Traditionally, the rites of Wicca have required ritual nudity. And I think that this is a good thing. In fact, I think that these rites should involve ritual nudity. It wants to be able to invite practically any random person into its celebrations. Because of this, the level of trust and intimacy that is required to make mandatory ritual nudity safe is simply not present. One cannot foster the safety that such vulnerability requires. However, in Wicca, ritual nudity still makes sense. After all, in Wicca, the rites are not open. Random strangers cannot be invited to the celebrations.
A History of Nudity in Paganism, Wicca and Witchcraft
There are countless quirks about humans, but one of the real doozies is that most are confused, divided and downright ditsy when it comes to their own physical nature. To millions, the human body in its natural state is embarrassing, shameful, indecent or undignified. Its exposure provokes hostility, fear, nervous laughter or mockery. It threatens social standing, challenges order, infringes laws and is often punished with a severity bizarrely incommensurate with the offence. And they call Pagans irrational and superstitious. Not all Pagans regularly work skyclad — some do when alone but not in shared Circles, many alternate between skyclad and robed workings, and others always work in clothing of some sort — but most respect the practice and consider it a valid element of the modern Pagan tradition. Those disapproving of ritual nudity often argue that the practice has no significant historical precedent in either religion or magick. Leaving aside the issue of whether this has any for want of a better word bearing on the effectiveness of skyclad Witchery, it is true that, although attitudes towards nakedness have varied enormously in different times and places, religions in which nudity is an essential part seem to have been thin on the ground. This would seem to be a wee bit of an exaggeration.
The thoughts of a gay witch living in upstate New York.
So you've been studying Wicca, or some other form of Paganism for a while, and you've finally decided it's time for you to think about joining a coven or group. You've found one that looks like it might be a good fit Well, the short answer is that no, you shouldn't, because not all Wiccans—or other Pagans, for that matter—practice nude. But the longer answer is that some do, some don't. Of those who practice skyclad, many say that it helps bring them closer to the Divine, because there is literally nothing between them and the Gods. In other traditions, a person may be skyclad only during certain ceremonies, such as an initiation rite. There are a number of reasons for going skyclad, but there is not a hard and fast rule that it must be done. Just as many Pagans work robed as skyclad. Why would someone choose to work in the nude?
Some Wiccan groups, or Traditions, perform some or all of their rituals skyclad. Whilst nudity and the practice of witchcraft have long been associated in the visual arts, this contemporary ritual nudity is typically attributed to either the influence of Gerald Gardner or to a passage from Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches , and as such is mainly attributed to the Gardnerian and Aradian covens. Gardner's Witchcraft Today was published in The book claimed to report on the contemporary practice of Pagan religious witchcraft in England, which had supposedly survived as an underground religion for centuries. Ritual nudity was included as a regular part of Wiccan practice, but in modern day is mainly done by Alexandrian , Georgian , and Blue Star Wiccans. The " Charge of the Goddess ", a part of Gardnerian ritual liturgy, does instruct Wiccans to practice ritual in the nude. Gardner spent several years in India, and may have picked up the concept from the Digambara Jains , a religious sect in which the monks may not wear clothing. The origins of this instruction have been traced to Charles Godfrey Leland 's book, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches. 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; . Doreen Valiente , one of Gardner's priestesses, recalls Gardner's surprise at Valiente's recognition of material from Aradia in the original version of the "Charge" that she was given.