The Charming Chalice
The History and Uses
The chalice has been used for centuries by many different people around the world and plays a significant role in most religions.
It's believed that ancient people would use horns, shells, or gourds as the first chalices. Silver then became the favored material because of its lengthy affiliation with the Moon and the Goddess.
The Romans used the 'calix' which was a bowl affixed to the top of a stand and was commonly used at banquets.
The christians have an deep-rooted custom of using the chalice to drink 'the blood of Christ' during Holy Communion at Mass.
The Greeks were said to have burned oil in the chalice as a symbol of their devotion to the Gods.
Witches and pagans have a long history of using the chalice to represent the feminine energies of the Goddess.
The Unitarianism/Unitarian Universalism uses the Flaming Chalice (where a fire is lit inside of a chalice) as a symbol of how its members come together to be united in their worship together.
Myths and Lore
There are many myths and legends that revolve around the chalice. Here are a couple of the more common ones.
The Holy Grailis the myth that involves the chalice that was used by Jesus at the Last Supper and is what He used to set the precedence for the Holy Communion and Mass. The Holy Grail is said to be blessed with unimaginable powers. In some parts of the myth, it was said to have been the cup that was used to collect Jesus' blood at His crucifixion, and in others it has Joseph collecting His blood in the chalice when Joseph put Him in the tomb. The Holy Grail is a myth that is not to be confused with the Holy Chalice. The Holy Chaliceis the christian relic that was used by Jesus at the Last Supper. The Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia in Valencia, Spain claims to have the Holy Chalice within their cathedral.
You then have the myth of the Judas Chalice. This myth is about an unholy artifact that was crafted out of 30 pieces of silver. The myth alleges that Judas was cursed never to die and so became the first vampire. The Judas Chalice is said to be perceived as a holy relic to the vampires because it grants them rapid healing, among other characteristics.
Many people choose to use the chalice in place of the cauldron and is often viewed as a smaller version of the cauldron. The cauldron and chalice share many of the same symbolisms. To read more about the associations with the cauldron, you can read my article The Bewitching Cauldron.
For Wiccans, witches, and pagans, the chalice holds a great deal of symbolism. The base is symbolic of the material world, the stem symbolizes the bond between man and spirit, the rim or opening of the chalice symbolically holds spiritual energy, and the cup of the chalice represents the womb of the Goddess. One of the main uses of the chalice is during the Great Rite when the chalice represents the womb of the Goddess and the athame represents the God and they come together for fertility and is a symbol of the universal birth and creativity.
The chalice is also used to represent the element of Water and the direction West on the altar. The chalice is also considered as the physical vessel into which the Divine can access, be cradled in, and to channel the Divine energy, psychic energy, intuition, and consciousness. It can also be used to hold the water in which to purify and consecrate other tools or your circle and/or sacred space, used to hold the liquid of libation, which is generally used to hold a liquid that has been blessed and is passed around during rituals in order to show unity and is thought to allow powers of the Goddess to enter your body.
Choosing and Purchasing Your Chalice
The chalice comes in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, colors, and materials. You can find chalices that are plain and will fit perfectly into any ritual or tradition. You also have quite a wide variety of chalices that will be embossed, engraved, or painted along with gems or stones decorating them. There is such a variety out there that it can be difficult to choose just one. There are many people who actually have several different chalices in which to work with. Many will use a silver chalice to work with moon and Goddess rituals, a gold-plated or bronze chalice for work with sun and God rituals, and a glass or crystal chalice that is used for everything else.
You will find that chalices can be made out of glass, stone, clay, wood, crystal, silver, brass, bronze, copper, and gold. You do have to be very careful when choosing a chalice. If you want to be able to put any kind of alcoholic beverages you do not want to choose a copper or brass chalice because when these materials come in contact with alcohol they become poisonous. Above all, you should use your intuition when purchasing or finding your chalice(s). You should feel drawn to or feel a special connection to the chalice that you choose. The chalice is a pure representation of the Feminine Divine and the chalice that you choose should be in harmony with your awareness of what relates to the Goddess as you know her.
There are many ways to acquire your chalice(s). These are probably one of the easiest tools to attain. You can find chalices at yard sales, garage sales, flea markets, or antique stores. You can also check your local metaphysical store or online to see all of the various chalices that are available to you.
I have spent some time lately creating an e-book for my fellow Wiccans, Witch's, and Pagans.
It has all of the common tools that we use along with history, lore, where to buy, how to make (if possible), and correspondences.
I have created this because I know how convenient it is to have all of the information available and easily accessible. I even find myself using this all the time simply for the correspondences.