The Two Chalices Ritual

One of the rituals of inclusive Wicca is the two chalices ritual. This has evolved over a couple of decades to become something more than I originally envisaged, as is often the way with traditions, which are evolving and fluid. It started life as a ritual for women-loving-women, and evolved into a ritual for everyone, but retaining its original symbolism.


Chalice, by AnaTerate on Pixabay [CC0 Public Domain]

Back in 1995, I was asked to call a quarter and consecrate some cakes and wine with another person. The person I chose to do it with was a lesbian. (Regular readers of this blog will know that I am bisexual.) So we scratched our heads over the whole business with the athame and the chalice.

Some traditions give the athame to a woman in the rite of Cakes and Wine; others give it to a man. The athame is generally considered to be a masculine tool, and the chalice is generally considered to be feminine. If a woman holds the athame, it symbolizes the idea that everything contains its opposite, like the little dot of yang in the middle of the yin, and the little dot of yin in the middle of the yang. If a man holds the athame, it represents his masculine energy.

So whichever one of us ended up with the athame or the chalice, someone was going to jump to conclusions about which one of us was being the ‘man’, and which one of us was being the woman in the usual ceremony. But, as the saying goes, asking a same-sex couple which one is the man and which one is the woman in the relationship is like asking a pair of chopsticks which one’s the knife and which one’s the fork.


I can’t remember now which of us held the athame and which of us held the chalice. But the whole experience got me thinking. What if there was a way of consecrating wine for two women? As the chalice symbolizes the vulva, it was a fairly obvious move to have two chalices. This reminded me of the Temperance card in the Tarot.

According to Wikipedia:

Temperance is almost invariably depicted as a person pouring liquid from one receptacle into another. Historically, this was a standard symbol of the virtue temperance, one of the cardinal virtues, representing the dilution of wine with water. In many decks, the person is a winged angel, usually female or androgynous, and stands with one foot on water and one foot on land.

The esoteric meanings of the Temperance card are about flow, balance, harmony, blending, and connection. Avia Venefica writes:

There is a lot of power in this card, and the “flow” is the source of that power. The Temperance card is a call for us to recognize the flow in our own lives, and observe the nature of energy. When we pull this card in a reading it is an indication that a healing is in need or is taking place.

It was some time before I was able to try out consecrating wine with two cups in a Wiccan circle; I think the first time was around 2002. After that I did it a few times whenever I was working magic with another woman.

The breakthrough came in 2015, when I shared the ritual with a group of LGBTQIA+ Wiccans at a workshop. We started by pouring a full cup of wine into an empty cup; and then someone had the idea of passing the now empty cup to the next person in the circle, and filling it again. And then someone came up with the beautiful words, “I fill your cup with love”. It didn’t matter who the next person was, you just filled their cup with a blessing.

The ritual came to life and developed because it was shared with a group of people.

If you use this ritual in your own circles and covens, please tell the story of how it came about, and emphasize that it was developed by a community of LGBTQIA+ Wiccans.

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14 thoughts on “The Two Chalices Ritual

  1. In our rituals each of the priesting couple have both a chalice and an athame – we plunge it into each other’s cup. Got the idea from the Rainbow Warriors coven (and use it with their permission).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yewtree, here is the entire sequence we use, this one is for Imbolg:

        Priest: Pours mead into Priestess’ cup, hands it to Priestess, takes his own cup.
        “As cup is to cup.”
        Priestess: Pours some mead back into the priest’s chalice.
        “As cup is to cup.”
        Ps & P: Cross their arms to hold cups at face level and take their respective athames into their right hands, holding them high.
        (P)”As blade”… strikes forehand…(PS)” is to blade”…strikes backhand.
        They raise their athames above their heads, and they plunge them into the other’s chalice.
        Priest: (as the blades go into the chalices)
        “As the Wheel turns from Winter to Spring,”
        Priestess: “Let the Earth be fruitful once again.”
        Ps & P: In unison, inscribe invoking pentacles into the liquid while saying:
        “With Spirit’s creation, We bless this libation.”
        Removes athames and brings own chalices close to mouths.
        Priestess: “May your cup be full of love.”
        Priest: “May your cup be full of love.”
        Ps &P: Drink, then put cups and athames down on altar.

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  2. What a beautiful ritual. I get a bit squicked out by the traditional athame/chalice rite (and I could probably write a whole bit about the weirdness of equating a phallic symbol with a literal weapon but that’s another rant), so this is a wonderful alternative.

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    • Thank you!

      Some people use a wand instead of the athame for that very reason. And yeah, I’ve never been entirely comfortable thinking of a knife as an actual willy… no one’s putting that anywhere near my bits!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Jewish Havdalah ritual, performed at the close the Sabbath, can be seen as a symbolic Great Rite, it certainly was seen as that by the Kabbalists in the circle around Issac Luria of 16th Century Safad who created this now common ritual. .In this ritual a multi-wicked woven candle, often with each strand a different color, has its flame extinguished in the cup of wine at the very moment of conclusion of Shabbat. Prior to this Spices are smelled, , the candle lit, the wine blessed, and the candle extinguished as the week is welcomed. In this the phallic element is the candle and the flame. Candle, Flame, Wine and Chalice, and Spices – all four elements as the creation of the world is acted out. Most certainly this seems somewhat heterosexual – but the candle is beautiful and woven, even flower like with its three, or more flames, yet in no way a weapon.

        Liked by 1 person

      • How beautiful. I didn’t know about that.

        I knew about the smelling of the spices representing retaining the happiness of the Shabbat through the coming week.


  3. Pingback: Cakes and wine in a pandemic | Dowsing for Divinity

  4. People are always free to do things their own way and invent new and interesting spins on rituals, its part of the individual and evolving nature of pagan paths.

    I try not to get too hung up on the notions that certain aspects to do with male and female have to be administered by such. Alot of my solitary practises encompass the athame and chalice when just by myself, it is the symbolic resonance of life, the balance of the masculine and feminine that resides within us regardless of our gender – and that which resides in nature. Its where we have all come from!

    I wouldnt assume that a lesbian, gay couple (or hey 3 or more!) needs to be reduced purely down to what they have between their legs. Perhaps instead have the parties all play the roles of athame and chalice (god and goddess). We represent not ourselves in these practises but the concept of the spirit of the land and its energies.

    I do however think it is cool to come up with concepts such as these and use tarot symbolism to generate somethint unique and special to you and the couples brought together. I wouldn’t however rule out the mythos altogether from the older practises or worry that it asserts a position of male/female structure on others – as i dont feel it does. Pagan paths celebrate the balance and never coerce dogma or identity politics. We walk our paths in freedom, do as we will – as it harms none.

    Blessed be..


    • Absolutely— I also do the athame and chalice but refer to them as Lover and Beloved (a phrasing which was established by a group of Wiccans in Europe).

      The two chalices ritual has become so much more than what it started as.


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