A cauldron is defined as a “large metal pot with a lid and handle used to cook over an open fire.” Their history goes back to at least the late Bronze Age and were used for cooking and brewing purposes. The term “cauldron” is derived from old Norse and Germanic words meaning “hot place”. The term kettle is related to cauldron.
At a time when electricity didn’t exist and survival during the cold months depended on fire, the cauldron was a symbol of protection and life. The cauldron came as a welcome change to cooking after many used an earthenware pot to heat their food and brews. This was more difficult because it required dropping hot stones into the pot to cook what was inside. The cauldron came along and made cooking and brewing easier. And it came to be associated with women’s magic and eventually the witch’s magic.
The Witch’s Cauldron as a Magic Symbol
The cauldron symbolizes many things, namely the Divine Feminine, because it is viewed as the womb. It is related to creation, as in the womb of the earth. And therefore, it’s associated with witches and goddesses. Because food and ingredients for remedies are placed inside a cauldron and then transformed, the cauldron is a symbol of transformation and alchemy.
Via Cerridwen’s Cauldron of Inspiration, it’s also a symbol of divine wisdom and rebirth. The four elements are an inherent part of every cauldron: the pot and food that goes inside, water and brews made inside, the fire that heats the cauldron, and the steam and smoke that comes out. The three legs represent the Celtic sacred number three: three main lunar phases, the life/death/rebirth cycle, and the triple goddess.