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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in skyclad
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
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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A Night in the Life of an Urban Coven

Ah, summer in Lake Country. There's no humidity like Midwestern humidity.

One steamy New Moon night in July 1984, we gather in Loring Park to greet the First Crescent, hoping for even a breath of air movement.

Alas, there is none.

We retire to my nearby deficiency compartment to continue. In the thick, airless humidity, we strip off and sit on the bare floorboards.

In the center of our circle stands the coven goddess: earthen, tall as a child of two years. There she rises: dancing, naked, smiling her mysterious smile. Of us all, only she looks cool.

We chant, savoring.

new is moon

moon are we

we are new

blessed be

The sweating jar passes from lap to lap, a lunar coolness. With sea-sponges, we wipe each other down with the cold water.

As the jar circles, we begin riffing off of our chant.

We are nude, I deadpan. There is no witchcraft without self-satire.

Laughing, Magenta points to the Goddess.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Eternal Return

Well, that's that. The tree is down now, stripped of its lights and glittering regalia.

(Tannenbaumschmuck, they call the ornaments in German: “fir tree jewelry.” Like a high priestess, the Yule tree wears a bejeweled nudity.)

Naked, it leans against the back wall in the alley, awaiting pick-up.

Soon, it will be chipped and turned into compost, from which some day, perhaps, new trees will grow.

Yule is over. The king is dead.

Long live the king.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I was thinking a while back about how, in these mostly hearthless days, the Yule tree has stepped in the Yule log's ecological nic
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    I keep an 18" section of the thickest part of my Yule tree trunk for use as a Yule log the following year. https://atheopaganism.w
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    My tree every year has to be real. Even if its tiny, it has to be real. It has to live a d it has to die. And I always am sad to s
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It's witch's work to turn the Wheel. The Yule tree is an act of magic. Putting it up is an act of magic, taking it down the same.
Pagan Ms. Manners: Does Skyclad Mean Barefoot Too?

Dear Pagan Ms. Manners:

Does skyclad necessarily mean barefoot too?

It's hard to raise a cone when you can't feel your feet.

Frostbitten in Fargo

 
Dear Bitten:

Having grown up in the North Country, where "Minnesota skyclad" means no parka, I can thoroughly sympathize with your problem.

Here's the thing to remember: skyclad liberates because it gives you the freedom to adorn the body without having to cover it.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I hear that most of those advice columnists just make up most of the letters.
  • john stitely
    john stitely says #
    While your articles are always thought provoking, , the answer to the question seems obvious and is summed up in the proverb,
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A writer could hardly ask for higher praise. Thanks for writing, Angela.
  • Angela
    Angela says #
    Every time I see an article title pop up and am intrigued enough to click and read, I don't dont often pay enough attention to see

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Hyphen-Clad

You've heard of skyclad, ritual nudity.

But that's only one of many options.

 

Sty-clad: dirty

Spy-clad: wearing sunglasses and a trenchcoat

Shy-clad: dressed to cover

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Thinking in Story

If you ask those who practice it, “Why skyclad?” twelve will get you thirteen you'll hear something along the lines of 1) energy flow, 2) social equalizing, and 3) a sense of separation from the ordinary.

Those may all be good answers, and they may even be true answers, but they're modern answers. They're not the answers the ancestors would have given.

If 1400 years ago you had asked a priest of the Hwicce tribe, “Why do you go naked to your worship?” had he been disposed to give you an answer at all he may well have said, “The Lady of the Hwicce instructed us so.”

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    If only we would listen, indeed. Blessings.

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