The Art of Enchantment
The Practice of Druid Magic
The ritual for consecrating the wand shows how the elements and the solar and telluric currents can be brought into the work of enchantment. The eight Stations of the Wheel of Life can also be used in much the same way. The second of the three primary working tools of the Druid mage, the cauldron, can be enchanted in this way, using the oak and heather pentagrams.
In the Welsh traditions from which the Druid Revival draws so much of its symbolism, magical cauldrons play an important role. At the center of the Druid teaching of the three circles of manifestation—Abred, the realm of plant, animal, and human existence in the world of nature; Gwynfydd, the realm of illumined existence beyond the human level; and Ceugant, the realm of absolute unity that no created being can traverse—stands the Cauldron of Annwn. This cauldron is the reservoir of raw nwyfre at the heart of existence, the place where souls are born, and where souls who utterly fail to grasp the lessons of Abred return and dissolve back into raw nwyfre.
Scarcely less important in Druid symbolism is the cauldron of Ceridwen, the wise old alchemist goddess in the legend of Taliesin. Ceridwen's cauldron held a brew containing all the wisdom in the world, and had to be kept bubbling for a year and a day. Among other things, this cauldron represents the Druid tradition itself, since this latter is brimful of wisdom and embraces the whole circle of the seasons.
The cauldron of the Druid mage reflects both these mythic cauldrons, but it also has a practical role in Druid magic. It serves as a reservoir of all the different forms and patterns of nwyfre needed in magical work. The Druid mage can draw any kind of nwyfre he or she wishes from the cauldron—the forces of the elements, the Stations of the Wheel, the Ogham fews, and every other power used in Druid magic are all there. To put them there requires enchantment, and the invocations of the eight Stations of the Wheel are a suitable method for this work.
The first step in providing yourself with such a magical cauldron, of course, is getting the physical cauldron itself. Any cauldron-shaped vessel small enough to fit on top of your altar will serve. The cauldron I use for Druid magic is made of cast iron, about 5 inches across, with three stubby legs underneath; I found it in a cookware store in a display of cast-iron pots and pans. Other Druids I know use cauldrons of brass, pottery, and glass, and all of these work well.
Once you have your cauldron, wash it thoroughly in cold running water, preferably in a stream or river, and leave it in direct sunlight for at least an hour to cleanse it of unwanted nwyfre. You will also need to make preparations for an ordinary grove ceremony. If you want to do so, you can enchant your cauldron on one of the eight festivals of the Druid year, or on some other day that is special to you, but this is not required.
Set your grove stones around the edge of your ritual space, place the cauldron on the center of the altar, and have your wand on the altar as well, before you begin the grove opening. Open in the usual way. In the Sphere of Protection, trace the elemental symbols with your wand; call on the elements to fill the cauldron with their power, and banish any hindrance to the enchantment from the cauldron, the working, and the grove. When you finish the opening and take your seat, use blue color breathing—the color of gwyar—to prepare for the meditation, and then meditate on the cauldron as a symbol and a magical working tool.
When you are ready, rise and approach the altar. Say words like these: “O my cauldron, you have been made from the substance of the Earth that you may share in the work of Druid magic. Before you may take up that work, you must make a journey through the four elements.” Circle around to the east side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Arise, and enter the realm of air.” Pick up the cauldron and move it back and forth through the incense smoke, so that every part receives some of the smoke. Say words like these: “In the name of Hu and by the powers of the realm of air I purify you and strengthen you for your work.” Concentrate on the idea that the incense smoke is cleansing the cauldron and filling it with the powers of the element of air. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Circle around to the south side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Arise, and enter the realm of fire.” Pick up the cauldron and move it just above the flame, so that every part receives heat and light from the fire. Say words like these: “In the name of Sul and by the powers of the realm of fire I purify you and strengthen you for your work.” Concentrate on the idea that the heat of the flame is cleansing the cauldron and filling it with the powers of the element of fire. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Circle around to the west side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Arise, and enter the realm of water.” Pick up the cauldron and hold it above the water, then dip the fingers of one hand into the water and sprinkle the cauldron with it, so that every part receives some of the water. Say words like these: “In the name of Esus and by the powers of the realm of water I purify you and strengthen you for your work.” Concentrate on the idea that the water is cleansing the cauldron and filling it with the powers of the element of water. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar.
Circle around to the north side of the altar, facing the center, and say, “Arise, and enter the realm of earth.” Pick up the cauldron and hold it above the earth cauldron, and sprinkle some of the salt or earth onto it, so that every part of it receives some. Say words like these: “In the name of Elen and by the powers of the realm of earth I purify you and strengthen you for your work.” Concentrate on the idea that the salt or earth is cleansing the cauldron and filling it with the powers of the element of earth. When it feels right, return the cauldron to the center of the altar, where it will remain for the rest of the working.
Much of the rest of the ritual depends on the time of year when you perform this rite, because you need to start by invoking the current Station of the telluric current, and then proceed around the Wheel from there. You will be drawing a total of eight pentagrams, and facing in eight directions. The pentagrams are always drawn in the same way and the same order: the heather pentagram from the bottom point first, then the two heather pentagrams starting with the left-hand points, then the oak pentagram starting on the upper left point, then the oak pentagram starting on the top point, then the oak pentagrams starting on the two right-hand points, then the heather pentagram starting on the lower right point. On the other hand, the Stations you invoke, the words you say, and the directions you face, all change depending on the season.
For example, if you are enchanting your cauldron between November 1 and December 20, the solar current at that time is flowing through the Station of Samhuinn and the telluric current through Belteinne. You would begin this phase of the working by moving clockwise around the altar until you stand in the northwest, facing the cauldron on the altar and, beyond it, the stone representing Belteinne. If you are doing the working at a different time of the year, start with whatever Station holds the telluric current, facing across the altar toward the stone that corresponds to that Station. A glance at Figure 6-1 will make this easier to follow.
Next, using your wand, trace an invoking heather pentagram, starting with the lowermost point, in the air above the cauldron. Hold the tip of your wand at the lower point of the pentagram, and invoke the Station corresponding to the festival opposite the one you celebrated most recently. In the example of a ritual done just after Samhuinn, you might use words such as these: “I invoke the power of Belteinne, the festival of life and love. Let the power of Belteinne enter into this cauldron and bless it for its work.” Move the tip of the wand down into the mouth of the cauldron. As you do so, imagine the energies of Belteinne (or whatever Station is aligned with the telluric current at the time you do the ritual) flowing into the tip of the wand and then down into the cauldron. Hold this for several minutes.
Now trace another invoking heather pentagram in the air above the altar, this time starting with the lower left point. Hold the tip of your wand at that point, and invoke the Station that will come next in the yearly cycle. In the example, this would be Alban Heruin, and you might use words such as these: “I invoke the power of Alban Heruin, the Station of the Sun in his summer glory. Let the power of Alban Heruin enter into this cauldron and bless it for its work.” Then move the tip of the wand down into the mouth of the cauldron. As you do so, imagine the energies of Alban Heruin (or whatever Station is next at the time you do the ritual) flowing into the tip of the wand and then down into the cauldron. Hold this for several minutes.
Go on to the next Station—in the example, this would be Lughnasadh—and trace a heather pentagram beginning with the upper left point. Invoke the Station in your own words, move the wand from the point of the pentagram to the mouth of the cauldron, and transfer the power of the Station to the cauldron.
Go to the next Station—in the example, this would be Alban Elued. The fourth Station you invoke, whatever it may be, is the first Station in the realm of the solar current at the time you perform your ritual, and so you need trace an invoking oak pentagram instead of a heather pentagram, starting from the upper left point. Do the same things you did with the first three Stations you invoked. In the same way, invoke the next three Stations: face the appropriate direction, trace an oak pentagram for each one, and invoke the three other Stations of the Wheel that are in the solar realm at the time of your ritual. Finally, move around the altar to face the one remaining direction, and invoke the one remaining Station—in the example, this is Alban Eiler—with a heather pentagram traced clockwise from the lower right point.
Then touch the rim of the cauldron with your right hand. Say, “I take upon myself the power, the responsibility, and the burden of this cauldron. The power to draw forth from it nwyfre of every kind; the responsibility to use that power wisely and well, in harmony with the great pattern of all things; and the burden of bearing the consequences if I fail to do so.”
Now, just as you did when you enchanted the wand, you need to use the powers you have called into the cauldron, in order to make the enchantment stable. This is best done by performing the Sphere of Protection ritual a second time, before you go on to the closing ceremony. Since the cauldron is a receptive tool rather than an active one, this is done in a different way.
Perform the Elemental Cross first in the usual way. Next, pick up the wand, and use the tip to draw the invoking symbol of air above the mouth of the cauldron. Imagine that the cauldron fills at once with yellow light that swirls and dances with all the energies of air. Dip the tip of the wand into the mouth of the cauldron, as though you were dipping a brush into a pot of paint. As you take the wand's tip out of the cauldron, imagine that all the yellow light comes with it, forming a sphere around the end of the wand. Go to the eastern edge of the grove and use that yellow light like paint, to draw the invoking symbol of air in the usual way. Call upon the powers of air to confirm and strengthen the powers of the cauldron. Don't trace the banishing symbol at all.
Return to the altar and, using the tip of the wand, draw the invoking symbol of fire over the mouth of the cauldron. See the cauldron fill with red light full of the nwyfre of fire. Dip the end of the wand in the light, and use it to draw the invoking fire symbol in the south, then invoke the powers of fire. Do the same thing with the energies and invoking symbols of water and earth .
Next, use the circle of spirit to invoke Spirit Below and Above, and the symbol of the three rays of light , the traditional Druid emblem of Awen, to awaken Spirit Within in the cauldron. In each case, call on the elements to confirm and strengthen the powers of the cauldron. Proceed as usual to the Circulation of Light. When you have finished the second Sphere of Protection, go on to the closing ceremony and perform this in the usual way.
Once you have enchanted your cauldron, it can be used as a reservoir of nwyfre to be shaped and directed by the wand. If you wish, you no longer need to use the four bowls or cauldrons of air, fire, water, and earth used in the grove opening ritual. You can simply draw each of these elements from the cauldron, dipping your wand into them and using each of them in turn to trace a circle around the grove, where you would otherwise pick up one of the elements and carry it around the grove. Your cauldron will always be full of the seven elements and the nwyfre of the eight Stations. It can also be filled with other forms of nwyfre in magical ritual. Working with the Ogham fews makes an excellent introduction to this side of Druid magic.