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My thoughts about Traditional Witchcraft, Wicca, cooking, gardening, and anything else that catches my fancy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 2 Of 44 Days: Myths and Folklore

Well, here's day 2 of the 44 days of questions I got from Twisting Ways. Today's question:

"Relate a myth or story from folklore." Hmm, this is a tough one. Ah ha, I've got one!

The Cauldron of Ceridwen, from the Tales of Taliesin.

In this tale, Ceridwen (it's not clear if she's a Witch, or some kind of goddess) creates a magical brew in a giant cauldron, the first three drops (the rest being poison) will bestow wisdom upon her foolish and ugly son Morfran. Unfortunately, the boy who's chore it was to stir the cauldron, Gwion Bach, was scalded by three drops of the potion and, without thinking, put his burned finger into his mouth, thus attaining the powers meant for Morfran. In fear Gwion fled, transforming into a hare, pursued by Ceridwen in the form of a greyhound. Gwion turned into a fish and jumped into the water, and Ceridwen became an otter. He turned into a bird and took to the skies, and she became a pursuing hawk. Finally, he turned into a grain of corn, and Ceridwen became a hen and ate him, therefore becoming pregnant with him in a child-form (hey, it's magic.) She resolved to kill him as soon as he was reborn, but he was so lovely she could not, so she instead cast him into the ocean in a leather bag, where he drifted away before being rescued by a Welsh prince, and grew up in a new life to be known as the bard Taliesin.

This is a very old tale, with some claiming that Ceridwen was simply a mythological Witch, and others claiming her as an older Pagan Goddess. She's certainly become popular amongst Wiccans, though her nature in the story isn't exactly pleasant. Regardless, it's an interesting bit of folklore, and I wonder how much it had to do with the later idea of Witches standing over their boiling cauldrons.

Stay tuned for a new question each day!

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