Though the cauldron is often associated with witches and witchcraft, it’s not really a common tool. Cauldrons can be hard to find, large to store and not all the necessary for most rituals.
A typical or traditional cauldron is cast-iron with three legs, but you don’t need to be bound by this form or material. Depending on how you plan on using it, your cauldron should be both fire-resistant and water-tight.
If you prefer the standard cast-iron variety, they are available from most Pagan shops in sizes ranging from very small (votive candle size) to large floor models. If you do intend to light fires in your cauldron, I would recommend getting one with a lid.
The cauldron is a tool that represents the element of water, and the fertility and abundance of the womb. Most folk that I know keep a cauldron more as an altar decoration rather than a real, working tool. Though the cauldron is associated with water, it is often used in conjunction with fire when used in rituals. Small fires are lit within the cauldron, usually when you don’t have access to an outdoor area for a bonfire. Another use for a cauldron is water scrying, or any spells that require water to be kept on the altar.
One of the better known cauldrons is the one owned by the Celtic Goddess Cerridwen. Her cauldron was called Amen, and contained knowledge. She is often portrayed with it, and it is possible that the quintessential image of the witch and her cauldron came from these images of Cerridwen.
Cauldrons play a role in many myths, and one of the more well-known ones involves this cauldron of Cerridwen:
The Story of Taliesin
The Goddess Cerridwen had a son named Morfran who was born very ugly. To help her unfortunate son, Cerridwen decided to make him wise and knowledgeable to make up for his appearance. In her cauldron, she began to create a brew that would take an entire year to prepare. She hired a boy named Gwion to stir the brew for a whole year.
Just as the potion was finished, the boy stirred too quickly and some of the brew splashed up and landed on his thumb. Because it was hot, he immediately popped his thumb into his mouth. The spell worked its magick, and Gwion received the wisdom and enlightenment intended for Morfran. To escape the wrath of Cerridwen, Gwion ran away, but the Goddess chased him.
They changed form into various wild animals as the chase continued, but eventually he changed into a grain of wheat and She into a hen. After She ate the boy, She became pregnant and then gave birth to Talisin, one of the greatest Celtic bards.