Monday, January 19, 2009

Druidic Mystical Practice Pt3: The Three Cauldrons

The first two phases of this sequence, presented below, are so basic to Neopagan meditation and trance that I have had trouble distinguishing 'basic mental training' from 'seeking mystical experience'. The basic methods of the first two phases of this sequence - Open Meditation, Two Powers Attunement and Middle-realm Centering- are preperatory work for almost any ritual or meditative activity. In the next steps we begin to add material that is specifically Celtic or Druidic in origin. Since the real intention of the whole sequence is a mystical one - we mean to link the personal awareness with transpersonal existence - I'm calling the whole sequence by the above new title.

Part 3: Using the Three Cauldrons
In the very small list of remnants of Celtic culture that suggest actual Pagan mysticism or spiritual symbolism the complex of the Three Cauldrons stands out plainly. Based on the medieval Irish poem the
Cauldron of Poesy, we describe three Cauldrons or “boiling places” in the human system, into which the Power of Inspiration can flow and be held. The Cauldrons in each individual may be either empty, half-full or full, and by this is determined how much poetic or spiritual power the individual possesses.
The Three Cauldrons are described as:
1: The Cauldron of Warming, conceived of as located in the belly, is the source of physical and constitutional health and strength. It is born upright in all people, with the potential to be fully filled.
2: The Cauldron of Motion or ‘Vocation’, is conceived of as in the heart. It is the core of the poet’s vision and work, the place where he receives his actual skill and inspiration. It is born in most tipped on its side, able to hold only a portion of the flow.
“The cauldron of motion then, in all artless people is on its lips. It is side-slanting in people of bardcraft and small poetic talent. It is upright in the greatest of poets, who are great streams of wisdom. Not every poet has it on its back, for the cauldron of motion must be turned by sorrow or joy.”
3: The Cauldron of Wisdom is conceived of as in the head. It is the container of the highest spiritual and artistic inspirations. It grants not just poetry but ‘every art’.
The central metaphor for spiritual power or wisdom in the Cauldron of Poesy is Poetic Inspiration. The poet’s ability to produce inspired verse is also his ability to make magic. Throughout this work we will use the metaphor of poetic skill and inspiration as the equivalent of spiritual and magical power, and we will work toward the use of poetry as a core element of ritual and spellbinding.
The majority of the text of the Cauldron of Poesy focuses on the Cauldron of Motion as the vessel that truly holds the poets power. It is born half-tipped, and it is by the deeds and events of human life that it becomes fully upright, able to obtain a full measure of the Mead of Wisdom. In the same way the Cauldron of Wisdom is born tipped on its lip, empty of power, and must be turned. This is described as happening due to powerful emotional events - sorrows and joys - during the course of life.
The Four Sorrows: longing, grief, jealousy and hard travel.
The Joys are said to be twofold: divine joy and human joy. Human joy is fourfold: Sexual delight, physical health, the joy of prosperity from one’s vocation, the joy of success in one’s efforts. Divine joys are the delight of the Blessings of the Gods, and the joy of eating of the Hazels of the Well of Wisdom, as it is said.
These joys and sorrows come from the events of our lives – they are not just from within, but rather they must grow from real experience and relationship with the other. In a modern life, if we have any adventure in us at all, any of that which might make a poet or magician, we will have many of the joys and sorrows described. If we can take them in, process them, boil them up, they become the raw material for our understanding and wisdom.
So in this exercise we use the Cauldrons as anchoring symbols for a wide range of contemplations, focused on our own bodies, lives and spiritual growth. In order to comprehend and digest the joys and sorrows of our lives we contemplate them in formal meditation. By bringing the memory of the events before the mind’s vision, while maintaining the detached perspective of Open Meditation we can process them effectively. So we contemplate in turn the body, the network of our ‘professional’ life, and our spiritual condition.
There’s a word to be said about the presentation of the Cauldron of Motion. In the original poem the heart cauldron is plainly related to the poets life and livelihood, on the deeds that bring inspiration and the rewards of poetic success. For those of us who approach the work intending to be a poet-seer in the old ways, we can simply proceed. For those of us who may have different path in life, whether the warrior or the merchant or another profession, there’s no reason why wisdom and inspiration won’t serve equally well. So we have tweaked the work of the Cauldron of Motion to be more broadly applicable to the ‘vocation’ of whoever might undertake the work.
Fó topar tomseo,
fó atrab n-insce,
fó comair coimseo
con-utaing firse. good is the dwelling of speech,

Good is the well of poetry,

good is the union of power and mastery
which establishes strength.

The Three Cauldrons Attunement
The first two phases of the sequence are performed, the Two Powers are settled into a clear flow in the self, and she establishes herself in her Center. With the Two Powers established in your body, establish thebeginning with your loins.
Envision the Cauldron of Warming low in your Three Cauldrons, belly, see it made of iron, or stone heated by the fire below. intone the name:

Goriath (goh ree ah)
Envision the combined Light and Shadow flowing into your Cauldron of Warming. As it does, open your awareness to your body. Become aware of your flesh and bone, blood and belly and brain, seeking an awareness of your health and wholeness, and, by will, seeing yourself as hale and well in every part.
Envision the Cauldron of Vocation in the heart. See it made of silver and gold, heated be the fire in your heart. Intone the name:
Ernmas (air‘n mahs)
Let the Powers flow into the Cauldron of Movement, and feel your awareness open to your daily life and work, to the deeds and events of your life. Become aware of your place in the world, among kin and folk and the wide world. From the center that is the Cauldron see the webs of relationship and mutuality that hold your life together. See them made strong, whole and helpful.
Envision the Cauldron of Wisdom in your head. See it made of crystal and amber, lit and warmed by the fire above. Intone the name:
Sofhis (so wish)
Let the Two Powers flow into the Cauldron of Wisdom, and open your spirit to your spiritual way and work. As the Fire and Water fill the Cauldron open your mind to the sources of divine awareness in your life. Feel your Allies draw close, and the Divine In You shine and flow, filling you with the Mead of Inspiration.
As you wish, and as you are able, let your mind rest in balance between these three Cauldrons. Broaden your attention to allow the three sets of images to flow and intertwine. In this weaving there may be things to be learned. Understand that these Cauldrons are always in you, always turned or turning, just as the Two Powers always flow in you. Rest and work in this state as long as you like. Conclude with a prayer or gesture of thanks and closure.

on to pt 4


Anonymous said...

The Cauldron of Poesy is something I've been interested in for a few years now. I've been using it in personal meditation for a little under a year and will be using it as part of our Grove Attunement this coming Bealtaine.

I approach it a bit differently than you have presented. Instead of doing the Two Powers before hand, I have made it part of the Two Powers meditation. Water from the Earth is drawn up through my body and pools in the three cauldrons. It usually takes three or more cycles of breath to fill each and I do so until they are brimming.

Once all three are full I then connect with the Fire of the Heavens. At first they filter down as starlight, dancing in the pools working from the Cauldron of Wisdom on down but then one by one they ignite a flame in my head, heart and loins and warm the cauldrons thus.

Reading your practice and the link you referenced have given me further insight however. I was quite surprised and delighted to see the many references to the Well of the Nine Hazels and Boand in Erynn's articles and to see that it's actually referenced in the text.

We will be working with Boand and the Dagda at Beltane. Originally I had conceived of tapping into the Well of Wisdom for Bardic Inspiration and more recently I've been trying to figure out how to balance this with the Fire of Inspiration. After reading both of your articles yesterday Brid nudged me and said she'd help with the fire and aid us in our work if we honored her for Bardic. Done.

Bardic Inspiration and Grove Attunement will now be flowing into one another. We will start by kindling three flames for Brid, connect with her and them, drop hazelnuts into our well, connect with it then each individual will take a nut and I will lead them in visualizing themselves as a hazel tree, their roots traveling beneath the earth to the source of the well, bringing the waters up to fill their cauldrons, then come full circle in tapping into the heavenly light and kindling the fires within us. We will then move to the Sacred Center and Opening the Gates.

I have some tinkering to do with the text but it's coming along nicely. Brid has shown me that her three Fires of the Hearth, Forge and that of Inspiration can parallel the Cauldrons of Warming, Vocation and Wisdom pretty nicely. I'll be sure to send you the full text and let you know how it goes after the fact.

I apologize for my rambling on several of your posts now but I do have a question. You use three intonations in your attunement. Recognize Goriath as one of the four cities of the Four Treasures, Ernmas is the mother of Macha, Badb, Morrigan, Fodla, Banba and Eriu but I don’t recognize Sofhis. I was curious as to what inspired you to choose these three names.

By the way we met at this past Summerland after the presentation on Baltic Paganism, I was the one having trouble with the folks on the Romuva list. In case you were wondering who this girl was that was replying to all your posts ;)

Thanks again!

Unknown said...

A most inspiring form of meditation. Thank you. I will try this forthwith.

Steve Lavoie said...

Just one thing I would like to point out. An error seems to have been made.

It concerns the middle Caudron. "Ernmas" is a Goddess. She is the Mother of Badb, Macha and the Mórrígan (and probably others of the "De Danann"), not a Coire.

the Cauldrons of Poesy are Goríath - ÉRMAE - Soís.

But don't take my word for it, look it up for yourself.

Marc Rhodes-Taylor said...

thank you for providing us with this knowledge, i am currently trying to study the three cauldrons technique it seems to be very simple and usable, based in the irish which i like i am starting to develop quite an interest in that area myself.