The Pagan Basics series is for those looking to find out more about the basic concepts, symbols and values of paganism. A series of short articles which give explanations to some of paganism’s most fundamental concepts, images and shared understandings.
The chalice is a ceremonial cup used in many magical and Craft-based paths. Physically, the chalice is commonly metal, though glass and wood are also popular. A chalice may be plain or decorated, and some are very ornate indeed.
In Wiccan ritual practice, the chalice is seen as the emblem of the feminine principle, complementing the athame symbolising the masculine. In its most specific interpretation, the chalice represents the womb of the Goddess. In other traditions, the chalice may enjoy somewhat less symbolic significance, and on some altars it may function simply as a vessel for holding liquids either for distribution to the celebrants, or for use as a libation (a liquid offering to the deity).
It is a matter of debate whether the chalice represents one of the standard set of ritual tools – some say yes, others no – but it being useful as well as symbolic, you’ll probably find one on most altars.