The Great Rite is a Wiccan ritual involving symbolic sexual intercourse with the purpose of drawing energy from the powerful connection between the male and female. It is an uncommon ritual as it is used when the coven is in need of powerful spiritual intervention to help them through a difficult time. Most often it is performed by the High Priest and High Priestess, but other participants can be elected to perform the Rite.
In the symbolic version the High Priestess plunges the athame, or ritual knife (the male symbol), into a cup or chalice (the female symbol) which is filled with wine and is held by the High Priest. The Great Rite symbolizes creation in the union of the Maiden Goddess with the Lover God, and thus is also known as a fertility rite.
A variety of ritual occasions call for the Great Rite to be performed, such as during the festival of Beltane on or about May 1 in the northern hemisphere and November 1 in the southern hemisphere.