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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in skyclad

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


A couple of coven-sibs have variously mentioned husbands who get up and walk around the house naked first thing in the morning.

Men's Magic, maybe?

I ask because I find myself doing this too. Now, in the general course of things, I'm not much one for walking around the house naked, but I mean: you get out of bed, you go downstairs to make a pot of tea. The neighbors to the South can't see; the neighbors to the North don't care. Why bother getting dressed first?

The resident priest of a local pagan land sanctuary walks the bounds of the land every morning. Weather permitting, he does this naked.

I think of the alleged apotropaic qualities of folkloric nudity.

I think of the martial nudity of the ancestors: part boastful exhibitionism, part distraction, part implied threat.

I think of warlockry: the men's magic of the tribe of Witches, grounded in biological maleness.

Human beings are territorial animals, males preeminently so. Maybe that's what's really going on here: nudity as territorial claim.

As for scaring off unfriendly wights, well: call it value added.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 Words Before a Skyclad Ritual


First skyclad ritual? Nervous?

I remember mine. Twenty years old, all jacked up on hormones and excitement. Oh, I was so afraid I was going, embarrass myself.

I didn't. Nobody ever does. I've been to a lot of initiations over the years, and I've never known it to happen. It doesn't happen, because that's really not what's going on here.

And even if it did, this is a men's ritual. Every single guy down there has an unpredictable male body of his own, with a mind, and sense of humor, of its own.

Believe me, we know all about it. If anything, we'd read it as an omen. A good omen.

Funny thing about skyclad: it's only an issue before you've actually done it. Once you have, everything changes. The world changes.

No, seriously. I'm going to make a prediction here. At some point this evening, you're suddenly going to come to, and you'll think to yourself: Holy shite! Here I am, butt naked in the forest with a bunch of other guys, and I'd completely forgotten that I'm naked!

That's Her gift to Her children. That's why we do it. Well, one reason, anyway. This first time is important because it teaches you things about yourself that you'll never learn in any other way.

Once you've seen that power of the mind—years of arbitrary social inhibitions, gone like that—you can't help but wonder: If it can do that, then what else can it do?

That's where witching begins.

So, here are a towel and a bag. Take them up to the bathhouse.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



The Pagan Botticelli

The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts' current show Botticelli and Renaissance Florence: Masterworks from the Uffizi offers a profound meditation on the nature of Embodiment. Though focused largely on devotional works from Botticelli's later, Christian period, there is much here that will be of interest to pagans.

The artistic output of Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) falls into two major periods, broadly characterizable as Pagan and Christian. During the first, under the influence of pagan antiquity, he created the Pagan masterworks for which he is primarily known today, such as the Birth of Venus and Primavera. The MIA's show features one major, if enigmatic, canvas from this period, commonly known as Pallas and the Centaur (see above).



The exhibit does an excellent job of pairing Renaissance works with the Classical works that inspired them, and in this case—to this pagan eye, at least—Botticelli is outshone by a 1st century Roman centaur which actually manages to make the pairing of equine body with human torso and head eminently believable.

Pallas and the Centaur is a work of poised contrasts: male/female, wild/tame, body/spirit, animal/plant, naked/clothed, hairy/smooth, sensuality/purity. Though the Centaur's genitals are not shown, they are hinted at by his fine crop of pubic hair, where his man's body merges into the horse's. The Roman work, by comparison, frankly displays an admirable pizzle and a generous pair of testicles.


 File:Clay Centaur figurine, Early Archaic Period, Early 7th c. BC  (27939238613).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

(Interestingly, Archaic Greek art tends to show centaurs with human genitals, but later centaurs, with the increasing naturalism that characterizes High Classical style, invariably sport those of horses instead.)

Botticelli, though, is anything but unsubtle. Pallas (=Athena, Minerva)—if indeed it is she—is clothed in the sheerest of robes (Botticelli is a master of fabrics), and the golden flower “pasties” that she wears simultaneously cover, and draw the eye.

From naked to clothed is not so very far.


Naked Babies

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 Gnostic Mass | Marcel Gomes - Sweden

Naked Mass


I'm standing there at mass, butt-naked.

I've been to Gnostic Masses before, but never in quite this state of vulnerability. Stealthily, I look around me; no one else seems to care, or even notice.

“Oh well,” I think in the dream. Hey, I've been to my share of skyclad rituals before. Do what thou wilt, right?

“First Mass?” asks the avuncular-looking old guy standing next to me. I'm sure I've never met him before, but there's something familiar about him nonetheless.

“Not quite,” I say.

The Mass continues. He follows along the text of the canon in a beautifully-printed missal.

“We turn to the East here,” he says, and shows me the page. Above the prayer, in red, the rubric says: “Facing East.”

I dutifully turn to the East, with my back to my guide. When I feel his hands cup and part my buttocks, I suddenly realize who he is.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


A Tale of Connory Mór


This is a tale of Connory Mór, the greatest of all Ireland's kings. Listen well, you.


Though he had not one gray hair in his beard, Bresal son of Brosnas was accounted the wisest Druid in all of Ireland, so that when King Eterscélae came to die, it was he who partook of the Bull Feast in order to divine his successor.

The Bull duly sacrificed, Bresal ate and drank his fill of the meat and broth and, wrapped in the bull's hide, lay down beneath the apple trees of the royal dún to dream of the next king. All night druids chanted over him incantations of truth.

In the morning, he arose and told the assembled men of Ireland: He who is to be king will come to Tara stark naked, at daybreak, bearing a stone in his sling.

Men were accordingly dispatched to each of the four roads that led into Tara to await his coming.


Young Connory—not yet called Mór, the great—was out hunting with his three foster-brothers when word came to them that the king had died, and that all men were to gather to Tara for the Bull Feast.

Come with us to Tara, his foster-brothers said to Connory, but Connory had spied a number of large, white-speckled birds, of unusual size and color, which he felt inclined to hunt, so he told them: Go on, and I will meet you there.

So they went, and he followed the birds in his chariot, sling in hand: but always the birds preceded him, out of range by the length of a spear cast. All day he followed them, until his horses began to tire. So he jumped from the chariot to follow on foot, and bade his charioteer return home when the horses were rested.

He followed the birds, always a spear-cast beyond him, until at sunset they came to the ocean. Here the birds turned, did off their bird-skins, and stood before him as warriors, with sword and spear.

I am Nemglan, said their chief, king of your father's bird-troops. I hereby lay upon you this geis: that henceforth you kill no birds, for they are your kin by birth.

This I did not know, said Connory. (His father, in fact, was a man of the West who had come in to his mother through the smoke hole in the shape of a bird; but Connory did not know this.) This geis I receive upon me.

This also I lay upon you, said Nemglan: that you lay aside all your clothing, and go this night to Tara, with a stone in your sling; for there your fate awaits you.

This also I receive, said Connory, and did as the man of the waves had bade.

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Dear Boss Warlock:

Please help settle a dispute.

My boyfriend says that you're still skyclad if you're naked but wearing a cloak. I say you're not. What do you think?

Shivering in Sheboygan


Dear Shiver:

To quote Granny Weatherwax: "That's witchin' today: all jewelry, and no drawers."

Well, let's look at the matter logically.

If all that you're wearing is a pair of jeans, are you skyclad? No.

If all that you're wearing is a shirt, are you skyclad? No.

(Gods help us, Pagan English actually does have a term for just such an absurd state of semi-dress: shirt-cocking. [See what hitting the pagan festival circuit will do to you?] Just what the female equivalent of this might be, Boss Warlock does not know. Readers?)

If all that you're wearing is a chef's apron, are you skyclad? No.

If all that you're wearing is a cloak, are you skyclad? Yes.

Why is a cloak different from a chef's apron, a shirt, or a pair of jeans?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You know what they say: "If they're looking, it's probably not at your feet."
  • Katie
    Katie says #
    …and if all you’re wearing is socks/slippers (the so-called Minnesota Skyclad)? It may look ludicrous, but it is so very practica

Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Merrymeet 1997


It's been hot work at Grand Council all day, so I head down to Gull Lake for a quick dip before dinner. What I see there astounds me.

Clearly, word of the wild witches has got out. Every fishing boat on the lake has—coincidentally, no doubt—just happened to drift over to our side, the prospect of naked pagans apparently outweighing that of walleye on this sunny late August afternoon.

Ritual robe hiked up to her knees, a woman sits at the end of the dock, dangling her feet in the water.

Gods, what's with these people? I say, taking off my shirt. I'm half tempted to wave. All this to see a little bit of skin?

Cowans, she commiserates.

Hey, screen me, would you? I ask, crouching.

Anything for a fellow conspirator, she says, raising her arms.

Screened by her back and generous hanging sleeves, I slip out of my kilt and over the edge.

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