What Is The Purpose Of A Chalice?

What Is The Purpose Of A Chalice?

What Is A Chalice?

silver coloured stainless steel chalice with an image of the goddess enscribed on the frontIn simple terms, according to the Merriam- Webster Dictionary, a chalice is a “drinking cup”.  The word chalice derives from Latin calix meaning 'mug’. A chalice is usually a footed drinking cup with a long stem and is used in magical and religious practices, historically and to this very day.


What Is The Difference Between A Chalice & A Goblet?

People often refer to chalices as goblets and vice versa. These two terms – chalice and goblet are actually two different words for the exact same thing and are used interchangeably.

How Are Chalices Used In Witchcraft & Religion?

Although the definition of the word chalice is very simple, in magical terms, a chalice is much more than a mere drinking vessel. In Wiccan circles, the chalice is one of the tools that correspond to the four elements (Earth- Pentacle, Air- Wand, Fire- Censer or Athame, Water- chalice or Cauldron) & on an altar, it is often placed in the West, the direction of the Water element which is associated with the emotions, imagination, dreams, and intuition.

goddess statue

The chalice represents the womb and is a symbol of fertility, abundance, and divine feminine energy. It is also a representation of the goddess.

Chalices are used to hold libations to deities. They also often contain ceremonial liquids and are shared amongst practitioners in a ritual to signify their common purpose.

The chalice is also used to represent the female principle when the Wiccan Great Rite ritual is performed in token (where the ritual is performed symbolically rather than physically between two people (in true). During this token ritual, the High Priestess plunges the Athame (a ritual knife used in Wicca that represents the male principle) into a chalice (representing the female principle) filled with wine, held by the High Priest. This symbolises the sacred marriage between the goddess and god, thereby creating a union where their energies combine into one.

Aside from being used to hold liquid, chalices are often used empty to symbolise that the practitioner is ready to receive the blessings from the universe. It is a receptive tool.

When it comes to religion, chalices are also very important. In fact, there are some very well-known historical chalices. The most well-known chalice being the “Holy Grail” a mythical chalice reputed to be the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper.

In the Christian religion, a chalice is used to hold sacramental wine

Gold Chalice held by priest

during the Eucharist (Holy Communion) and is considered to be one of the most sacred vessels in the Christian liturgical worship. In fact, in the Roman Catholic and some Anglo-Catholic churches the chalice had to be consecrated by being anointed with myrrh/ holy anointing oil (also known as chrism) by a bishop. Once this happened, only an ordained member of the higher clergy (bishop/priest or deacon) was authorised to handle it. Such is the importance of the chalice.

Chalices were considered so important in fact that in medieval London, members of the clergy were buried with a chalice which was known as a “grave chalice”. The grave chalice was a symbolic chalice and tended to be smaller and less ornate than the chalice used for liturgical purposes.


Which Type/Material Chalice Should You Choose?

Traditionally in practices such as Wicca, chalices were silver, a colour associated with the goddess. For this reason, many people still use silver-coloured chalices.

In Christianity, chalices were usually crafted from precious metals such as gold, silver or pewter & certain religious practices still require that the chalice (or at least the inside of the cup) be gold plated.  

The use of precious metals for chalices, however, is cost prohibitive and unnecessary for most people and whilst in the past they were crafted from certain materials, the technology to create the other materials was not as good as it is today. Just because it is traditional, does not necessarily mean that it is better. For instance, in Medieval times cups were often glazed with lead, but no one suggests using a lead cup these days simply because it’s traditional (in case you do not know the reference, lead is poisonous and many people were poisoned, not from what they consumed but how they consumed it!).

pagan altar with chalice, candles and offerings

Choosing a chalice, at the end of the day comes down to its purpose. If you want a chalice to represent the water element on a fairy altar and you never plan on drinking from it, you could purchase something with glitter all over it that sparkles. In this case safety does not play a part in your choice, it is simply a representation of the water element.

If, on the other hand, you have a particular belief system such as a religion that requires the chalice to be of a specific material, go with that.

If the material is not dictated by religion or other belief systems, choose one that resonates with you, just make sure it is food safe if you plan on drinking out of it.  In general, you could also use any cup or mug in place of a chalice, especially if it holds significance to your practice. The only food safe material that is not recommended for use as a chalice is plastic, as it is not considered a natural material.


How Do You Cleanse & Charge Your Chalice?

Prior to using your chalice, it needs to be cleansed and charged for your use. To cleanse your chalice, wash in mild soapy water and rinse in clean water to ensure that it is clean and free from any residue. This process works to clean your chalice and to remove unwanted energies that may be on it from outside influences.

Next, you need to charge your chalice. This could involve, placing it in

moon over the water

the full moon, smoke cleansing etc. Whichever way you choose to charge your chalice, make sure that it is a method that is non-toxic in case you choose to drink from it.

*When cleansing your chalice, do not place it in the dishwasher. Whilst this may be fine for your normal drinking cups, this is not a normal drinking cup!

Things To Think About When Purchasing A Chalice

  1. Does it resonate with you? Are you drawn to the design?
  2. Does it serve your purpose? If it is used to hold liquids that you and others are going to consume is it actually big enough to do its job?
  3. Are you going to drink out of it? If you are going to consume liquid from it, you need to ensure that it is made from a material that is safe to drink from. If you do not know what it is made from, do not drink from it.
  4. Is it for witchcraft, spiritual, or religious purposes? In some religions, a chalice needs to be gold-plated at least on the inside of the cup.

At the end of the day, your chalice needs to represent your practice. Choose something personal that you are intuitively drawn to. Keep it safe and it will serve you well you for many rituals to come.

Do you have a favourite chalice? Let us know!

If you are looking to purchase a chalice, check out the chalices we have in stock here.



“chalice.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chalice. Accessed 12 Nov. 2023.
Wikipedia contributors. (2023, November 11). chalice. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:00, November 13, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=chalice&oldid=1184616233
Wikipedia contributors. (2023, July 17). Great rite. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:33, November 14, 2023, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Great_rite&oldid=1165839711
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Drury, N. (2000). The History Of Magic In The Modern Age (pp. 174, 187). Simon & Schuster.
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Lopez, L. (n.d.). CHALICE. Medieval London. Retrieved November 15, 2023, from https://medievallondon.ace.fordham.edu/exhibits/show/medieval-london-objects/chalice
Lewis, D. (2015, October 22). Lead Poisoning Rampant for Wealthy Medieval Europeans. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved November 15, 2023, from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/lead-poisoning-made-medieval-townspeople-sickly-180957021/
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