|“||They made me and my friends do this Harvest ritual. They said our participation would bring our family strength, health... That we'd forever be celebrated as saviors of the community. But, all they really wanted was more power. So, I left before they could get it. Now, they're running out of time, because after the Harvest comes the Reaping. And, if they don't complete the Harvest, there won't be a Reaping. Soon, all the witches in the Quarter will start to lose their power. Eventually, they will cease to be witches altogether.||”|
— Davina, about the Harvest
The Harvest is a ceremony that is commonly performed by witches of the French Quarter who practice ancestral magic. This sacrificial ritual is performed once every three hundred years as a means to strengthen the connection between the living witches of New Orleans and their deceased ancestors, from whom they draw their magical power. The Harvest ritual involves appeasing the witches' ancestors by giving them an offering of power in exchange for the ancestors re-strengthening the coven's connection to their magic. The offering is used to prove the coven's faith, not only in the Harvest ritual, but in the ancestors themselves and the ancestral magic that they practice. To prove this faith, the coven sacrifices four young witch girls who are put in a kind of limbo for the duration of the Harvest ritual. Then, the coven is rewarded by the ancestors for their faith and their offering by resurrecting the four girls and making the coven's connection to their ancestors' magic even more powerful for the next three centuries, until the ritual is to be performed again. This stage is called the Reaping; the Elder who performed the first attempt at the Harvest ritual, Bastianna, explained that the Harvest works much like the adage, "You reap what you sow," meaning that their coven is rewarded for "sowing their seeds" (sacrificing their four young witches) by allowing them to "reap" the additional magical power given to them by the ancestors.
The first mention of the Harvest ritual was in Sinners and Saints, where the ritual was explained through a series of flashbacks from the perspectives of Davina, Sophie and Marcel. The four girls who were chosen for the Harvest-- Monique, Davina, Cassie, and Abigail-- were assured that they would be put to a peaceful sleep-like state for nearly a year until the Reaping, when they would then be "reborn." However, it was revealed that the Elders of the coven had lied to the girls, and instead of being given a small cut on their palms for the blood sacrifice that would lead to their peaceful sleep, they were actually killed by having their throats slit. Monique, Cassie, and Abigail were all killed in this manner during the first attempt at the Harvest ritual before Marcel and his vampires could intervene on Father Kieran's orders. Each girl's death channeled the deceased girl's magical power into the girl who followed her, and when Monique was killed, all three of the Harvest girl's magic was all absorbed by Davina. Marcel was able to save Davina just before she could be sacrificed, and hid her away in the attic of St. Anne's Church afterward in order to protect her from the witches who were desperate to find her and finally complete the ritual. While Davina told Elijah her story about the Harvest in the present day, she admitted that while she knew she needed to die in order to complete the ritual, she was still afraid that the Elders were lying about the girls being resurrected, just as they had lied about them being killed in the first place. It was also revealed in this episode that Sophie's goal in teaming up with the Originals was to take Marcel out of power, get Davina back, and finally sacrifice her so that she could complete the Harvest and finally resurrect her niece, Monique.
In Après Moi, Le Déluge, knowing that that the Harvest couldn't be completed without an Elder, and knowing that all of the coven's Elders had been killed, Sophie sought to become an Elder herself so she could finally finish the ritual and prevent the coven from losing their powers. She learned that, in times of crisis, such as when tensions between the factions resulted in the massacre of all the witch Elders, a witch could consecrate the remains of a powerful witch and absorb their power to become an Elder themselves. So, Sophie ultimately made a death with the Mikaelson siblings to consecrate the remains of their mother, Esther, who was the most powerful witch of their time, adding her power to the fold and officially making Esther and her descendants a New Orleans witch. The process still required the presence of the Originals at the Harvest ritual in which to channel Esther's power to Sophie via Esther's sole living descendent, Klaus and Hayley's unborn daughter. As the Reaping grew closer, Davina's immense magical power began to bleed out of her, which resulted in powerful and dangerous natural disasters as a warning to the coven that the Reaping was soon approaching. This caused intense earthquakes, severe windstorms, torrential rain, and finally, a spreading wildfire, which forced Davina into agreeing to sacrifice herself to save the town, regardless of whether or not she would actually come back. Unfortunately, once the ritual was finally completed by Sophie, the magical power was somehow siphoned away by Celeste Dubois, who was possessing Sabine's body. Celeste used this power to resurrect three other witches-- Papa Tunde, Bastianna, and Genevieve--- and give herself an additional boost in power, which ultimately resulted in the four witches taking the places of the four Harvest girls who were meant to be resurrected after the Reaping was completed.
In Crescent City, Papa Tunde allowed himself to be sacrificed so his magical power could be used by Celeste in her plan against the Mikaelsons. His death resulted in Monique being resurrected, which revealed that the deaths of the other three witches would cause the last three Harvest girls to be resurrected as well. It was also revealed that while the Monique was in limbo, she was visited by the spirits of the ancestors, who not only taught her more magic, but also radicalized her into becoming a devout ancestral witch and soldier for the ancestors' cause. Monique ultimately killed her aunt, Sophie, presumably on the ancestors' orders, because of Sophie's "lack of faith."
In Farewell to Storyville, Davina revealed to Marcel and Cami that while she was in limbo, the ancestors emotionally and physically tortured her, and threatened to do horrible things to her if she ever misused her magic again. Presumably, this was due to her siding with the vampires against the witches, and preventing the Harvest from being completed because she was afraid to die.
In The Big Uneasy, Monique, Davina, and Abigail do a spell in Lafayette Cemetery to communicate with the ancestors, which led to one of the ancestors speaking through Monique to give them a message. Monique then gathered a coven meeting so she could announce the ancestors' order: because of the growing tension between the witches, the werewolves, the vampires, and the Originals, the ancestors believed that the coven needed to harness the full power of the Harvest ritual by sacrificing Genevieve, which would resurrect Cassie and finally complete the Reaping. However, Genevieve attempted to buy herself some time by promising to steal Esther's grimoire from Klaus and Elijah. When this plan failed, Genevieve was brought in front of the coven and was about to be killed by Monique when she received another message from the ancestors: they would allow Genevieve to keep her life, but in return, they wanted another offering, and this time one of their own choosing-- Klaus and Hayley's yet-unborn baby daughter.
In From a Cradle to a Grave, Monique, Abigail, and Genevieve prepared to give their offering to the ancestors in lieu of sacrificing Genevieve to complete the Harvest; first, they captured Hayley and delivered her baby before Monique slit her throat and killed her. They then kidnapped the baby and brought it to the cemetery to prepare for the sacrifice. They had prepared the altar and begun the ritual when Elijah, Klaus, and Hayley (who had awoken in transition to become a hybrid as a result of dying with Hope's blood in her system) arrived and ultimately thwarted them, with help from Marcel, who killed Monique with the Devil's Star before she could kill the baby. Elijah and Hayley chained Genevieve up in a crypt and questioned her on why they would kill Hayley and an innocent baby for more power, forcing Genevieve to confess that the ancestors' had decreed that baby Hope would die; specifically the new leader of the ancestors-- Esther, Elijah and Klaus' mother. Hayley killed Genevieve before the ancestors could, and her death resulted in Cassie to be resurrected, which finally completed the Harvest ritual. It was then revealed that Cassie was being possessed by the spirit of Esther.
- During the events of The Originals (TV Series), all of the witches involved with the Harvest ritual were killed by Marcel and his vampires, with the exception of Agnes (killed by Elijah), Sophie (killed by Monique), and Davina (killed by Sophie).
- The girls required for the Harvest ritual's sacrifice seems to be specific, as four girls were chosen out of a group of nearly a dozen. It is possible that there were requirements as to who could be chosen, or perhaps there was a magical means of choosing involved in the process, but exactly how they were chosen is unknown. It is unlikely that they were specifically chosen by the ancestors, as their insistence on choosing Hope as an offering indicated that they had not had a choice in the original Harvest offerings.
- The ritual can only be completed if all four girls die in the sacrifice. If less than four witches are sacrificed, the ritual will not be complete, and if the ritual isn't completed within a year, the witches of the coven will eventually lose access to their ancestors' magic, eventually resulting in them ceasing to be witches altogether.
- Elders of the coven are the only witches with the power to complete the Harvest ritual, although there are steps that can be taken if the coven loses all of their Elders before the powers can be bestowed upon another witch to ensure that spells like the Harvest can still be completed.
- After each sacrifice, the power of the recently-deceased witch would pass on to the next living girl. During the 2011 performance of the Harvest, Monique was the second-to-last girl to be sacrificed; when she died, her powers, plus the powers of the two girls sacrificed before her, were all passed on to Davina. Since she was saved before she could be sacrificed, she continued to possess all four girls' magical powers until she was finally sacrificed in Après Moi, Le Déluge.
- The interrupted Harvest resulted in Davina becoming the most powerful witch seen to date. She lost the other Harvest girls' magic after she was sacrificed and they were all resurrected, but she continues to be a very powerful witch in her own right.
- As the Harvest ritual uses the power of the four elements (Earth, Air, Water, Fire) to bind the power of the Harvest, each girl also symbolized one of the elements. Monique represented Earth, Abigail represented Air, Cassie represented Water, and Davina represented Fire.
- The three girls who were first sacrificed in the ritual spent time being taught magic and indoctrinated to have faith in the ancestral witch cause while they were in limbo. However, Davina, being the last to be sacrificed, and having sided with vampires against her own people, was instead tormented by the ancestors in punishment for her perceived transgressions.
- Bastianna, Agnes and Sophie were the Elders who performed the ritual. Bastianna sacrificed Abigail and Cassie, while Agnes sacrificed Monique, and Sophie sacrificed Davina.
- Elijah, Rebekah, Niklaus and Hayley's presence were required to complete the Harvest, as they, as Esther's descendants (or, in Hayley's case, as the woman carrying Esther's sole living descendant) they were needed to channel Esther's magic to Sophie.
- It is possible that each witch was chosen based on how powerful they were individually, explaining Davina's incredible strength.