Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Of Chalices and Choices

You are a Square-Jawed Adventurer. You have been seeking the Sacred Cup

You are in a Mysterious Cavern filled with Goblets, Chalices and Other Vessels. Most are made of gold. One is made of wood. There is a stone bowl full of clear fresh water. There is an Ancient Guardian clad in dusty armour watching you closely.

Your Duplicitous Adversary has drunk from one of the gold goblets and died horribly. 

There is a Loved One outside the Mysterious Cavern who urgently needs the healing properties of the Sacred Cup.

What do you do?

1. The Holy Man who used the cup was a simple man who spurned worldly things. You reach for the wooden cup.

1a. .... wait. This wooden cup is too simple. It flatters your modern Bauhaus-influenced Protestant-inflected norms with its cleanness of line and distinctive lack of ornament. 

1ai. No. There can be only one Sacred Cup, there is only one wooden cup. It is the clear exception among all those present - the only golden cup you have seen used caused your Duplicitous Adversary to die horribly. It's the wooden cup.

1b. ..... wait. The Sacred Cup is a metaphor.  The divine needs no such physical vessels, only conceptual ones, which the enlightened may transcend. You don't need the Sacred Cup, all you need to do is to seek it, If you truly do that, all blessings will be with you and you may bestow all blessings. Thrumming with new found power, you smile politely at the Ancient Guardian and turn to leave.

1bi. But if all blessings are with you, do you even need to leave the Mysterious Cavern? You kneel, and begin to think about your Loved One in perfect health. Surely they will soon be healed. 

The Ancient Guardian is watching you, expressionless. 

1bii. Hang on, your Duplicitous Adversary just drank from a cup and died in a clearly supernatural manner. There is a man in there wearing medieval armour who just addressed you in fluent Old French. Metaphor, my eye. Time to go back in there and pick a bloody cup. 

2. Hang on, you're a scholar. You've....

2a. ...seen reliquaries before. You inspect the gold cups. One is quite bulky; a catch on the side reveals that it is a chalice-shaped tabernacle, inside which rests a simple small clay cup on a velvet lining.

2b. ....seen reliquaries before. You inspect the gold cups.  One of them has a darker band in the middle of it. On inspection, it turns out to be a golden stand and framework supporting an older wooden cup, enhanced with a large gold lip. The cup itself has a small coating of gold leaf on the outside. 

2c. ...read some of the literature on the subject.  Often, the old poems describe the Sacred Cup as having been transformed after it was used by the Holy Man. So before then, it would have been a fairly normal Levantine cup from the beginning of the 1st millennium. You inspect the gold cups, and find one that adheres near-perfectly to the shape of Levantine cups you have seen in the Museum.

3. You examine the chalices on offer. Each has been kept clean and well-polished, even the one your Duplicitous Adversary drank from. But one must have been used more often, if the Ancient Guardian drinks from the Sacred Cup - and how else could he be so Ancient? You lift a chalice to examine it in the light, and see the the subtle wear from hands and lips over the centuries. Comparison with the neighbouring cups makes this plain. You take the chalice over to the stone bowl and fill it. 

4. The ancient texts say.... 

4a. ...that when the Sacred Cup was first blessed, it was shared. You grab a chalice at random, fill it from the stone bowl and turn to the Ancient Guardian. "You first."

4b. ...that when the Sacred Cup was first blessed, the Holy Man was drinking wine. You point this out to the Ancient Guardian. He produces a flask of wine from a cupboard that you hadn't spotted. 

5. Think about the journey you've been on to reach the Mysterious Cavern, and the perils you braved within. This is a test of faith....

5a. ....so you should not think about it overlong, but reach out with hope in your soul and take up a goblet. You grasp one, and trying not to look down at it, take it over to the stone bowl and fill it.

5b. ....that ends the journey you and your Duplicitous Adversary have both been on. But even if your choice of companions differed,  the course of your travel and object of your desire was the same. The main difference was in your motives. Knowing your motives to be good and your faith sound, you should submit yourself to judgement in exactly the same way he did. 

You pick up the golden cup your Duplicitous Adversary drank from.

6. You gather up each of the cups, pour a little bit of water in each, mix it all together and drink. The Ancient Guardian smacks you over the back of the head with a chainmail glove and tells you (in Old French) not to be a smart-arse.


You have chosen ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ly. 


  1. 2c, I chose ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ly

    1. You and your Loved One will live ◼︎◼︎◼︎◼︎ly ever after.