Chapter 13 - The Great Rite - part b
For those familiar with the Great Rite it is also worth commenting here that the women were described as holding black candles in their hands during the ceremony and that the chalice would be placed upon their naked bellies. Though of course not performed for the same reasons, nor with the same intentions, it is interesting to note the similarities here between a Black Mass and the Wiccan ceremony of the Great Rite.
If we consider the difference between the symbolic and actual Great Rite, the symbolic version ends with the blessing of the wine, and does not contain sexual union. The actual Great Rite may have its magickal roots in several distinct areas which need to be considered in turn, such as the ancient hieros gamos (“holy union”). In his work Occultism, Witchcraft & Cultural Fashions, the noted anthropologist Mircea Eliade observed that:
“The importance of ceremonial nudity and ritual intercourse must not be interpreted as merely lustful inclinations. The recent sexual revolution has made obsolete such types of pretence and masquerade. Rather, the purpose of ritual nudity and orgiastic practices is to recapture the sacramental value of sexuality.”
Returning to the writings of Dion Fortune, she seemed to be hinting at the ultimate purpose of such a union of the divine female and male through sexual union in The Sea Priestess when she wrote:
“Do you not know the Mystery saying that all the gods are one god, and all the goddesses are one goddess, and there is one initiator? Do you not know that at the dawn of manifestation the gods wove the web of creation between the poles of the pairs of opposites, active and passive, positive and negative, and that all things are these two things in different ways and upon different levels, even priests and priestesses”
It should be observed that although an act of sexual magick might have seemed socially shocking, on an esoteric level there were several magickal orders which performed sex magick by the 1930s, including the O.T.O., the G.B.G. (Great Brotherhood of God) and the Fraternitas Saturni (Brotherhood of Saturn).
Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ https://amzn.to/3Ay4HJr. Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.