Culture Blogs


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Culture Blogs

Popular subjects in contemporary Pagan culture and practice.

Category contains 2 blog entries contributed to teamblogs

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: American Witch

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Does Modern Skyclad Actually Derive from Christianity?

Posch, you've lost it. Are you actually saying that skyclad in the modern Craft derives from Christianity?

Well, yes: yes I am. At least in part.

Modern ritual nudity is a cord plaited from many strands, among them Christian thought and iconography. Among these strands, we may number the following:

Naturism. The period between the First and Second World Wars saw a massive rise in movements advocating cultural alternatives, the logic being: obviously the old ways aren't working; let's try something new. Modern Nudism/Naturism first arose in Germany, and spread rapidly.

The Heroic Nudity of Antiquity. The art of antiquity is replete with naked gods and heroes, which of course reentered European consciousness in a big way during the Renaissance. It's fully possible that the heroic nudity of Classical antiquity has its ultimate roots in the martial nudity of the ancient Indo-Europeans, and that the tradition of Greco-Roman heroic nudity is thus genetically akin both to the naked warriors of the Keltic world, and to the ascetic nudity of the jinas and gymnosophers of the Indian Subcontinent (as “spirit warriors”), from which, of course, the term “skyclad” itself derives.

Folk Magic. As Ron Hutton discusses in his seminal essay “A Modest Look at Ritual Nudity,” nakedness figures prominently in European folk magic, a function, essentially, of inversion: raising power by doing things backwards. Witches being quintessential magic workers, ergo naked witches.

Renaissance Art. The iconography of the naked witch first arose among Renaissance print-makers. The Renaissance saw the rise of print-making, the first modern art-form that regular people could afford and, as we all know, nudity sells. Classically-derived nudity was already big in Renaissance art, and it was the Renaissance, not the Middle Ages, which saw the worst of the Great Persecution. If the witch is popular, and nudity is popular, the naked witch has got to be a winning combination.

The Renaissance's naked witch has deeper roots, however. With the rise of the concept of the Witch's Sabbat in the 15th and 16th centuries, print-makers quickly adopted the inverted world of the Sabbat, in which nudity figured prominently, as a favorite motif. Although there is as of yet no definitive study of the development of the Sabbat motif in art, to my eyes it clearly derives from Medieval precedents: the Last Judgment and the fate of the Damned in Hell.

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  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    The idea of "Edenic" nudity carried forward into some heretical Christian movements, such as the Brethren of the Free Spirit and o

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Inner Life of Gods

At the heart of the paganisms lies the grand drama of the seasons.*

In the unfolding of the year, before our eyes, the gods live out their eternal stories.

In ritual, we encounter these gods.

In ritual, we participate in these stories.

In ritual, we enter into the inner life of the gods.

This is what ritual can do for us.

This is what ritual should be doing for us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
My First Skyclad Wedding

I'd been to my share of skyclad rituals before, but this was to be my first among non-pagans.

Both the bride and the groom had grown up in the naturist movement, and wanted to get married at their naturist club.

“What about your parents?” I asked, curious.

Their parents were members, too.

“Grandparents?”

Turns out Grandma also belonged.

Together the three of us planned a nice, tight little ceremony. Finally I popped the obvious question.

“Uh—did you want me to be naked too?”

“That's up to you,” they say.

The day of the wedding came: beautiful, sunny. What the heck? I thought. When at home, do as the homos do. I stripped off with the rest, and the ceremony went swimmingly.

(Feeling that, naked or not, I needed something to mark me off as the officiant, I settled for my biggest, showiest torque. It did the job very nicely.)

Afterward, I stood around with the rest having a cocktail. The groom sidled up to me and slipped an envelope into my hand.

“Hey, we're going to start taking photos,” he says. “Would you like to be in them?”

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Series: A Wiccan Wheel Mystery

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thrice-Bent God

Do you know what torques me off most* in contemporary depictions of the Horned God?

When the artist gets the legs wrong.

He's called the Thrice-Bent for a reason. In the arms, one bend. In the legs, two.

Check out the picture of the goat leg shown above. Note that the hind legs feature two bends: one pointing forward, one pointing back.

The forward bend is called the knee. The backward bend is called the hock.

When the Horned is shown with the rear legs of an animal (he isn't always), he should have both.

If you love the Horned well enough to depict him, you should love him well enough to look.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
To the Antlered: A Prayer

O thou

Betorqued Betined,

sitting cross-legged

on the altar:

in thy broad lap, O lord,

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