In 7th Century Ireland, a Bard by the name of Amergin White-Knee penned a magical text that has come to be known as the Three Cauldrons of Poesy. As is common with ancient Celtic lore, there is much mystical wisdom hidden within the text that can only be understood through meditative practices. Some have referred to these three cauldrons as the Celtic Chakras, Three Levels of Reality, Three States of Enlightenment or the Threefold Mind. According to this text, all people are born with three cauldrons.
The cauldrons are described as follows:
The Cauldron of Wisdom is located in the HEAD, and represents Spiritual Health. It contains our highest spiritual and artistic inspirations. This cauldron is inverted when we are born, but turns fully upright when we become enlightened.
The Cauldron of Motion resides in the HEART, and represents Psychic Health. It contains our spiritual or psychic/magical gifts and abilities. This cauldron turns on it’s side when we become aware of our gifts, fully upright when our gifts are developed, but turns fully inverted in those with no evident psychic/magical skill or ability.
The Cauldron of Warming is located in the BELLY and represents Physical Health. It contains the source of our physical strength and health. It is upright when we are born and remains upright, with the potential to be fully filled.
Some teachers suggest that through visualization, we can place objects or images into the cauldrons to increase our spiritual, psychic and physical health. We can also utilize these cauldrons when doing healing work for others.
The majority of the text of the Cauldrons 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 are described as: 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 Hazelnuts of Wisdom. 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 and process them, they become the raw material for our understanding and wisdom.
There are different translations of the text of the Three Cauldrons of Poesy. I have included one below.
Three Cauldrons of Poesy
My perfect cauldron of warming
has been taken by the Gods from the mysterious abyss of the elements;
a perfect truth that ennobles from the center of being,
that pours forth a terrifying stream of speech.
I am Amirgen White-knee,
with pale substance and grey hair,
accomplishing my poetic incubation in proper forms,
in diverse colors.
The Gods do not give the same wisdom to everyone,
tipped, inverted, right-side-up;
no knowledge, half-knowledge, full knowledge —
for Eber Donn, the making of fearful poetry,
of vast, mighty draughts death-spells, of great chanting;
in active voice, in passive silence, in the neutral balance between,
in rhythm and form and rhyme,
in this way is spoken the path and function of my cauldrons.
Where is the root of poetry in a person; in the body or in the soul? Some say it is in the soul, for the body does nothing without the soul. Some say it is in the body where the arts are learned, passed through the bodies of our ancestors. It is said that this is the truth remaining over the root of poetry, and the wisdom in every person’s ancestry does not come from the northern sky into everyone, but into every other person.
What then is the root of poetry and every other wisdom? Not hard; three cauldrons are born in every person — the cauldron of warming, the cauldron of motion and the cauldron of wisdom.
The cauldron of warming is born upright in people from the beginning. It distributes wisdom to people in their youth.
The cauldron of motion, however, increases after turning; that is to say it is born tipped on its side, growing within.
The cauldron of wisdom is born on its lips and distributes wisdom in poetry and every other art.
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.
Question: How many divisions of sorrow turn the cauldrons of sages? Not hard; four: longing and grief, the sorrows of jealousy, and the discipline of pilgrimage to holy places. These four are endured internally, turning the cauldrons, although the cause is from outside.
There are two divisions of joy that turn the cauldron of wisdom; divine joy and human joy.
There are four divisions of human joy among the wise — sexual intimacy, the joy of health and prosperity after the difficult years of studying poetry, the joy of wisdom after the harmonious creation of poems, and the joy of ecstacy from eating the fair nuts of the nine hazels of the Well of Segais in the Sidhe realm. They cast themselves in multitudes, like a ram’s fleece upon the ridges of the Boyne, moving upstream swifter than racehorses driven on midsummer’s day every seven years.
The Gods touch people through divine and human joys so that they are able to speak prophetic poems and dispense wisdom and perform miracles, giving wise judgment with precedents, and blessings in answer to every wish. The source of these joys is outside the person and added to their cauldrons to cause them to turn, although the cause of the joy is internal.
I sing of the cauldron of wisdom
which bestows the nature of every art,
through which treasure increases,
which magnifies every artisan,
which builds up a person through their gift.
I sing of the cauldron of motion
streaming ecstacy as milk from the breast,
it is the tide-water of knowledge
union of sages
stream of splendor
glory of the lowly
mastery of speech
craftsman of histories
looking after binding principles
moving toward music
propagation of wisdom
ennobling the commonplace
through the working of law
comparing of ranks
pure weighing of nobility
with fair words of the wise
with streams of sages,
the noble brew in which is boiled
the true root of all knowledge
which bestows according to harmonious principle
which is climbed after diligence
which ecstacy sets in motion
which joy turns
which is revealed through sorrow;
it is enduring fire
I sing of the cauldron of motion.
The cauldron of motion
bestows, is bestowed
extends, is extended
nourishes, is nourished
magnifies, is magnified
invokes, is invoked
sings, is sung
keeps, is kept,
arranges, is arranged,
supports, is supported.
Good is the well of poetry,
good is the dwelling of speech,
good is the union of power and mastery
which establishes strength.
It is greater than every domain,
it is better than every inheritance,
it bears one to knowledge,
adventuring away from ignorance.