Ceridwen



Ceridwen is regarded by many as the Celtic goddess of shapeshifting, rebirth, transformation, and inspiration. The Awen, cauldron of poetic inspiration, is her main symbol. She was the mother of a hideous son, Morfran, and a beautiful daughter, Creirwy. Her husband was Tegid Foel, and they lived near Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) in north Wales. She possesses the magical cauldron of poetic inspiration called Awen and in this she brews a potion called Awen to give to her son Morfran. She sought to make him wise in compensation for his being so hideously ugly. It would be her gift of wisdom and poetic inspiration to him.

The mixture had to be boiled for a year and a day. She set Morda, a blind man, to tend the fire beneath the cauldron, while Gwion Bach, a young boy, was responsible for stirring the concoction. The first three drops of liquid from this potion gave wisdom; the rest was a fatal poison. Three hot drops spilled onto Gwion's thumb as he stirred, burning him. He instinctively put his thumb in his mouth, and gained the wisdom and knowledge Ceridwen had intended for her son. Realising that Ceridwen would be angry, he fled. Ceridwen chased him. Using the powers of the potion he turned himself into a hare then she became a greyhound. He became a fish and jumped into a river and she transformed into an otter. He turned into a bird and so she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She then became a hen and, being a Goddess (or enchantress, depending on the version of the tale), she found and ate him without trouble.

But because of the potion he was not destroyed. When Ceridwen 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 couldn't do it. She threw him in the ocean instead, sewing him inside a leather-skin bag. The child did not die, but was rescued on a Welsh shore, near Aberdyfi, by a prince named Elffin ap Gwyddno. The reborn infant grew to became the legendary bard named Taliesin.

Called "the White Lady of Inspiration and Death," Cerridwen's ritual pursuit of Gwion Bach symbolizes the changing seasons. Her cauldron contains Awen, the divine spirit, or poetic or prophetic inspiration. Her link as the Mother of Poetry is seen in her reborn son Taliesin, and in the Welsh word that makes up part of Her name, cerdd, which also means poetry.
 
 
 
 
 
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