Folklore and Myth Gods and Goddesses

Cerridwen Goddess of Wisdom & Rebirth: Ways to Work With Her

Sorceress. Witch. Goddess. Mother. Cerridwen is a powerful figure in Welsh mythology and is beloved by witches and pagans worldwide. She is often compared to the Circe the Greek Goddess of Sorcery and Baba Yaga the Slavic woman of the woods. Yet she is unique unto herself. Perhaps you feel her calling you to the path of transformation, poetic inspiration, and witchcraft. Here you’ll learn of her legends, origins, signs that she’s calling you, and how to work with Cerridwen Goddess in your spiritual or pagan practice.

Who is Cerridwen Goddess of Transformation?

Cerridwen is considered a goddess from the Welsh Celtic tradition today, but according to the Mabinogion and other Welsh legends, she is referred to as a Sorceress. Or a witch. Though this might have been the doing of Christian writers and not necessarily showing her original pagan form as a Divine Being. She is spoken of in one of the earliest Welsh prose stories called The Mabinogion, specifically in the Tale of Taliesin. She is also mentioned in Arthurian Legend as being the mother of the bard Taliesin. Today witches and pagans revere Cerridwen as a goddess of great power and as a symbol of the Divine Mother and Crone.

The name Cerridwen has multiple translations but likely means something close to “Blessed Poetry” or “Fair Song”. Her name is spelled differently, depending on the source, including Kerdwin, Cerrydwen, and Cyrrdwen. I find it interesting that Cerridwen is a goddess of “Awen” which is the source of Divine Inspiration. And part of her name is “wen”. There has to be some sort of correlation there. But let’s get to know this goddess a little better through the legends.

Cerridwen in the Legends and Myths

First and foremost, Cerridwen is featured in the Tale of Taliesin in the Mabinogion. The story begins with a mother named Caridwen (Cerridwen) who has a son of whom she worries will not be a nobleman because of his unattractive looks. This mother was also a witch or sorceress who had access to a Druid Book of Magic called the Books of Fferyllt. And of whom used this source to create a “Cauldron of Inspiration and Science” for her son. Cerridwen felt that even if her son was ugly in appearance, perhaps this would at least give him some merits to live by.

Cerridwen decided to give the extremely important job of stirring the magic potion within the cauldron to a boy named Gwion Bach. One day while Cerridwen was out “culling plants and making incantations”, three drops splattered out of the cauldron and landed on Gwion’s finger. Instinctively, he licked the drops off and immediately was gifted the ability of prophecy. He saw that Cerridwen would come after him and so he fled.

Gwion was right to run, because as soon as Cerridwen realized what had happened she chased him. Then ensued a series of transformations between Gwion and Cerridwen. Every time Gwion shifted into another form, Cerridwen would too…but she would shift into something bigger and badder than him including a hound, hare, and hen. In the end, Gwion changes into wheat and Cerridwen eats him in her hen form. This decision leads to Gwion being reborn from Cerridwen’s stomach as Taliesin. But she throws him into the sea. Taliesin’s journey is for another article.

From the Tale of Taliesin, we can gather quite a bit about Cerridwen’s nature. She is a witch, a mother, a wise woman, a shapeshifter, a seer, and one who has domain over the life-death-rebirth cycle and Awen (Divine, Poetic Inspiration). Cerridwen gives great gifts to those she deems worthy, but these gifts come with a price. Sometimes its the difference between life and death. Yet she also always grants rebirth.

For Hers is the secret door which opens upon the land of youth,
and Hers is the cup of the Wine of Life,
and the cauldron of Cerridwen,
which is the Holy Grail of immortality.
She is the gracious Goddess,
who gives the gift of joy unto the heart of man.

The Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente

How Does Cerridwen Manifest? What does she look like?

There are no old sources that explain how Cerridwen might have looked. Some scholars believe her name translates to “woman with a crooked back”, yet there is too much debate to say what her name truly means. In my opinion, this might be a typical attempt at demoting a powerful goddess from Divine to Hag. How Cerridwen manifests to you might be completely different than how she appears to others. First, let’s remember she is a shapeshifter and a goddess of transformation. She has shown herself as a Mother but also as a Hag. She’s been a hound, hawk, and a hen in the Mabinogion alone. So, if I were you, I would have no hang-ups about how Cerridwen might look.

I would imagine she would appear to her devotees or followers with certain symbols and signs. Of which we will discuss below…

Signs the Goddess Cerridwen is Calling You

When gods and goddesses reach out to us, they send us signs and symbols to get our attention. Sometimes we aren’t paying attention, so they’ll send us multiple signs to try to get through to us. Here are a few signs the goddess Cerridwen is calling you…

  • You might hear her name everywhere you go or see her name pop up online, in books, etc.
  • Cerridwen might appear to you in a dream, vision, or meditation
  • You might see her symbol the Cauldron repetitively
  • You’re Welsh or drawn to the Welsh traditions and lore
  • Pigs, particularly white pigs, keep showing up in your waking and dream life
  • You’re drawn to learning shapeshifting, sorcery, and brewing potions
  • You might be a poet, writer, or singer
  • Cerridwen often calls witches and druids to work with her

Cerridwen’s Symbols

Almost every deity and spirit has its own symbols and things that represent them in a spiritual aspect. Cerridwen is no different. Her main symbol is the Cauldron of Inspiration. She will often manifest alongside her cauldron. Her other symbol is a throne, and she is said to gain much of her magical power from sitting upon it. Cerridwen’s color is white and her sacred animal is the Sow. She is a Moon Goddess. In addition, you might see her associated with Wheat and with other Celtic symbols like the Triskele.

Her Domains and Magical Correspondences

Learning Cerridwen’s domains and magical correspondences definitely aids in working with her on a spiritual level. Here they are:

DomainsAnimalsSymbolsOfferings
SorcerySowWhite SowGrains
TransformationHoundMoonAll Herbs
WisdomHawkThronePotions
RebirthHenCauldronPoetry & Song

How to Connect with Cerridwen Goddess of Transformation

If you’re feeling the call to connect with Cerridwen Goddess, here are some ways to get started:

1. Study and Research

The first thing we always recommend doing when working with any deity is to study and research. This is kind of like getting to know a stranger, right? Do you ever google your dates? Just to make sure? So google your deities too. Keep a section in your grimoire dedicated to Cerridwen. Read the full Tale of Taliesin in the Mabinogion, read the Arthurian legends, and the poems that feature this powerful Goddess. Record The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente in honor of Cerridwen.

2. Altar Space for Cerridwen

It should go without saying that creating a space for this goddess would be greatly beneficial to connect with her. Include a statue or picture of Cerridwen or something to represent her, a pig, cauldron, or throne. Her color is white and she is a moon goddess. So moon figures and decor are appropriate. Keep candles, incense, and offering bowls and cups on her altar to hold vigil and provide offerings.

3. Provide Regular Offerings

Every deity appreciates regular offerings including the goddess Cerridwen. Since she’s known as an herbalist, any herbs are appreciated including fresh and dried. If you grow your own herbs, harvesting a few sprigs and leaving it on her altar is highly effective. In addition, flowers of all kinds are appropriate as is homemade teas, oils, potions, and brews. Burning incense and candles in Cerridwen’s name is also common.

4. Shapeshifting Rituals with Cerridwen Goddess of Transformation

If you’ve never engaged in shapeshifting rituals, now might be the time to begin. Cerridwen is a shapeshifter and her domain is transformation. So ask her guidance and feel her presence the next time you journey to the Otherworld. You never know, she might just teach you the Divine art of shapeshifting herself.

Get ALL of this info on 18 beautiful downloadable, printable grimoire pages (just click the images):

5. Work with a Cauldron

There is no Cerridwen without her cauldron. Or at least that’s what we’ve come to expect because of the legends surrounding her. Consider purchasing your own cauldron and learning how to use it to make your own potions and brews. It doesn’t have to be an actual “cauldron” per se, but can be anything from a large stockpot to cast iron skillet to a dutch oven. I find my Le Creuset dutch oven does the trick when I’m inside making magick in my kitchen. And a cast iron dutch oven works well for outside magick over an open fire.

6. Lunar Magick with Cerridwen

Cerridwen is known as a moon goddess, so connecting with the lunar phases is recommended. Modern pagans associate Cerridwen with the Dark Moon, since she is a goddess of death and rebirth. Perform ritual and connect with Cerridwen during this particular moon phase to know her on a deeper level.

7. Chants and Incantations

In the Tale of Taliesin, it is said that Cerridwen “makes incantations”. And, since she rules over Awen (the divine source of poetic inspiration), it is wise to write and sing your own chants and incantations when working with this powerful ancient deity. It doesn’t take much to learn how to rhyme your words. And chanting generates such amazing power, I promise you’ll be happy you made this type of magick! And so will Cerridwen.

8. Magical Herbalism

Cerridwen is a known witch, sorceress, and potion-brewer. The Tale of Taliesin says she is out “culling herbs” when Gwion Bach accidentally tastes the potion of inspiration from her cauldron. If you want to be like Cerridwen and connect with her, consider studying and practicing magical herbalism. Keep an herbal grimoire, grow your own herbs, and use those herbs in your kitchen witchery and magick spells.

9. Potion Brewing

Cerridwen is well known for being a master brewer of potions. Her cauldron of transformation holds the potion of wisdom, poetry, and immortality. Funny thing is, the legends also say Cerridwen learned potion-making and magick from a druid’s book of spells. So…therefore…you can too! Grab a book on magical herbalism or specifically brewing potions and start learning today. Use your cauldron for extra bonus points.

Cerridwen, Welsh Goddess of Transformation and Rebirth

Sources

  • Encyclopedia of Spirits by Judika Illes
  • The Mabinogion, Tale of Taliesin, by Princess Gwenllian
  • The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

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