godess

Gems of the Goddess

October, 2009

Cerridwen – The Tiger Mother Goddess

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Cerridwen is known as the goddess of death, initiation, inspiration, magic, and regeneration. The Magical Welsh crone goddess Cerridwen (pronounced KARE 0id wen) was a shape-shifting goddess of dark prophetic powers, enchantment and divination.   She is equated with Hecate (Greek) and Balb (Irish).  She is also sometimes related to Muses (Greek) but in a dark and more violent form.

Cerridwen’s cauldron is a powerful symbol of transforming magic.  It contains all the knowledge in the world.  This is where the inspiration for the Samhain (or Halloween) Witch stirring a Caldron comes from.
The brew in the Cauldron (named Amen) is known as Greal.  This brew sits for a year and a day, which signifies the usual time for initiation.  The Cauldron represents the lessons learned through change and experience, as well as divine creative inspiration.  She is the tigress mother, dark goddess, prophetic crone, who pursues her interpretation of justice with unfailing energy.

According to the Mabinogion, Morfran (also called Afagddu), her son, was hideously ugly, so she wanted to give him something to help and decided to use her magical cauldron to make a potion granting wisdom. The mixture had to be cooked for a year and a day. Morda, a blind man and her faithful servant, tended the fire beneath the cauldron, while Gwion, a young boy, stirred the concoction. The first three drops of liquid from this cauldron gave wisdom; the rest was a fatal poison. Three hot drops spilled onto Gwion’s hand as he stirred, burning him. He instinctively put his hand in his mouth, and instantly gained great wisdom and knowledge.  Gwion knew he was in trouble and had to flee.

When Cerridwen heard of this news, she chased Gwion.   Both of them had the power to shapeshift.   He turned himself into a rabbit. She became a dog. He became a fish and jumped into a river. She turned into an otter. He turned into a bird; she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She then became a hen and ate him.   This journey of shapeshifting is thought to be the representation of moving through the various levels of the Druid tradition.  It20can also mean the steps of transformation.   It is also similar to Merlin teachings to King arthur through inhabiting different animals to gain wisdom and knowledge.

When Cerridwen became pregnant from eating the single grain of corn, 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 couldn’t do it. She threw him in the ocean instead, sewing him inside a bag of seal-skin. The child did not die, but was rescued on a British shore by a Celtic prince named Elffin; the reborn infant grew to become the legendary bard Taliesin.

Cerridwen’s symbol is the white sow, representing the Moon.  The sow is also associated with plenty, healing and shapeshifting.  She is associated with death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magic, astrology, herbs, science, poetry, spells and knowledge.  She is most at home during harvest rites, spells and ritual for wisdom and knowledge and during waning moons.  She is also can help with learning about divination and journeying into past lives.

To bring Cerridwen in your life, work with her when you are trying to tap into your creative part of your feminine side and also motherhood or childbirth issues.  Her correspondences are pigs, cauldrons, vervain, the dark moon and hens.

As we move into Samhain, think about the wisdom and knowledge you would like to receive and grow during the next year.  Cerridwin’s Cauldron is waiting to help you.