The symbolism of the Cauldron

The symbolism of the Cauldron
By: Tamara Ortiz

Cauldron – a large vessel usually made of iron or copper, used for boiling or cooking. Usually associated with medieval times and witches, this is a large iron pot in which poisons, ointments and medicines were concocted.

The word cauldron comes from Latin caldaria meaning “cooking pot” in turn from caldārium, “hot bath” You will find many legends and myths throughout history that tell tales of magical cauldrons. The cauldron is a symbol of rebirth therefore represent the female energy and will often be viewed as the womb.

The cauldron is said to be the center of life for Celtic witchcraft and the most important relic that belongs to the Celtic witch. This is because in ancient times, the cauldron would have been used for all the household cooking, bathing and carrying water back and forth from their water source. For most Celtics during this time the cauldron was the most expensive item in the home and would have had religious and spiritual carvings to embellish the design of the cauldron. The higher the status of the Celtic the more embellished and extravagant the cauldron would be.

The legend of “Dagda’s great Cauldron of Plenty” is a legend that reaches far back into time. The legend states that the cauldron was one of four legendary relics of Ireland, called “The Four Treasures of Eirean.” These four items are Nuada’s Sword of light, Lugh’s Spear, The Lia Fail and Dagda’s cauldron. The cauldron was said to provide those that were worthy with an endless supply of food and water. Eventually this legend would merge with the legend of the holy grail after Christianity came to Ireland. The legend then merged the idea of the cup of Christ with the legend of the Dagda’s cauldron and they became one. Many Celtics churches because of this merge produces beautiful chalices to represent the legends of both the cauldron and cup.

Although I speak of the legend of Dagda’s great cauldron of plenty, there are many legends similar to this legend…these are just a few legends regarding the cauldron.

The Cauldron of Dyrnwich: The Cauldron of Dyrnwich is one of the 13 Treasures of Britain, according to Welsh folklore this cauldron would also only cook for the worthy and if any individual was not worthy, the cauldron was said not to boil.

Medea’s Cauldron: The folklore in ancient Greece speak of Medea and her bronze cauldron. The cauldron represented her power of knowledge, was used for herbal magic. Legend states Medea used the cauldron to help her lover Jason get past a dragon so may retrieve the relic of the golden fleece.

The Cauldron in Germanic and Norse: It is said in the folklore of the Norse, that every night, Andhrímnir slaughters the beast Sæhrímnir and prepares it in his cauldron, Eldhrimnir for the Gods and heroes to feast upon in Valhalla. The name Eldhrimnir means “sooty black from the fire”

The folklore, myths and legends surrounding the cauldron are plentiful and I can go on forever really. I am just going to end with this…an interesting element of all these legends tells the same story. If you are wise and work hard you will receive the fruits of your labor. I say this because the legends when they speak of the cauldron, they state that the unworthy will not be able to use or receive anything from a cauldron they didn’t pay their respects to or have a hand in working for. I believe this to be an important lesson.

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