Friday, July 11, 2014

PBP: Week 28- Nudity

Skyclad used to be a pretty common catchphrase, whenever you talked about ritual, especially group ritual. While there are plenty of groups that still host skyclad rituals, it no longer seems to be the standard, especially for public or open rituals.

When I was first learning, there were a lot of reasons given for practicing nude.  Some I feel have some validity, and some have no truth for me.  I don't think that there is any need to be nice.  It can definitely add to an experience, but depending on your own relationship with your body, it can detract more than it can add.

One reason sometimes given for working skyclad, that I really can't get behind is one I don't often see given today, but was often stated when I was first learning.  The idea was that energy was somehow hindered by the clothing, and performing any magic while clothed would make you less effective.  To me this concept just doesn't make sense.  If my clothes can stop the floor of energy, then wouldn't my target need to be naked as well?  And walls would be all the warding we would need to protect us from any outside forces.

I have also heard that makes working helps us to make ourselves vulnerable and open.  When working alone, this can be a valuable thing, and often easier than doing group work nude.  But even alone, we can sometimes struggle with feelings of self-doubt or negative thoughts.  If we are working towards bringing beauty into our lives or developing self-love, then these thoughts can definitely hinder our work.  On the other hand, if you want to work on loving yourself exactly as you are, it can be very powerful to work naked, taking extra care to cherish yourself, as you would a loved one.

In a group, working nude can be equalizing and a form of bonding, but it can also be traumatizing, especially if anyone has had experiences of abuse or violence that they are not ready to move through yet.  I firmly believe that ritual space should be safe and comfortable for everyone, and nudity just isn't something everyone can embrace.  There is a huge difference between pushing yourself towards growth and being pushed in a way you aren't ready for.  Only you can determine which is which, and being brave and honest enough to tell the difference between the two is a part of the journey.

One reason that I am on the fence about, is the idea that being nude helps you to step out of your everyday life and into the sacred.  That standing nude before our deities strips us of our pretences that we normally hide behind.  I think you can reach the same goal in many ways.  Ritual clothing is very traditional, and can be as simple or ornate as you require.  I think some rituals might benefit more from simple dress, while others are a great reason to dress up and embrace all the beautiful things that make us feel especially magical.  I also think you can step into the sacred just fine in the same blue jeans and T-shirt you wore to the grocery store, though you might find at first that this takes a little longer.

I use nudity in my own practice sometimes.  Most of the time I am not alone, and with a teenage son in the house, clothing is not optional outside the bedroom or bathroom.  But I do find being nude to be powerful, sometimes humbling, sometimes empowering.  Some days, I pamper myself and this can be refreshing.  Some days I am very aware of the state of my body, and it helps me to stick to my goals.  Sometimes being nude leaves me feeling very small and vulnerable.

I think that trying different states of dress in your private practice is very informative.  As a society, we don't spend a lot of time naked, so really being in our body while unclothed can move us in unexpected ways.  After you have tried different things on your own, you can decide if group work skyclad is something you would be interested in.  If it isn't that is fine too!


  1. I feel the same as you do, in the sense that it is up to personal choice. Truthfully though the idea of being "skyclad" stems from Gerald Gardner inserting his nudist lifestyle into the religion he created and of course is not a necessary factor in successful magick and ritual. As you noted clothing in ritual has a very long standing tradition in many cultures. In a group setting this can especially become corrupted as there will always be those more interested in the view they are having of their partners than the actual intention of the rite itself. Either way as in anything it does amount to personal taste and the level of comfort one feels in that situation. You made some very good points, I enjoyed the article.

  2. Glad to hear it! I agree that a lot of people have trouble focusing when nudity is involved, so it can actually detract from the focus of the ritual instead of adding to it.