.
Damn! The salmon leaps upwards, breaking the surface of the water, and becomes a bird.
The bird flaps it’s wings and flies high, up, up, towards the heavens.
Yet, this time when he looks around, he sees a great hawk, barreling towards him from the updrafts.
Realising he cannot possibly outrun this furious woman, he plummets towards the earth, where he spies a pile of grain, gathered from the harvest.
Perfect, if I cannot run from her, I shall hide from her.
He transforms himself, once again, into a single seed of grain, and drops into the heap.
It is not until he sees the beak of a hen, looming right above him, that he understands hiding is not an option either.
Ceridwen gobbles him up and Gwion has met his end.
It is not until several months later, that Ceridwen realises she is pregnant.
Being a wise woman, she understands just what has happened.
Gwion is now within her, growing inside her very own womb!
She is again struck with fury, and resolves that the moment this child is born, she will kill it.
Time goes by, Ceridwen’s girth swells with child.
When her baby is born, she recognises her foe, but the child is so strikingly beautiful, she falls in love with him.
She cannot possibly carry through with her plans, but she also refuses to raise this child as her own.
She takes the beautiful baby and sews him up, snug and safe, inside an animal hide.
Then she takes him to the sea and places him lovingly into the waves.
The baby is carried, safely, on the ocean, until he washes ashore, where he is found by a Celtic Prince, named Elphin,
Elphin takes his prize back to his castle, intent on raising him as his own son.
It is on the journey home, that the baby begins to recite to him, in an angelic voice, the most beautiful of poetry.
He names the baby Taliesin.