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Re: [WitchesWorkshop] Re: Nudity

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  • Wolf MacDonald
    Hi folks, I m a bit late on this as I ve been out of email contact for a while. I didn t catch the story that these posts are referring to, so I may be a bit
    Message 1 of 81 , Oct 1, 2006
      Hi folks,

      I'm a bit late on this as I've been out of email contact for a while. I
      didn't catch the story that these posts are referring to, so I may be a
      bit out of context, but given the general length and nature of the
      thread I thought I'd pitch in an opinion or two, as some of what I'm
      seeing in this thread seems based on some rather different basic
      understandings to my own, and I figure another mix in the pot can't hurt
      as it were...

      I've also rearranged quote order slightly for clarity's sake, and trust
      that if in any way I have misunderstood or misrepresented anyone's
      position in doing so that I'll hear about it quickly enough. <Wry Grin>

      Minka wrote:
      >> It's an interesting story, but I have to wonder why perfect nudity is
      >> prerequisite to perfect trust. Placing preconditions like this on a
      >> relationship would not incline me to feel particularly trusting.

      I'll have to go back to find the story in question, but I'd argue that
      this is somewhat back-to-front from my perspective.

      Nudity (however perfect or otherwise) is not a 'condition' for trust,
      but rather an expression of it; trust on the part of those who are so
      revealing themselves rather than any sort of "I'll only trust you if you
      are naked" situation.

      Forcing anyone to be naked against their will or inclination would
      certainly not engender my trust either, but the impressions I'm getting
      from this discussion seem to be a far cry removed from any form of
      skyclad practice as I have experienced it.

      Marian said:
      > This is an *excellent* point.

      It is certainly a valid point if someone is being coerced into working
      skyclad, though this isn't a scenario I'm personally familiar with. I
      have absolutely no doubts it has occurred (or at least that some less
      than scrupulous people have tried) and I'd suggest that this is a step
      that people undertake with a great deal of thought, and only with those
      who they do trust completely.

      > The two issues do tend to get confused,
      > and often a refusal to circle skyclad (or even a reservation) is
      > interpreted as symptomatic of a lack of 'perfect trust' on that
      > person's part.

      I'd probably re-frame this to say that the willingness to go skyclad
      within the coven is a very potent expression of trust, and one which is
      required by certain traditions (either for all workings, or for
      initiations and other key rituals). It may seem minor, but this change
      in emphasis and perspective is central to my own traditional Wiccan

      At any rate, that really should be fine, because if you aren't
      comfortable going skyclad (either at all, or with a specific group)
      there are always other options, different groups or traditions which
      either you do feel comfortable with, or who don't require skyclad rituals.

      I don't think it is fair to suggest that reservations about skyclad
      working indicate a lack of 'perfect trust' necessarily, there are many
      factors which may contribute to this after all, nor should anyone be
      coerced into such a working against their will or better judgement.

      There are good reasons why such workings are required within certain
      traditions, but there are plenty of other ways to work if you don't want
      to follow such a path after all. Where someone is pursuing a
      traditional Wiccan path I'd expect (and advise) that they would discuss
      such issues with their HPS and HP.

      Minka said:
      >> we are dealing with feelings and they are sticky and messy, yet your
      >> story offers me a good reason why I will stick to my guns. One's own
      >> choice whether to go sky-clad shouldn't matter to others, EVER, and if
      >> it does I feel there is a problem

      I agree, the only reason it should ever be a concern at all is if a
      coven one is seeking to join *does* work skyclad, and then only insofar
      as you are obviously going to have to come to some sort of accommodation
      with that coven in regards to this.

      Where skyclad work is simply a preference of the coven it may be that
      this can be negotiated successfully.

      Where skyclad work (at least for certain rites) is an integral part of
      the tradition, then one should obviously look elsewhere. No judgement
      or stigma at all should be attached to this, it is just that that
      coven/tradition obviously isn't going to be a good match.

      Marian said:
      > Yet within an initiation, those words are given as a
      > part of a password often delivered by a person who is blindfolded and
      > bound, and who has just had an athame pointed at them. In that
      > context, 'perfect trust' has a very different basis, and nothing to do
      > with nudity at all.

      Given that in those same traditions the candidate is also skyclad at
      this point this may seem somewhat confusing, but yes, being naked is
      only *one* expression of trust, as is being blindfold and bound at that

      While there is a lot more involved in this process than simply a
      demonstration of trust, trusting someone enough to allow yourself to be
      placed in such a position is indeed an essential ingredient in getting
      that far into a traditional Wiccan initiation (as an example).

      I'm not sure that this has 'nothing to do with nudity', it is certainly
      a much wider concept, but I'm by no means certain I grasp whatever you
      were trying to convey here Marian.

      > There are Traditions that circle skyclad, and surely that is their
      > choice - just as it is to circle sunwise or clockwise, to place Wands
      > as Fire or Air, to worship Hekate or Aradia, etc etc.

      This is very true; there are those who simply can't consider skyclad
      work, and that too is their choice, absolutely. Obviously such
      individuals won't do well in skyclad traditions, but I doubt they would
      be seeking for such a path anyway.

      > But to make nudity an issue of *trust*, where all the risk
      > and all the sacrifice is expected of one person, is, I believe,
      > reducing trust to a non-negotiable condition.

      I can only assume this is relating back to the original story (that I've
      obviously missed) because such a premise seems simply ludicrous to me.

      Where we ask for trust, especially of any large degree, we have a
      responsibility to live up to that trust, and to respect that.

      The notion that the 'risk' is somehow all for one person seems a bit odd
      also. Obviously within the context of an initiation only the candidate
      is bound and blindfold (though all in the circle first entered it that
      way and took a similar leap of trust and faith). That willingness to
      step into the unknown is a key ingredient here, and we are talking about
      a Mystery path; there are things which simply must be experienced. It
      also seems to imply that only the initiate is skyclad, or undertaking
      any specific 'risk'.

      Irrespective of any skyclad issues, or the fact that all in the Circle
      were brought in the same way, with the same degree of 'risk' and
      sacrifice, and regardless that this is an integral part of the work the
      initiation is performing on the initiate, the whole coven takes risks of
      their own every time they initiate a new member. It is never a one-way

      Moving away from initiations specifically, where skyclad work is the
      norm for a coven or tradition this is something the whole coven shares
      in, not just one individual, so surely they are all taking the same
      emotional 'risk and sacrifice' there (though ask such a coven and I
      doubt they would express their experiences in such terms).

      With all that said I'm still not sure I agree with the implied premise
      that requiring a concrete expression of such a trust of an initiation
      candidate necessarily represents anything 'wrong'.

      If one can't make that leap into the unknown with faith and trust then
      one can't undergo initiation, so in that sense I guess it *is*
      non-negotiable, but I don't see this as somehow 'bad'; it is integral to
      what the initiation is actually attempting to achieve.

      Minka said:
      >> One can
      >> still be untrustworthy even without their clothes.
      > Marian replied:
      > Absolutely!

      It seems to me that people are taking a small facet in isolation, and
      pinning a lot on it which may not really be justified.

      > The willingness to go skyclad signifies nothing more than
      > a willingness to address issues of nudity *at best*.

      The willingness to go skyclad with a specific group of people indicates
      a degree of trust in the other participants on the part of the one
      willing to go skyclad. It says that they are willing to place
      themselves into a socially unusual and for many uncomfortable position,
      one which is often accompanied by vulnerability, and which can raise
      issues for many people. It pushes the boundaries of a great many
      people's comfort zones.

      However it can't say anything much about that individual's
      trustworthiness in general, and I am pretty darn selective about who
      I'll circle with in any sort of deeper magical context, skyclad or not.

      Minka said:
      >> If 'perfect trust' is the goal, surely something as small and
      >> insignificant as clothing would not matter? On either side of the
      >> cloth? I know that if someone couldn't trust me with my clothes on, I
      >> certainly couldn't trust them with theirs off.

      Which is true, but again seems to present this from a somewhat reversed
      understanding to my own (as stated above). It also seems to imply that
      an expression of trust is the sole key idea behind skyclad workings,
      which it certainly isn't. It appears to make judgements based on
      whether 'they' can trust someone who is clothed. In my opinion that
      really isn't the issue at all.

      I trust my coven mates when they arrive for circle clothed, when we get
      together socially clothed and when we circle (skyclad or otherwise). I
      trust them, period.

      *Because* I trust them I am perfectly comfortable working skyclad with
      them, and while this is certainly a potent expression of that trust,
      there is a lot more going on psychologically and magically than that
      simple fact alone.

      But as I've already agreed that no one should in any way be coerced into
      such a working against their will, and that there are plenty of
      different traditions, spiritual paths, and ways of working available for
      those who don't wish to pursue a skyclad path it really seems to me to
      be a rather irrelevant storm in a teacup.

    • Simon Goodey
      Simon Goodey wrote: Hi Maz, all ... Sorry my earlier post did not show my replies very well, I have segregated my replies with ******
      Message 81 of 81 , May 28, 2008
        Simon Goodey <simonziki@...> wrote:

        Hi Maz, all ...

        Sorry my earlier post did not show my replies very well, I have segregated my replies with ****** hope this makes sense*****

        --- In WitchesWorkshop@ yahoogroups. com, Simon Goodey <simonziki@. ..>
        > Before 1993 the witchcraft community was mostly inside the broom
        closet, while in this dark mysterious place, that was not open to the
        general public, we cavorted in the buff with our Gods and Goddess's,

        I was around back then, and, while it wasn't *that* public, it was
        hardly hiding away. It was pretty damn easy to find.
        ****This is true, but the mind set that I came across back then, was that “if your senses are outraged by what happens here, than maybe you should be somewhere else”*****

        It was also not uniformly skyclad. Documentary evidence exists from
        the 1970s of witches and other pagans working in elaborate robes and
        ******I agree, Coming from England I am well aware of the climate. There is something else about coming from England, There seems to be a general need in the culture to have titles and elaborate robes and decorations. But that aside I wonder if anyone in the 70s had said I think nudity is wrong in ritual workings, and I wonder what the response would have been?******

        > Then came Pagans in the Pub, Pub Moots, Public open rituals and the
        internet e-groups, out of these public forums came some people who
        were not interested in the connection with the Gods and Goddess's, but
        more interested in the impression we would make to the general public.
        > The main problem with these people was that they had no power of
        their own, so they used the power of the land to justify the decision
        that nudity will not be tolerated during the ritual, this was the thin
        end of the wedge, this control was then taken from public ritual to
        private rituals.

        Those are *extraordinary* claims, and I'd like to see some hard
        evidence of that. As it stands, it looks like axe-grinding.
        *****Yep! I’m a Axe grinding******

        There have always been people who used witchcraft/paganism to justify
        their own aggrandisement, and to look a bit "spooky". This was
        happening as far back as the late 70s. Image was hugely important -
        just take a look at The Occult Experience, for example. But it's a
        far cry from being concerned with projecting an image to assuming an
        absolute disinterest in real connection with the Gods.
        *******Sorry, lost me on that point******

        Then there's your "power of the land" claim. What, exactly, do you
        mean by that? Are you implying that there was some conscious
        collaboration with law enforcement to repress "real" witchcraft? That
        witches - for petty power-mongering reasons - waged a campaign against
        "real" witches to stop them working skyclad?
        ********I was on the planning and organising panels of some substantial Pagan festivals, and over a few years the attitude changed from “let em all come and we will blow there minds out” to “Oh! we don’t want to have to deal with the Police do we” so no, there was no conscious collaboration with the law enforcement agencies, quite the opposite, in fact there was an attitude of non confrontation.*******

        (Never mind that, like it or not, working skyclad in public would
        constitute a breach of the obscenity laws. Personally, I think such
        application of the law would be really out of line, but that's beside
        the point.)

        Even if that were true - and I see no evidence to assume it is - how
        could that possibly affect private ritual? Are you seriously
        suggesting these "people" had such power that they could manage to
        oppress private covens, which - to judge by the way you're writing of
        it - had been merrily going along their way for many, many years?

        At worst, a trend away from nudity in ritual might be *influenced* by
        people doing public ritual robed, but it's hardly the same as some
        terrible conspiracy of oppression.
        *******As you say Influenced is a better word to use, thanks.******

        > This is a real shame that this happened, as a real connection has
        been lost,

        I'm sorry you feel that way, but have you stopped to think it's not a
        widespread phenomenon, and has nothing to do with whether other people
        are working skyclad or not?
        ******I have only my experience to guide me and I have only taken part in rituals in NSW******

        > you see, it is not just the fact that you have to be careful about
        how you dress to ritual, you now have to be careful not to go into an
        ecstatic trance, I sometimes sense that the wildness and liberation I
        feel during ritual is wrong, (and that just isn't right) as a result
        of this I chose to stay away from ritual both public and private, as I
        was not feeling comfortable.

        Okay, this is particularly alarming.

        Yes, I've noticed there's a little bit of one upwitchship (:-P) when
        it comes to ritual gear. That was going on way back when, too - my
        athame is better than yours, my chalice is prettier than yours, etc.
        These days, that includes robes and jewellery.

        Nonetheless, what you're describing is a personal impression only.
        You "sense" something you feel is wrong? I'm not going to tell you
        that you're not sensing something, but I would suggest that there
        needs to be some investigation of the self before ascribing the cause
        to what *other* people are doing. Whether or not you feel others have
        a genuine connection, surely it shouldn't make you doubt your own?
        ********Unfortunatly this happened.********

        And I think it's a pretty unfair accusation to say that entering
        trance and ritual ecstasy is now considered "wrong". There are still
        many public or semi-public rituals where this happens. The sabbats
        held at the Cauldron, Euphoria, workshops held by people around the
        place - and that's just the ones I've experienced personally. I'm
        sure there are many, many more.

        > When Tim suggested the with camp concept last year, I supported
        the idea and I can see that through this teacher teaching teachers
        philosophy, we may be able to bring back the notion of freedom to be a

        "Freedom to be a witch" includes freedom to experience the Gods in any
        way that works for someone, surely? It would be dismaying to think
        that "freedom" was so very narrowly defined as to be exclusionary.
        *********If all witches are free Yippee******


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