The Great Rite, in it’s literal sense, is the joining of Priest and Priestess; man and woman. Few covens/circles use this rite in the literal sense, though there are some groups who use it in the literal sense for high level magick and, of course, partnered couples may use the literal Great Rite to empower their work.
In the EarthPath Tradition, we use the Great Rite in symbolic form to seal the circle work when we partake in “Cakes and wine” at the end of each ritual. In reality, the Cakes can be anything that will assist the group members to ground after ritual. The Wine is generally a juice, as there are many who do not wish to use alcoholic beverages, and because we have youth and children in our group. If a group is composed of members who are all of legal age and there is no objection, a red wine can be used in this closing ritual (symbolizing the blood of the woman).
We use the poem below, modified from the original Blue Star rite, for our Great Rite. The Priest and Priestess stand facing each other, and gazing into each other’s eyes. The Priest holds the athame, point downward, over the chalice, which is held by the Priestess. When they reach the words ”And when we are joined...” The Priest slowly lowers the athame into the chalice to symbolize the joining of the Priest and Priestess. This is one of the most sacred rites in the EarthPath Tradition, and when it is performed, especially by a couple that is joined in a permanent relationship, the true magick of the rite can be felt by all within the circle.
The Great Rite
Priest: Let it be known that a man is not greater than a woman
Priestess: Nor a woman greater than a man,
Priest: For what one lacks,
Priestess: The other can give.
Priest: As the athame is to the male,
Priestess: So the chalice is to the female.
Priest: And when we are joined,
Priestess: We become one in truth,
Both: For there is no greater magick in all the world than that of love.