Welcome to the Sacred Forest story time. A time to weave the fabric of history & folklore to the mysteries of the present world to learn, grow and embody the magic of those who came before. Today I’d like to share with you a tale of Cerridwen. From the myths and mysteries of Welsh and Celtic lore, Cerridwen was an enchantress, an herbalist, a Goddess. She was known as the Dark Mother, a witch, a shapeshifter…and represented rebirth, wisdom, divination and inspiration. She is the keeper of the cauldron of the underworld, where Divine inspiration flows like rivers under the surface of the Earth. This is a tale of her fierce commitment to her child, her despair, her wrath, and her birth of transformation, wisdom and a return to the essential self.
Her tale begins at her home on a peaceful lake with her husband, a most beautiful daughter whose loveliness enchanted all who’s eye layed upon her. She bore yet another child, a son of an unfortunate fate. Her son was plagued with an ugliness and grotesqueness so profound, his first given name was Morfran, meaning ‘sea cow’. Cerridwen was truly concerned her son would not be taken into society in any useful form, and her anguish grew of the child’s fate so great that she eventually renamed him Afagdu, meaning ‘utter darkness’. This sweet soul deserved as much as a chance as her beloved daughter among the nobles of the land, and she was determined to give him that chance.
Cerridwen tapped into her prophecy and magic to construct a plan to give her son the gift of Prophetic Spirit and a way to embody all the knowledge and secrets of all the worlds and the entire Universe. With this brilliance beyond all measure he would earn his place among the highest in the land and his appearance would be no match for all he could offer the world. For this she would collect sacred herbs and plants from the lake around her home under specific alignments of the planets and the stars. With these herbs she would place them in a cauldron filled with water over a blazing fire. And for a year and a day she would construct this magical brew that would contain Awen, the Universal flowing source and magical essence from which we all came. Awen is the essence of life in which everything swims. It is the trees, the sun, the stars. It’s the music and inspiration in all that we do, and said to be the soul of the universe itself.
After this enchanted brew comes into being, it shall spit only 3 sacred drops containing the Awen. And for whom the drops fall upon will then embody all the magic Awen has to offer. The rest of the liquid is destined become nothing more than a powerful poison. She recruited a blind man to keep the fire burning, and a young boy named Gwion Bach to stir the bubbling liquid for a year and one day. As they tended to her cauldron she would continually forge the herbs to add to the concoction day and night. So day after day they sat, stirred, mixed and tended to this precious creation. Upon the mark of a year of the brew simmering into being, she set her son near the cauldron to await for the magic to arrive. In her exhausted state she lay down upon the trees and fell soundly asleep to the wooing of the birds who too knew the magic was coming.
As the young boy Gwion stirred and stirred eagerly, three drops sprung from the cauldron, landing upon his bare thumb. The scolding liquid seared his flesh, and he instinctively placed his thumb in his mouth, immediately absorbing the magic of Awen. In an instant he knew all the secrets and mysteries of all the worlds, of past, present and future. His eyes turned black with the vastness of the universe as wisdom, clarity and prophecy fused his entire being. The remaining bubbling liquid which was now poison cracked the cauldron in two, spilling upon and poisoning the earth. It was with his new insight he could see his fate when Cerridewen awoke to see what he had done, and he chose to flee. Cerridwen rose in a fury when she discovered what had happened, and after the boy she went.
With his acquired abilities he ran from Cerridwen in anyway he could, and a game of shapeshifting began. He first fled as a hare, Cerridwen then becoming a greyhound to hunt and sniff him out. He then became a fish, then she an otter. He then took to the skies and became a bird…. Cerridwen a mighty hawk. Finally he sought refuge among bails of grain, and Gwion turned into a single grain of corn. Cerridwen searched among the bails, shifting into a black breasted hen and plucked him right into her belly. Consuming the boy she finds herself with child and grows a new manifestation of young Gwion within her womb. Furious, she vows to destroy the boy when he is reborn. She is now the cauldron, the vehicle of transformation for the being of all knowing.
When the boy is born she stares into his eyes and cannot with a mother’s love destroy him. She instead wraps him in a leather pouch, sending him along a river to float for what becomes 40 years at sea. He is found by a nobleman who sees the magic in his eyes, naming him Taliesin, or he with the radiant brow. He is the mighty prophet of all knowledge, whom some come today to know as Merlin, and bestows many gifts upon the world.
There are many lessons to this tale, but if you want to know the true essence of Awen it’s a matter of seeking and finding that essential truth. The cauldron is of great significance in many ways. It’s a symbol that brings nourishment and transformation, but it also represents the Divine Feminine. The great mother and creative womb space from which we all came. Gwion flees through many stages as his newly enchanted self. In these transformations he becomes creatures of the earth, sea and sky. A full cycle of life to be consumed and then reborn. Settling in the channel of Awen yet again for regeneration, growth and rebirth.
So the son and Gwion represent the light and dark, yin and yang aspects to oneself? A tale of balance, transformation and rebirth? As a shapeshifter one is multi-faceted, able to choose the facet that best suits your circumstance. You too are a shapeshifter, a vehicle for inspiration and transformation able to adapt to any given situation. Sit with Cerridwen and feel her Divine inspiration, what magic lies within you? What are your many facets? A lesson to never give up, to find growth and inspiration through transformation. The cycle of life may not be literal life, death and rebirth, but instead the death of different chapters of our lives. To learn the lessons, to shapeshift, to grow, adapt and transform.
Awen is the ebb and flow of all existence. We swim within it in the womb, and when we are born and move through life feeling we’ve lost that connection, that we are separate from it. It feels as though it is something to be obtained, to search for. But what we find is that it is indeed inside of each and every one of us, and we can take the tales of history and our ancestors to guide us back to it. What a gift it is to realize that you already contain all of the love and answers in life you will ever need, you simply need to be guided back to them. The pilgrimage you seek is the journey to yourself. You are AWEN.
You can work with Cerridwen with stones of emerald, obsidian & onyx. Use her sacred herbs of sandalwood, patchouli, vervain and sage, and the elements of earth and water during her time of late autumn and winter. Place acorns and apple seeds on her altar and give thanks to this great mother for the power of transformation and a return to the essential self. Live your magic today and every day……my beautiful shapeshifter, Namaste.
Listen to this tale on my new podcast, Modern Goddess Living here.......
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Hello lovelies. Thank you for letting me express my journey of discovering my magic and Divine Feminine. I am happy to share my experiences with you to heal, love, and evolve.