Ceridwen’s Cauldron

Late one evening I arrive. My sister Ceridwen greets me and we sit watching the setting sun as She descends to the underworld. I am weary. My spirit is reduced to the smallest flame. I need, but what I need I know not.

After a while, my sister Ceridwen rises and ladles nourishment from the Cauldron on the fire. Silently she hands me the bowl and a spoon. Greedily I eat, dipping my spoon again and again, my arm flying like a fiddler’s elbow.

Each time I empty the bowl it is silently refilled.

Gradually I realise that my body has taken on weight again. My arms belong to me again, my eyes can and my ears hear.

“What have you given me to eat, sister, that I am returned to myself again?”

“Why, I gave you just what you needed sister.” Her solemn face did not reflect human emotion.

“But how did you know what that was?” I was persistent, the food and solidarity giving me courage.

“You have named it courage. You not I. I do not know what is in the Cauldron. I am it’s Keeper, not the provider of its contents. To me, the contents always look the same. It is the recipient the names it. Today you needed courage and that is what you found there. Tomorrow you may find something else.

I looked at the contents of my bowl, and continued eating; this time more slowly trying to discern what courage tasted like. I felt it flowing down my throat and spread out along my veins, like a net I could lean back into.

I had thought that I had courage already. How else had I stood at the Wailing Wall?

But food is not a permanent thing. My sister Ceridwen had kept the Cauldron were many years and had a vast store of herbal and culinary knowledge.

“Food,” she continued, “must be replenished. You can not expect to be satiated on Moon Day with sustenance taken on the day of your brother Thor.”

I wriggle in my chair like a small child at lessons and stare into the Cauldron’s fire. Two things catch my attention.

Firstly I hear a babies’ sharp cry. “See me, notice I’m here,” it seems to say.

Then a woman of late middle age walks across my vision. At first I think it is me but then I see she is not me. She rolls from side to side, unable to put her legs down probably as the flesh of her thighs forces her pelvis apart. She is expensively dressed, but my eyes go to the swaying rhythmic aprons of her flesh.

“Look at me, don’t look at me.

Look but don’t see.”

Both force my attention to them. I feel I have little choice. Sound and vision capture and captivated me. I am not myself. I am caught in their web; in their pattern I am not free to be my own.

So if they are themselves, Wailing Child and Rolling Woman, and I am captivated in their pattern, who am I that observes this? Who am I when I returned to myself, here at my sister Ceridwen’s fire? Is this vision what courage has done for me?

No, I think not. I think the courage I found in Ceridwen’s cauldron has allowed me to see. The courage has allowed the visions of Wailing Child and Rolling Woman to gain my attention. I am not my visions. I am myself, not the images seen in the fire. I am real. I exist. I am here.

I lie down beside my sister Ceridwen near the warm coals that keep the Cauldron simmering. And I dream of what the future holds.

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