Awen - the Cauldron of Ceridwen

Awen - the Cauldron of Ceridwen by Mary WallaceJPG

'Awen - the Cauldron of Ceridwen'  

19 July, 2017

Can you feel the surge of power, the incandescence, the sheer alchemy that exudes from this wonderful vessel? The impulse to name this painting after the fabulous Ceridwen was irresistible. Would you like to know why?

A fascinating Celtic Goddess from Wales,  Ceridwen was also a sorceress,  an enchanter and a shape-shifter who took on many forms. 

Her cauldron, Awen, is one of many in Celtic tales of heroism and enchantment. The Cauldron of Divine Knowledge, Wisdom, Rebirth, and Inspiration. I was told it is said to be the source of all knowledge and inspiration.

Ceridwen had twins: Creirwy, a fair maiden, and Morfran, who was dark-haired and hideously ugly - particularly compared with his astoundingly beautiful sister. So Ceridwen sought to make him wise in compensation. She decided to make a potion that would grant him the gift of wisdom and poetic inspiration.

The mixture had to be boiled for a year and a day. The blind Morda tended the fire under the cauldron, while Gwion Bach, a young boy, stirred the magical brew. The first three drops of the potion gave wisdom; the remainder was a fatal poison. Three searing hot drops spilled onto Gwion's thumb as he stirred. Instinctively he put his burning thumb to his mouth and in that instant gained the wisdom and knowledge Ceridwen had intended for her son.

Gwion fled in terror knowing that Ceridwen would be furious and she did indeed chase him in a frenzied rage. Using his newfound powers Gwion turned himself into a hare. She became a greyhound. He became a fish and jumped into a river. She transformed into an otter. He turned into a bird; she became a hawk. Finally, he turned into a single grain of corn. She then became a hen and gobbled him up.

Ceridwen became pregnant and knowing it was Gwion she resolved to kill the child when it was born. However when the time came she could not do it as he was so beautiful. Instead, she threw him in the ocean, sewing him inside a leather-skin bag or coracle depending on which story you believe. Fortunately the child was rescued and grew to become the legendary bard Taliesin.

The Tale of Taliesin and the Book of Taliesin, a 10th Century book of his poems, are for another day. I am sure I would find endless inspiration there for many, many more paintings. As you may know I love to have a story to tell!

For now I am sure you can understand why I named this magnificent kintsugi vessel  'Awen' . It is after all a splendid story for such a striking piece.