As the rituals and celebrations of the Garou, rites form and reinforce the spiritual and social ties that bind werewolves to each other and to Gaia herself. The common bond formed by rites resonates in the souls of all Garou. Many werewolves maintain that without the continuous practice of such rites, the Garou would lose their ties to the Earth Mother. Theurges warn that werewolves could become something less than their true selves, possibly reverting to simple wolves and humans instead of Gaia’s chosen — or ravening monsters lacking any higher purpose.

The special ties werewolves have with the spirit world allow rites to function. In the dawn of time, shapeshifters struck a great pact — the Pact — with the spirits of Gaia. In return for the shapeshifters’ fealty and service, the spirits would imbue the werebeasts’ rites with supernatural power. For this reason, no one but a shapeshifter can perform rites and expect them to work. The spirits will not answer the call if they are not bound by the Pact to do so. This relationship is unique to the Garou and certain other Fera, and it makes the performance of these rites their sacred right and privilege, and theirs alone.

Through rites, Garou weave the social, emotional and religious fabric that connects werewolf to werewolf, pack to pack and tribe to tribe. When Silver Fang meets Black Fury or Silent Strider meets Glass Walker, the rites of their ancestors give them common ground on which to tread. Even the simple Rite of Contrition has prevented many meetings between werewolves of different tribes and packs from erupting into violence.

Rites also allow tribes and packs the freedom to define themselves and to develop their unique roles in Gaia’s defense. Each of the tribes, and many individual septs, has their own rites and their own versions of common rites. The raucous, howling tumult of the Fianna’s Rite of Spirit Awakening has little external similarity to the Shadow Lords’ dark and brooding rite of the same name, yet the essence and purpose of the two rites are the same, and the Pact recognizes them as such.