Jhenah Telyndru

Entering the Cauldron of Ceridwen

By Jhenah Telyndru

So, you have come…

Many have walked this road before you – oh yes! The journey has become more perilous over time and the way has become dark and tangled. Fear has a way of turning shadow into monsters – yet I remain, unchanged. Heh heh, yes… the look on some faces! I know not what they think they see when they peer beneath My hood and into My eyes. For there is only the truth reflected there – only the truth.

And here you are – come to look into My Cauldron, yes? Heh, heh. Ahh – but with such knowledge comes a price, My dear. Are you prepared for that which lies within?

Let me tell you a story – yes, a tale ages old, almost beyond human memory. It was easier then, to walk through these woods. Once, a boy came to Me and asked to learn My ways. I chuckled to Myself and I led him to My home.

I set him about, doing this chore and that. But the lad, Gwion Bach, was impatient to learn the mysteries, and was at My side always, constantly questioning. He had not yet learned that that nature of revelation was not in the speaking but in the quiet seeking. I aimed to teach him patience, and set before him a task – and a test.

Now, I have many children, but one in particular was born with a visage most found horrifying – a face only the Mother could love, I’d say. Avagddu was his name, and I set out to make for him a concoction that would more than compensate for his lack of beauty. Beauty was the providence of his sister Creirwy, for she had already tasted of My Cauldron’s bounty. Yes, quite a brew I made for him – a distillation of all the Knowledge and Wisdom of the Universe – the Graal. The recipe? Heh, heh… A brew like this can only come from the Soul transformed, and no two batches taste the same, I can tell you.

Such a working is not undertaken and completed in a day’s time. For a year and a day it required constant stirring. When I was not at the task, it was Gwion whom I set beside the Cauldron with a long handled spoon in hand. Thus, I hoped he would learn the value of inner calmness and gain insight by gazing into the mystical vapors of the steaming philter. I made sure that he knew exactly what he was stirring; the soul’s mettle needs to be tempered by such lessons. What, indeed, was this boy made of?

So it came to pass that, at last, the time of the brewing was ending. Only a few precious drops of the liquid remained – and there was Gwion, working diligently as he had for a year. With one day left and needing My rest, I retired for the night, leaving the boy alone by the fire. As I went to my slumber, I knew of Gwion’s restlessness, but I had hope that he would overcome his Shadow nature.

Oh, the dance that followed!

Gwion had had quite enough. As soon as my eyes were closed – as soon as the eye of the Moon turned its sight to Within – the elixir was complete. Looking this way and that, the boy brought the three drops remaining in the cavernous depths of My Cauldron to his lips – taking what should not have been his. Immediately, My eyes flew open. Immediately Gwion, filled with All Knowledge, knew what he had done – but it was too late. The Cauldron burst and spilled its poisoned dregs, extinguishing the flames and befouling my hearth.

The boy ran from My home, aware that I was in pursuit. No one may partake of My Cauldron unprepared — true wisdom comes only to those who have earned it. The time had come for him to prove his worth. My, though he led me on a merry chase!

He dashed down a path of rich Earth, changing his form to that of a hare. I, as a greyhound, pursued him – challenging him to demonstrate his mastery. He leaped into the Waters as a silver salmon, seeking to escape Me, yet I was no stranger to this game. As an otter I almost snared him when he vaulted himself high into the Air. A swift wren arced across the sky, yet as a sharp-taloned hawk, I was closing the distance between us. Seeking to escape, he fell to the ground – a drop of Fiery sunlight, lost among the grains on the winnowing floor. I smiled inwardly as I pecked and I scratched among the chaff and the wheat. A fat little hen, I knew he wasn’t far, and in no time… I devoured him.

Impetuous Gwion was gone. He had entered the greatest of Mysteries – the darkness of the Tomb, the Womb – the Death of Self. It was a difficult lesson he learned, indeed – but no more difficult than any that would know My ways, any who wished to know themselves. There is no short path – but the goal is well worth the effort.

Nine moons later, I gave birth to yet another child – a fair babe with a Shining Brow. The waters of My Womb cast him out into the Sea. ‘Twas Samhain, and the veils were thin between the worlds – the infant boy returned again to the world of men. Found in a salmon weir, the transformed Gwion had at last attained his desire – having earned it truly. He grew to be the great bard Taliesin, whose Wisdom inspires humankind to this day.

So come, my dears – but come prepared. It is not easy to see that which brews in My Cauldron. It may call for the death of some part of you, and you may fill it thrice over with your tears, but it is I who will hold you in your darkness, and I who will show you the way to your wisdom. In My eyes you will find the mirror of your soul. Embrace what you see and learn to transform yourself. Enter the depths of My Cauldron …

You will emerge Reborn.