Friday, July 29, 2011

Seasoning the Witch's Cauldron!


A Witch's Cauldron symbolizes the fabulous Cauldron of Transformation - much like Cerridwen's Cauldron of Wisdom and Initiation, Awen - and it should be "seasoned" every three to four months (ideally in tune with the Full Moon) if one intends to use it practically, as a Witch, such as brewing Potions and the like!  It has recently come to my attention that Laurie Cabot, until very recently - hey, she's 78 years old! - would brew her Potions in one gallon measurements in a beautiful antique Cauldron atop her stove's burner.  Our Cauldrons are more than mere symbols of the Womb of the Great Mother, chiefly serving as a Ritual implement other than representing a token interior bonfire while holding a large pillar candle during a Coven setting.  Indeed, bearing this in mind, they may be used in many religious procedures, such as crafting incense formulae, and cooking for the various Sabbats (whether the traditional Sabbat Cakes or the communal festival meal).  But, the Cauldron must be properly "seasoned", first, before it can ideally be used for conjuring various food-stuffs and Potions.  Indeed, in so doing, as Witches, we can easily add a ritual component to this mundane procedure.  Seasoning, it should be noted, also prevents a Cauldron from rusting-out!

Seasoning a Cauldron, or any cast iron implement, simply requires coating the interior with any vegetable oil or Unguent and heating it until the substance has carbonized, thus creating a "non-stick" surface.  Make sure you have plenty of ventilation, however, as the process of seasoning a Cauldron can create an atrocious odor!  But, if you wish to simultaneously consecrate the Cauldron for general Magickal use, craft an oil-based Potion or an Unguent from fat-solids (eg. shea butter and coconut "oil") intended for consecration or the precise Magickal intention of the vessel.  Some Witches reserve specific Cauldrons for specific Potions, so one could reserve a Love Oil/ Ointment for a Cauldron to be seasoned specifically for the crafting of Love Potions or romantic meals, or a Protection Oil to season a Cauldron intended to brew Protection Potions.

Here is a video giving further insight into the seasoning of Cauldrons and general Cauldron care.

For more information about the goddess Cerridwen, here is an excerpt from my MS. Potion-Craft:

Cerridwen is a Welsh goddess identified with the Mysteries of initiation and the harvest rites; she is the possessor of the great Cauldron of Knowledge (Awen).
According to the sixteenth-century ce text Hanes Taliesin Cerridwen is the mother of two children, a beautiful daughter named Creirwy, and a hideously ugly son by the name of Afaggdu (“utter darkness”).  Together, the siblings may have come to personify the mythological relationship between day and night, summer and winter, or the heavens and the underworld.  Concerned that her grotesque son would not be welcomed among the Welsh nobility, Cerridwen consulted her grimoire and contrived to brew a special potion—distilled with the wisdom of the world—that would transform her progeny into a renowned seer.
            She scoured the expanse of the Earth searching for the six herbs with the “special properties” that she required; culling them on certain days and specific hours of the week, the goddess carried them back to her Cauldron where she mixed them into the vessel with water and placed it onto the fire.  In her absence Cerridwen hired Morda, a blind man to stir the potion and tend the Cauldron with a youth—Gwion Bach—who was charged with the task of continually stoking the hearth-fire beneath the kettle.
Over the course of a year-and-a-day the goddess regularly added a stock of fresh water and herbs to the Cauldron as she brewed the potent decoction.  When at last, weary from her labors, she stationed Afaggdu near the potion to receive his gift of wisdom before finally consigning herself to rest.  But, as the draft began to foment Gwion Bach chased off her poor lad and claimed the wisdom for himself.  Three drops issued forth from the Cauldron and landed on Gwion’s hand whereupon he imbibed the scalding liquid.  The remainder of the potion, however, was rendered such an unimaginably toxic substance that it began to hiss a mighty wail and shattered the vessel.
            Cerridwen awoke and, enraged by his betrayal, pursued the youth whom she had employed.  However, knowing that death now awaited him, Gwion hoped to evade the pitiless grasp of the goddess.  He assumed the shape of a hare (an epiphany of fertility and the spirit of the grain during the harvest rites) as our Lady gave chase in the form of a black greyhound; fleeing into the lake that surrounded Cerridwen’s home, Gwion took on the shape of a fish, but the goddess vigilantly continued her pursuit as a swift otter; evasively the boy took flight from the watery depths and cleaved the skies as Cerridwen again gave chase as a predatory hawk.  Finally the lad descended onto a threshing floor taking on the shape of an unassuming stalk of winnowed grain, but wise Cerridwen donned the likeness of a black hen and swallows Gwion in his new visage.
For the next nine months her belly grew round and large with child until she gave birth to the legendary bard, Taliesin (“radiant brow”).  But, when she looked down upon the new prince, she found that her blood-lust had abated.  Instead she ordered the infant to be bound in a coracle or a hide-covered basket and thrown into the lake, or the sea.
            It was on the Eve of Samhain when Elphin—the son of a courtesan in the service of the Welsh King, Maelgwn—journeyed to his father’s weir to fish for salmon (an animal traditionally associated with great knowledge and the gift of prophecy).  He found, to his astonishment, that the waters were bare; but, in their place was the miraculous infant cast aside by the goddess, Cerridwen, whom Elphin took to raise as his own.1
1  Ford, Patrick (trans. 1977).  The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales.  California University Press: pp. 159-66; Green, Miranda J, (1992).  “Salmon”.  Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend.  Thames & Hudson: pp. 184-85; Green, Miranda (1995).  Celtic Goddesses: Warriors, Virgins and Mothers.  British Museum Press: pp. 68-9; MacKillop, James (2004).  “Ceridwen”.  Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology.  Oxford University Press: pp. 85; Newall, Venetia (1971).  Discovering the Folklore of Birds and Beasts.  Shire Publications: pp. 36.

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