Story of the Song – The Cauldron Born

Many of us will remember that moment. We might have been walking through a woodland, standing on the top of a hill or mountain, seated beside a waterfall, or maybe simply walking in the centre of the city, but something changes. It can be like a second set of eyes opens and we see the world for the first time. The illusion that created the human construct of modern life falls away.

Sometimes this can be utterly enthralling, but for others it can be debilitating and frightening. All of those things we held to be true about our lives, about money, work, security, about what is truly important dissolves, and we find ourselves feeling separate from that human world, but with so much more potential and connection to literally everything else.

I remember that moment and it was the first time I became aware of the power of magic. I had always loved fantasy fiction, with its wizards and dragons, but suddenly seeing that power surrounding everything, well, life could never be the same again. It’s like those old stories that say we should never eat the Food of Fearie. Some believe this is because you will be trapped in their Realm forever, but the more I considered this piece of Lore, the more it became obvious that it was because once those other eyes have opened, they can never again be closed. Things will utterly change, and we can never go back to the way life was before. That the Food of Faerie is the nourishment of the Otherworld and of Magic, a potent energy that is all around us, all the time. Opening those eyes is like taking a seat at the Round Table, but our seat is the one marked Perilous.

That is where my mind was going when I wrote The Cauldron Born. Once those eyes are opened the hill outside of town may call us on the night of the Full Moon. We drive to the base of the hill, then walk up the steady slope to stand upon its peak, overlooking the town below. Car headlights move along roads lit by yellow street lamps far below. The world of humanity continues without you. There on the top of the hill, bathed in the light of the Moon, you raise your arms. It’s the first time you’ve done this. Truly opened to the power of magic.

“I call to the Powers of Land, Sea and Sky, of Dragon, of Fearie, and Shades of the Night! I call to my Ancestors of Blood and of Bone! Of Womb, and Tomb, and Standing Stone!”

The distant sound of cars fades away in that instant. The light of the town in the valley below disappears, and you are left alone, standing, arms raised to the Moon, alone yet at peace with all life, open to the consciousness that is within all things, from the blade of grass beneath your feet, to the endless darkness of the Universe above. Bathed in the light of the Moon, there on sacred earth.

Then a thought. If I feel this way there must be others too. But where are they?

I wrote this song in 2007. Social media was only really just being born, so the way we used to meet was to seek out a local pub moot. There began the quest for others. At that moot may have been the leaders of a local Coven or Grove. Maybe the moot organised open rituals. That connection felt upon the hill alone begins to spread among others of your kind.

Bringing humans into that relationship can sometimes be a disappointment – many of us have been there too – but sharing our thoughts and feelings about our Pagan path with others is incredibly valuable. These days maybe the first thing we do is go on Facebook and find Pagan groups. Pagans have embraced the Internet since its earliest days. There were Pagan Newsgroups, then email lists, then message boards, and most of those have now been killed off by the behemoth that is Facebook. However, one thing I’ve noticed over the years is that we are not often at our best on the Internet. I wonder how many people new to the Path are scared away by the brashness with which we sometimes communicate via our illuminated screens. Who knows. I would always still recommend seeking out contact with people directly through a moot, or a conference, or open ritual, if you can, but I digress…

Time moves on, and one day we find ourselves standing upon that same hill, in circle with friends, all arms raised, chanting those same words, declaring our love for Land, Sea, Sky, for our Ancestors, the Dragon Energy of the Earth, and the Realm of the Fae. We have found others, just like you.

Group work can be incredibly powerful, but never forget that this connection is always a personal one. A magical group can add to our spirituality and our Pagan path, but from my experience if we come to rely too much on the group, and begin to let our own personal connection slip, that can lead to difficulties. Even if we are in a group, keep that daily personal practice going.

There is one more verse in the song. About a Charm of Silver being laid upon the hand of a Gypsy, and a following prophecy. I’ve been asked many times about this verse and whether it is in any way autobiographical. Well I’ll come clean. Yes it is. I was 17 and on my lunch break. I worked in a factory in Burgess Hill and I was in the Martletts town centre with my buddy Mick who was from Orkney. We were looking at cassette tapes to listen to during the afternoon at work. As we walked through the town there was a Gypsy woman standing just outside WH Smiths. She held a hand-woven basket and in the basket were little charms of heather, wrapped up in silver foil. She caught my eye and smiled at me, so I walked over.

“You have the eyes of someone who knows,” she said. “Let me tell you what I see.”

She held out her hand. “A charm of silver and I’ll tell you.” I gave her a 50p piece – the ‘charm of silver’ I had on me at the time. She smiled and closed her hand around the coin. “Give me your hand,” she said.

Her fingers traced the lines on my hand, her eyes opened wide, then she looked me straight in the eyes. “All of this you see around you is a construction. One day you will see through this illusion, and you will see into the Dream.” She let go of my hand, smiled, and gave me one of the charms from her basket.

I’ve never forgotten that moment, and as my pen moved across the paper writing this song, it all came flooding back to me, and the verse was written.

The song was complete.

13 Comments

  1. Margaret Coles January 15, 2018 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Hello all, I, with my two daughters saw an amazing sight on 20th December 2017. I had met up with two daughters and some extended family at a house in the Forest of Dean where I live. We had a lovely day, and my girls drove me home before dusk. Took the scenic route and as we came into the borders of Cinderford, we witnessed half of a brilliant pink bow across the sky. We climbed the hill to the junction at the top of Cinderford and looking across towards the River Seven witnessed the most amazing rainbow I have ever seen. The River was covered in a soft multi-coloured mist, above blazed a celebration of every colour imaginable. Each colour complimented the next one and the sun flamed above. We were transfixed, did not have a mobile to take a photo, but a friend pointed out to me that the memory was better in our hearts than any other way. Now, I know this is a pagan link and I love it. I do not adhere to any one religious path, I honour the best in all, after a lifetime of investigation and experiences. So to further share with you, I “heard” the choral singing from Handel’s “Messiah” “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” I understand that certain doors, planetary wise were being opened around that time. Love to you all, Margaret.

    • John Chambers January 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Small world! Cinderford Hill, overlooking the Great Bend at Newnham, is my Sacred Peak. I remember the amazing morning twilights up there. I think that one of those cool autumn mornings with a cloudless starry sky was my first magical experience.

  2. Terri January 15, 2018 at 11:47 am - Reply

    wow…great story! ty for sharing. i hope you tell us more stories about how your songs came to be. peace and blessings to you and yours. )O(

  3. Janie January 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm - Reply

    I find it sad, and more than a little frustrating, that there are no longer the email groups, newsgroups and message boards that there once were. I am very reluctant to join the giant data-mining machine that is Facebook, so I don’t even get to find out what is happening any more, let alone whether it is suitable for a wheelchair-user to join in. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who is too nervous to get involved with, as you call it, a “behemoth”.

    On totally another subject, The Cauldron Born has been running around my head like a veritable earworm these last couple of weeks; I have dug out the old RPG game Neverwinter Nights, and the introductory music to that is very reminiscent of The Cauldron Born, so I find myself singing your wonderful song – though under my breath, don’t want to scare the night time wildlife. 😀

  4. Lesley January 15, 2018 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    I really enjoy reading your posts and discovering the history behind your songs.

  5. Sonia January 15, 2018 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Love this.

    And I had a random youtube mix going in the background, and as I opened the blog post The Cauldron Born began to play immediately.

    Haha how is that for Magic?

  6. Kevin Rowan-Drewitt January 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    A great story Damh thanks for sharing. As a songwriter myself I always love hearing the story behind the song, what inspired it, who played on it, anything to do with it really. Have you told the tale of how Pagan Ways came about coz thats a good un too!

  7. Margaret Coles January 15, 2018 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    Hello Janie, I sympathize with your comment. I cannot be bothered with Face Book. Too much in my face! I am quite content to link in frequently with family and friends, one friend from school is a link of nearly 66 years in New Zealand. I have the privilege of every few years visiting her. Now there is a magical place. John Chambers, the sound of your comment re Cinderford, tells me you aren’t there any more, is that so? we could meet up if you are in the area. Lovely to link up with you all. Blessings, Margaret.

  8. Brigit January 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing this Damh 🙂

    That’s one of my Favorite songs! I have shared the song with others, & have given the Cd to friends & family, as gifts. When listening to the song, in my mind’s eye, I did “see” you with the Gypsy Woman, & thought it was a real experience. It’s a powerful & magickal story. I enjoyed hearing the background behind the song. 🙂

    The song also brings to mind a vision of those of us on the Druid path (with Cerridwen), being “Born” from Her Cauldron. We are Her Children, and are therefore, “The Cauldron Born.” 🙂 We receive the “Awen” from Her Cauldron, as we follow Her Ways. It also reminds me of those amazing “awakened” experiences in the Forest, where the “Land of the Fay,” opens up to us, & we are forever changed with “the Sight,” from the Awen of Her Cauldron…

    Thank You for this powerful, insightful, & delightful song… *Brightest of Blessings to All, on your journeys towards Imbolc*

  9. Cathie Rayes January 16, 2018 at 9:12 am - Reply

    “There are others, just like you” made me cry the first time I heard the song; I still sometimes am moved to tears by that line. The immense loneliness of my solitary path started to heal that day. I’ve used Cauldron Born in ritual and to connect with Cerridwen ever since. Thank you for giving me this helping hand!

  10. Pamela Meekings-Stewart January 18, 2018 at 1:59 am - Reply

    Thank you Damh. This is exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of on this day. The journey continues.

  11. Craig January 20, 2018 at 2:55 am - Reply

    Thank you <3

  12. Mark Kilgharrah January 23, 2018 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Although I get the regular emails from Damh the Bard, this is the 1st time I’ve actually stopped to read the story. Thank you. I just can’t believe I’ve missed out on so much encouragement, from these stories. My journey continues. )O( Blessed Be )O(

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