THE SIXTH REDE – THE GREAT RITE
Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; for behold, all
acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.
Initiation into the high priesthood in Moondaughter’s tradition always involved
performing the Great Rite in true. The necessity for this sexual act arose
naturally out of Moondaughter’s understanding of the power of love.
The Power of Love
Love, Moondaughter taught, is the power through which the Lord and Lady gave
birth to all things. Love is the source of human life and happiness. The power
of love is greater than that of the natural laws which govern the universe.
Sexual love, for Moondaughter, was the most potent and volatile form of love.
She believed that in sexual love a man and a woman unite not only physically,
but also spiritually and magically. By that magical act the lovers are
transformed, for better, or for worse.
The Misuse of Love
It is not difficult to observe in the physical world that the power to do good
is also the power to do harm; Moondaughter taught that the same was true of the
sacred power of sexual love. While she prized the sexual act as the holiest and
most powerful of rituals, she understood the misuse of that power to be
responsible for many of the dysfunctionalities of human society.
Today, even more than in Moondaughter’s time, we have become aware of the severe
psychological damage which can result from sexual abuse of children and from
rape. Moondaughter believed these were only the most visible ways that human
beings could take harm when the magical and spiritual energies exchanged during
sex were misused for purposes of exploitation and domination.
The Sacred Marriage
Moondaughter considered her coveners to be undertaking a course of both magical
and priestly training, and in that role she made demands of them which many
modern Pagans might find unacceptable. Married coveners were expected to be
strictly monogamous, and single coveners to be chaste. This requirement was not
merely an ethic, but a magical act, part of a spell of self-transformation to
prepare them to receive the third degree initiation.
In Moondaughter’s tradition, the initiation to third degree was identical with
the Sacred Marriage, a vital aspect of the Great Work.
When a couple was ready to receive the third degree, the Great Rite was first
administered in token to the woman by a male elder, and the woman then
immediately administered it — also in token — to her partner. At some later
time, the couple would perform the Rite in true to sexually complete the
initiation begun by the symbolic ritual.
There were rumors that in earlier times the true Rite had followed the pattern
of the token Rite, but this was never the practice in the United States.
Following the third degree initiation, the man and the women were considered to
be magical partners, a priest and priestess whose sexual union was an embodiment
of the Lord and the Lady.
All Acts Are Her Rituals
For Moondaughter, both the sexual ecstasy of the Great Rite and the sexual
abstinence that preceded it were magical acts for the transformation of the self
and the world. More than that, they were acts of worship, rituals of the Lord
Today it is common for the statement that “all acts of love and pleasure are my
rituals” to be regarded as an endorsement of casual sex. Moondaughter would have
seen such an attitude as the equivalent of a devout Catholic offering
consecrated hosts with salsa and dip as a party snack.
Moondaughter taught that every act of love and pleasure was indeed a ritual, and
cautioned her students to approach every such act with the reverence (as well as
the mirth) that such an incredibly sacred ritual deserves.