Amanda is a columnist for Spiral Nature magazine and Witch Way Magazine. Witchcraft is her life passion, vocation, and calling.
Although all a witch needs is their mind to create magick, tools help them to channel, boost, and magnify power. There are a number of tools that a witch may use for magickal purposes. One of the most iconic tools is the cauldron. I have three, and I love them dearly.
Few symbols are as commonly linked with Witchcraft as the cauldron...when it comes to conjuring, the cauldron has played an iconic role in portraying the Witch's power...
— (Zakroff, 2018, pg. 5)
How Witches Use a Cauldron
Below is a list of ways in which I have used my cauldrons:
- As an altar piece.
- As a tool in spell work.
- As a tool in divination.
- As an incense holder.
Conjuring and Divining With the Cauldron
While using the cauldron as an altar piece or to hold incense, are fairly self-explanatory, I thought I would elaborate on ways in which to work spells or perform divination with the cauldron.
How to Use a Cauldron for Divination
Using the cauldron for divination is usually via scrying, or gazing into a substance in order to obtain messages. This could be done with water, oil, smoke, and flame. When using water, you just scry like you would a mirror—you look into the water, blur your focus, and wait for psychic messages to come to you. When interpreting flame and smoke you are looking for certain shapes, direction, strength, color (flame), and concentration (smoke). When using oil, you could use it the same way you do water, by pouring some into the cauldron and gazing at it, or you can fill the cauldron with water and drip oil or candle wax into the water and divine based on the way the oil or wax pools together on the surface of the water.
How to Use a Cauldron for Spell Work
The cauldron is most often used as a transformative catalyst in spell work. You could write your wish on a piece of paper, light it on fire and drop it into the cauldron. You could make a poppet and charge it in the cauldron, or put ingredients inside to make a potion. The common thread between all of these methods is that the cauldron transforms the ingredients in some way.
Symbolism of the Cauldron
By looking at the myths surrounding the cauldron we can learn about the various meanings attributed to the cauldron.
Cauldrons of Gods and Men
A modern idea about the cauldron is that it is a feminine tool, but there have been a number of myths about gods and men who have had a sacred cauldron.
- Dagda, who owned the Cauldron of Plenty (sometimes referred to as the Cauldron of Abundance). This cauldron suits Dagda well because he is known for his great appetite. It is said that all who take from this cauldron walk away satisfied. This abundance may refer to food, wealth, and health.
- Dian Cecht, another Celtic god, owned the Cauldron of Healing
- The Cauldron of Resurrection was owned by an Irish king and said to have the power to bring men back to life. The cauldron was enormous, large enough so a full-grown man could fit comfortably inside. The myth ascertained that whenever a dead person was put into the cauldron he would come back to life.
For the Celtic pantheon, at least, the cauldron goes beyond femininity and masculinity. The cauldron represents abundance and plenty, which could mean an abundance of health, wealth, even life. (Daimler, 2019).
The Divine Feminine
There are several popular myths surrounding the cauldron as a symbol of the divine feminine: Cerridwen, Baba Yaga, Circe, Medea - you get the idea. While these myths come from various parts of the world, they have a couple of common themes which point to a consistency in the symbolism of the cauldron. The first is that the cauldron symbolizes the power to do magick, and its' very presence is "a testament to a woman's power to work potions, unseen spirits, and the elements - to work outside of the natural order of things." (Zakroff, 2018, pg. 36).
Cauldron of Annwn
This cauldron is one of rebirth and inspiration. According to Zakroff, this cauldron is the one that ties all the myths involving cauldrons together. She writes:
The Cauldron of Annwn is really the all-cauldron and holder of mysteries. It clearly is not of this world, but still manages to inspire us...Its potential to give new life can send us on new journeys and quests...If we step away from the pursuits of strife and conquest, there lies an opportunity to rest, rejuvenate, and be reborn.
(Zakroff, 2018, pg. 66).
How to Season a Cauldron (This Is for a Dutch Oven, But the Same Applies for Cauldrons)
Learn More About Cauldrons
The book I used most to find information about cauldrons was The Witch's Cauldron, by Laura Tempest Zakroff. She discusses history, myths, symbolism, uses, and offers several spells involving cauldrons.
Another book that goes in-depth about cauldrons is Morgan Daimler's Dagda: The Good God. While there isn't much about the history or uses of the cauldron, but it does go into the symbolism and significance of the cauldron.
Where to Get a Cauldron
Here are a few cauldrons I can recommend if you're interested in purchasing one.
A great starter cauldron is the Triquetra cauldron from Amazon. It's three inches in diameter and comes with a lid. It also comes pre-seasoned, but if you plan to use it to brew potions or soups I recommend giving it a scrub, then re-seasoning it yourself (refer to the video above to see how to season a cauldron). As I said, it's perfect for burning herbs or bits of paper with sigils or spells. The lid comes in handy because you can control how much smoke comes out, and snuff fires if they get a little too high.
Brewing potions is another fun option—due to the small size, I recommend putting it right on the burner rather than a fire. It's a small cauldron, and fires are unpredictable—better to err on the side of caution. The triquetra knot holds power as well, which, in my opinion, adds to the power of the cauldron. When your cauldron arrives the first thing you'll want to do is cleanse it with sage or incense smoke. You can bless it too if you wish. Season the cauldron, then set it on your altar to absorb your magical energy. It wouldn't hurt to puts some crystals inside to aid it along.
The cauldron I use for devotional purposes is a three-inch wide-mouthed cauldron like this one—exactly this one, actually. This would be especially appropriate if the Deity you work with has a connection to cauldrons, such as the Morrigan, Dagda, Cerridwen, or Baba Yaga. The cauldron has varying meanings with each deity, as I discussed above, but what matters most is what the cauldron means to you. If you don't want to use it for Deity devotions, you could use it as an altarpiece.
The cauldron has ties to the elements of Water and Fire. You could put salt or stones inside to represent earth, or incense cones to represent air. The versatility of a cauldron like this is unlimited and priceless. It does not come with a lid, but that doesn't mean it isn't as useful as one that comes with a lid! The handle is great for smudging, and the wide mouth makes it easy to add ingredients for spells.
Daimler, M. (2019). The Dagda: The good god. [Kindle Edition]
Zakroff, L. (2018). The witches cauldron: The craft, lore & magick of ritual vessels.
Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Amanda Wilson
Amanda Wilson (author) from New Hampshire, USA on January 13, 2020:
It depends on what it's for. A cup could certainly be used if it's representational, but the cauldron, cast iron pot, or some other fire-proof container is vital if you use it for burning incense
katie on January 12, 2020:
could i use a cup insted lol
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on August 09, 2019:
Growing up in the country and having enjoyed many a meal cooked over a campfire I have a strong attraction to cast iron cookware and the old cauldron. Ours was used for cooking rather than magical ceremonies but I am sure that I appreciated ours as much as any witch for hers ;) Wonderful article with more than a few facts that I was unaware of.
Amanda Wilson (author) from New Hampshire, USA on July 21, 2019:
It depends on what you’re using for ingredients but yes it’s safe. I do magic with my cooking call the time
Lily on July 21, 2019:
Would it be safe to use a cauldron for Magick and for cooking?
Amanda Wilson (author) from New Hampshire, USA on May 27, 2019:
My pleasure! I have more hubs planned for other Witches tools! I have a family emergency that has been keeping me distracted lately, but I will get it posted within the week hopefully
SoulWitches on May 27, 2019:
thank you very much it helped me with many things