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Goddess Cerridwen of Welsh Mythology

Dearest Cerridwen, goddess, white witch, enchantress. She has been called all of them.

Let us begin with the Mythology. The story of Cerridwen and Talesin the Bard. This is a story of a mother love, an enchantress' wrath and the death and rebirth of a hero.

Cerridwen Linocut Carving The Coventina Press

Cerridwen had two children, her daughter ...... was beautiful and full of light and her son Morfran was hideous and dull witted. Cerridwen was worried for her son, believing he would not be accepted in to high society the way that he was, so she decided to use her cauldron to help him. She set about brewing him the potion of Awen- poetic wisdom, inspiration and knowledge.

The potion she would brew would take a full year to make and so set her servant Morda to stoke the fire and his apprentice Gwion to stir the brew whilst she gathered herbs. On the final day Gwion stirred the potion a little too hard and 3 drops of potion flew from the cauldron and landed on the boys hand. Without thinking the boy popped his thumb in his mouth to quell the burning and in that moment all the knowledge of the world flew through him. He realised the wrath he would face from Cerridwen for having stolen her son's future and so he ran. When Cerridwen returned she was furious and so the imfamous chase began.

Gwion Bach with his new powers transformed himself into a hare and ran like the wind. Cerridwen seeing this transformed in to a greyhound and pursued swiftly, Gwion ran to the river, diving in he shapeshifted into a fish but Cerridwenn close behind became an otter to out swim him. Gwion then shifting into a bird flew into the sky but Cerridwen leapt out of the river and transformed into a hawk chasing him down. Closer now, Gwion began to panic, when he saw a barn of wheat. He quickly transformed into one of many grains

Cerridwen and Gwion's Chase
Cerridwen by Wendy Andrew

of wheat believing he could hide. Cerridwen saw what he had done and shapeshifted in a hen, she scratched through the grains until she found him and swallowed him up.

Now this seed inside of Cerridwen grew and she soon realised that Gwion was to be reborn through her as her son. When she held him in her arms nine months later, her anger had dissipated but she could not keep the child, beautiful though he was. She decided to cast him out and let the fates decide if he should live. She wrapped him in a leather bag, and with a pray and a blessing through him to the sea. And so begins the story of all great heros. Gwion once rescued became talesin and the tales regarding his intelligence and foresight and his beautiful poetry are legendary.


Cerridwen and Cauldron Sculpture

As mentioned in the above story, one of Cerridwen many names is the Keeper of Cauldron. She used this cauldron for good, to help others and to provide answers. The timing of her story is placed around the Arthurian legends and often the Cauldron of Awen and Holy Grail are surmised to be one and the same. Awen is a welsh word for 'inspiration, especially creative inspiration, poetic wisdom and when personified Awen is the muse. So as the Keeper of this cauldron, Cerridwen is a powerful source of guidance in all things creative and can be called upon to help you find your creative inspiration.


Another of Cerridwen's gifts is of transformation. She is a shapeshifter and a powerful enchantress and has the ability to help others change. In the story above we see her change Gwion life dramatically, from a servant to the most famous bard in all the land. The fire of transformation may be difficult but rebirths always are. If you get stuck and lost Cerridwen is certainly a goddess who can aid you in finding your new path.

Rebirth and the cycle of life and death.

One of the most important themes Cerridwen's story gives us is that of life and death. Everything in our life is in a cycle, things go and come around again, changed and transformed. The chase represents the changing seasons around us and also the need for change in ourselves. Something must die for it to be reborn. Gwion died and was reborn as Talesin. Cerridwen herself transformed from vengeful sorceress to a mother at peace with her fate. They both suffered but came out the other side with true knowledge and inspiration.

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