The vision of Chalice Centre was born when I lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea in California for a number of years. I was walking along the shoreline one day, noticing how the white sands curved around the bay like a cup, filled with the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean. Earth and Water together made this numinous symbol in a most beautiful way.
In the Middle Ages, the sacred cup of the Celts became the Holy Grail, an icon which could assume many shapes, but which is best known to us as a chalice. The Grail is filled with an unearthly radiance of divine origin, can heal wounds, and bestow immortality upon those who gaze into it.
Because of its feminine nature, the Grail is also a symbol of the soul, a rounded container that seems to invite us to gaze into our own hidden depths and drink deep of the waters of wisdom within. Many early chalices are works of exquisite craftsmanship, made of gold and silver, and decorated with enamel and precious stones chosen for their color symbolism. the beauty of such treasures illuminates the primal meaning of the chalice as a vessel that, like our own souls, both conceals and reveals the Mystery of life itself.
Some years later, I read of a vision experienced by the 20th century mystic Wellesley Tudor Pole by another bay. WTP is most well known for having established the Chalice Well Trust around the sacred spring of that name in Glastonbury, England. The well is famous for the rust-red waters that pour copiously down into exquisite gardens. For centuries, pilgrims have taken the waters for their healing properties, and local legends tell that the Holy Grail was hidden in the well-shaft or somewhere within nearby Chalice Hill.
WTP's vision, however, did not take place in Glastonbury, but
further west in Cornwall. While staying at a friend's house overlooking
Carbis Bay, he saw the figure of St Michael, flanked by a great semicircle
of his angels and backed by a radiant light, standing over the bay.
The vision unfolded even more remarkably: an immense cross appeared,
reaching from sea to sky, and over it was superimposed a golden chalice,
a faint crown of gold above it.
Strangely, the house is just a few miles from the sea at Cardigan
Bay. I’m not sure what it is, but there must be some meaning
in the Car-mel, Car-bis, Car-digan pattern! Although etymologically,
there is no known connection between these names, all three places
are on the west coast of their respective countries: California, England,
and Wales. In many cultures, the West, being the place where the sun
goes down, is associated with the journey to the spirit world.