In Celtic Welsh mythology, Cerridwen is a powerful Underworld Goddess, and the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge, inspiration and rebirth.  She rules the realms of death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magic, enchantment and knowledge. Cerridwen is a shape shifting Goddess, able to take on various forms. She is known as being a white witch or goddess, and is also associated with herbology and astrology. 

The Legend of Cerridwen

Cerridwen had two children, a girl named Creidwy who was beautiful and full of light, and an ugly and malevolent son named Afagddu, or Morfran. They represent the dark and light in the universe. 

The Potion

Because her son was so repugnant, Cerridwen wanted to help him. She decided to use her magical powers to brew a potion in her cauldron to make him brilliant and wise. The potion had to brew for one year and a day to reach it’s full potency, adding the required herbs at the appropriate astrological times. Once it was ready, the boy would need to drink exactly three drops of the potion.

To keep the potion mixed as needed, Cerridwen had her servant, Gwion Bach, stirring the potion during it’s brewing time. On the last day, an unfortunate accident occurred. While he was stirring, three drops of the potion splashed out of the cauldron, scalding his thumb. He instinctively stuck his thumb in his mouth to cool it, thus consuming the droplets and gaining the wisdom and talents intended for her son. 

The Chase

Gwion realized that Cerridwen would become very angry with him and would want to kill him. So he used his newly acquired skills to change form into a rabbit to escape her wrath. Thus began an epic chase. Cerridwen changed into a greyhound and took off after him. He then became a fish, and jumped into a river. So she transformed into an otter. He turned into a bird, and she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She shifted into a hen, and because she was a goddess , she was able to find him and eat him without trouble. But Gwion still had the power of the potion in him, and his life transferred to her womb. When Cerridwen became pregnant, she knew it was Gwion and resolved to kill the child when he was born. However, when he was born, he was so beautiful that she could not do it. She threw him in the ocean instead, sewing him inside a leather-skin bag.

The child was eventually rescued by the prince Elffin.  Elffin and his wife, who were childless, decided to adopt the beautiful baby.  They named him Taliesin, and he grew up to be the greatest Welsh poet ever.

Symbolism

This ritual pursuit of her servant, Gwion Bach, symbolizes the changing of the seasons, nature’s yearly cycle of death and rebirth.

Cerridwen’s Signficance

Cerridwen represents the need for change; that a transformation is at hand. It is time to examine what circumstances in your life no longer serve you.  Something must die so that something new and better can be born. You can tap into her ceaseless energy to plant seeds of change and pursue their growth with your own power.

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