A common central element of Wiccan ritual is the Great Rite. The spelling of the
word rite is significant. It is not right, as in right and wrong, or right and left. It is rite as in ritual.
The greatest of all Wiccan rituals honors the union and fertility of the Goddess and the God. The ritual practice of the Great Rite has changed significantly during the evolution of Wicca. While the original practice of Great Rite is appropriate for a heavily nature oriented religion, it became a source of controversy primarily due to negative publicity.
In the ritual of some Orthodox traditions the High Priestess would invoke (call into her) the Goddess and the High Priest would invoke the God, then the High Priest would physically join with the High Priestess. It was seen as a way to honor the divine creation of life. In most cases,1 this was rarely if ever done with the rest of the Coven present.
In Reformed traditions the practice of physical joining of the High Priestess and High Priest is seldom done. It has been replaced with a symbolic joining of the Goddess and the God using a chalice (stemmed cup) and an Athame (ceremonial knife). The ritual still honors the divine creation with some finding it more appropriate than the earlier practice.