More than the broom, or even the stang, the cauldron is the classic witches’ tool. In classical Greece we find stories of the witch Medea who brewed the elixir of life and death in her cauldron. Across Europe among the Celtic peoples are tales of Cerridwen whose potion of Awen was simmered in her own cauldron for a year and a day, and Bran, whose cauldron would regenerate fallen heroes. The cauldron of Dagda also featured in the celtic myths. His cauldron poured forth endless food and wealth. It is echoed today in tales of Baba Yaga and Strega Nona both of whom have special cook pots that are never exhausted of food, provided that the correct magical phrases are uttered over them.
Even Shakespeare’s infamous three witches from his play MacBeth are seen to gather around a cauldron and chant their nefarious rune.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake!
MacBeth, Act IV, Scene 1
Robert Cochrane writes on the “two words that do not fit in the cauldron” as a mystery of the Craft. The answer to this riddle is “Be Still” for within the cauldron lies all motion, all potential, and all things. It cannot hold stillness, but this too is a mystery. The cauldron is used not just for the brewing of potions, but also as a vessel for scrying in liquid or flame. To accomplish this we must find stillness within the cauldron, by quieting our own minds.
The cauldron is also very similar to the Holy Grail of legend. We must ever seek it and its mysteries, for in it lies true communion with the Gods, and deep healing of our souls. “Who does the Grail serve?” is the riddle traditionally associated with this quest. The Grail serves all who seek it with honest intent, for it is only in not questing for the mystery that it serves no one.
“In fate and the overcoming of fate, lies the true Grail.” ~ Robert Cochrane
In our tradition the Cauldron is associated with the Grail Queen of the Silver Castle — Castle Perilous — as Cerridwen-Babalon. We drink deeply of her bloody cup, and rejoice in the coming of the Season of the Witch at the Autumn Equinox.