A lot of the contacts we get from gay people focus on the question of "Gay Ritual".
Invariably what this comes down to is "Can I have sex within my workings...?" and "How do I perform the Great Rite with my same-sex partner?" Most often they do so because they feel a desire to express themselves fully within the religious path they have chosen - and this includes being able to express their sexuality in the same way that they see their "straight" brothers and sisters doing...
Unfortunately, we feel that that this genuine search for self-expression is sometimes complicated by a common misunderstanding that confuses the Great Rite with "Sex in ritual"...
Within Wicca sex (consensual and in private) is sometimes used within ritual; when it is used, sex in ritual has several roles: raising energy, expressing love as a sacrament, reflecting the Divine nature of ourselves and manifesting the Mystery of the Great Rite. In this the Great Rite is only one of a number of roles that sex can have - however, although the Great Rite involves sexual symbolism, all sex in ritual is not the Great Rite.
For us, sex between consenting adults (of any sexuality) can fulfill all of these roles - all except the Great Rite. In this essay we will try to explain why that is...
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The ritual of the Great Rite is a Wiccan formulation of the Gnostic Mass (the union of the Gluten of the White Eagle with the Blood of the Red Lion). It also has roots within the Heiros Gamos: the Sacred Marriage, itself a part of the Elussian Mysteries.
Within the Wiccan cosmology, it is the ritual enactment of the creation of the universe in the union of the God and Goddess. To quote the author Vivianne Crowley:
"The outer rite involves a linking of the male and the female, the God and Goddess. The inner symbolism is a uniting of the initiate with the animus or anima. The sacred marriage is outwardly a marriage of two people, but inwardly it is a marriage of the two within one person."
(p.219 Vivianne Crowley, Wicca: the old Religion in the New Age; Aquarian Press: 1989)
The ritual focus of the Great Rite may be the union and integration of the inner selves, but it's physical and magickal expression is through the union of the polar energies. It is the opening of the gateway to the womb of the Goddess that the Self may be reborn - and we are all born of sexual union.
As such the ritual must involve the union of the yoni and the lingam - either in actual or token. Anything else will not embody the relevant Mystery and therefore is not the Great Rite by Wiccan definition. To quote from another in our Tradition: "If you're Sword fighting or clinking Chalices, it just ain't gonna work"
If you are going to perform the Ritual in actual (i.e. through sex rather than through the symbolism of Chalice and Blade) then, unfortunately, any other form of sex than the union of phalus and womb is not the Great Rite. To be specific: anal or oral sex will not embody the Mystery - regardless of the respective gender of the participants!
BUT by definition the reverse is also true: a Great Rite performed symbolically with the Chalice/Cauldron and Athame/Wand IS a Great Rite - again, regardless of the respective gender of the participants!(just as long as they can draw upon the relevant cross-polarity energies). It may not be "Orthodox" but it will still manifest the Mystery.
However: this is not to say that Gay sex cannot be all the other things that sex in ritual reflects - as I am sure must be clear from some of our earlier articles:
The Goddess says: "All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals" - as in all other rituals, the gender of the participants is not as important as their meeting in Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. After all, Aphrodite is a Goddess of love and governs all unions, not just Heterosexual ones.
Whether it be in the name or Aphrodite, Diana or Pan, sex before the Lord and Lady - both in private and within a ritual space - can be both a celebration and a sacrament: a celebration of our shared carnality and the pleasure that the Gods have endowed us with, and a sacrament of our love for each other as sacrifice and Blessing from the Goddess "who ever inclines towards merriment"... It may not be "Orthodox Craft", but it is still acceptable to the Gods.
The final role of sex within ritual - that of sex being a way to experientially understand the Deity within ourselves: of seeking a kind of validation of our sexuality - is a matter for another essay...
References & quotes
Wicca: the old religion in the New Age
London: Aquarian press, 1989