The Grand Rite has begun, and the Earth cries out for innocent blood.
— Tituba in The Stone Child

The Grand Rite, also known as Ritum Magni in Latin, is the most powerful and dangerous ritual known to witches. Although it has been attempted several times over the centuries, only the witches of Salem were able to complete it in 1692.


Many years ago. In Marburg. You were still just a-a baby. The German witches, oh, far bolder than even the Essex witches. They attempted the grand rite. Within the space of a month, a dozen children disappeared. Their bodies were found bled dry. Their innocent blood soaked the ground. And as the full moon approached, more children disappeared, and I knew the grand rite was nearing its completion. So while others searched for the children, I hunted the witch.
— Increase Mather

According to the books of Reverend Cotton Mather and the stories of passing experiences of Increase Mather, the infamous witch hunter, the witches have tried to complete many times to accomplish this dreaded ritual, but with little success. Unfortunately, the witch-hunters handbooks were written by them and therefore contain little information on the secret rituals practiced by the witches, deceived followers of the Devil.

A noteworthy event took place in Germany, where a hive of brazen witches led by a wicked witch worshiped in the guise of a Pagan Siren was one step away from completing the Ritum Magni, but were stopped in time by Increase Mather and exterminated.

The Steps of the Grand Rite

The Grand Rite is the greatest and most dangerous secret of witches, consisting of numerous passages minutely regulated by crucial events listed below.

The Thirteen Sacrifices

True malice, like that which powers the Grand Rite, ferments best in a loveless heart.

This evil ritual has a long preparation time. First, it requires a particular astronomical event that happens only in specific dates distant over the centuries. Then the ritual claim the ritual murders of thirteen innocent victims in an annual lunar cycle, which ends with the Hunter's Moon, the blood red moon of the month of October. The blood of the victims should wet the ground, so that it is prepared to bear the cloven hoof of the Devil, and no matter how these victims are killed, as long as the witches who plan to complete the Grand Rite take care that thirteen people are brutally killed in the stipulated time frame. This initial phase is the most delicate because if the thirteen victims are not killed in time, the whole ritual will be cancelled. Another way to prevent the Grand Rite is to kill the witch who leads the coven – known as The Samhain or Queen of the Night – cutting off the serpent's head and rendering useless the work of the witches. Immediately after the thirteenth sacrifice, the holy relic that is known as "Malum" is buried in the ground, spreading a plague which will decimate humans consecrating the ground for the rise of the Beast.

The Victims of the 1692 mass sacrifice

The Plague

Main article: Witch Pox
A month from now every man, woman, and child in this cursed town will be dead by the pox or on our side.
— Mary to Tituba

The result of the opening of The Malum is a plague - known as Witch Pox - able to corrode the body of human beings as the bubonic plague that decimated the populations of Europe in the Middle Ages. According to a witch named Mary Sibley, this plague has no effect on the witches and those lined up on their side but sickens and kills those who oppose their witchcraft.

The plague kills within a week many of Salem's inhabitants, without distinction by gender or social extraction. Despite Dr. Wainwright tried to find out the source of this disease, and then create a cure, Mary insists with her plan, of which the plague is not that one of the phases. In fact, with the arrival of the Comet, the witches will open the portal that will allow the Dark Lord to walk the Earth.

Indeed, the bodies of plague victims, thrown into the crags near Salem Woods, will act as seeds to consecrate the ground. The corpses, in fact, began to melt, secreting an infernal liquid referred by witches with the name of Hell-blood, an oily tar and hot as Hell's fire, able to severely burn the body of human beings. This tar corrodes the victims inside, reducing them to mere empty shells filled with infernal liquid. When Dr. Wainwritght tried to dissect a diseased man, along with Rev. Cotton Mather, the body of the poor man sprayed an amount of hell-blood that burned the operating table and even eroded the stone floor, coming "straight down to Hell" to quote Cotton Mather.

All the corpses thrown into the crags, with the approach of the Starry Messenger Comet, melted transforming themselves into a lake of Hell-blood. This same lake will be the tomb of John Sibley, the vessel that will host the essence of the Devil himself.

Starry Messenger Comet

Main article: Starry Messenger Comet
Our plague turns your dead bodies into Wells of hell-blood. The crags will be filled when the comet passes over. Well, then you puritans will be right for once. The comet really will be a portent of doom, your doom.
— Mary explains the next steps of the Grand Rite

The arrival of a comet in the sky, a clear sign of doom, will shine for three nights over the skies of Salem announcing the opening of the "mouth of Hell", described by Mary Sibley and Tituba as a kind of door, to allow the Devil be incarnated and walk the Earth. If the Rite is not completed during the three nights, everything is cancelled and the witches have to wait for the next planetary alignment to start again the Grand Rite, which may occur even after centuries. As the penultimate stage of the Grand Rite, the Comet will be dyed red when the human vessel is surrounded by the Hell-pitch, making it nothing more than an empty shell to accommodate the essence of the Devil and allow him to walk the Earth.

The Opening of the Gates

Main article: Hell Gate
Now Midnight come! Let the Reign of Darkness begin!
— Countess Von Marburg, her son, and the Salem witches

The Grand Rite requires, as a final sacrifice, the most terrible of all. The chief witch, the one who began the Ritum Magni, must sacrifice the flesh of her flesh, her own son. In the past, the Countess had given birth to her son Sebastian, just for this ritual, but since she was halted, now Mary will have to sacrifice her son John to the Devil. Since a sacrifice without love is nothing but a slaughter, the Witch has to hand over the child's body to the Hell-blood lake, accompanying him with words of true love. Only thus the Devil will be able to incarnate in a mortal body and thus give rise to the Kingdom of Darkness, that witches believe will bring them great benefits and protection from those who for centuries have hunted and killed them.

The Grand Rite is finally accomplished by Mary Sibley, compelled by force by the Countess Von Marburg, who drowns John in the Hell-blood lake, after the coven formed by Anne Hale, Tituba, Sebastian, Mary, the Countess and little John have shed their own blood inside a golden goblet, cutting their palms with a consecrated dagger. After the words of the ritual were spoken and the body of the child drowned in the tar, John was no longer himself, but the Devil himself, ready to rule the entire world and his following witches with a mighty fist.


Main article: Great Terror

Were the witches able to complete the perilous and detailed phases constituting the Grand Rite, they would be able to host the Devil within a Vessel, leading humankind to undergo a Great Terror under his reign.

Spells and Rituals of the Grand Rite

An Initiation to the Grand Rite

The Ritum Magni consecrates the Earth for the Devil's return, to pave the way for his eventual incarnation. A pure white dove is impaled as a tribute. Thereafter, a blood sacrifice of thirteen innocent souls must be made before Full Hunter's Moon.

  • Incantation: "Cruor innocentia Maleficarum pestilentia Walpurgisnacht consummatum est. Now it begins." (Tranl. from Latin as: "[With] sacrifice of innocents the witches' plague it is finished at Walpurgisnacht.")[1]
  • Used by: Mary Sibley

The Consummation of the Grand Rite

  • Incantation: "Our Great Rite now is done. Blood-dim dawn now shall come, Powers of Moon and Sun ignite, all flesh trembles at the sight. Thirteen souls fed the hungry Earth, opens the way for our Dark Lord's birth."
  • Used by: Mary Sibley
  • Note: It is not known whether the rhyme was a requirement for the witch to recite upon the conclusion of the Grand Rite or whether it was merely a chant to honor its completion.

To Activate The Clock of the Doom:

To calculate the Starry Messenger Comet's position and ensure that the bodies liquefy into Hell-blood, shed own blood on one of the globes of the instrument while chanting:

  • Incantation: "Witch blood fall, black earth rise. Hear my call, make me wise. Time foretell for me alone when all mankind, its sins atone".
  • Used by: Mary Sibley

To unleash the Devil on Earth:

To consecrate a human body so it may host the Devil, witches must gather near the ditch full of hellfire, during one of the three nights illuminated by the Starry Messenger Comet, at the Witching hour (midnight). With a consecrated dagger they must shed their own blood and that of the vessel into a golden goblet, blessing this action with ritual words. Once completed this act, since all the ritual requires is an avowal of complete and total love at the moment of sacrifice, the Witch who began the Grand Rite must speak words of love to the vessel, who as a supreme sacrifice must be her own son, and then let him drown in the pitch.

  • Incantation to bless the goblet: Bless the knife that splits one into two. Bless the cup that makes many into one. Now Midnight come! Let the reign of darkness begin!
  • Incantation to consecrate the host: By the eye of the Serpent which blazes overhead, the eye which flies in the sky but once a turning, see we are worthy, see we are ready, and have prepared the pure vessel for you. This is the place of desolation, the dreaming sanctuary of the deathless flame. And from this open Gate of Hell comes the walking horizon of the other God-given flesh.
  • Used by: Mary Sibley, Countess Von Marburg, Tituba, Anne Hale and Sebastian Von Marburg, with John Sibley as the sacrifice.

To open the Gates of Hell

Once the last breath has left the sacrifice's body, it would become an empty shell and it will be ready to host inside the Devil himself, allowing him to live as a human being.

  • Incantation: Open the Womb of Darkness, not in fear. Open the Gate of Creation, the path between world and time! Let the fire of Lucifer and Hecate's love burn the flesh of this child of serpent and man! Let the flesh receive the new word!
  • Used by: Countess Von Marburg.

Memorable Quotes

Tituba: "The Grand Rite has begun, and the Earth cries out for innocent blood."
The Stone Child
Cotton Mather: "You witnessed a real witches' Sabbath. Something no witch hunter has ever seen with his own eyes. All of our images and accounts come from confessions, some rather more believable than others."
John Alden: "It's this one."
Cotton Mather: "If this is true, it's far worse than I thought."
John Alden: What's it say?
Cotton Mather: "No Latin, Captain? Oh, of course not. You've no time for books. Ritum Magni, the Grand Rite. The greatest secret of the witches. All we have are scraps of rumors of failed attempts. Unfortunately, there are no books by witches, only witch hunters."
John Alden: "So all of these books tell you exactly nothing."
The Stone Child
Cotton Mather: "I'm only trying to stop the Grand Rite."
Increase Mather: "Stop the Grand Rite? You? Oh, my, the arrogance of youth. Would you even know how to stop it? And at what cost? Or would you like to hear from one who actually has stopped it and has paid the cost?"
Cotton Mather: "You? I never knew."
Increase Mather: "Many years ago. In Marburg. You were still just a-a baby. The German witches, oh, far bolder than even the Essex witches. They attempted the grand rite. Within the space of a month, a dozen children disappeared. Their bodies were found bled dry. Their innocent blood soaked the ground. And as the full moon approached, more children disappeared, and I knew the grand rite was nearing its completion. So while others searched for the children, I hunted the witch. And I found him. He had taken the appearance of a 6-year-old girl, but I knew this was no girl. It was him. And I strangled her with my bare hands. And as the life left that body, the Devil reached out and snatched the body, but I held on. I was determined that he should not return to his home in hell. And my hands were plunged into the boiling black tar. Hellfire. These hands have actually touched Hell. And they burn me still."
Cotton Mather: "But the Grand Rite was averted?"
Increase Mather: "There really is only one way to stop the Grand Rite. One must kill the witch that began it before the moonrise that ends it."
Ashes, Ashes
Mary Sibley: "You thought love would be my undoing, that I would be in the woods with my lover, and you would kill me there without a trial, thus ending my Grand Rite. I will share with you the secret that you and your kind have sought in vain for centuries! Innocent blood and when the last is spilled, our Malum opens, unleashing the red death it contains within it. And yet, not once in the last 500 years have we succeeded. Until I came along and realized we needn't spill a single drop of innocent blood ourselves. Not when we had fearful and fanatical puritans all too ready to do it for us. So you gave us Giles Corey, Bridget Bishop, the Barkers and others and of course, those poor, deceived girls innocent blood by the buckets. And now here we are, night of full Hunter's moon, and only one more required before moon fall."
Increase Mather: "Not if I kill you first."
Mary Sibley: "Oh, yes, kill the witch who began this Grand Rite, and you might yet avert the great death to come...Good luck with that!"
All Fall Down
Mary Sibley (to George Sibley): "With the first bodies being delivered to the crags, we are well under way. You people have no idea what's coming for you. You are so dim, with no more understanding of the celestial movements than ants have. We witches have always understood the skies and known how to predict what is coming. And what is coming is death for all of you and a new life for us. The comet will be here soon. Our plague turns your dead bodies into Wells of hell-blood. The crags will be filled when the comet passes over. Well, then you puritans will be right for once. The comet really will be a portent of doom Your doom. All of your dooms."
From Within
Mary Sibley: "I alone succeeded where you failed. Oh, mighty queen of failure. I completed the Grand Rite and I alone will open the gate for our Dark Lord. This is my accomplishment and none of your own."
Countess Von Marburg: "No, that's where you are wrong, little sister. Your accomplishment is not only my concern but my destiny."
Mary Sibley: "Listen, old thing. You gave up your birthright when Increase Mather snatched it away. Your Grand Rite died a failure."
Countess Von Marburg: "Careful. Your next word may be your last."
Mary Sibley: "Your words are nothing but air. We both know you need me. You need me to complete the Consecration. I hold the reins, not you, and terrorizing my hive and killing one of my own will not sway me from my destiny."
Countess Von Marburg: "You're right. I do need you. But soon, you will come to see how much you need me, too. And you are gravely mistaken, little sister. Other than our watery encounter, I've not touched an Essex witch yet. It would appear there is another enemy at your gates."
Mary Sibley: "Then let us use this common threat as reason to unite. What difference does it make who holds the key and who opens the gate? All witches will benefit from our Dark Lord's arrival. Let us work together in this noble cause."
Countess Von Marburg: "What I cannot understand is how such a one as you came from so low and dishonest a hive and how you tolerated their lies and their mistreatment for all these years. Time and again, they have robbed you of your most precious possession your free will. Correct me if those Essex whores have ever treated you as what you have always been their natural superior. No, for I promise you only this, Mary Sibley. I will never doubt your true worth."
The Wine Dark Sea



  • The Grand Rite is the most dangerous ritual a witch can perform.
    • The Grand Rite can be considered an extreme version of the Black Mass, believed in Middle Age the meeting between the witches and the Devil on Earth, or the show's version of the Opening of the Seals as described in the Revelation, since the Ritum Magni takes several steps to be completed and finally unleash the Devil on Earth.
  • Increase Mather is the only victim killed directly by a witch; the other twelve sacrifices were perpetrated by Puritans influenced by witches to do their dirty work.
  • Countess Von Marburg was the one who guided those who attempted the Grand Rite in Germany, but was hampered by Increase Mather.
  • According to Adam Simon and Brannon Braga, the Witch Pox was one of the first ideas that they were willing to realize, as Adam Simon said in an interview dedicated to the TV show.
  • In the Modern Pagan Witchcraft, "Great Rite" means the sacred sexual union of the High Priestess and High Priest, who during the ritual embody the feminine and masculine polarities of divinity, referring to an ancient sex magic connotations.


  1. Walpurgisnacht ("Night of Walpurgis" in German) is one of the main Witches' Sabbath, falling around May 1st, overlapping the Pagan festival of Beltane, of Celtic origins. Like during Samhain (better known as Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve), it was believed that during that date witches, devils and the spirits of the Underworld wandered freely on Earth.

See Also

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