According to Barbara Walker, in The Women's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, containers are objects that are "ordinary for the most part, yet treated as sacred by some groups of people at some times. Many are household items somehow associated with ancient religious symbolism and used…in a way that has been called "living in a sacred manner". Following is a list of vessels or containers and their symbolic meaning.
athanor – mystic vessel of alchemy; the vas spirituale; the womb of matter; the Vessel of Hermes; the dwelling place of the Anima Mundi; represents the metaphoric uterus
basket – sacred to the Goddesses; carried by the moon Goddesses Diana and Hecate; legendary boat-cradle of Moses, Sargon, and Romulus and Remus; on Greek coins, a basket covered with ivy symbolizes the Dionysian Mysteries
bowl – used at sacrificial ceremonies to catch the blood of the person sacrificed; the Greek word for this type of bowl is amnion, which also means the container of blood in the womb; Babylonian symbol for the whole cosmos known as the Goddesse’s mixing bowl; an inverted bowl is the Native American symbol of the heavens
cauldron – symbol of transmutation and germination; most Celtic mythic cauldrons are located at the bottom of a sea or lake, as cauldron of Bran, Cerridwen, and Huon gives an inexhaustible supply of good things; primary feminine symbol of the pre-Christian world; the Egyptian hieroglyph of three cauldrons represents the great female deep that gave birth to the universe; in Indian myth, Indra drank of the magical soma (moon blood) from three cauldrons; Odin of Norse mythology acquired wisdom, insight, and magic power by drinking the "wisest blood in the world" from the three cauldrons known as Odrerir, Són, and Bodn; symbol of the womb of the Great Goddess
chalice – the Christian transcendental form of the cup; related to the Grail, often formed of two halves of a sphere, the top half closing over the bottom half; as holy chalice or goblet, receptacle for the blood of deities or sacred kings
ciborium – container used in Christian churches, symbol of the Ark of the Covenant, the Eucharist, the Last Supper
clay pot – representative of mythological metaphoric human beings; Sumero-Babylonian Goddess, known as the Potter, made the first people out of clay; a feminine craft, pot making used the creative substance adamah or bloody-clay; the sacred pot, kernos, symbolized the womb from which Adonis would be reborn
cup – originally a matriarchal symbol of the womb vessel, later becoming a patriarchal vessel of the blood-filled chalice of resurrection; sole function is to contain; symbol of friendship, good fellowship, salvation, temperance, and wisdom; holder of water and wine, source of eternal life; as a fertility emblem symbol of female reproductive energy; in the Tarot deck the ancient name for the heart suit, signifying passion; Christian symbol of the destiny of mankind, the Eucharist; in Greek and Hebrew tradition, represents the union with the savior god; in the Hebrew Pesach feast placed in the center of the table for the prophet Elijah, the invisible guest, the promise of the coming of the Messiah; in Norse mythology, the life-token containing the soul
goblet – Jemshid, legendary king of the Peris, possessed the seven-ringed golden goblet of the sun, filled with the elixir of life
horn of Amalthea – the Greek mythological sacred goat who provided milk to Zeus; at her death Zeus honored Amalthea by making one of her horns a wonder - whoever possessed the horn had abundance of food and drink; symbol of peace and prosperity
jar – depicted with flowing streams of water, the Egyptian and Middle Eastern symbol of fertility; Isis wore a jar shaped amulet representing the fountains of living water; in Indian myth, any deity could be incarnated in a jar of water called a pitha; the Babylonian savior god Nebo was led to the place of his immolation and resurrection by a "jar-bearer"
kapala – human skull cup, used as a Buddhist altar object; tantric symbol used when offering libation to the gods; emblem of Buddhasaktis (consorts of Buddhas), dakinis (female air deities), Dharmapala (defender deities), Ekajata (the angry goddess known as the Blue Tara), and Yi-dam (protective tutelary deity); in Tibet called t’od-p’or
sangreal – according to tradition, the cup used at the Last Supper, in it Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of Christ flowing from his side
(See Bibliography Category for references)