Ceridwen was a sorceress in the days when King Arthur ruled. She had two children, one a beautiful daughter, but her son Morfran, was hideous in appearance and her magic couldn’t cure him. To compensate for his ugliness and gain acceptance from fellow nobles, Ceridwen wanted him to have great wisdom and knowledge. She eventually discovered a portion of special herbs that if stirred and cooked in a cauldron for a year and a day, just three drops would provide her son with Awen (Inspiration), but the rest would be fatal poison.
She assigned a blind man, Morda, to stir the cauldron and a young boy, Gwion Bach, to stoke the fire underneath it. After a year and a day, whilst Ceridwen overslept, three drops sprang from the cauldron and landed on Gwion Bach’s thumb. Instinctively, he put his thumb in his mouth and instantly gained wisdom. At that moment, Gwion knew Ceridwen would be very angry and ran away. Meanwhile the cauldron split open and poisoned the land.
Ceridwen pursued Gwion, his new powers enabled him to transform himself into a hare. However, Ceridwen transformed herself into a greyhound. To escape her clutches, Gwion turned himself into a fish and jumped into a river. Ceridwen became an otter. Leaping out of the water, he became a small bird and then Ceridwen became a hawk. An exhausted Ceridwen managed to corner Gwion in a barn. To hide, he turned into a single grain of corn, but then Ceridwen became a hen and ate Gwion.
After eating the grain, Ceridwen became pregnant. She planned to kill the child at birth. However, he was born so beautiful that she couldn't, so she had placed him into a covered basket and thrown into Lake Bala.
The boy was eventually found by Elphin, whilst salmon fishing. When he saw the brightness of the boy he named him Taliesin (meaning “radiant forehead”). Taliesin miraculously sang songs to Elphin as he took him to his own and presented him to his wife. They raised him with love and happiness.
Taliesin would become the greatest Bard ever to have lived and was hailed before kings, with his poetry surviving to this day. Ceridwen, however, became the Goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration.
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