We gather wisdom in circles, you can find us in the forest
We gather inspiration around the cauldron, you can find us near the flames
We all provide a piece of the potion, we are wild and untamed.
The Wheel of the Year continues to turn, and we are in the amazing Libra season of balance. As day and night balance, turning towards darkness in the northern hemisphere, I am reminded that the season gives way to renewal and rebirth. We all go inward, but for the first time in a very long time, I feel called to gather around the cauldron with others.
The pandemic has made it difficult for most to gather around an actual cauldron, but also easier to connect to others. Gathering around the cauldron of a mystical internet platform video call may not feel very intimate, but it has created the space for others separated by great distances to join us in adding their part of the potion of wisdom that we can all share.
The Language and Layers of Symbols
The word cauldron, the root being Proto-Indo-European ‘kele’, is a type of pot or kettle. The root word means warm or ‘to shout’. The root is also associated to words such as council, declare, proclaim, reclaim, and reconcile. The root reflects in it the layers of symbolism, the image, the metaphor, of the power of gathering around the cauldron. Anderson (1995) quotes Arsem, implying usage of the cauldron (among other images of the witch) is multilayered from domestic uses by women to women who are powerful and feared by men:
“…these images are simply the activities of women’s work through the centuries – cooking, preparing remedies, making clothing, and cleaning. But they are also images in European and New England folklore, fairy tales, and mythology that are associated with the Crone. They are images of powerful women, wise women, and women who are feared by men.”
Rituals and mythologies of women gathering around the cauldron, of carrying the cauldron within, are not regional specific. We see it the story of Cerridwen, we see it in the gathering of Korekore women as described by Dr. Tererai Trent (2017). The cauldron is a metaphor for a place of birthing, creating, healing, and really seeing each other. When witches gather around the cauldron, it is the birthing place of change energetically, within and without.
To reflect this in a deeper sense, Crosby (2000) uses “Cauldron” in the title of her book on feminine spirituality and literary works of reclamation of herstory. The cauldron, as the symbol of life, death, and regeneration where she states “wise women, the witches who combine the varied ingredients of myth, history, searching, pain, and hope as they concoct their potions. The fire of imagination transforms these elements into a brew that empowers those who dare to drink from the cauldron. The reader, having drunk this potion, sees herself and her world with new eyes, and takes her own place as the creator of change.”
When We Gather
I find it important to note that when we gather, we become rooted like trees in that moment together. Like the mycelium that connects trees, we can each provide to the other that which is powerful enough to nourish, to allow a deepening where needed, and be connected to each other.
It is how we initiate change and not just around the cauldron.
It is how we re-member.
We call back to us that which has been lost, we return to that cauldron that which must be transformed, and we walk away closer to wholeness each time. In whatever way we choose to connect, I have found the most important part of gathering is just showing up with the openness to finding a tribe.
A candle and a key,
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Feature Image Credit: cottonbro via Pexels
Anderson, J. D., & Arsem, M. (1995). Cauldron, spinning wheel, broom: The spinning tales series of Marilyn Arsem. Null, 15(3), 244-254. https://doi.org/10.1080/10462939509366119
Crosby, J. C. (2000). Cauldron of changes: Feminist spirituality in fantastic fiction. McFarland.
Trent, T. (2017). The awakened woman: A guide for remembering & igniting your sacred dreams. Enliven Books.