The Legend of the Flaming Chalice on the Back of Cygnus the Swan


While stargazing one year at the South Western Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute (SWUUSI), I spied Cygnus the Swan in the stars and flew with him. Then I made an amazing discovery. I found the Flaming Chalice in the five major stars of the Swan. As if to confirm my discovery, a comet flew across the sky right into the Big Dipper.

Since I heard about this at SWUUSI, I have done years of research into the subject. One day, while digging into the ruins of an ancient UU church, I found a paper entitled, "The Legend of the Flaming Chalice on the Back of Cygnus the Swan."

The Legend

Long ago, there were five sad and lonely people crying in their ales.

"I am a monk at the local monastary, and I can't reconcile myself with the church's teachings of a condemning God."

"I understand your problems. I am a deeply spiritual person, and I feel called to the ministry, but I am deemed unworthy simply because I am a woman."

"I too have a problem with the teachings of my church, but it is the concept of the Trinity I can't deal with. Jesus was a man, like myself."

"You think that's bad! I have problems with the intolerance of my church. My husband likes to honor the cycles of the year in the forbidden tradition. I'm tired of hiding the truth of my interfaith marriage, but I love my husband more than my church."

"I'm also in love, but my love is not allowed by the Church. For I love another man, and our love is condemned instead of being recognized for the joy that it is."

United by their commom disenchantment with their established religions, they swore to band together and form their own church. As one, they rose to leave to petition the king. They stood outside and raised their steins under the light of the rising sun.

(Spoken        |To Religious Freedom!
together)      |To Tolerance!
                    |To Reason!

The morning sun glinted off the rims, dispelling the darkness on their souls. Arriving at the court of John Sigusmund, the five recounted their tales of woe, and explained their fervent desire for the establishment of a new religious order. The King thought this was a grand idea, as he had his own problems with the status quo.

"I agree. I hereby proclaim religious freedom in my kingdom from now until the end of time. This calls for a toast! Servants brought to Sigusmund his royal chalice, and large pitchers of brandy. The vessels were filled and lifted up in hope for a better world. The King held aloft his chalice, and brushed a torch. A spark fell into it, igniting the spirits within. Surprized into an epiphany, Sigusmund announced:

"Behold, the Flaming Chalice of Truth!" Sigusmund passed on the flame to the steins of the petitioners and they said in response:

"We light this chalice for the light of truth.
                             ...for the process of reason.
                             ...for the warmth of love.
                             ...for the freedom of beliefs.
                             ...for the energy of action."

The King went to his royal desk and wrote his edict of religious freedom. He sent for his 5 royal swans to carry his message forth. Copies of the edict were attatched to the swans that they might carry it to the corners of the kingdom.

The first swan went north.
The second went south.
The third went east.
The forth went west.

As the fifth swan, Cygnus, prepared to alight on his journey, he grabbed the Flaming Chalice, and flew away balancing it on his back to light his way into the darkness of the heavens. For his duty had been to carry the message of religious tolerance to the powers that be, and to immortalize the concept of liberal religion.

And that is how the constellation of Unitarian Universalism came to be in the heavens on the back of Cygnus the Swam.

Production notes: A UU Myth, as told at SWUUSI, Thursday 6 August 1992, written and performed by Mark Briody and Carol Phillips. Written for two voices, a male and a female. The female speaks first. Feel free to alter story for individual needs. Acknowledgements appreciated.

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