The Goddess CEREDWEN
Being that I am a Welsh Traditionalists Wytch, I am often questioned about what Deities we worship. So I will try to do a hub page for each of the major Welsh Gods and Goddesses and possibly a general listing of all of Them. I hope that you will find these hubs informative - and please write me if there are any questions you have.
CEREDWEN - Her Story:
In ancient times there lived in Penllyn, a man named Tegid Voeland ("Beautiful Bare Hill") and His Wife Ceredwen. There was born to him of His Wife, a daughter named Creirwy ("Jewel" or "Crystal Egg") who was the fairest maiden in all the land, and two sons: One named Morfran ab Tegid, (Morfran meaning "Sea Crow" or Cormorant), and the youngest son was called Afagaddu (or Avagddu) which means "utter darkness" - because He was so ugly and deformed. He was known to be the most ill-favored man in all of Cymru (Wales). Ceredwen thought that Afagaddu was not likely to be admitted among men of noble birth by reason of His great ugliness unless He had some exalted merits or knowledge.
Therefore Ceredwen resolved, according to The Arts of the Books of The Fferyllt, to boil a Cauldron of Inspiration and Science for Her Son, that His reception might be honorable because of His infinite knowledge of all The Mysteries. She began to boil The Cauldron, which would boil for a year and a day, until Three Blessed Drops were obtained, these three drops being known as "The Grace of Inspiration" or "Awen".
To aid Her in the task of brewing this 'Awen', She put Gwion Bach ("Little Innocent") who was the son of Gwreang of Llanfair in Caereinion, in Powys, to the task of stirring the Cauldron, and a blind man named Morda ("Good Sea" or "Great Good"), to keep the fire kindled beneath it. Nine women also stood by the Cauldron, some say they were Druidesses who could take the form of any animals, and who could also blow the seas into a rage with their perfect poetry, heal all wounds and illnesses, and foretell the events of the future. It was these nine maidens that breathed upon the magic Cauldron as it boiled ceaselessly, for a full year and a day. Ceredwen also charged them all, that they should not suffer it to cease it's boiling for that space of a year and a day, or they would fear Her Wrath.
So every day Ceredwen went out and gathered all charm-bearing herbs for the brew, and into it She poured the Waters of Prophesy and Inspiration and by carefully observing the movements of the Moon and the Sun, and each and every star, She was able to add each herb, each root, even the foam of the ocean, all at their proper times.
One day, towards the end of the year (Which by my calculations, was in August - as Gwion's re-birth is April 29th), as Ceredwen was culling plants and making Her Incantations, it chanced that Three Drops of the charmed boiling brew, flew out of The Cauldron and fell upon the finger of the boy, Gwion Bach as he was stirring it. By reason of their great and intense heat, he automatically put his finger into his mouth - and that very instant, He foresaw everything that was to come, and perceived that His chief care must be to guard against the wiles of Ceredwen, for vast was Her Skill. So, in very great fear, He fled towards His own land. The Cauldron then burst in two, because all the liquor contained within it, except The Three Charm-bearing Drops, was extremely poisonous. The horses of Gwyddon Garanhir were poisoned by the water of the stream into which the liquor of the cauldron ran, and the confluence of that stream was called "The Poison of the Horses of Gwyddon" from that day until this.
Thereupon came in Ceredwen, and saw all the toil of the whole year lost. Furious at the loss, She seized a billet of wood and struck the blind Morda on the head until one of his eyes fell out upon his cheek. He said, "Wrongfully hast thou disfigured me, for I am innocent. Thy loss was not because of me."
"Thou speakest truth," said Ceredwen, "it was Gwion Bach who robbed me", and as a great wind, She went forth after Him. Gwion saw Her persuing Him and changed Himself into a Hare and fled. So She changed herself into a Greyhound and continued chase. He then ran towards a river, and became a Salmon. She, in turn, changed into the form of an Otter-bitch and chased Him beneath the water, until He was fain to turn Himself into a Bird of the air. She then, as a Hawk, followed Him into the clouds and gave Him no rest in the sky. Just as She was about to swoop upon Him and He was in fear of death, He spied through an open barn door, a heap of winnowed wheat on the barn floor. He dropped among the wheat, and turned Himself into one of the Grains; and so The Goddess transformed Herself into a High-crested Black Hen, and went into the wheat and scratched it with Her Feet, found Him out, and quickly swallowed Him whole!
Now Ceredwen knew at that exact momment that She was now pregnant with the boy Gwion, who was now inside Her Belly, and She resolved to kill the child as soon as He was born. And as the story goes, She bore Him in nine months time; yet, when She was delivered of Him, He was so incredibly beautiful and His brow was shining so brightly, that She could not find it in Her Heart to kill Him, by reason of His Magnificent Beauty. He was also born with all His Memories of all His Incarnations, as well as the skills of a Master Bard. Unable to carry out her plan, Ceredwen placed Him in a seal-skin bag, and cast Him into the sea to the mercy of the Sea God, Manawyddan, on the twenty-ninth day of April. And so it was, that The Great Bard Taliesin - "The Radiant Brow", The Twice-Born, made His Entrance into this world. But fear not gentle readers, for Taliesin did not die, but was rescued from the sea by the Celtic Prince Elphin (Elffin), whom Taliesin served faithfully for many years.
Some Ceredwen Correspondences:
Sow (Ceredwen is also called "The Cutty Black Sow")
Hens (black ones in particular)
The Dark Of The Moon
Knowledge (espicially *hidden* knowledge)
Rebirth and Transformation Through Ceredwens Cauldron
Ceredwen's Cauldron is an ancient feminine symbol of renewal, rebirth, transformation and inexhaustible plenty. It is the primary Female Symbol of the pre-Christian world, and represents The Womb of The Great Goddess from which all things are born and reborn again. Like the Greek Goddess, Demeter and the Egyptian Goddess, Isis - Ceredwen was The Great Celtic Goddess of Inspiration, Intelligence and Knowledge, and was invoked as a Law-Giver and Sage dispenser of Righteous Wisdom, Counsel and Justice.
The image of Her Cauldron, holding the magical potion of Wisdom, is perhaps the mythical origin of the Samhain/Halloween image of a cauldron-stirring hag, stirringing up her wytch's brew. Ceredwen's Brew had to simmer for the traditional "year and a day" - a common passage of time in Celtic lore, and the standard time before any magickal initiation can take place. Today, many Druids believe that Her shape-shifting chase after Gwion was meant to symbolically represent the different elevations of Druidic initiation rites. The chase can also be seen as representative of transformative journey that our souls must make, into different physical forms over different human lifetimes, before we reach the culmination of our Soul's journey and permanently rest in Ceugant (The Summerlands).
Her Holy-days: A festival in Her honor is celebrated on July 3rd. The Day Of Ceredwen: Oct. 21st.
Alternate Spellings Of Her Name: Ceridwen, Ceredwen, Ceridwin, Cerridwen, Caridwen.
Some Of Ceredwen's Titles: "The Ruler Of Bards" (Rvyf Bardoni), Dark Queen Of The Lake, Lady Of The Cauldron, The Cutty Black Sow, Goddess of Druids and Bards.
Etymology Of Her Name: From the Welsh cerydd, "chiding love", and gwen, "white, blessed". The theonym appears to be derived from Romano-British *Caritavena, Proto-Celtic *Karjitā-wenā a feminine compound meaning "chastisement-love" or "chiding love". Others claim that Her Name has been translated both as "Cauldron of Wisdom" and "Fortress of Wisdom", caer meaning "fortress" and cerru meaning "Cauldron". Some also say that Cerridwen means "Crooked Woman" or "Bent White One", which is an association with the crescent moon of course.
Interesting Fact: Welsh bards once called themselves 'Cerddorion' ("sons of Cerridwen") meaning they received their initiation from Cerridwen Herself.
On Her Son Taliesin
Taliesin: The Many-lived Poet, Bard, and Shapeshifter. He has the ability to remember previous lives. He was one of "The Seven Who Returned from Ireland". And He was at Caer Dathyl during Gwydion's childhood.
Alternate Spellings Of His Name: Taliessin.