Chalices and cauldrons are magical elemental tools associated with the element of water. This is because they’re used to hold liquid. You can literally put liquid in them for your ritual. You’ll notice I’ve been going through each of the five elemental tools one by one. To understand how chalices and cauldrons work, I need to review how water works and what it does.
Water is a feminine element, and because of this it is a passive element. Water is passive in its flexibility, it takes on the shape of its container, unlike earth which is passive in its stagnation. Because it doesn’t hold a shape water is in a constant state of flux, it can change completely moment from moment. Because of this we associate water with the future, which is ever changing, and anything else that may be associated with a state of constant change.
For many of the same reasons we associate water with emotion. Emotions, like water, are constantly changing. Emotions are passive. They are a direct result of the environment, the container a person is put within if you will. Water also has unique properties in regard to holding emotional energy, or any energy for that matter, which we’ll discuss in a bit.
Suppose I have two jars of water, each containing one liter (you can do this experiment yourself at home if you wish, there is no danger with it). If I take both jars and pour them into one bucket, what happens? I have my two liters of water, but they’ve combined together seamlessly. You can no longer tell which parts of the water came from jar one and which came from jar two. You can’t tell where one begins or the other ends. You can take this one step further and say there are no longer two separate liters of water. You could say that those two liters came together, and in their union created something new, a bit of water that is now two liters in volume.
This experiment shows where water gets a lot of its properties from. It is the element of unions. It’s the element of two things coming together. The obvious meaning is a romantic relationship, and this can be extended to make water the element of not just relationships, but also love, marriage, and sex. But it’s also the element of all other unions too, be it platonic relationships like friendship or companies merging together, or even symbiotic relationships shared by different entities.
We also said that we could take the experiment a step further, and see the two liters merging into one new entity. This is sexual union and the act of procreation, which is also associated with water. Both fire and water are elements of creation, however fire represents the masculine creative force, the act of singular creation, where as water represents the act of creation via a union of two.
Lastly we need to look at the properties of water concerning energy. Water is sort of weird because it does two completely opposite things. First off, it acts like a sponge. It will take in any energy that is around it. It will even forcefully suck it out of something. The more water you have, the more dramatic this will be. Crossing large bodies of water, especially running water, can be very draining because of this property of water.
The second thing that water does is that it gives off the energy that it takes. Water is not so great at hanging on to energy. Meaning that once water takes energy from something, you can put an item into that water in order to charge it.
Because of these properties, water in motion, running water, is generally clean and without energy, and is good for cleaning the energy from something or someone. For this reason cleansing rituals are best done in the shower. However between when the water hits your body and takes some energy from it and when it hits the drain it loses quite a bit of that energy, and so showers tend to be one of the most haunted places in a home, with spirits conjugating there and things going in and out of portals that have been created. The other really haunted place is over a bed that is slept in. Your entire life is a peep show for spiritual beings :)
Where as running water is clean and constantly giving up energy, stagnant water holds it a bit better, and is thus dirty and will charge you with whatever water is in it. In the same way if you’re in the woods you’re supposed to drink running water from a stream or the rain, not stagnant water like from a puddle.
Buying Chalices and Cauldrons
The majority of chalices and cauldrons will be metal. Sometimes you may find one made out of stone (and this is fine) or even something more exotic, like an ivory chalice. The one thing you need to stay away from are chalices and cauldrons made from plastic. These are going to prove to be vastly inferior tools. In fact plastic tools are almost always worthless, the one saving grace of a plastic chalice being that the water inside it is not plastic.
Chalices and cauldrons are feminine, and so ideally you’d want them made out of silver. Silver items tend to be pretty pricey though. Alternatively you can get one with a silver finish and this will work almost as well. A copper chalice, if you made one, would make an interesting tool and you could, no doubt, do some interesting things with it. This is far from mandatory though and a metal chalice that is neither silver nor copper will work just fine.
Cool Things to do With Chalices and Cauldrons
Chalices are unfortunately feminine, and thus passive, objects. Magick is largely concerned with action and doing, feminine objects don’t usually do things, they have things done to them. Because of this, chalices tend not to get much ritual use. Cauldrons are a bit more useful because of their larger size.
Certain religions that involve active magical practice, particularly many of the Wiccan sects and other neopagan religions influenced by Wicca, try to stress either an equality of the sexes or a feminine agenda. Because of this chalices are included in many rituals either to add balance to the masculine tools (like wands and knives) or in some extreme cases to try to elevate the role of the feminine by having it also encompass what it is not, often times devaluing the role of the masculine in the process. It’s important to remember that, in regards to spiritual practices, masculine and feminine refer to absolute and primal ideals, not gender. A boy is not spiritually masculine and a girl is not spiritually feminine (although they could represent these things). Nobody is entirely one or the other, and most people only slightly lean moreso in one direction than the other, and which direction they lean in has nothing to do with gender.
Back to the important point I was making, you probably won’t see much use out of these tools. Every once in a while they will come in handy, but unless you’re designing rituals to specifically use them, you won’t find much need for them. Some uses for them though:
Marriage Rituals: Chalices and cauldrons represent union. They are a staple of marriage rituals. You almost always see at least one if not two chalices at a wedding. Either the bride and groom should drink from the same cup to solidify their union, or the bride drinks from the groom’s cup as the groom drinks from the bride’s cup.
Energy Holder: This can be done with a chalice, to some degree, but works much better with a cauldron. During a ritual a cauldron can suck in a lot of the ritual energy. The ritual may be about empowering the cauldron, or it could just be that the cauldron is there to get the excess energy you plan on producing. Either way afterwards a lot can be done with the water. It can be bottled up and later thrown on things to release the energy on to it (this could be purifying or aggressive energy to attack with, for instance), an item (like a ring) can be dropped into the cauldron to be charged with the energy, or you could leave the cauldron open so the energy can seep out into the room to set ambience or for use in another ritual.
Sex Magick: A lot of interesting ideas come to mind, especially with the cauldron. For one, a cauldron could be set up to capture some of the energy from the sexual act. Most people using sexual energy use the preorgasmic energy because this is very easy to raise in large amounts. However at the point of orgasim the energy surges eventually hitting a peak. Unfortunately this only lasts moments and you happen to be in the middle of an orgasm at the time, making it very difficult to utilize this energy. You can set it up to capture some of that energy into the cauldron, although the vast majority of the energy will still be lost (the cauldron is not going to be big enough to hold it all). The bigger the cauldron, the more energy you’ll be able to hold. You could also charge the cauldron beforehand in order to use the energy during sex. It could be used as an aphrodisiac, to direct or heighten the sexual experience, or it could be incorporated into a sexual ritual depending on the specific energy used. You could also incorporate the chalice or cauldron into a ritual meant to create a more meaningful and permanent union during intercourse.
Fertility Rituals: A chalice, and cauldron too, is actually fairly useful, although by no means necessary, in fertility rituals. The chalice is representative of the female, more specifically her genitals, in procreation. It represents both the sexual union of two people, and the female party in that union.
Bonding and Pacts: Remember how water represents all unions? One use of a chalice or cauldron is in a ritual designed to bond yourself to another entity. This means that the entity will somehow be attached to you or even become a part of you, or you a part of it. This is usually done for a variety of reasons, and typically both parties at least think they’re getting something they want or need out of the deal. A chalice can also be used to seal a pact with an entity.
Scrying: Water has a reflective surface. Anything with a reflective surface can be used to scry. Water is even better for scrying when you’re trying to divine the future though because the element of water represents the future. You can’t scry with a chalice, but you can with a cauldron, or even just a bowl. It needs to be a darker color though, since bright colors (and flashy designs for that matter) tend to hinder scrying.
Liquids Other Than Water
There are things other than water you could fill your chalice with other things. Generally most liquids will share some or even all of water’s properties. Traditionally most ritual liquids were either water, juices, teas, alcohol, or other drugs. I would recommend sticking to these and not trying to incorporate weird things like soda pop into rituals (soda, especially cola, is acidic and destructive, and actually would be useful in an infertility ritual. Also some people can use the high sugar content and caffeine to recharge themselves post-ritual).
Juices: Generally juices tend to have properties that are close to the fruits they are made out of. Apple juice is associated with fertility, pomegranate with the underworld, ect.
Teas: Teas are awesome drinks. They both relax you and refresh and heal you. Teas are associated with bringing one to a calm and peaceful state, recharging energy, increasing mental capabilities, and healing. The less refined the tea, the better (black is the worst, white is the best).
Alcohol: Typically the alcohol used is either beer or wine. Beer is used mainly because traditionally it has been more prevalent than anything else in some regions. Wine is preferable to any other kind of alcohol though. When you’re drunk on wine its not as sloppy as hard liquor, or even beer. Even when you’re drunk, and you know you’re drunk and you can feel it, mentally its more like being buzzed. The loss of mental focus and intelligence, and the cloudiness that result from drinking are counterproductive to magical work. With wine, these effects are lessened. With hard liquor these effects are magnified quite a bit, and so generally we don’t use hard liquor in ritual.
All alcohol is associated with removing inhibitions and freeing oneself or bringing oneself to a more natural and honest state. Wine is associated with sacredness and the divine, and is also associated with certain gods (like Bacchus). Beer and ale is also associated with certain gods, and along with hard liquor is associated with the dulling of emotions or emotional healing. Alcohol being a drug, when used in large enough amounts it can lead to a spiritual catharsis. Alcohol can both open up your psychic senses, most commonly occurring with wine, or dull your spiritual senses, most commonly occurring with hard liquor. The actual effects, and their severity, will vary with the individual. Excessive drinking and alcohol addiction are counterproductive to any spiritual work.