Much of what we know of early Celtic culture, history and spirituality is reconstructed. In what was primarily an oral tradition, little was inked onto paper or etched into stone that has endured to our time. So, what we know about that culture comes primarily from songs and poetry handed down over centuries in the bardic tradition. Some of the speculation by earlier scholars — Robert Graves amongst them — has been disputed.
But in some cases, we do have texts, often created or copied by the monks in priories.
The Cauldron of Poesy is one such text. The first written version is purported to be from the 7th century, and it was later recorded/found in a 16th century legal text, now in Trinity College, Dublin. There are very many books and scripts yet to be explored, so perhaps scholars will find other references to the original tale.
The Cauldron of Poesy was allegedly written by Amergin Glúingel (aka “White-Knee’), a Milesian bard and judge. Some are familiar with the beautiful Song of Amergin (“I am a stag: of seven tines, I am a flood: across a plain…”).
Many cultures describe energy systems within the body — chakras, meridians, pulses of various kinds. And the Cauldron of Poesy is seen by many as describing the Celtic energy system, akin to the chakras… and there are some remarkable similarities.
I am neither a Celtic nor a Druidic scholar, but I do love this concept and how we can relate to our own bodies — and the world around us — and our spiritual journey through the Three Cauldrons that Amergin describes. And we do know that the cauldron is a frequent image in Celtic mythology, and the triad is a core concept in Celtic spirituality, such as the Triple Goddess of Maiden-Mother-Crone, the three worlds (Lower, Middle, Upper), etc.
The Cauldron of Warming (Coire Goirath)
Key concepts: The Sea / Water, Lower World, The Past, Existence, Subconscious
Found deep within the belly, this first cauldron is also known as the Cauldron of Incubation. This is our life force, our womb, our inner fire providing the body’s energy, much like the Root Chakra and Second Chakra. Amergin tells us that when we are born, this cauldron is positioned upright, ready to be filled even more.
Amergin associates the Cauldron with the body, but also with the outside world. This Cauldron represents The Sea, from which we all came, the source of life itself. Water is emotion, the unconscious. Before birth, we live in the sea of amniotic fluid, so an apt analogy.
In the Celtic Shamanic tradition that I practice, this Cauldron is strongly associated with the Divine Feminine, the womb, the fire in the belly that gives life.
The Cauldron of Vocation (Coire Ernmae)
Key concepts: The Land / Earth, Middle World, the Present, Experience, Ego
The second cauldron is found in the heart, and is very similar to the heart chakra. It is also known as the Cauldron of Motion. Unlike the Cauldron of Warming, when we are born, this cauldron is on its side. It can be turned upright by joy, and upside down by loss and sorrow…. and by our life experiences. As we find our true path — our vocation — this cauldron will turn upright and we can share our wisdom with others. Many relate this to both our Heart Chakra (knowing our Self and our path) and our Throat Chakra (sharing it with others).
Amergin relates this Cauldron to the land, the Middle World where we take action, where we connect with others, share our experiences, learn and grow… and eventually teach and mentor.
The Cauldron of Wisdom (Coire Sois)
Key concepts: The Sky / Fire, Upper World, The Future, Transpersonal Consciousness
Also known as the Cauldron of Inspiration, this cauldron relates very strongly to our Third Eye Chakra and Crown Chakra. When we are born, it is inverted, empty… but our spiritual journey eventually will turn this upright. And that comes with rewards of poetry, prophecy and wisdom. This is the realm of inspiration (awen in Celtic traditions), where we connect even more with Spirit and the flow of Life itself.
Amergin says that this Cauldron,
“…. bestows the merit of every art,
through which treasure increases,
which magnifies every common artisan,
which builds up a person through their gift.”
We can learn much about our Self and our path in life as we connect to these Cauldrons. This post is merely an introduction to this concept. But as we study the Cauldrons even more, we emerge with a much greater understanding of our Self, our Path (vocation) and our Spirituality…. hopefully turning our third cauldron upright even more.
Recently I led an on-line Journey to YOUR Inner Cauldron, focusing primarily on the Cauldron of Warming, the womb, and will journey with the Cauldron of Vocation and Cauldron of Wisdom in coming months.