For centuries, the owl has been associated with witchcraft, mysticism, the occult and the unknown. The word “occult” is misunderstood by many people who give this word sinister connotations, but it simply means “hidden”. In other words, occult knowledge is hidden from those who are not able to comprehend or understand it.
Occult wisdom has built-in safeguards that prevent it from being understood by those who are not magically aware. The owl not only represents this hidden knowledge, but it also sees what is hidden. The owl can turn it’s head 270 degrees, with exceptional eyesight and hearing, giving it the capability of seeing what others do not. The spirit of the owl can be called upon to help us see the unseen. It can reveal what is being hidden from us. It is an animal associated with wisdom and understanding, helping us see through facades to the real issues at hand. The spirit of the owl helps to expose secrets, lies and deception.
Owls live on every continent except Antarctica. Around the world there are over 200 species, with 16 owl species living in the United States. The Snowy Owl is the only owl that is normally active during the day, however, other owls may be seen in daylight hours when food sources are sparse. Many owls live in trees, while others make nests on the ground. Owls cannot be heard while flying, they are completely silent and can quickly catch prey, however, their feathers are not water-proof. This makes it difficult for them to fly when it’s raining. In the magical world, owls are enchanted messengers who deliver their wisdom and knowledge to us from the unseen realms. They are creatures of darkness, which is why for many years people believed that witches could transform into owls. The Italian word “Strega” is sometimes translated as “Screech Owl” or “owl of the night”. In the Celtic tradition, the owl is associated with the Cailleach, the Crone of Winter.
The tales of Cerridwen identify her as a witch, goddess and mother. She is the keeper of the sacred cauldron of Awen, a Welsh word that means “poetic, divine inspiration”. Those who seek to know her need only approach her cauldron with gentleness and politeness. Any cauldron will do, as all cauldrons are archetypes of the one true cauldron kept by Cerridwen herself.
When making contact with Cerridwen, it is not necessary to use grand, dramatic declarations (“Oh mighty Cerridwen, bestow upon us your great wisdom”). Just speak to her as you would anyone you are getting to know. Place an image of her on your altar. Light strongly scented incense and three white candles. During your conversations with her, place both your hands on the cauldron and know that she is listening. Quietly wait and allow her to speak to you. To those who truly seek contact, she will impart information, which may come in the form of images, words, phrases, feelings…or ideas. Keep a notebook handy. Study the story of Cerridwen and Taliesin, and become familiar with all the characters of this ancient tale. Cerridwen. Gwion Bach. Afagddu. Creirfyw. Morda. Tegid Foel. Taliesin. Each of them have an important lesson to teach. Cerridwen is the gateway, and her story is the foundation of modern druidry. Many lessons are hidden between the lines.
The cauldron holds many mysteries. It is a symbol of the darkness of the womb, a tool of communication, and the creative force by which change is manifest through magic. It is the catalyst that connects the druid witch to the universe, to nature, to the animal world, to the realm of spirits and to Cerridwen herself. The cauldron is one of the primary tools of the Blackthorn Druid Witch.
“We must approach the cauldron of inspiration ourselves, boil the broth ourselves, be burnt and subsequently ingest the divine drops of Awen ourselves—no one can do it for us”. (Kristoffer Hughes, From the Cauldron Born).