Wiccan Great Rite Ritual

This is a form of what in Traditional Wicca called the Great Rite. It’s the main part of the Third Degree initiation, a degree that’s only attained after several years of training. If someone who is a member of a coven being taught by qualified teachers takes that long to be ready, how much more difficult must it be for someone working on their own?

So take your time with the other rituals before trying this one. The wait will be worth it.

The Great Rite, as it is practiced in Traditional Wiccan covens, can be either in actuality or in token. Performing it in token is the more common, and involves plunging a ritual knife into a chalice of wine. When it is done in actuality, it is sexual intercourse between the High Priest and High Priestess. As a rule, this is done after the members have absented themselves.

In the version given in this video, it is literally done in token, with tokens taking the place of the God and Goddess, the knife and chalice, and the High Priest and High Priestess.

There are three basic ways you can perform this. It can be as an observer, or as envisioning yourself as either the God or the Goddess. Further, you can envision yourself as either active or passive; this will be shown in the ritual by which token you put on top. Don’t think of these as value judgments. In fact, one point of the ritual can be to understand the value of the passive. As Aleister Crowley says in The Book of Lies, “Soft and hollow, how thou dost overcome the hard and full.” Further, the passive is actively accepting, and the active is submitting itself to absorption.

There are therefore six ways you can perform this. These combine the observer, God role, and Goddess role, in any of which either participant can be seen as either active or passive. Try out all six. You will probably find one to be easiest. That’s not the one you want to concentrate on. The ritual is meant to be transformative. Instead work on the one you’re most uncomfortable with. For frequent use, though, I recommend the observer role. It’s good to do it this way at least a few times before trying out the other versions, and between those performances, first to prepare yourself, and second to incorporate changes resulting from the ritual.

The Great Rite portion is embedded in the second ritual, which is itself embedded in the first ritual. This way it will be a natural outgrowth of your work so far.

I’ll first perform the ritual while explaining it as I go along, and then straight through. I won’t be explaining the parts belonging to the first and second rituals; for explanations of them, see the other videos in this series.

Begin by facing east. Pour the tokens out of their bag, and turn them all upright.

Put the tokens in line in front of you, in the order in which they will be used, left to right. Click them down to give an auditory symbol of the beginning of the ritual.

Using each of the elemental tokens in order, touch the token and then your forehead:

By [element] I am made pure,
to perform the sacred.

Touch the spirit token and say:

Now purified, I may call on the pure.

In this ritual, an aspect of the elements that remained undeveloped in the first two appears which is their sexual alignment. Air and fire are male, and water and earth are female. The elements are therefore taking part in the hieros gamos. Think about this as you put each ritual token in its place in the circle.
Pick up the air token and put it in the east:

May air be here,
pure and unmixed.
May I live in its presence
and under its influence.

Touch it a moment and then pick up the fire token and put it in the south:

May fire be here,
pure and unmixed.
May I live in its presence
and under its influence.
Touch it a moment and then pick up the water token and put it in the west:

May water be here,
pure and unmixed.
May I live in its presence
and under its influence.

Touch it a moment and then pick up the earth token and put it in the north:

May earth be here,
pure and unmixed.
May I live in its presence
and under its influence.

Touch it a moment and then pick up the spirit token and put it in the center:

Spirit girds me about,
the protecting circle,
of air, and fire, and water, and earth.
Spirit dwells within me,
the center of all,
of air, and fire, and water, and earth.
Enclosed and enclosing,
the perfect mixing of the unmixed four.

Now meditate, as in the previous rituals, for a few moments on the presence of the elements, on the nature of each of them, and how they both form and are formed by Spirit. This time include an awareness of their sexual identities, and how that works in their combining in the Spirit.

When you have this fully in your mind, pick up the Goddess token:

I ask the Goddess,
Maiden, Mother, Crone,
to come to be with me here today
that I might know and worship you.

Move the Goddess token into place, touch it with your finger:

Silver Moon and Verdant Earth,
Bringer to birth of all that is,
here in the center, where you ever dwell,
my praise and love I offer to you:
dwell in me always with all of your blessings.

Pick up the God token:

I ask the Horned God,
Slayer and Slain, Wild and Tame,
to come to be with me here today
that I might know and worship you.

Move the God token into place, touch it with your finger:

Golden Sun and Shining Sky,
Engenderer of all that comes to be
here in the center, where you ever dwell,
my praise and love I offer to you:
dwell in me always with all of your blessings.

In order to fully experience the power of the ritual, you’ll want to identify yourself with one of the deities, starting with the one which is of the same sex as you. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to have mastered the second ritual before trying this one. You need to have a firm understanding of what sort of being you are identifying yourself with. As you manipulate the token associated with that deity, try to find within yourself the things that make it what it is. If you don’t find them there, imagine them. Do this often enough and you will find them.

After you’ve done this ritual many times, try taking the role of the opposite sex. Work at understanding what it would be to be that sex. What would their understanding of the sex act be?

Now touch the Spirit token:

The Mystery is performed in the center:
may it be performed here.

Up to now the ritual has been the same as the second one in the series. This is to prepare yourself for the central part, the Great Rite portion. Here is where you’ll be approaching the Mystery and, if you are ready for it, experiencing its power and learning its lessons. I thought of writing words for this part, but decided that I couldn’t improve on the traditional Gardnerian ones.

Pick up the Goddess token:

Assist me to erect the ancient altar, at which in days past all worshipped;
The great altar of all things.
For in old time, Woman was the altar.
Thus was the altar made and placed,

Put the Goddess token down on top of the spirit token:

And the sacred place was the point within the center of the Circle.

This line is one reason why a circle with a dot in it is a good symbol for Spirit. This line of thought is reinforced by the spirit token being itself a point within the center of the sacred circle you created by invoking and placing the elements. It has two more important meanings, though. It is first the yoni at the center of an extended woman; when the Great Rite is performed in actuality, the woman lies so that her yoni is in the circle’s center. Second, this is a foreshadowing, in which the circle represents the female and the point the male.

But why is the Great Rite performed in the same place where the Spirit is placed? It’s because, first, it is through Spirit that the Goddess and the God approach each other, and it is the spirit that they, opposite and complementary, share, so as to provide a space in which they can join. Second, Spirit is born from their union. We’ve seen how the elements are born from Spirit, and that it is thereby that the cosmos has its origin and derives its structure. And, in return, it is from the elements that Spirit is formed.

This back and forth, this reciprocity where each level is both the origin and result of the other is one of the important aspects of this ritual, and the internalization of its lesson is one of the ritual’s purposes. And, of course, continuing with the reciprocity theme, having developed the lesson of reciprocity within yourself will increase the ritual’s power. In this way the relationship develops into a creative feedback loop.

So to continue.

As we have of old been taught that the point within the center is the origin of all things,
Therefore should we adore it;
Therefore whom we adore we also invoke.

Here you pause a second to separate the introduction from the invocation.

O Circle of Stars,
Whereof our father is but the younger brother,
Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space,
Before whom time is ashamed, the mind bewildered, and the understanding dark,
Not unto thee may we attain unless thine image we love.
Therefore by seed and stem, by bud and stem,
by leaf and flower and fruit,
by life and love do I invoke thee,
O Queen of Space, O Jewel of Light,
Continuous one of the heavens;
Let it be ever thus:
That men speak not of thee as One, but as None;
And let them not speak of thee at all, since thou art continuous.
For thou art the point within the Circle, which we adore;
The point of life, without which we would not be.

Put two fingers on the Goddess’s token.

And in this way truly are erected the holy twin pillars;
In beauty and strength were they erected
To the wonder and glory of all men.

In the Great Rite in actuality, the “pillars” are woman’s breasts.
Now grasp the Goddess token in your thumb and forefinger.

Altar of mysteries manifold,
the sacred Circle’s secret point.

Pick the token up.

Thus do I sign thee as of old,
with kisses of my lips anoint.

Kiss the token.

Open for me the secret way,
The pathway of intelligence,
Beyond the gates of night and day,
Beyond the bounds of time and sense.

Put the token back down and spread your arms in a gesture of recognition and respect.

Behold the mystery aright:
Five are the points of fellowship

Put the God token on top of the Goddess token.

Here where Lance and Grail unite,
And feet, and knees, and breast, and lips.

When you perform the act of union, envision you are actually doing so with the deity you aren’t identifying with. What does it mean to unite with that which is complementary with yourself? What do you gain? What do you lose? What do you now understand? What can you never understand but only rest in awe of?

This ends the traditional words, and the ritual continues with my own. You will now declare what it is you’ve done, and internalize it by picking up the deity tokens together and holding them against your heart.

Here are the Two, conjoined in Mystery,
the greatest of rites as they join in ecstasy,
the yoni and phallus in love conjoined,
the womb and the seed in love combined.
Goddess and God, as you unite together,
may I be found in your love,
may it be found in me.

Here is where you have to experience what you’ve tapped into. You’ll need to pull on everything you’ve learned by mastering the other rituals. Hold the balance, be aware of the four elements and their relationships, be aware of everything the Goddess is, everything the God is. And then let all of that merge into one, none of the parts losing its individuality, but only existing in connection with all other things. Allow it all to merge into one moment of ecstasy, a moment that lasts as long as is right and ten fades away.

When the time comes, put the tokens back down. Keep your fingers touching them a few moments more while you meditate on viewing the mystery from the outside. You aren’t participating anymore, only adoring.

When the time is right, take the God token off the Goddess token and put it where it had been; do the same with the Goddess token, and then touch them at the same time, one with your right middle finger and one with your right index finger, while saying:

Even when separate, forever conjoined:
This their Mystery,
continually renewing,
continually renewed.

The rest of the ritual returns to the framing you mastered in the first two ritual. You unwind what you’ve done, giving the ritual a symmetrical structure. You’re going to bring the ritual’s effects into your daily life, to continue to work in you even on an unconscious level.

Pick up the deity tokens, the God first, and put them back in the bag, saying:

God and Goddess, my love and my praise
for your presence and power and love.
May you continue to bless me throughout this day
and all of my days
and all of my life.

In turn, starting with the earth token and going counter-clockwise, touch each elemental token, pick it up and put it in the bag:

May the presence of [earth, water, fire, air]
continue to work in me throughout this day
and all of my days
and all of my life.

Touch the spirit token, and then pick it up and put it in the bag:

May the power of spirit
enclose and enfill me
throughout this day
and all of my days
and all of my life.

Hold the bag to your heart:

It is done, it is done, it is well done;
the work is well done in me
and will continue to work throughout this day
and all of my days
and all of my life.

End with a “so be it” and you’re done.