Kerridwen

Kerridwen

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Ancient Welsh fertility and mother goddess, also referred to as a goddess of the underworld and as "the goddess of various seeds." Many Welsh tradition Wiccans give the goddess the name of Kerridwen or Cerridwen.

Myth says that she lived with her two children on an island in the middle of Lake Tegid. Her daughter was Creirwy, the most beautiful of girls. Her son was Afagdu, the ugliest of boys. To compensate for her son's ugliness, in her cauldron Kerridwen brewed a magic potion that would make him the possessor of all knowledge. This potion was made from six herbs and had to boil for a year and a day. While she went off collecting herbs, Kerridwen had a mortal boy, Gwion, stir the mixture.

As Gwion stirred the cauldron, the hot liquid bubbled and three drops splashed out onto his finger, burning him. He put his scalded finger in his mouth and, by tasting the drops of the potion, gained knowledge. He could suddenly hear everything in the world. Frightened that Kerridwen would be angry, Gwion ran off.

When Kerridwen returned, she guessed what had happened and pursued him. He shape-shifted, turning into a hare. Kerridwen changed into a greyhound and continued the pursuit. When he turned into a fish, she became an otter. When he became a bird, she became a hawk. Finally, exhausted, he spied a pile of wheat grain, jumped into the middle and turned himself into a single grain. As a hen, Kerridwen scratched him out and ate him. As a result of eating Gwion, the goddess became pregnant and eventually gave birth to a boy, whom she abandoned to the waves in a tiny coracle. He was rescued by a prince and grew up to be the Welsh bard Taleisin, the greatest poet. It is in The Book of Taleisin that the story of Kerridwen is found. Spense feels that the Cauldron of Kerridwen must have been the same as the Cauldron of Inspiration alluded to in the myths of Annwnn.

References in periodicals archive ?
Kerridwen Eliot Henry, kerridwen_e@yahoo.com, is a staff development teacher in Montgomery Country, Maryland.