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The Sacraments Part 1 - Communion and The Great Rite.

Communion is the Christian sacrament where the Priest performs the miracle of turning bread and wine into the flesh and blood of their God and they all commune with their God by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

Many Witches also perform a communion but for us it does not take a miracle to turn bread and wine into the flesh and blood of the God. It already is the flesh and blood of the God. For most Witches the earth is the body of the Goddess and all living things on the earth are the body of the God. The God is the corn and the wheat and the tomatoes. He is the deer, and the pig and the chicken. He is all living things and He is the cheeseburger with fries and a cola that you had for lunch.

When Witches perform the Sacred Feast in our rituals we are simply acknowledging what is already true. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of our God every day and we will be consumed in our turn. Life feeds on life, it is all part of the great cycle, and it is truly a miracle.

There is another sacrament associated with the Sacred Feast that we have and the Christians don't. It is the Great Rite. In Wiccan theology the first division of the divine spirit is into masculine and feminine. The polarity in Witchcraft is not a Good God fighting an Evil Devil. It is a man and a woman having sex. It is central to Wiccan beliefs that the universe is not the battle ground between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. It is the marriage bed of The Lord and The Lady. The relationship between opposites is not war but sexual union.

The Great Rite proper is sexual union between the God and the Goddess represented by the High Priest and the High Priestess. This form is so rare that in seven years of practice I have never seen it performed in ritual. The more common form is the symbolic Great Rite performed with a Chalice and an Athame. The Chalice and the Athame are in absolute polarity the Chalice being the life giving aspect of the Goddess and the Athame being the death giving aspect of the God. Bringing them together symbolizes the unity of opposites within the body of the one divine spirit.

At one point the Braided Wheel Tradition had put aside the symbolic Great Rite entirely on the grounds that it was too easily misinterpreted with a heterosexist bias. (The Sacred Feast is universal but the Great Rite is optional. Starhawk does not even mention it.) The Great Rite represents the sexual union of the Goddess and God but this union transcends physical gender. The Great Rite is not just men and women having sex it is the union of opposites with in each of us. In the StarWheel Compromise of 1994 members of the Braided Wheel Tradition agreed to take up the Great Rite again with two modifications.

The first modification is that we perform the Great Rite with Wands instead of Athames. Although the Chalice and the Athame are in absolute polarity we felt that this was a generative rite and as such should use the creative aspect of both divinities. (The thought of performing the Great Rite with an Athame makes us want to cross our legs.) The second change is that we use two Wands and two Chalices. The two officiants holding one of each.

The symbolic Great Rite traditionally only uses the wine but using the Athame to bless the cakes completes the circle by joining the death aspects of the Goddess and the God.

Many Christian churches do not allow you to take communion until you have been confirmed. In the Braided Wheel Tradition we are similarly sparing of the symbolic Great Rite, we prefer participants to be aware of the symbolism before they experience this sacrament.

The Great Rite as performed by StarWheel

The two officiants each hold a Wand in their Right hand and a Chalice in their Left hand. They stand facing each other holding their Wands over their partners Chalice, and alternate saying the lines.
"Be it known that no man is greater than a woman."
"Nor is a woman greater than a man."
"For what one lacks..."
"...the other can provide."
"As the Wand is to the Male.."
"...So the chalice is to the Female."
"And when the two are joined..."
(lowering the wands into the Chalices)
"...They become one in truth."
(Simultaneously) "For there is no greater magic in all the world than that of love."
Compare this to the Wine consecration in "A Witches Bible Compleat" by Janet and Stewart Farrar. "As the athame is to the male, so the cup is to the female; and cojoined, they become one in truth." p.46 Buy it from Amazon.com

1999 Sheherazahde, Braided Wheel Tradition
For more information contact: sheherazahde@yahoo.com

How to cite this page:
MLA style:
Snyder, Eva M. "The Sacraments Part 1 - Communion and The Great Rite." February 27,1999. Online. Internet. [Put here the date you read or printed this page]. Available WWW: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/7746/BraidedWheel/Communion.html

APA style:
Snyder, Eva M. (Publication Year). The Sacraments Part 1 - Communion and The Great Rite. [Online]. Available WWW: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Ithaca/7746/BraidedWheel/Communion.html

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