Sex Magic – Great Rite

Being both a pagan and a writer of erotica, sex magic is something that I think about a fair bit. For an author wanting to combine erotica and paganism, or occultism, then it’s rather an obvious route to explore. There are a variety of forms sex magic can take, both in life and in fiction. I thought it would be fun to explore some of those, and offer suggested reading.

For those not familiar with the concept, The Great Rite as a practice is a modern wiccan ritual act. I’ve seen it done symbolically, with the priest placing his athame in the goblet of the priestess. I’ve heard of it done actually. The Great Rite is basically sex in ritual.

There is an idea that floats around on the ether, and I’ve no idea exactly how it grew. I believe it starts with a legend in which a King of Ireland has sex with a horse as part of a ritual to do with kingship, and that this is understood as symbolic as his wedding to the land. The idea is that kings of ancient pagan folk would have sex with a priestess, annually, to affirm the relationship between king and land. I know of no historical source for this – if you do, please post a comment. Modern witchraft includes the idea of ritual sex, (literal or symbolic) bringing together the energies of the god and the goddess. I’ve seen a fair few writers along the way take the modern (so far as I know) notion of Great Rite and imagine it as the practice of (usually) druids of old.

I’ve never performed the Great Rite, in a symbolic or an actual way. If you have experience and want to share, please do! The idea of trying to do it symbolically has never really spoken – in part because I’m not a duotheist, my world view doesn’t feature one god and one goddess combining to make everything happen. I believe in multiple deities. I have channelled, and had fleeting encounters with what felt to me like divinity. The idea of calling a goddess into me, in order to have sex with a partner who had called upon a god in the same way, is terrifying beyond words. (And therefore has an undeniable attraction). Deities are scary powerful, and sexual highs create openness and vulnerability. It seems like a recipe for insanity to me.

I can however, imagine sex in the context of private ritual, not summoning deity, but sharing the intimacy in a conscious way with the spirits of place, the land, the wind, the sky. Opening to each other, and to any other presences, offering love as a sacred act, affirming relationship, both personal and in a broader sense. Ritual lovemaking as a way of opening to the divine spark within, and seeing the magic inherent in the other. These days, I can’t really imagine sharing physical intimacy without it seeming inherently sacred and magic (but those are themes for other blog posts).

 One of my favourite stories exploring notions of Great Rite is Jeanette Stevens’ Closing the Circle – with a historical Celtic/Druid setting and some consideration of what can go wrong as well as what should go right, it’s a beautifully written tale, sexy, heartbreaking, and very believable.

8 thoughts on “Sex Magic – Great Rite”

  1. As a Wiccan myself, and an as yet unpublished writer, I’ve often thought about including fictionalised tales of ritual sex in potential stories.

    One I have recently been working on, revolves around a woman who is considering initiation into a local coven, and is invited to some open sabbat rituals throughout the year.

    As Beltane has just passed here, I thought about writing a scene where a small informal and optional part of the celebrations included single women running off into the forest, to be chased by the single men of the coven, with the hopes of catching them and ‘having their way’ so to speak. Rather like Pan or Satyrs would chase Nymphs!

    The woman finds herself being chased by a masked member of the coven, and the come together.

    The rest of the story focuses on her trying to work out who he is, and find out about his complex personal life.

    I have seen the symbolic Great Rite performed, and it seems fine in principle, as a male aspect coming together with a female aspect. I’m not sure if the idea of the Priest and Priestess taking part in the actual ritual, as the God and Goddess, would work as well. Surely, if a couple come together like that, it should really be for themselves?

    Maybe that’s just me. If it works for them, it’s their choice!



  2. I read the Farrar’s book on witchcraft and they suggest that the coven troupe out of the room, leaving the priest and priestess to do as they see fit. I can’t personally imagine doing that! I have done chases, and they are a lot of fun, a bit wild, quite sexy. Sounds like you’ve got the makings of a good story there! Best of luck with it.


  3. Yeah, I have the Farrar’s book, but it seems a bit weird for a group of people to be waiting outside for a couple to finish!!

    That’s the angle on the chase that I’m going for! The wild, sexy, primal thing! And, to me, perfect for Beltane!



  4. I’m a Bard, and once had the privilege of being one of the ritual musicians at a real Great Rite. Now that enough time has passed, I’ve been thinking of writing up my observations. My only question is, where would I get it professionally published? Any ideas?

    –Leslie < )O(


  5. Leslie, I would rate the chances of that being of interest to an erotica publisher, if you pitch it right. There are a lot of publishers out there, and not knowing you, or your style makes it hard to offer specific recommendations, but, you should definitely give it a go.


  6. Hi, Brynneth. Well, I’m a published SciFi and Fantasy author, and — obviously — a Pagan. Do you know of any publishers of Pagan fiction (hmmm, I see a lot of Pagan-themed books here on this blog) who are willing to do a bit of erotica? Please let me know. Thanks, and Blessed Be,

    –Leslie < )O(


    1. Hi Leslie,

      I am the owner of Wyrdwood Publications, a small eco-friendly publishing house, which publishes Pagan / Heathen eBooks.

      Although we don’t publish erotica, I’m willing to publish adult Pagan content and I may be interested in your work depending on the content, obviously.

      You can find the Submission Guidelines at


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