The Origin of Cerridwen Swynwraig

The Origin of Cerridwen Swynwraig

An Ageless Goddess

Each of the aspects of who Cerridwen is has been a work of channelling Her inspiration. What I mean by that, is that when I was first invited to work with Her, I knew there were eight aspects of Her on Her own wheel. The pure essence of Her would be a compilation of all the ‘spokes’ in the centre, Her hub.

What I also knew, was that the way the Avalon wheel designated ages to each season, was not true for Cerridwen. She stubbornly resisted being put in human ages, evidence that She has a bit of the trickster in Her. Rarely did She show me Her face as a young woman. That part of Her in our story is Her daughter, Creirwy. Sometimes She showed me the Crone, and many who are drawn to working with Her, see that part of Her. Most often however, She came to me as a mature woman in Her 40’s.

I realised recently, that this is Her way of connecting with us, She comes to us in the aspect that we consider ourselves to be. My main ‘seeing’ of Her was a mature woman in her prime, post childbirth even if still fertile, ready to make her mark in the world, because that was the age I was when I first met her. I then agewise stood in what we like to refer to as the place of the Enchantress in the wheel, at the West, and this is where She brought me then: the West, Avalon, The Western Isle. 

Enchantress evokes the images of magic, of spells to entice and deep feminine wisdom. It opens up some interesting avenues of exploration, which is what the Cerridwen Priestesses and Priests excel at.

Who or what is the Swynwraig: the Magic Wise Woman?

One day, almost a decade after I met Her and started to work with Her, I came across a book, written in the late 19th Century by one of the academics who was then working on obscure mediaeval Welsh texts to be translated into English. He described Cerridwen as Sorceress, Enchantress and Swynwraig. As soon as I read the word Swynwraig, I knew this was the true aspect of the Goddess. 

I wondered, in a completely Welsh text, why would the authors of the story suddenly use English terms in their writing? It didn’t make any sense. They wouldn’t. I deduced that the other two designations must have been later additions. Nothing else felt true, and frankly, when we research these texts of the myths, we sometimes have to have faith that if something tries to steer us towards a particular piece of Knowing, it is meant. The chase for the meaning of who the Swynwraig is was on. The literal translation is Swyn: Magic  Gwraig: woman/wife. We use the translation of Magic Wise Woman because it feels right. Trust your intuition is the first rule of the Cerridwen Club. [See the end of this article for how to pronounce Swynwraig.]

That night, I dreamt of a cottage in the forest, a dark, dark forest. Even while the rest of the world was in daylight, the forest shared very little of that. A path led towards the cottage. I remember the season was late autumn, leaves crunching under my feet although in the ‘real world’ the season was not autumn. This is part of lucid dreaming: when you can question and manipulate events and places, and receive information.

I was walking the path accompanied by an animal, which I later learnt was a white hind. It took several times of dreaming lucidly to coax her out of hiding. The cottage door opened and I walked into a space that was pure magic, smelt divinely of something good cooking in the cauldron over the fire in the fireplace. Then a sharper undertone, of bitter herbs and medicine. Looking around, I noticed shelves in the corner which held bottles, pots and jars with handwritten labels.

Medicine of Love

Synwraig by Charlene
Cerridwen Swynwraig by Priestess Charlene

On the great oak table in the centre of the cottage were all sorts of tools, bottles and jars, handwritten labels attached to them by string. The writing was not what we would recognise these days. It was symbols that were a mystery to me.

Herbs were strewn across the table, in various states of preparedness. I love that cottage and I often journey there, for myself and for clients. Cerridwen always appears in Her dark green dress, sign of the Swynwraig, with a large apron over it, her sleeves rolled up ready for work. Her hands are stained with various saps from the trees and plants who work with Her.

She is always alone in this cottage, here She is the healer, not the queen, there is no entourage or helpers, at least none that I have ever seen. She always gifts me food, drink (bitter herbal brew) and She always has a bottle of medicine for what ails me at that present moment. Whether I dream this or I journey it, the love She holds for me, and for all existences is always palpable. She is that being of pure love and peace, my sanctuary, my safe haven. Most of the students on the course love the work with the Swynwraig. Magic, mystery, plant spirit work, nature born, healing with heart. That is She who knows the secrets of the herbs.

We know from the description by Geoffrey Monmouth that healing was part of the Priestess Tradition in Avalon, and it is certainly part of our tradition. In the next few months we will reveal three new courses from the Temple of Cerridwen in Avalon, keep an eye on our newsletter for more information.

Many blessings


And finally, how do you say Swynwraig?!


Bee Helygen

Adoratrix of Cerridwen

Priestess of the Llwyth


Bee Helygen - Priestess of Cerridwen


Bee is the creatrix and course tutor for the Priestess of Cerridwen training which has been running as part of the Glastonbury Goddess Temple since 2015. She also runs the Death Priestess training and is a celebrant and Avalon Soul Healer. Full bio

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