Many traditional covens work skyclad or nude – not to emphasize sexuality but to let psychic energy flow unhindered, to help members accept their own bodies as natural and good, and to point up the fact that all are social equals in the circle” pg. 45 Coven Craft by Amber K.” The gown is a mortal covering… It is the Self and its fragile veneer, covering the spirit in a mantle of self-expression.” pg. 50 The Wiccan Mysteries
In the Pagan world the idea of nudity is viewed as sacred. It is how we come into this world – naked and created from the natural act of sex.
Pagans refer to being naked for spiritual reasons as “skyclad.”
“Kali is described as garbed in space or sky clad. In her absolute, primordial nakedness she is free from all covering of illusion. She is Nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), stripped of ‘clothes’. It symbolizes that she is completely beyond name and form, completely beyond the illusory effects of maya (false consciousness). Her nudity is said to represent totally illumined consciousness, unaffected by maya. Kali is the bright fire of truth, which cannot be hidden by the clothes of ignorance. Such truth simply burns them away.”
To a Pagan mind the idea of casting off one’s clothes can represent numerous things; primarily, the removal of social status and the reunion with our natural selves.
Clothing in society has always been a tool of control and self-expression. Uniforms in schools, military, and prisons all seek to remove individuality while defining the generic role of the wearer – student, soldier, prisoner. Clothing today allows an unprecedented level of versatility and self-expression accessible to most income levels and social classes. Clothing can be used to define social rank, class, inner identity, rebellion, or success. Think of the Nike sneakers, the Gucci handbag, Structure vs. Hot Topic. These things tell us about people even before we talk to them. They are the public face.
The idea of casting off ones clothing sometimes scares people. Because for many they are suddenly both physically and emotionally naked. For some being naked implies something sexual or dirty. The body is a strange and forbidden thing. It is difficult to change our perception when all our lives we have been bombarded with the message that clothing is armor and without it we vulnerable in front of an abusive exploitive world. Even if your family was accepting you were still exposed to this mindset through the media and interaction with others.
It is Always Your Choice
Unfortunelty, even in the pagan world you will find zelots. It is disturbing that there are pagans who have been pressured into working skyclad. There are covens that tell their members that if they are not willing to work skyclad that “maybe they are just not ready to be Wiccan.” To risk being vulgar – Bullsh*t.
This dogma is based on the a tenant that many wiccans believe: clothing binds the ability to work energy. The idea being that clothing is restrictive to the natural energy that flows through us. Our synthetic fibers, tight fitting styles, or dark grounding colors are not conducive to energy working. Thus their belief is that working skyclad is necessary in order to perform magic. Whether or not this is true you will have to discover for yourself.
Clothing, nudity, and sex are powerful tools in the day-to-day world. Abuse of these tools causes deep wounds to our psyche. It does not have to be this way. Skyclad is seen as a step towards changing and healing this wound. The changes we are working to accomplish within ourselves and our society take time, trust, and understanding. Performing ritual skyclad is a beautiful and magical event. It is also a personal and private choice, not a requirement.
Thou Art a God/dess
As my Sibylline sister Lisa so aptly put it “As a healing presence in the world, we have a responsibility to watch out for each other and make sure our freedom stays free. ‘Thou art God/dess’ – if we view our own bodies as sacred we must view our lovers and everyone else, the same way, through the eyes of respect, love, and understanding, leaving no room for control, jealousy, or dishonesty.”
We are all naked before the Gods. Each of us equal, each of us each beautiful, and each blessed by the Gods with these bodies. We are in this shell for a short time, enjoy it, revel in it, and learn to worship with it.