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Thread: The Naked Truth About Skyclad
02-28-2010, 05:30 PM #1Administrator
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The Naked Truth About Skyclad
The Naked Truth About Skyclad
Written by Cauldron Living staff writer Thelma6954
"And as a sign that you are free
you shall be naked in your rites."
- "Aradia: the Gospel of the Witches" by Charles Godfrey Leland
This familiar passage is often quoted when one discusses or hears the term
"skyclad." It originally appeared in the 1899 book "Aradia," written by
Charles Godfrey Leland, which is regarded as one of the foundational
Neo-Pagan texts. It was again repeated in "The Charge of the Goddess,"
written by Doreen Valiente, regarded as the Mother of Modern Witchcraft.
So, what exactly does "skyclad" mean? In traditional Wicca,
Witchcraft, and Pagan practices, skyclad is a poetic way to refer to nudity.
"Clad" means "dressed." Therefore, skyclad literally means "dressed by the
sky" or being naked outdoors. In practical terms, however, skyclad refers to
the practice of being naked anywhere, indoors or out.
Being skyclad has been a part of rituals, rites, and practices both in
modern times and in antiquity. Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern-day
Wicca in the 1950's, introduced nudity into Wicca, and most contemporary
Gardnerian Tradition covens still operate this way. Additionally, some other
Wiccan Traditions, as well as some Witches and Pagans also promote and
practice skyclad. In fact, some hereditary Witches say their families have
always practiced skyclad.
Ancient history and art also validates the practice of nude Pagan rituals.
One prime example still in existence is the frescos of the Villa of
Mysteries at Pompeii, which were uncovered in 1909. There, life size painted
figures, most naked or in various stages of dress, recorded a Pagan Rite of
Passage of initiation into the Cult of Dionysus. The idea of ritual nudity
is also found in the ancient cultures of Greece, India, Rome, Persia, and
Britain. The Hindu Goddess, Kali, is usually represented nude and is said to
be "digamba," a Sanskrit word meaning "clothed in space." The Roman
statesman, Caius Plinius Secundus, more commonly referred to as Pliny the
Elder, recorded in "Natural History," published in 77CE, that the women of
ancient Britain performed their religious rites in the nude. And, the German
Renaissance era artist, Albrecht Durer, in his 1497 engraving, "The Four
Witches," as well as his engraving "Witch Riding a Ram Backwards," portrays
the prevalent belief in nudity in the practice of Witchcraft during his
Belief in the practice and magical power of nudity can also be found in
folklore. For example, there is an old English belief that a woman can be
cured of infertility by walking about nude in her vegetable garden on
Why practice skyclad? Whether practicing as a part of a coven or
group or practicing as a Solitary or individual, there are various reasons
to do so:
*Most shed their clothing to be as natural as possible before the God and
*Many people believe that clothing blocks or inhibits the flow of energy
*Lack of clothing removes all indications of rank or social class, and
therefore, provides a sense of equality between everyone.
*Shedding one's clothing provides a psychological demarcation between
ordinary and magickal consciousness.
*Practicing skyclad shows the level of commitment to the Craft and/or one's
*Being nude represents a deep trust between coven members.
In her book the "Spiral Dance," Starhawk states, "Nudity establishes a
closeness and honesty among coveners," and "is a sign that a witch's loyalty
is to the truth before any ideology or any comforting illusions."
Does everyone practice skyclad? Absolutely not. The choice to
practice clothed or unclothed is totally yours. If you're considering
joining a coven and they perform their rituals skyclad, but you're not
comfortable with it, find another coven. Don't expect any group to bend
their rules for you. Also, a coven that practices skyclad should be upfront
about it when you first approach them for membership. Any group that springs
this on you afterwards isn't considered ethical, and isn't a group you
should get involved with. There are plenty of covens that practice clothed
and use robes or other ritual dress.
If you practice as a Solitary, again the choice is yours to make. Don't feel
that you must practice skyclad under the mistaken belief that's what real
Pagans, Wiccans, or Witches do. Feeling awkward or uncomfortable during
ritual or spellwork will only detract from your work and intention and make
it difficult to stay focused. So, if you're uncomfortable being naked even
when alone, then stay dressed. And, of course, when performing rituals
outside in cold or inclement weather, it's not always practical to perform
Is performing rituals in the nude done for any sexual purposes?
Again, the answer is no. The purpose of being skyclad isn't to titillate or
to provide a spectacle for others in the group. It's also not used to
attract new members to the Craft, and it isn't used to encourage sexual
activity in the group. The vast majority of the time, practitioners discover
that nakedness causes sexual tension to drop dramatically after a skyclad
ritual because a barrier has been broken. There is also power in nakedness.
When you take off your clothes for ritual, you are declaring that you are
beautiful the way you are, and you choose to be free. It is empowering to
overcome an ingrained social/cultural limitation.
Occasionally, in group settings, someone new gets the wrong idea and assumes
that nakedness is always accompanied by sexual activity. If the behavior of
such people proves inappropriate, they are usually promptly removed from the
How do I know if going skyclad is right for me? As with most things
in life and in the Craft, experiment and decide what feels right for you.
You should never feel forced to engage in any activity, and that includes
going skyclad. If you are unsure when attending a new group whether they
practice skyclad or not, then ask. And, if you're uncomfortable with the
idea, don't be afraid to say so. If you are practicing as a Solitary, then
try practicing both clothed and unclothed, and see what you prefer. Again,
don't let pressure from anyone else determine what you do.
Lastly, remember that we are all perfect and beautiful in the eyes of the
God and Goddess, and being skyclad both emphasizes and celebrates this fact.
There's definitely something to be said about the freedom and exhilaration
of dancing nude under a Full Moon. Whether we choose to practice skyclad or
clothed, the fact remains that we were all born naked. And, we're all still
naked underneath our clothes.
Thelma6954 is a practicing eclectic solitary Wiccan who enjoys writing
articles about Wicca and Witchcraft and also moderates several online
message boards regarding Wicca, as well as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgendered issues. Prior to a disability in 1996, she worked as a medical
assistant and paralegal. She has a grown son and daughter and two
grandchildren. She's originally from southern California, but currently
resides in northeast Texas with her boyfriend, son, cats Luna and Deuce, and