Hello Dear Friends,
In her writings Starhawk, and I suspect others, have discussed the idea of the Acrostic Eye…. how a Witches explorations in the worlds of magick and symbolism can change how we look at things. This has happened to me recently as I have decided to start using a U.U. Flaming Chalice as my Tool of Center upon my Altar.
Now there are many, many ways in which Pagans deal with sacred space and with Fire and with sacred fire. However, Unitarian Universalist’s have all at least once dealt with sacred fire in the Lighting of the Chalice ceremony, which is also both a very poetic and magickally powerful declaration of Sacred space and time.
As some of you already know, the U.U. Chalice is a symbol inherited by Unitarian Universalists from the Unitarian Service Committee, a charity founded in the 1940’s by a Unitarian Minister who sought to help refugee’s flee Nazi occupied Europe. The agencies symbol was designed by an artist who had been helped out of Nazi Europe by the USC. He was inspired by both the ideals and compassion of the agency and by the oil lamps that sat upon the altars of Ancient Greece (which part of the story, I love) and came up with the first of the many stylized images that have become known as the Flaming Chalice.
As a Pagan and Witch joining the 1st U, family, this caused me a little consternation. The Chalice as any Witchlet could tell you, is a tool of Water. If it’s based on an oil-lamp, why not call it the U.U. Lamp…or Lantern? Well, I have adjusted, and I like to think that instead of being merely inspired to use the word “Chalice” by the looks of some of the stylized designs being particularly, well, chalice-ey; that some of those Unitarian and Universalist forebears of ours knew a thing or two about the Western Mystical and Magical Traditions and Symbolism.
Let’s look at it magickally and symbolically for a moment.
The Chalice is a tool of water, and relates to things like spiritual and psychological healing and nurturance and transformation and intuition and the emotions, especially love and compassion.
Fire is associated with vitality and passion and will and True Will and creative inspiration.
You can’t of course have fire without air the fire naturally draws in the qualities of intellect and communication and spiritual inspiration.
And to have a chalice, you have to craft the container from some form of earth… either wood or clay or metal or glass; Earth thus bringing it’s strength and stability and balance and nurturance to the mix.
So in lighting the U.U. Chalice we can, if we choose, call upon some of the fundamental Holy Powers of Creation to create a sacred space and sacred time. Things get even more magically interesting, for those of us who are really into Magick and Theurgy, and who like me use the alchemical or Aristotelian triangles for the elemental symbols.
(image found online here)
We bring together the triangles of Fire, and Water and this creates the Hexagram or the Six-Rayed Star of Ceremonial Magick. Visually and symbolically the interlacing of the two triangles also references the horizontally bisected triangles of Earth and Air, signifying the union of the primal elements of creation. The Hexagram also symbolizes the union of Spirit and Matter and both the invitation of the Divine into the Material. The upward pointing blue triangle representing the desire of the magician to reach up towards the Divine, downward pointing red triangle represents Divine power and presence flowing down into the world, which meet at the moment of magick.
The six-pointed star, or hexagram, is the Qabalistic symbol of initiation and spiritual illumination. The upward-pointing triangle represents the aspiration of the magician to the Gods, and the downward-pointing triangle represents the divine power, flowing down to the world. These meet at the moment of magick and the interlaced triangles forming the hexagram symbolize the power of this meeting.
This is especially interesting when you consider that in most of the Traditions of Witchcraft that use the Rite of the Chalice and the Blade to symbolize the union of the Divine Masculine and Feminine resulting in all of Creation and Magick, many of them associate Blades and the Athame with the element of Fire. So once again the union of Fire and Water brings together all the Holy Powers of Creation.
So, when we light the U.U. Chalice we are able to not only call upon all of the elemental powers we are reaching up to the Divine and opening ourselves and our gathering to the Holy Powers.
So I will be working with that.
As for a Cauldron, I did bless and consecrate my Cast Iron Dutch Oven recently and will be using it where a Cauldron belongs… in the Kitchen for some hearth and health magick…
Interestingly enough I find the above ideas about combining elements of ritual acts and symbols seems to have resonance when applied to acts like burning incense (fire + air = Hexagram), or the burning of food offerings (earth + fire + air = Hexagram) … I feel like I could be onto something here but am not sure where to take it or how to use this, any ideas out there?
2 thoughts on “Crafting through my Acrostic Eye”
I grew up in a UU congregation and have left it for a mix of pagan and Quaker practice that is really fulfilling to me. I still have a love for the UU movement and love hearing about people who are nourished and fed by a UU congregation. I think your analysis of the chalice is really fascinating… is it all-one because it comes out of the historical roots, or is it all-one because Everything really IS all-one? 🙂 I guess it doesn’t really matter.
Have you had any more thoughts on how ritual acts combine elements? It’s a really fascinating thought.
Well, Libations combine Earth and Water and Air…possibly also fire depending on just how Alcoholic some libations are..
Burning incense or a prepared food offering would combine Earth and Fire and Air…. as would the burning of an animal sacrifice in those Traditions and Faiths that do such things and have the know how to do so with the minimum of pain and suffering for the animal.
Although I feel I should point out that these are just he notes/observations of how it might work from a Western Mysticism/Occult p.o.v….
If you like the idea of an elemental deconstruction/exploration of the elements you might also enjoy Deborah Lipp’s Elements of Ritual.
Peace and welcome!