Posts Tagged ‘cerridwen’

This story was told at a Grove of Hekate ritual focusing on the powers of the cauldron.

Before the current age, in the newness of the world, the gods were young, and roamed the land freely, seeking and discovering all there was to know about the fair isles. The spirits of the land walked about among them, and the animals spoke and were heard.

One of those nights, when the fog had rolled in off the smaller sea, and daylight creatures slept in caves or trees or leaves, Cerridwen had a dream:

She knelt on a cliff at the base of a tree in the dark, a tree whose branches stretched to heaven. As she looked, the sky was filled with light, and suddenly she found herself in the midst of the branches, cradling in her arms a massive, heavy bowl that smoked and shone. She gazed into its curve, and in the liquid of its belly, she saw a thousand pinpricks of light, winking in and out of existence.

She woke suddenly, as dawn broke through the mist. The dream was clear, and the vision true, so she wrapped her cloak around her, and set off under the rising sun.

She traveled a long way, moving swiftly and with purpose, until she came to the top of the highest hill around. She spread her arms and called, her raucous cry echoing through the heavens, the ends of her cloak flapping in the wind like wings.

It took a little while, but they came; sparrow and wren to hawk and eagle, the swans and the ravens and the crows. They settled at her feet, perched on her arms, and cocked their heads while she told her story. When she was done, there was a long moment of silence, then a great rustling and clacking of beaks arose, as heads shook from side to side. No, no, they had not seen this thing; no, no, there was surely nothing like it in the sky, or anywhere they had flown. No, no, they had no knowledge of what this might be.

Cerridwen thanked them, gave them some bread from her pocket. One by one they flew regretfully away, and as the last one flew into the sunset, she descended the tor and curled into her cloak in the lee of the hill to stay the night.

The next morning she woke again with the dawn, and set out, arriving by midday at the edge of the sunlit sea. She tucked up her cloak between her legs, and waded into the ocean, splashing the waves and barking into the surf.

The first ones came quickly; seals and otters and crabs. The larger fish took longer, coming from further away, but when the whales and dolphins and salmon and all had gathered, she sat herself on a rock and told them of her vision. When she had finished, there was a watery silence, then a great splashing and spray as all the creatures shook their heads and smacked the water with their tails. No, no, they had never seen this thing; No, no, surely there was nothing like it in river or sea. No, no, they had no wisdom to give her.

Cerridwen thanked them, gave them some hazelnuts she had in her pouch. One by one they left, diving beneath the surface of the waters. As the sun cast its last rays across the tips of the waves, she climbed up the rocks and settled herself at the edge of the wood, wrapping herself in her cloak to sleep.

When dawn came, she rose, shaking the dew off her cloak. It was not such a long walk this time, and when she came to the heart of the land, the sun was not yet fully high in the sky. The wood was thick, and the mouth of the cave gaped in front of her, so she stepped into its shade, turned her back, and bellowed into the woods.

The first stag arrived quickly, followed closely by the foxes, the bears, the boars, and the wolves. The cattle took longer, the sheep longer still. But when all had gathered, she sat herself on the dirt in the mouth of the cave and told her story. When she was done, all the creatures of the land were silent for a moment, then there came a stomping of hooves and paws, a rattling of antlers and horns as they all shook their heads. No, no, they had never seen such a thing; no, no, surely there was not such a thing anywhere in the land. No, no, they had nothing they could tell her.

Cerridwen thanked them all, gave them some apples from her bag. The last rays of the sun were fading through the trees as the final deer disappeared into the shadows. She turned and walked into the darkness of the cave.

As night fell and the moon rose, Cerridwen knelt in the warm mud at the center of the cave. It was pitch black inside the rock, and damp with the taste of subterranean pools. She leaned over and shoved her forehead into the dirt, pressing her palms into the mud. The vision was sharp in her mind, as clear as when it came to her. The Darkness pressed around her, as thick as a living thing, damp and solid and deep.

You must make it yourself” the voices of the night whispered into her ear, “what does not exist must be made by hands, created to serve as needed.”

An exhale, in the stillness. She understood.

Cerridwen sat up, wiping the mud from her forehead and feeling it gather in her fingers, warm and wet and thick like sap. She kneaded it together into a ball, thinking. She rocked back on her heels, squatting in the moist floor of the cave, sinking her fingers into the earth and pulling handfuls of clay into a shape, a lump. It took all night, the pulling and kneading and shaping of the mud, but she pushed it and pulled it into a wide, flat, bowl. She cut her finger with her knife and dripped her blood into the mud. She spat on it, working the saliva into the chinks of the crater.

When morning came, she walked out of the cave. She was filthy and exhausted, but the fruit of her labor swelled large in her hands- a still-moist bowl as wide as her circled arms. She left it in the sun to dry, and gathered sticks and limbs, fallen leaves and dry grasses. When there was enough fuel, she dug a trench in the mouth of the cave, and laid two long, thin, rocks across it, balancing her bowl on top of them. In the trench she built a fire, and tended it all day, banking it and adding to it until the night fell and the coals glowed brightly in the darkness.

Dawn rose again, and she buried the fire in mud and set out, the newly hardened bowl wrapped in her cloak.

She journeyed to the center of the land, spiraling up to the top of the highest mountain. The winds grew chill, and the evening began to fall, but up and up and up she went, until she reached the single tree that sprouted knock-kneed and sprawling at the very crest of the ben. She tied her cloak carefully to her back, the bowl knotted securely within, and began to climb.

By the time she seated herself in the crotch of the highest sturdy fork, the lighting was flashing, and the thunder rolled in waves, shaking the branches of the tree in sympathetic vibration. She unwrapped the bowl, and raised it aloft to the skies as they opened wide and the rain fell.

The bowl filled with rain, and as it grew full the to the brim, the clouds parted on a shining night sky. Cerridwen raised her head to the stars, and as she lifted her gaze, one streak of light shone forth, ripping through the inky black in a firey burst of light. Closer and closer and closer it came until it seemed impossibly near, and she lifted the bowl above her head in an effort at protection. A splash and a solid thud, and the fire was gone.

She lowered the bowl and gazed within- simmering in the bottom sat a dark sphere, and shimmering around it were a hundred thousand lights; the lights of every soul in the vast, infinite, expanse of worlds.




I wrote this post over several months, and I’m not at all convinced that it reads well. At some point I expect I’ll go back and rework it, but that day is not today. Apologies for any inconsistencies. 


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