Ceridwen (pr. with a hard K sound; Forvo) is the name of an enchantress or goddess in Welsh mythology; linked as a goddess of poetic inspiration, rebirth, and transformation. She is the wife of Tegid Foel with whom she had two children: a beautiful daughter, Creirwy, and an ugly son, Morfran. Because her son was so ugly Ceridwen decided to give him great wisdom. She owned a magical cauldron of inspiration and she used it to brew a potion for her son, though it would take a year and a day for it to be ready. Her servant, Gwion Bach, accidentally gets three of the potion splashed on his thumb when stirring the cauldron and when he puts his thumb in his mouth he gains the power of the potion which apparently rendered the rest of the potion useless. Gwion flees, afraid of Ceridwen’s wrath but she chases him. He turns himself into a hare, a fish, and a bird, but she also transforms herself (into a greyhound, an otter, and a hawk). Finally, Gwion transforms himself into a single grain of wheat which Ceridwen ate. However, this causes her to become pregnant with him and when he is born she sets him out to sea, where he is eventually found by a prince and named Taliesin and grew up to be a wise bard.
The name Ceridwen is of uncertain meaning. The second element of the name may be derived from Welsh gwen meaning “white; blessed, fair” though it’s also been linked to wen/ben meaning “woman”. The first element is just as uncertain. It may be derived from Welsh cerdd meaning “poetry, poem; music” or cyrrid “bent, crooked”.
Meaning: uncertain though possibly “crooked woman” or “poem, poetry + fair, blessed”
- Cerridwen (Welsh)
- Cerridwyn (Welsh)
- Cerrydwen (Welsh)