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Cerridwen and the Power of Inspiration
MARCH 22, 2021 BY KRISTOFFER HUGHES READ TIME: 5 MINS
“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.”—Salvador Dali
At times the world can feel uninspiring and disenchanted; there is not a single person on the face of the earth that has not felt profound challenges and crisis during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Being inspirational in a world that may not feel inspired is a difficult task, but help is at hand. Cerridwen’s function in Welsh myth and lore and in the practice of Celtic Magic is as the conduit of inspiration. In the Welsh language, we have a name for the kind of inspiration that Cerridwen represents; it is called Awen.
This small four-letter word packs quite a punch; in essence, it describes the creative force of the Universe itself that flows through all existences, and all things that have the spark of life sing to this force inwardly and externally. It causes us to feel inspired and to be inspirational. The etymology of the word means “holy” or “blessed breath,” and it blows through us from the great cauldron of Cerridwen. Her cauldron gives shape and form to the ever-flowing, ever blowing spirit of Awen, and she is its director.
Cerridwen stands at the edge of the great cauldron of creation that brings the un-manifest into manifestation. Imagine if you will a conductor of an orchestra with her baton cutting through the air; Cerridwen serves a similar function in casting a spell that brings about inspiration. For the conductor of an orchestra that magic is to invoke the ensemble power of music, while for Cerridwen the spell is one of transformative inspiration, Awen. It is infectious and only apathy can cause its dimming in the heart and spirit, but even that cannot withstand the sheer power of the Awen to break its spell. But what do we when we just don’t feel inspired?
First, let’s look at the meaning and function of inspiration. Derived from the Latin inspirates, meaning to breathe into or the drawing in of air, and simultaneously the influence of the divine upon an individual or collective, it shares a commonality with the word Awen. Both terms speak of the power of the breath. When we are inspired we are awoken to new possibilities, and it allows us to transcend our everyday mundane experiences. Inspiration allows us to break down the restraints of our assumed limitations. The sheer force of inspiration has the power to propel us from the bondage of apathy to the potentiality of possibility.
Inspiration has 3 specific components: evocation, transcendence, and catalyst. The process of evocation causes us to call something forth from within ourselves; these can be initiated by internal or external stimuli that gives us a “eureka” moment where an idea is conjured in the mind that causes a rushing forth of inspiration. The process of evocation responds to the currents of inspiration as it blows through us. In turn this leads to a sense of transcendence where our limitations are crushed under the weight of inspiration; we suddenly feel the tangible sense of, “I can do this!,” or, “I know what I must do!” From this state we are led automatically to become the catalyst for that inspiration and are compelled to transmit it through expression; this is the act of being inspirational. As catalysts of inspiration we cause a proliferation of Awen to blow through the world.
Apathy is an infection that blocks the rivers of Awen and redirects its currents. In an apathetic state we can feel so far from inspiration that we no longer feel the breeze of its power to lift us from melancholy. It is apathy that gives voice to our internalised demons, to our inner saboteur, it feeds the blind spot within us that prevent us from seeing our own potential. The dam of apathy cannot be resolved on the same conscious level that we created it. The cure for apathy is not to dismantle it, but to blind it with the light of Awen, to become inspired. Apathy cannot thrive in the light of joyous Awen.
Cerridwen as the Goddess of inspiration stands poised at the great cauldron, her hand outstretched, with wand aloft pulling and guiding the currents of Awen and their direction as they blow through our Universe. By connecting to and working with Cerridwen we align ourselves with that power and are better positioned to receive and perceive its currents. In difficult times Cerridwen serves to remind us of the power of Awen and inspiration, and that even when we feel the least inspired, we can conduct ourselves to move consciously into its stream of influence. Her wish is for her children to be the Awen that the world needs. Your life is a message to this world, and yet life is so brief, there is little time for bickering and bitterness, loathing and resentment, we have only time for love and joy and inspiration. Our task is to help ourselves and others to transform their anxieties into joy.
4 Simple Way to Work with Cerridwen
Create a space or altar dedicated to Cerridwen and that which inspires you, and how you inspire others. Be creative with what you place here to represent these qualities. You do not need an elaborate statue to connect with Cerridwen a small cauldron or bowl will be more than sufficient.
Draw, carve, or make a symbol of the Awen for your altar/space. Consider the nature of the symbol daily; the circle represents the cauldron of Cerridwen, the three dots the source of un-manifest inspiration, the rays the expression of your inspiration. it is drawn thus:
Call to Cerridwen and imagine the silver currents of Awen streaming from her wand and directly through you.
Honour Cerridwen by being inspirational.
Inspiration is not just a concept; it is not something we believe in, it is something that we do. There are many ways to stir the cauldron of Awen and feel inspired.
7 Tips to Be Inspired
Do something that is just outside of your comfort zone to challenge yourself and your perception.
Spend a day telling the people around you what you appreciate about them.
Teach someone something that you enjoy doing.
Be motivated and inspired by others by watching vlogs or TED talks.
Regularly allow yourself a break to disconnect from the tech pressures of society.
Journal your thoughts and then read them out loud to yourself.
Read a book from your childhood or specifically written for children every 3 months.
Working with Cerridwen and the power of Awen/Inspiration helps us to be the light in the darkness, to be kind and genuine, to be gracious and charming. Cerridwen teaches us that where there is inspiration, there is hope; where there is hope there is magic; and where there is magic there is always a brighter future.
Cerridwen stands where Awen and matter meet, so let us join her there at the edge of the great cauldron, and make magic that made the universe.
COPYRIGHT 2021 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. All rights reserved
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The Maiden is honored, as the Bride, on this Sabbat. Straw Brideo’gas (corn dollies) are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. Young girls then carry the Brideo’gas door to door, and gifts are bestowed upon the image from each household. Afterwards at the traditional feast, the older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold, and in the morning the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. Brighid’s Crosses are fashioned from wheat stalks and exchanged as symbols of protection and prosperity in the coming year. Home hearth fires are put out and re-lit, and a besom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new. Candles are lit and placed in each room of the house to honor the re-birth of the Sun.
Another traditional symbol of Imbolc is the plough. In some areas, this is the first day of ploughing in preparation of the first planting of crops. A decorated plough is dragged from door to door, with costumed children following asking for food, drinks, or money. Should they be refused, the household is paid back by having its front garden ploughed up. In other areas, the plough is decorated and then Whiskey, the “water of life” is poured over it. Pieces of cheese and bread are left by the plough and in the newly turned furrows as offerings to the nature spirits. It is considered taboo to cut or pick plants during this time.
Other holidays at this time include Ground Hog’s Day, Aztec New Year, Lohri, Makara Sankranti, Pongal, Chinese New Year, Roman Lupercalia, Valentine’s Day, and Armenian Candlemas.
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The Winter Solstice or Yule is also the shortest day of the year, and hence – the longest night. This year it takes place on December 21st. various other names for the Winter Solstice include Midwinter, Yuletide (the Teutonic version), Alban Arthan (Caledonii Tradition, or the Druids), Feill Fionnain (Pecti-Wita Tradition, which falls on December 22nd). Yuletide lasts from December 20th through December 31st. It begins on “Mother Night” and ends twelve days later, on “Yule Night”, hence the “Twelve Days of Christmas” tradition.
Some other names for this Sabbat that are used less commonly are Sun Return, Pagan New Year, Saturnalia (Roman), Great Day of the Cauldron, and Festival of Sol.
Yule is a time of the Goddess of the Cold Darkness and the birth of the Divine Child, the reborn Sun God. It is a time of renewal and rebirth during Winter and the turning of the Earth force tides. A time when the waxing Sun overcomes the waning Sun. In some traditions, this is symbolized by the struggle between the Oak King and the Holly King.
The Winter Solstice had been associated with the birth of a “Divine King” long before the rise of Christianity. Yule is about renewal, re-birth, returning hope, and life. It has never truly changed its meaning, as many of the Pagan Gods and Heroes were born at this time: Apollo, Dionysus, Horus, Mithra, and so on. Jesus, Son of God/Sun God is not alone in this time of renewal. In this instance, the Christian church decided to celebrate the birth of their savior at the time the pagans celebrated a festival that focused upon the rebirth of the “Sun God.” Thus they have made it the birthday of their “Son of God”. Yule and Christmas are not so very different in reality. Both celebrate the arrival of the sun/son or, as Christ has been called, the light of the world.
Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the “Invincible Sun” in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus, and by 336, this Roman solar feast day was Christianized. January 6, celebrated as Epiphany in Christendom and linked with the visit of the Magi, was originally an Egyptian date for the Winter Solstice
There are many theories as to how Christmas and the winter solstice/yule come to be celebrated so near each other. One thing is definitely true and that is it is a season of light.
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