|Posted by Sable Aradia on January 29, 2011 at 6:22 PM|
As I was researching the Eight Paths of Power videos that I did recently, I learned how little information there was out there concerning the Great Rite, and most of this limited information seems strictly heterosexual in its perspective. Many gay and lesbian Witches eshew the Great Rite as being irrelevant to them as a result. I don't believe that this is the case, and I think that this is one of that great Mysteries of our faith and to miss out on it is to miss something spectacular. But as a bisexual woman I understand the aversion to the practice that is a reasonable response to the apparent heterosexism, so I would like to address this concern, and offer a new way of looking at the Great Rite.
For those who may not be familiar, the Great Rite is a ritual act of sexual intercourse that represents the joining together of Deities, usually the Goddess and the God, as embodied by the High Priestess and the High Priest. They "Draw Down the Moon" and "Draw Down the Sun," which is a form of trance channelling, in which, respectively, the Goddess and the God are called into the bodies of, typically, the Priestess and the Priest. It may have its roots in "left-hand path" Tantra, and I can see why it seems heterosexist in its nature. Rather than repeat myself, since I just did the research on this for my video, I'm going to embed the video on the Great Rite here and you can watch it for more information on the left hand path of Tantra, etc.
Considering the Great Rite from a homosexual/bisexual perspective, we need to expand our viewpoint from the typical male/female, Priestess and Priest pairing.
One way to view this is to understand that we are working with the polarities of the powers of Creation. In that respect, these are "male" and "female" archetypes that we are working with; the animus and anima, the essence of the opposite gender that dwells within ourselves. From that perspective, our partner in the Rite serves as a vessel for the archetypical power that is within each of us; a means of communing with the Divine aspects within ourselves, or a communion with the raw force of Creation in the Universe. In that context, this is sperm and egg uniting to create, not male and female pairing for sex.
I mentioned briefly in the video that some traditions believe that only women can Draw Down the Moon, and only men can Draw Down the Sun, and others believe that it is an essential skill for their Priestesses & Priests to be able to do either. You can also do this outside of the Great Rite, but in the context of the Rite itself, if one of the partners in question feels comfortable working with the energies of the opposite gender, you can do that. I can address this from my own experience, having Drawn Down the Sun several times, and once having done so within the context of the Great Rite to initiate a High Priestess friend of mine. It was a very powerful and effective experience. You can expand on this and use whatever props seem appropriate for the situation and your comfort level. (To elaborate, we felt that the God required a phallus, so we provided one. That may not be appropriate or desirable for everyone, however.)
Some gay/lesbian couples may not like the strong masculine energy of someone like Herne, or the overwhelmingly feminine energy of, say, Demeter. In that case, I suggest working with deities who bent or broke the gender lines in their myths; and there really is no shortage! Some suggestions I can think of off the top of my head include Aphrodite, Mother of Hermaphrodite (who in some circles was called "the hairy,') Hermes (who was the father of Hermaphrodite, from whom we get the word in the first place,) Hermaphrodite Him/Herself, Baphomet (also a hermaphrodite,) Loki (who turned into a mare and gave birth to Sleipnir after "distracting" a stallion,) and Thor (who crossdressed to get His hammer back.) I am sure there are many more and I invite anyone reading this blog to add to the list in the Comments. Other Deities that never really crossed the gender lines but who may be especially appropriate to gay men or lesbians include Pan (very popular among gay men for His rampant, playful male sexual energy,) Artemis (who, of course, was said to prefer the company of women,) and Ares (patron of Sparta; I can't think of any stories of Him crossing the gender lines Himself, but obviously He has no objection to homosexuality among men, and He was the God that I Drew Down in the Rite I mentioned previously.)
I don't really see any reason, while I have never done this myself, that you could not address the polarity in a whole different, non-gender oriented kind of way, or work specifically with a homogenous energy balance instead of a polarity based one. One blog I encountered recently presented an intriguing possibility for gay men in Drawing Down the Holly King and Oak King, which I can picture as a very powerful and intimate experience! The Life/Death principle might also be an excellent polarity to work with (say, Inanna/Erishkigal, Persephone/Hecate, or Sun King/Winter King.) The same blog also presented the idea of the dynamic Trinity ( Brother, Father, Son or Father, Son, Lover; for women this extrapolates easily into Maiden, Mother, Crone - this path equates nicely with the Three Souls concept of Feri Tradition and those influenced by it). The dynamic Trinity might work quite well for a polyamorous same-gendered trio!
There is also the unique gay/lesbian magick of "the power calling to itself," as our friendly blog-writer Storm Fairywolf put it. In this respect, the Great Rite could be used to reconcile with an aspect of ourselves that we are not comfortable with. The Gemini balance; the Shadow Self; or a new aspect, such as a Mother stage Witch embracing her imminent Croning, a young male Witch about to be a Father embracing that aspect, a Father stage Witch accepting his Sagehood, or a Maiden Witch becoming comfortable with her Warrior aspect.
Storm Fairywolf also suggests the idea of an elemental balance of Great Rite for polyamorous relationships, best done with four or five partners. I think I might try this some day; what a powerful experience of the elements and their interactions and dynamics that would be!
We have only begun to understand this ancient magick in a modern context, but if you understand the Great Rite as a metaphor for the forces of creation, life and death and rebirth coming together, it can be re-imagined into infinite possiblities that explore numerous aspects of the dynamics of the forces which are the building blocks of our universe, and transcend the ego to grasp an expanded consciousness that is connected to all things - which is, ultimately, the point. I urge you to explore it in your own way and not allow previously offered models to limit you. Instead, if you have any room in your path for sacred sexuality, use it as a starting point and commune with the Divine as you see It/Him/Her/Them!
1. "Queer Sex Magick" by Storm Fairywolf; http://www.faerywolf.com/essay_sexmagick.htm; accessed Jan. 26, 2011.
2. "Beltane - Aphrodite" by Maureen Reddington-Wilde, as published in Devoted to You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice (Harrow, Judy & others), 2003 Citadel Press.
Categories: Wiccan Thealogy Articles