AskDefine | Define caldron

Dictionary Definition

caldron n : a very large pot that is used for boiling [syn: cauldron]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. alternative spelling of cauldron

Extensive Definition

A cauldron or caldron (from Latin caldarium, hot bath) is a large metal pot (kettle) for cooking and/or boiling over an open fire, with a large mouth and frequently with an arc-shaped hanger.

Symbolism and mythology

Cauldrons have largely fallen out of use in the industrialized world as cooking vessels. While still used, a more common association in Western culture is the cauldron's use in witchcraft—a cliché popularized by various fictions, such as Shakespeare's play Macbeth. In fantastic fiction, witches often prepare their potions in a cauldron. Also, in legend, a cauldron is purported to be where leprechauns keep their treasure.
In Wicca, a cauldron can be placed in a sacred circle and used to burn items that will be set alight during a ritual (e.g. Tuitéan & Daniels 2001, pp.175-176). It is a symbol of the womb of the Goddess (Zimmermann & Gleason 2000, p. 74; Iles 2005, p. 689) and rebirth (Starhawk 1999, p.109; Tuitéan & Daniels 2001, p. 330; Iles 2005, p. 689) as it was in ancient British Celtic religion (Webster 1987 pp. 60-61) and is sacred to the Goddess. Water can be placed into a cauldron for scrying (a method of divining the future) or it can hold the ingredients necessary for a spell or incantation.
In some forms of Wicca which incorporate aspects of Celtic mythology, the cauldron is associated with the goddess Cerridwen. Celtic legend also tells of a cauldron that was useful to warring armies: dead warriors could be put into the cauldron and would be returned to life, save that they lacked the power of speech. It was suspected that they lacked souls, like golem. These warriors could go back into battle until they were killed again.
The holy grail of Arthurian legend is sometimes referred to as a "cauldron", although traditionally the grail is thought of as a hand-held cup rather than the large pot that the word "cauldron" usually is used to mean. This may have resulted from the combination of the grail legend with earlier Celtic myths of magical cauldrons.
Real symbolic cauldrons include:
caldron in German: Kochkessel
caldron in Spanish: Pebetero
caldron in Esperanto: Kaldrono
caldron in French: Chaudron
caldron in Japanese: 釜
caldron in Low German: Ketel
caldron in Swedish: Kittel


Iles, J., THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WITCHCRAFT. London: HarperElement, 2005.
Tuitéan, P. and Daniels, E., ESSENTIAL Wicca. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press, 2001.
Webster, G., CELTIC RELIGION IN ROMAN BRITAIN. Totowa, NJ: Barnes & Noble Books, 1987.
Zimmermann, D. and Gleason, K.A., THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE® TO Wicca and Witchcraft.Indianapolis, IN: Alpha Books, 2000.
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