August 15, 2018
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fvUG-v8A.BThe magical tool attribution for this 23rdpath is the cup.[34] The reason behind this attribution, obviously, is the fact that the Cup is the magical tool associated with the element of water in the Western Tradition of Tarot, Alchemy and Ceremonial Magick. There are usually two essential aspects to the extensive symbolism of the chalice, that of a vessel of plenty and that of a vessel holding the draught of immortality. In the first instance chalices are often compared with the breast filled with mother’s milk. A Gallo-Roman dedicatory inscription to the goddess Flora, from Autun in France, identifies the ‘chalice from which flow grace’ with the ‘’breast from which flows the milk that nourishes the city.’[35] In thr case of the Hindu Maha-Lakshmi there is the same symbolism and the same identification, although in this instance ‘milk’ is SOMA. Israel Regardie refers to this identification between the wine in the cup and the soma in his book A Garden of Pomegranates, specifying that the cup and sacramental wine, wine which is identified to soma, the elixir or immortality,[36] is the adequate magical equipment for ceremonial on this 23rd path of the Tree of Life. This brings us back to the notion of the draught of immortality. The chalice in which the some is offered is likened to the crescent Moon, whose light is traditionaly compared with the color of the milk. The more generalized symbolism of the chalice has been applied to the medieval Grail, he vessel in which Christ’s blood was received which contains simultaneously – although at bottom they are identical – secret lore temporarily lost and draught of immortality. The chalice holds blood – the principle of life – and is therefore homologous with the heart and consequently with the center. The heart is a vessel. Etymologically the Grail is both a ‘vessel’ and a ‘book,’ thus confirming the twofold meaning of what it contains – revelation and life. There is a tradition that it was carved from the Emerald which fell from Lucifer’s forehead, and this again, relates to the Shivaite and Buddhist urna, the ‘third eye’ associated with the sense of eternity. Now, as the Zen Master Dogen writes, when a gem is polished, it becomes a vessel and the content of that vessel is the scintillation exposed by the polishing, just as illumination finds root in the heart through spiritual concentration. The Grail is also known as ‘the Vessel,’ symbol of the ship and of the Ark which holds the seeds of cyclical rebirth and the lost tradition. It is interesting to notice that the crescent Moon, whick equates to the chalice, is also a Boat. The symbolism of the Tantric skull-cup is very similar to that of the Grail. It holds blood (or sometimes tea or alcohol) and is another expression of immortality or knowledge purchased at the cost of death to this present state of existence, hence the rebirth of the initiate into a superhuman state. Some Western alchemical writings advised the use of a skull-cup in achieving the ‘Great Work’ and this clearly reveals a similar symbolism. On the other hand, the Chineese alchemists, failing in their initial attempts to distil the elixir of life, made the vessels and cups, clearly destined to contain the food and drink of immortality, from the gold obtained from their furnaces. Eucharistic chalices containing the Body and the Blood of Christ display a symbolism similar to that of the Grail, for Jesus said: “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood ye shall not have eternal life.” The communion rite for which they are used, and which makes real its potentiality for sacrifice and beatific union, belong s to many traditions and particularlyt o those Ancient China. Although predominantly a rite of binding together in, as it were, a Blood-Brotherhood, it is also a symbol of immortality. Drinking from the same cup is a common practice in Far Eastern wedding ceremonies, while in Ancient China it was the custom to drink from the two halves of the same calabash. The cup is also a cosmic symbol. The World Egg is split to form two cups facing one another, the upper one, in the image of a dome, being the sky. These two halkves provided caps for the Dioscuri. The Vedic sacrifice of the ‘division into four shinning like the day of the unique chalice of Tvashtri” by the three Ribhus describes the cosmic work of expanding the manifestation from the center to the four cardinal points. Conversely, the Buddha made one bowl out of the four begging-bowls brought to him from the four cardinal points by the four Maharajas. He restored the cosmos to its original unity. In Japan the exchange of cups (Sakazuki o Kawasu) is a symbol of faithfulness. It forms part of the wedding ceremony.[37] Gangsters exchange cups when they drink with a new recruit and, by extension, so does the manager when he engages a new subordinate.[38] In the Celtic world, a chalice filled with wine or with some other intoxicant such as beer or mead which a maiden handed to the king elect, was a symbol of sovereignty, and this is very plain in the famous tale of the Baile an Scail, ‘Town of Heroes.’ The King of Ireland, Conn, watches as a maiden of wondrous beaty hands him the chalice in the presence of the god, Lug, who prophesies that his descendants will reign for many a generation. In Christian tradition the chalice becomes confused with the Dagda’s Cauldron, with the result that the Holy Grail continues the role of the chalice of sovereignty and inherits that of the Dagda’s cauldron. The cup employed both for ritual libation and for the profane feasting has been the foundation of a fully developed symbolism in both Christian and Jewish tradition. The ‘cup of salvation’ which the Psalmist takes and offers to the Lord[39] is both a material object used in a ritual act of worship and a symbol of thanksgiving, as in the Eucharistic chalice (menaning ‘cup of thanksgiving’) or ‘cup of blessing.’[40] However, in the Bible the main emphasis is upon the cup as a symbol of human destiny, individuals being allotted their fate by God as though receiving a cup or its contents. In these circumstances the cup may overflow with blessings[41] or be filled with ‘snares, fire and brimstone,’[42] this being ‘the cup of wine of the fierceness of [God’s] Wrath.’[43]This is why the instrument ehich God employs against an individual, a people or a city may be compared with a cup.[44] When Jesus speaks of the cup which he must drink,[45] it is not simply his death to which he refres, but to the destiny which God has offered him and which he accepts in full knowledge of the divine purpose. In Muslim mystical writtings cups generally symbolize the heart, understood as intuition or the most sensitive point in the soul. Since the initiate (arif) is himself a microcosm, his heart is often compared with the chalice which belonged to Jasmshid, in which the legendary king of Persia was supposed to have been able to view the entire universe. The ‘Secrets of Hamza,’ travelled to Adam’s tomb on the island of Serendib (Sri Lanka). Here Adam himself presented him with a magic cup which enabled him to assume whatever shape he pleased. This, surely, is the symbol of the power to become whatever he wishes through the intimacy of one’s knowledge of it. In the Muslim Paradise the saints leave their staves at the door and are ushered in to drink the wine, poured into the chalice by angelic cup-bearers. Then by candlelight they are greated by a mysterious being who suddenly appears in the guise of a yong man of lofty beauty and they bow down before this shrine of the divine essence. The Cup has also a special symbolism in the occult litterature, specialy in ceremonial magick, Alchemy and in the Arcana of the Tarot. In Magick (Book 4), Part II (Magick), british occultist Aleister Crowley lists the tools required as a circle drawn on the ground and inscribed with the names of god, an altar, a wand, cup, sword, and pantacle, to represent his true will, his understanding, his reason, and the lower parts of his being respectively. In Enochian magick, the Cup is you magical weapon for use in the watchtower of Water. The Cup is a passive weapon. It represents the magician’s understanding of magic. It is feminine and can be used to counter attacks from the forces of masculine currents. It will protect the magician from most of the evil forces that lurk in the Great Western Quadrangle of Water. The cup mainly expresses the feminine or passive principle. It represents the world of feelings, compassion, and receptivity. The cup represents happiness, love, beauty, and righteousness. It is the subconscious or the soul. The feelings of loss and grief find expression here. Cup energy lives in the world of feelings. It is receptive. It listens to the inner voice. It expresses a deep happiness of the heart. In nature, it is renewal and productivity. It is the place sexuality is birthed. It is the sensuous expression of life, as in a soft flowing landscape of hill covered in wildflowers. Feelings come to the surface in order to allow nature to take its course. The cup’s truth is to be what it is, when and how it wants to show itself. This energy is compassionate with a basic optimistic outlook. To sum up the path the cup energy takes: All things are flowing and my toughness is subdued.


[34] Israel Regardie, A Garden of Pomegrenates, p. 80.
[35] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 177.
[36] In India, soma was made from a plant prized for its exhilarating effects. The deity, Soma, was known as the “god of bliss,” “master of plants,”and the “elixir of the gods.”
[37] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 179.
[38] Chevalier, Jean (1997). The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Penguin. p. 179.
[39] The Bible, Psalm 116:13.
[40] The Bible, 1 Corinthians 10:16.
[41] The Bible, Psalms 23:5.
[42] The Bible, Psalms 11:16.
[43] The Bible, Revelation 16:19.
[44] The Bible, Jeremiah 51:7; Zechariash 12:2.


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