Cauldrons were used in various Celtic rites. Some cauldrons were believed to possess magical qualities: they would not boil the meat of a coward or an unrighteous person; they granted divine inspiration; or they provided great quantities of food. Early Celts used cauldrons in rites of fertility, and "cauldrons of plenty" were associated with abundance. The mead in the cauldron of the Celtic goddess Cerridwen gave divine wisdom, and that of the goddess Branwen promised regeneration.
Cauldrons in Celtic cultures may have also been used in acts of human sacrifice. The Gundestrup Cauldron, recovered from a peat bog in present-day Denmark dating from around 100 B.C.E., has a carved image of a victim being plunged into a cauldron.
The following ritual goes back to the early Middle Ages and has become a legendary magical method of gaining a desired lover's affection. It requires a cauldron of the first rain water in April. As the water boils, the following ingredients are to be collected and stirred into the brew: seven hairs from a blood snake (an old colloquialism for sausage prepared in the gut and/or hide of a pig), seven feathers from an owl, seven scales from a snake, a hair from the object of love and a bit of his nail paring. When all the ingredients have been incorporated into the cauldron, the magical "stew" must be allowed to boil briskly for seven minutes. At the end of this time, the magician must permit the brew to cool before he or she sprinkles it upon the intended lover. The brew is meant to warm the lover up a bit, not to scald him or her.