Video 1: Stonehenge summer solstice sunrise, June 2010, copyright Ian Irvine all rights reserved.
Format: You Tube video
"Despite the rock concert-come-football match feel to celebrations by some at Stonehenge this year the event was nevertheless profoundly magical/moving to me (I hadn't been to the site since 1984 during a period of personal turbulence). Sunrise at the 'monster rocks' of Stomehenge, followed by visits to Silbury Hill and Avebury launched a three week quest with my Welsh brother Philip to visit Bardic and other sacred sites in South Wales, Gwynedd and Anglesey (North Wales), Scotland and parts of England (Wiltshire and the Pennines). I eventually found 'Cerridwen' in a shop in Whitby ... see image above."
Video 2: Bryn Celli Ddu Passage grave site (circa 2000BCE). (Filmed June 2010, copyright Ian Irvine all rights reserved).
Format: You Tube video
"This haunting passage grave site on the Isle of Anglesey (Mona) was constructed by a people that preceded the Celtic peoples by millennia. ... one of the highlights of the trip! The strange designs on the stones at this site perhaps represent neolithic shamanic hallucinations of some descriptions ... the entrance to the site seems to have been in ritualist use beyond the period of the communal burials uncovered at the site."
Video 3: 'Around Llyn Digley' (Filmed June 2010, copyright Ian Irvine and Philip Irvine all rights reserved.)
Format: You Tube video.
"Features images of the remains of 4,000+ year old passage burial structure in North Eastern Anglesey (Nrth. Wales) as well as footage of the Celto-Roman 'alchemical' village of Llyn Digley. (NB: also Includes images of Bala Lake)".
Video 4: Climbing Mount Snowdon (Copyright Ian Irvine and Philip Irvine, 2010, all rights reserved).
Format: You Tube video
"Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales. This footage tracks a summer's day climb to the summit. The Snowdonia region, of course, is rich in Celtic mythological and Arthurian significance, and it is said the ruins of the City of the Fferyllt (the British alchemists), otherwise known as 'Dinas Emrys' or 'Dinas Affernon' sits can be accessed to the south. The mountain also has significance with regard to the witch-goddess Cerridwen, initiatory queen of the bards/ovates etc. since it was aresting place for her on her travels from Cornwall to Anglesey."
To understand why I would name this page 'Cerridwen's Cauldron' it is important to know something about the story of Taliesin/Gwion & Cerridwen that features so strongly as a culture myth explaining bardic/creative iniatiaiton among the ancient Celts and the modern Welsh. In a sense, my visit thsi year to North Wales etc. was an attempt to better understand the 'terrain' of the old Welsh story tellers (bards, ovates, druids).
Here then is my retelling of a very old story ...
Part One of the Basic Taliesin-Cerridwen Story Runs as Follows -
[This version copyright ian irvine 2010.
The Welsh Goddess Cerridwen, a shapeshifter aspect of the ancient triple Sow Goddess of Britain, is famous in Welsh tradition for initiating and inspiring bards, healers (ovates) and druids. One day she decided to brew a magical potion for her son, Agfaddu (‘the ugliest boy in the world’). After consulting with the fferyllt, the legendary alchemists of the Isle of Britain, she resolved to begin work. She wanted to make Agfaddu the most brilliant, intelligent and inspired of young men – perhaps to compensate for his unnatural ugliness.
Due to the need to be absent occasionally from the Cauldron she set a boy named Gwion to stir and guard its dark and bubbling contents. The fferyllt’s recipe advised that a viable potion would take a year and a day to brew and thus Gwion was often left alone to work (apart from the sullen company of Cerridwen’s blind husband, Tegid Voel). At such times Cerridwen roamed the forests and mountains of Snowdonia in search of important herbs and ingredients to add to the brew.
On the morning of the last day, only hours before Cerridwen’s return from a nearby forest, three drops from the cauldron accidentally bubbled onto young Gwion’s left thumb, scalding him instantly and causing him to spill the rest of the potent brew (which immediately became polluted). Gwion instinctively sucked at his burnt thumb and immediately all the wisdom and knowledge of the universe came to him in a series of blinding visions and daytime hallucinations. Similarly he found he could go both forward and backward in time and with this and other abilities he quickly realised that Cerridwen had realised what had happened and was furious with him.
In a rage she pursued Gwion across the northern Welsh landscape—its mountains, forests, rivers and lakes. To avoid her Gwion shapeshifted from one animal into another, until finally he took the form of a grain of corn. Cerridwen, countered each transformation with a predatory transformation of her own until finally, almost exhausted from the effort, she found herself in a threshing house staring at Gwion in the form of a grain of corn. Instantly she decided to become a hen, after which she immediately swallowed him whole.
Nine moons later, Cerridwen gave birth to Taliesin, the greatest of all the Welsh bards – greater even, some say, than Merlin/Myrdden. During her pregnancy she had nursed a desire to kill the bastard offspring at the instant of his birth. However, in him bubbled all the charm and wisdom of his mother's inspirational magic. Pale and exhausted from the effort of her labor she took a few moments to steady herself before committing the necessary act. In this moment she caught sight of an amazing light emanating from his forehead. Seeing his ‘beautiful, shining brow’, she lost the will to kill him with her own hands and instead decided to set her miraculous son adrift on nearby river – abandoned at birth to his fate.