The witches' cup is a variant of the cauldron of Ceridwen. This, in turn, was a Celtic development of early Prytanic myth which later became the central theme of all the legends concerning the Holy Grail, that mysterious relic which is woven inextricably into the Arthurian romances.
The cauldron, bowl, or cup symbolizes the receptive passivity of the great womb of nature, out of which all things are born and to which all return. It is seen as female in nature and is analogous with night, darkness, space, and, of course, the all-encompassing sea. Water is the traditional element of the Wise related to it.
The cup or chalice is used to contain the salt water of exorcism or, alternatively, the wine of libation. This is the sacramental wine which is consumed in some ceremonies, and also used to consecrate things at times. The cup is also used to compose philters in.
During persecution times the use of the chalice or cup was generally discontinued, owing to the fact that should a witch or warlock be found in possession of one, it usually led to an immediate bout of prolonged torture, the reason being, of course, that church authorities inevitably suspected the cup to have been used for heretical and blasphemous perversions of the Mass. In their eyes they were undoubtedly justified, as there is indeed a ceremonial feast at the Sabbat, wherein witches consume cakes and wine in much the same manner as the early church did in its Agape, or love feast. It is a rite common to many cults.
In order to make your own cup, you must first buy, without bargaining over the price (this will apply to anything you use in your spells), a goblet anywhere from three to five inches in diameter. It can be made out of anything you please that isn't porous and will hold a liquid. Some old witch cups are made of animal horn, and others of silver or silver-gilt like the conventional church chalice, or even of tinned copper. If you decide on a brass or copper one, be sure you glaze it well on the inside, since both of these metals can become very poisonous when a reactive liquid like wine is brought into contact with them. Glass and ceramic are also acceptable, but, as I say, a metal or horn one is traditional.
The process of consecration is simple. During the period of the month when the moon is waxing toward full, take some salt water in a bowl and steep in it the following powdered herbs: vervain (verbena), mint, basil, rosemary, Hyssop, lavender, sage, valerian, fennel. Sprinkle some incense on a charcoal block and charge both fire and water with the words I have already given you, mentally putting all your effort of will, faith, and imagination into seeing the elements as glowing with vibrant, purifying light. Having done this, sprinkle the cup with the water, then pass it through the incense smoke, chanting words to this effect, and visualizing the blue purifying light flickering around it as you do.
By water and fire I conjure thee
That there remain within thy frame no adverse thought nor enmity. Hear my will! Attend to me! As my word, so mote it be!
Having done this, paint the following runes around the cup with a new brush and paint. Black or white enamel or stove-black is best for this. For this ritual you may also mix into it a pinch of your powdered herbs, vervain, et al.
As you paint each rune, chant these words, visualizing the signs glowing with magical light as you do: "Blessed be thou cup of water!"
Having done this, paint the runes that spell your witch name around the base of the cup, pronouncing each letter out loud as you do so.
When you finish, chant the words "So mote it be!" and put your completed cup safely away for future use.
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