What You Need to Know about Skyclad
You know when people ask nervously if Witches dance naked under the pale moonlight? I always laugh and say no, but then correct myself and say that, well, some of us do.
Truth is, the founder of Wicca, Gerald Gardner, was a what they called back then a naturalist, which means he enjoyed being in the nude as often as possible. He incorporated nudity in his rites, and even the Charge of the Goddess says “and as a sign that you truly be free, you shall be naked in your rites”. Over the years, many covens have broken away and chosen not to practice skyclad, as the ritual nudity has come to be known.
Originally, skyclad rituals were meant to feel more natural and comfortable in the skins the Gods gave us. Some believe that clothing interferes with the magic you are building up. But also to remove any trace of rank, so that all present would be in the company of equals. Of course, there is a sexual element to it–not to gawk at each other, but to be comfortable around the nudity of others. After all, our bodies can give us pleasure, and there is no theological reason for us to not enjoy them. Working skyclad creates intimacy, and allows the participants to accept others as they are. Personally, I enjoy the wonderful variety of shapes and sizes, and seeing real people, not airbrushed models, makes me feel better about my own body. Not only that, but the sexuality of seeing someone naked wears off, which helps me to enjoy my partner more deeply later. After awhile, you get comfortable seeing people in the nude and wonder why people outside the ritual are wearing all those clothes!
Skyclad rituals are nearly always done within the close coven structure. Occasionally a group will perform a public presentation, but ask that all participants come prepared to remove their clothing. For liability sake, rituals are for those over the legal age of adulthood–18 in most cases.
Most of us don’t really blink at the idea of doing solitary ritual in the nude (my poor roomate in college must have walked in on my half a dozen times doing ritual nudity! You’d think he would have learned to knock by then…). But the idea of being naked in front of a bunch of people who may be strangers can be overwhelming. If you are willing to give it a try, it can be very rewarding.
Some rules for running a skyclad ritual.
- Heat the room–when you aren’t wearing clothes or socks, it can get mighty cold. And nothing spoils a good ritual quicker than feeling cold.
- Dim the lights–not to create a sexy mood, but because many folks aren’t comfortable having all their imperfections shown in the bright light of day. This does set a mood, but allows for a little modestly too.
- It’s not a strip show–have everyone, including the ritual team, derobe at the same time. Now nobody will feel in the spotlight. Many folks will come wearing only a robe, so it is easy to remove. But others might be fully clothed! So give them ample time.
- Be very clear and up front about why you are working skyclad. Let there be no room for salacious thinking and it will help create that excellent group mind you are looking for.
- If at all possible, have an equal number of each gender or sexual orientation. A group of women with only one heterosexual man will likely feel uncomfortable and put on the spot. The idea is to avoid the “meat market” situation.
- Everyone must participate. This isn’t a peepshow, so there is no reason to sit on the side and watch. In the trad I do skyclad with, women on their period may wear their underwear, if they choose.
- Keep the ritual kissing to a minimum. Some covens do a lot of this, and that’s great! But if you are doing a public ritual, and folks don’t know each other, maybe it is not necessary. Again, the point is to keep everyone as comfortable as possible.
- Secure the room. With folks leaving valuables with their clothes, you may need to lock the room, or assign a warder to manage the door. Generally, it is rude to come to any ritual late.
- There is a natural amount of curiosity. People will look at each other. Acknowledge this and carry on.
- Have confidence! If the ritual presenters look comfortable, it will help others feel comfortable, so set a good example!
- Use alcohol with discretion. Yes, it does loosen people up, but it may make others go farther than they would normally, which they may regret later.
- Find out if it is someone’s first time, and let them know what to expect.
The best skyclad ritual I ever went to was at a large festival. A coven that always works skyclad presented it, and they are always very sensitive about the way they run their rituals. This ritual was to help us feel better about our bodies. The main working was to stand with a solid base, put your hands on your stomach and loudly say “Ha. Ha. Ha. He. He. He. Ho. Ho. Ho.” and put a lot of emphasis on each syllable. Of course, the whole thing was ridiculous, so in only took a few seconds before we were all laughing hysterically. Instead of seeing our bodies as ugly, they were funny! To see my friends and acquaintances’ bodies shake with laughter, and see their faces light up with tears streaming down their faces as they clutched their sides–it was beautiful. Had we done it in ritual robes or fully clothed, it would not have been as meaningful and intimate. It would not have been as powerful a working.
What experiences have you had with skyclad rituals?