The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!
— The Court Jester
A chalice is an ornate drinking vessel, normally one with a ritual or ceremonial role.
In many traditions of magical practice a chalice is one of the ritual tools, representing the element of water and "the feminine principle"1 - usually paired with the athame representing fire and the "male principle". A chalice used in a magical working may be used to hold liquids to be consumed as part of the ritual, libations to be poured or some substance that is to be enchanted by the working. Theoretically it may also be used as a speculum for divination magic.
Some cultures place significant emphasis on the use of human skulls in the creation of chalices for some purposes - this would seem to be akin to headhunting and/or entirely associated with malign magic, but this is not always the case2.
A chalice is also often used in the Christian Eucharist where it stands in for the cup of The Lord's Supper. For those denominations that believe in transubstantiation, this chalice also fulfills a supernatural function.
At it's most mundane, a chalice (sometimes called a "loving cup" or something similar) is often passed around the table at dinners of fraternal societies (and even some families), by way of a ceremonial shared drink.
Game and Story Use
- Possibly a "magic item" which appears not to "do" anything on its own but supplies a bonus to workings in which it is used correctly.
- Even a "loving cup" ceremony has mystical potential … depending on what exactly is in the cup as it is passed.
- Just ask Tristan and Isolde
- For magical purposes what you make the chalice out of may be crucial - or irrelevant.
- But it will certainly have an impact on the resale value.
- Skull cups may well put the wig up most players, even if they turn out to be wholly benign.