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© Storm Genevieve Black 2015. All Rights Reserved

First published in Townsville Soul Newsletter February 2016

You may or may not be aware that I learned my craft in my youth in the South of England, where I was taught that the Cauldron has always been an integral part of the craft. My cauldron is certainly one of the most useful tools I have, and we still use it in our coven rituals today. Traditionally, it is true, that it was such an important tool because it would have been used to feed the family, tribe, or clan. However, it's uses within the coven move onto a more esoteric level as well. Not only does it hold enough to feed the coven, it is used to brew the ale, or wine for the rite, something we still do during the occasional ritual. It is used to work our magic too. Our cauldron is used for brewing potions, holding blessings, securely containing fire, purifying, divining, in fact, in all forms of cauldron magic. I am sure that some of you will know of the legends behind Ceridwen's Cauldron, and the transformation of the boy Gwion, into the Bard Taliesin. If not you will find the tale in it's entirety in the Mabinogion. Needless to say it is too long to cover here. It is, in brief, a tale of growth on a spiritual level. The cauldron is symbolic of the womb, from which life springs, but also the well, to which life returns. It can be filled with food, or drink, in abundance. Enough to keep a coven going. It is linked to the chalice, to the emotions, the element of water, the evening time and the autumn season. Think of the meanings behind the ace of cups in the tarot. Often depicted with a chalice but sometimes a cauldron overflowing with food, a horn of plenty in whichever form the vessel takes. Pure abundance.

The connection to the element of water is a rather obvious one, it being the largest vessel we have in our ritual circle and so the best for holding the most water. Water we need to keep our crops growing. It's link to the autumn connects it to the season of harvest, and again to the abundance of crops that must be harvested by Samhain, so that the Pooka cannot destroy them and they will keep us going throughout the winter.

The cauldron can also be used to preserve all of the fruit and vegetables harvested in the form of jams, pickles and preserves.

In our rites as I said, we use the cauldron a lot. At the last Esbat we used it as the proverbial melting pot, during our casting. One of my personal favourites is our Samhain rite, when our coveners and initiates are invited to write a list of any or all of their fears and regrets. This can be quite a long list for those who have not celebrated with us before. During the rite, once we have crossed the veil, they burn the lists in the cauldron, thus releasing themselves or each other from the fears and regrets they have learned from and allowing them to move on with their lives. It is a bit like a new years resolution in reverse, but then, it is the time we celebrate our new year, so why not. Once everyone has burned their lists we make sure the cauldron is empty before filling it with wine, fresh autumn fruit, and spices, it is then hooked over the fire and allowed to heat through while we continue with our ritual. Remembering all those who have died in the name of the craft, whether they practised or not. Those of us who are not vegetarian or vegan now take the time to give thanks to the animals who have sustained us in the last year, and wish them a life further up the food chain next time around. Those of us who are vegetarian or vegan may wish to thank the Gods, or the farmers for the bountiful crops. We share our new year celebrations with our loved ones once again, and thank the Gods for our abundant harvest. Once the brew in the cauldron is warm, we ladle some of it into our chalice, bless it along with the cakes, before sharing them around the circle while we discuss all things magical. Then we finish our ritual.  As you can see, it wouldn't be quite the same without the cauldron.