Apple Tree Man © Andy Paciorek

This is a fantastic picture – hope I meet him tonight!

Wassail bowls, generally in the shape of goblets, have been preserved. The Worshipful Company of Grocers made a very elaborate one in the seventeenth century, decorated with silver. It is so large that it must have passed around as a “loving cup” so that many members of the guild could drink from it.

The Wassail Cup/Bowl is a form of Grail or Cauldron. Cauldrons, for the Celtic tradition, are often givers of gifts. They hold all potential as the concept of quantum physics does … all things exit in potential but need the interaction of relationship to become actual, as with Schrodinger’s Cat. That whole concept of interaction, relating is fundamental to Celtic shamanism – we work with the Wyrd, kenning (knowing) we are an integral part of it.

The Cauldron/Grail and drinking the mulled cider from it at the Wassail ceremony is one of the ways we reaffirm our commitment to working with the Goddess, with the Earth.

Bowls were often made from the wood of the white maple which is an especially tasteless wood – so gives none of its own taste to the contents. An old carol says, “bowl is made of the white maple tree, with a wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee“. So we drink to the bowl and the wood of which it is made as well as to the apple tree, indicating a reverence for all life and realisation of the anima in everything, even a wooden bowl. The wood from which it is made was a living tree.

There are surviving examples of “puzzle wassail bowls“, with many spouts. As you attempt to drink from one of the spouts, you are drenched from another spout. The drink is spicy mulled cider punch.