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Ritual Sex and The Great Rite

by Patti Wigington

In some (although not all) traditions of Wicca and Paganism, sacred sex is part of spiritual practice. Wicca in its original form is a fertility religion, first and foremost, so it’s understandable that at some point you may encounter some references to sexual acts, whether they be actual or implied. By implied, we mean the symbolic — the joining of an athame with a chalice, for example. The most commonly referenced form of ritual sex is the Great Rite, which is the ritualized connection of the god and goddess. Author Vivianne Crowley says, “The outer rite involves a linking of the male and the female… the sacred marriage is outwardly a marriage of two people, but inwardly it is a marriage of the two within one person.” The Great Rite is more than just sexual union; it is the enactment of the creation of the universe itself in Wiccan tradition.

Although the Great Rite is certainly the best known form of ritual sex, not all ritual sex is the Great Rite. Ritual sex has a number of different purposes besides the Great Rite — it can be used to raise energy, create magical power, or find a sense of spiritual communion with a partner. If “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals,” then certainly sex in ritual can be seen as a sacramental act of love.

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