The three skulls being supported by a foot, standing on the land covered with bones, which comprise the Chalice, is the symbol of three (3) elements of man: mind, body and spirit; the foot, depicts the eternal quest of man for perfection.
That is why, the three is enclosed by a halo: the symbol of purity or holiness-which is the highest phase of human development.
However, to be able to achieve perfection, one must master not the mundane but the ethereal, the Spiritual, which is being symbolized by the perfectly red, shining ruby, in the forehead of the middle skull.
On the other hand, the Chalice also means Life Eternal. In the mystical tradition, the bones and skulls, are the symbols of the eternal (What you sow does not come to life unless it dies, 1 Corinthians 15: 36).
To make it more complete, the lizard (Jesus Christ lizard) looking at the chalice is the symbol of regeneration as well as the power of the man to overcome death by making himself knowledgeable to the ways of the Eternal.
by Noel Sales Barcelona
The Chalice: A Biblical Interpretation
The chalice is a well-known symbol in Christian tradition. During the Last Supper, Jesus Christ had professed as he lifted a chalice of wine, to do this ritual in remembrance of him. The chalice then, is a container that serves as a symbol of our memory of him. He wanted us to know - to have knowledge of him, his deeds and his commitment to the salvation of mankind. In a sense, it is knowledge that can save us.
In the creation account of Genesis, there are two trees mentioned. One is the tree of life, and the other is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. An interpretation made by theologian Henri Nouwen is that the first sin of man had been a sin of the appetite - wherein his eating of the fruit showed his desire to be all-knowing or "omnipotent." He maintains that wisdom to know good and evil isn't a sin in itself - what is sinful is to desire it in order to wield power. This power we recognize is something that we should leave to God alone.
The painting then, is an interaction of symbols that represent wisdom from the symbolism of the chalice in Christian tradition and the creation account. The shape of the skulls, with the halo around it secured by a foot mimics that of a tree - the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The halo represents life which is good, and the skulls and bones represent death which is sinful. The halo being above all other symbols represent the triumph of life over death.
Notice that the animal in the painting is a lizard, who symbolizes man as he walks on two legs. More often than not, man succumbs to his appetite. This means that besides our rational nature, we also have an animalistic nature that often succumbs to our inner desires and motives. As he stares at the bright red jewel - the forbidden fruit, he is tempted by the desire to be omnipotent by eating it.
Not surprisingly, when one is asked what the center of the painting is we answer that is the probable would be the red jewel. It is in our nature to be attracted to earthly desires - what is expensive, shiny or beautiful. We do not notice the two eyes above it - represented by God who is always watching us. When Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden, God asked them where they were - and yet he knew where they were. Perhaps the wisdom of the chalice is to humble ourselves and let us be found by God, because even in our refusal to be found, he knows where we are.
by Fiel Meria and David Nakpiland David Nakpil