What do you see when you look at this picture?
|Click here for a bigger picture.|
If your first thought was "Are those women naked? *shock*" or "Damn, those women look good!", you are probably a man and/or a novice Pagan or not a pagan at all.
(If, by chance, you noticed right away that there was a clothed woman inside the dolmen/Faery Gate, I don't know what to make of you. If, by chance, you noticed that this picture was shot in Scotland, or that this is a scene from The (original) Wicker Man, congratulations, you have too much free time on your hands. Also, I <3 you.)
Skyclad is the principal of being "clad with the sky" -- or in other words, naked. It is supposed to allow the practitioner to feel like s/he is completely natural, that s/he is presenting hirself* to the Gods without omission or reserve, and moves past the body shame that our culture has cultivated.
Within a group, it is supposed to foster Perfect Love & Perfect Trust, a feeling of total openness among coven members in which they can see all your flaws, all your faults, the whole of your self (spiritually, physically, mentally) and still accept and love you. Keep in mind, this is supposed to be without lust, longing, or sexual desire. Now, I have not heard of a coven that is skyclad and abuses it unless the entire group or the leaders are there only for sexual gratifications, and I definitely have not heard of coven orgies (cuz I would do that in a heartbeat! Kidding. Maybe.). However, predation in our community does happen, and let's not sugarcoat that or dismiss it.
I want to comment that Perfect Love & Perfect Trust are misnomers in the English language. Nothing in life or death is completely Perfect. Our Gods are not Perfect, we are not Perfect, even Nature and the Universe are not Perfect. From Dictionary.com:
A few usage guides still object to the use of comparison words such as more, most, nearly, almost, and rather with perfect on the grounds that perfect describes an absolute, yes-or-no condition that cannot logically be said to exist in varying degrees. The English language has never agreed to this limitation. Since its earliest use in the 13th century, perfect has, like almost all adjectives, been compared, first in the now obsolete forms perfecter and perfectest, and more recently with more, most, and similar comparison words: "the most perfect arrangement of color and line imaginable." Perfect is compared in most of its general senses in all varieties of speech and writing.
Note the fourth entry on Perfect. We can use a host of other, better suited (but poetically shattering) terms such as defectless, faultless, matchless, supreme, unblemished, unequal, untainted, or untarnished. Unblemished Love and Untarnished Trust. Hmm.... Point being, it is not about being perfect, but about a quality that cannot be matched elsewhere. Your coven is your family; they are sometimes thicker than blood and know you as well as or better than your birth family. That is your safe place, your refuge, your one space that allows you to be completely yourself without reserve. Being skyclad in front of your covenmates is the physical representation of this bond and relationship. It is supposed to be the highest form of worship.
|They are pissed off about body shaming assholes|
Can you stand in front of your Deity completely natural and feel absolutely no shame or embarrassment when They look at you? I personally felt embarrassment the first time I presented myself. It is a conditioned response. It is the same feeling one gets at undressing in front of a lover; timidity, shyness, and apprehensiveness. Almost like waiting for another shoe to drop, for him to say something that you "always knew someone would cruelly say." Of course, it never happens, esp since the Gods don't care out how your body looks. It is a vehicle in which your spirit resides.
Skyclad rituals are completely and utterly your decision. Whatever you feel is best for you is what you should do. Try it once, see how you like it. Try it once more just to confirm your feelings. If you like it, Yay! If you don't, Yay also. All I can say is blessings upon you, my friend.
*(note: I like to use gender neutral terms like s/he and hir because I don't want to omit any gender and believe that inclusion is important. I don't like "it" because it is too impersonal.)