A Naked Witch is a Happy Witch
Week 27 (N): on nudity
Skyclad: it’s a word you might have run into in some beginner books that refers to ritual nudity. In contemporary practice, it’s primarily associated with Gardnerian tradition but is used in other paths as well. There’s also a reference to it in Aradia by Charles Godfrey Leland (a semi-historical account of Italian pagan traditions in the nineteenth century):
“And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead;”
The beauty of this verse is evident, even if Leland’s text isn’t exactly historically accurate (he was a folklorist, so the book is a mix of nonfiction and his own creations). I’m not a Gardnerian, nor do I take much from ceremonial traditions, but I do think that practicing skyclad can be a useful tool. The logic behind both Doreen Valiente’s version of “Charge of the Goddess” and Leland’s Aradia is the same: nudity represents truth, looking beyond social mores, and it is “a sign that a Witch’s loyalty is to the truth before any ideology or any comforting illusions.” (Starhawk).
Part of the importance of practicing skyclad for me also has to do with radical self love. If you can’t be comfortable in your own skin before the Goddess, when can you? I practice skyclad whenever I can, but it’s not always possible. For one thing, Massachusetts is cold six months out of the year. Also practicing in public spaces means you are unfortunately bound by social norms (and laws). But when I can, I am naked in a circle of candles, asking the Goddess to join me once again.