Pagan Meaning of the Chalice
The chalice is an historical ritual tool used in pre-Christian paganism, contemporary Wicca and Christianity. In Christianity it plays a similar ritual role as in pagan rites: it holds a libation. However, in Christianity the libation symbolizes the blood of Christ and the chalice represents the cup Jesus used at the last supper. Pagans attach a rather different meaning to the chalice.
1 The Chalice Symbolism
In Wicca, the chalice is one of four tools used in rituals. The others are the pentacle, the wand and the athame, which is a blade. The chalice symbolizes the element of water and the womb of the goddess. More generally, it represents the feminine energies of the universe, just as "yin" does in the Taoist yin-yang symbol. It's opposite is the athame, which represents the male, or yang, energies.
2 The Great Rite
In the Wiccan Great Rite, a ritual celebrating creation and birth, the chalice and athame play a central symbolic role. The athame is placed in the chalice to represent sexual intercourse and the union of male and female. In other rituals, the chalice is filled with water or wine and blessed before being passed around the circle of coven members, who take a small sip. This symbolically unites the members.