clothing

Nelland Living

November, 2014

Samhain Fashion: The Hobo

The newest outfit in my artistic Samhain collection is this, the hobo. Strongly inspired by Charlie Chaplin, but in a modern and streamlined way.

Nell1

 

?  Black is the color of my Samhain palette, and with this I go all the way. The look is quite masculine, as I like to play with the theme every now and then.

 

Nell2

 

?  Makeup is quite strong and only shades of grey and brown are used, but to balance out masculinity, applied in a feminine way. Androgyne is not the way I´m going for. The earrings are nearly unisex, and the only piece of jewelry worn with the outfit (hobos can´t afford much, you know. =)

 

Nell3

 

?  These combat boots are nine years old, and I have faithfully worn them every winter. They are in fact men´s shoes, so they go particularly well with this style. A good example of how a well thought through sense of style – your own that is – lasts from decade to another and beyond, and can help save the planet with consuming less by holding on to the best. No matter what the fashion industry says.

 

Nell4

 

?   The shirt is made of two layers of jersey. The top one has holes in it, giving it a worn out sense so essential to this look. But it´s also a bit sexy, which is something I like to keep to a minimum at work. And yes, this outfit is designed to be a working girl´s best friend at Samhain.

 

Nell5

 

?  I felt like a hat was a must, and what else do men these days wear other than beanies? So a beanie it is, and this one actually warms me right up too being made of fleece.

 

Nell6

 

?  The pant fabric is actually quite luxurious velvet. It keeps the look on the sophisticated side, without shouting out too loud. I do want to be remembered by my quality taste rather than being a slutty mess…  =)

Tink About it

August, 2013

Dress code

 

A few weeks ago I joined a discussion in a pagan Facebook-group about ‘what pagans/witches wear’. Almost at the same time I was asked to do a photo-shoot ‘as a witch’ so to speak. I really didn’t get it. Pagans are normal people that wear whatever they feel like. Do clothes make the witch? I don’t think so. Well, not in my case anyway… In my daily life I don’t dress ‘witchy’, whatever that may be. I’m most comfortable in jeans and a shirt (warm weather) or jeans and a sweater (cold weather).

After some reading and asking around I found out what was meant by ‘witchy’ clothes: either the mainly black ‘gothic’ outfits or the colourful ‘hippie’ outfits with long skirts and layers. That doesn’t include everything of course, but you get the idea. Yes, I see a lot of pagans I know in these kinds of clothes, especially at gatherings but some of them also dress the same in daily life. I often like the outfits very much on other people, but they’re just not me. I’ve tried it and people said it suited me well, but I didn’t feel happy in it. I do wear a dress once or twice a year to a pagan festival fair, but that’s more than enough for me. And I’m not the only one, thank gods.

 

Being a solitary witch I can wear whatever I want when I do ritual stuff. It depends on my mood and the kind of ritual. It varies from wearing my daily outfit to dressing up in a ritual robe and all. I wear what I feel like at that moment. Some pagans have lots of ritual clothes in all kinds of colours; they make the clothing an important part of the preparation. Although I agree putting on a ritual robe after the ritual bath or shower can be very special, to me it’s not obliged to get into the right mood. I want to be fully focused during ritual and uncomfortable clothes are unnecessary distractions.

When I work with / am part of a group doing a ritual I adapt myself to what the group wants, to a certain point. I don’t like it when clothes are made into a real issue; they are not that important to me.  Of course I’ll try to wear something suitable. When I don’t have the desired colour in my wardrobe I’ll wear a neutral robe or jeans  with a shawl or something else in that colour.

 

In a group I was part of for several years we decided to make ritual robes together. Quite the challenge because most of us had never done something like that before! Luckily we had one very experienced and talented woman among us, that helped us through. We wanted to do it all by hand to put our energy into it. It was  a very simple design in unbleached cotton. Afterwards we dyed them together in a beautiful olive green. I re-discovered what I already knew… I’m not cut out to be a seamstress. I’m not good at it and I simply hate it. This robe brought me blood, sweat and tears, literally. It wasn’t the right fabric, I cut my fingertips despite the many thimbles, threads got twisted… aaaargh! When I burst into tears for the umpteenth time, my husband took the robe from me and finished it on the sewing-machine. Although I loved the group and the people in it have become dear friends, I still to this day hate that robe! That can’t be how it’s meant to be, so I’ve accepted my shortcomings and bought my robes from then on.

 

And of course there’s the skyclad option… My simple answer to that is: only when it has obvious added value. I’ll use two examples to illustrate that.

On several occasions I performed a ritual skyclad to see how it feels. It has benefits, practically: like no fear of getting fabric near candles, and mentally: for example being naked before the gods. But to me the disadvantages weighed much heavier. I don’t have a problem with being naked, but I felt very uncomfortable in a literal way. Although I have enough fat on it, my butt hurt. My boobs and tummy have lost the fight against gravity a long time ago and underneath it got very sweaty. Enough detail, I think you get the picture!

During the time I spent in a traditional coven we performed certain rituals skyclad. In an initiation ritual the part of being skyclad, naked before the gods and other ones present, has an explicit reason. Those rituals wouldn’t be/feel/mean the same when dressed. Behold the added value I was talking about earlier!  I had a meaningful and very important experience during an initiation by being confronted with my own naked body.

So… for me it’s skyclad when necessary only. Besides, there’s another practical reason for wearing clothes. I love to do rituals outside as often as possible. Apart from the climate being a spoil sport, Holland is very densely populated and it’s hard to find a private place to do skyclad rituals.

Wicca 101

April, 2010

Witch Not to Wear

hat-witches


How many of us remember having to wear stiff dress clothes in church, especially on Easter?  As children, we couldn’t wait to get home and out of them.  We hear people use the terms “Sunday best” and “goin’ to meetin’ clothes”.  Often there is an expected wardrobe for the clergy as well.  Even outside of church, Christian clergy often wear special clothes or business attire (suits).  Similarly, Buddhist monks and Muslim clerics wear distinctive clothes.  We have choices in both our daily and ritual garb, but also face stereotypes and misconceptions.

The most common misconceptions are that witches wear black all the time and we are always naked during rituals.   Both have an element of truth, but are not the whole truth. (1)

Gerald Gardner believed in ritual nudity, commonly known as skyclad, and it became a common practice of Gardernian groups to this day.  Many other groups and individuals, especially in the 60s and 70s practiced skyclad and it is common to find photos of this in publications from those decades.  Even books published later when it was declining in popularity, such as ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present by Doreen Valiente (2), Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft and Witch by Fiona Horne have photos of skyclad witches.  Since Gardner was a nudist it is possible that he simply incorporated this into his practices and there are those who call him a “dirty old man”.  But, there are spiritual reasons for nudity as well.  Since Wicca is a nature/fertility religion, nudity is viewed as a natural state for the practice of such beliefs.  Also, since being naked removes the evidence of socio-economic status often displayed by clothes, it is a way of making everyone equal, since we should disregard class distinctions in the circle.  We tend to be less “hung up” over nudity than most religions and it is certainly a way to challenge taboos.  It has been said that clothes hinder the transmission of magickal energy, but that raises the question of how does it pass through walls and space to function?  Claims have been made that covens in centuries past met in the nude, but given the climate of Europe most of the year, especially hundreds of years ago, this is unlikely. There is art from this period which depicts nude witches, such as Albrecht Duerer’s “Four Witches,” but these are artists fantasies.  (3)  Many, if not most, people are uncomfortable with the idea of being naked in front of others,  which is not conducive to a pleasant experience and there are places, such as a public park, in which it is unadvised.  Please note that nudity does not equal sex and just because a group is skyclad does not necessarily mean that it involves sex magick.

Witches wear black in the popular imagination, but only a little more often in real life than the average person.  While most witches I have met, including myself, wear black often, it is not the only color in our wardrobe.  Besides, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers and Episcopalian/Anglican vicars often wear black and nobody says that makes them evil or sinister.  Black cloth absorbs all colors so some witches feel it better attracts energy.  (4)  Also, if you are outside at night, it does make you harder to see, so one theory was that it was easier for witches practicing in secret at night to remain hidden.  However, wearing all black in public tends to draw more attention and questions as to whether you are Goth or Emo.

Recently, the TLC show What Not to Wear featured a Witch from Salem, MA who usually wore black and witchy/goth clothes.  This is how show host Stacy London described Leann’s attitude toward her clothes, “It was on her shop-day two when she started to talk a lot about the idea of using actual witch clothing as a defense mechanism and that it was like her wall and it was her protection; it was her armor against people, and we talked to her about the idea that it wasn’t necessary for her to do that in order to be a powerful practicing witch.” (5)  I watched this episode and felt that it was respectful toward her and our beliefs and I could also understand that Witches in Salem, especially those who work at metaphysical shops are expected by the tourists to dress the part.

A common attire during ritual is a robe.  From photos I have seen and my limited experience, this is the most common choice for coven/group rituals.  Wearing a robe lends a mystical air to the workings and can serve as a uniform for a group.  Some witches prefer different colors depending on the purpose, such as green for healing, black for banishing, green and red for Yule, etc.  Robes are simple to make for those who can sew or can be purchased in cotton, poly or velvet.  During the only group ritual in which I participated, the priestesses were in similarly styled robes in different colors, while the participants were in regular clothes.  A robe can be worn over regular clothes, so it can be carried to a ritual or festival to be worn only during the event.

A choice that has become more common in recent years is alternative clothes.  More Pagans are choosing to wear renfaire, steampunk, Nordic, Celtic or fairy attire.  This often reflects their interests or beliefs but can also stem from them attending festivals with these themes that have little or nothing to do with Paganism.  All of these except fairy could to a certain extent be adapted for daily wear.

It is of course possible to simply wear your regular clothes both day to day and during ritual.  If you walked up to me, the only clue as to my religion would be a pentagram and a triquetra on chains and my “Harm None” and “Blessed Be” tattoos.  For both rituals and simple acts of magick, I have worn whatever clothes I already had on, except for two times I chose to go skyclad by myself.  In my early years, this was usually my Post Office uniform, which fits well with my craft name, Postalpagan.  To me, being a witch is simply part of what I am, not a separate part of my life and identity, so I have never felt the need to have different clothes for the purpose, but I have admired robes on others and in catalogs.  One thing that I insist upon from myself during ritual is that I am barefoot unless is it definitely too cold.  To me it is a representation of being connected to the earth and free.  But it also reflects that I wear shoes as little as possible.

A non clothing item commonly worn by Pagans is religious themed jewelry.  When I see another person wearing a pentacle, I strike up a conversation if possible.  This is the most common means I have of knowing that another shares my beliefs, although sometimes it turns out that they wear it for shock value or because it is “cool”.  There are other symbols, although they are seen less often, such as an ankh, triquetra, triple moon, Thor’s hammer, goddesses or horned gods.  It is your choice to wear something like this under your top or out in the open, depending on the situation and whether you are out of the broom closet.  Legally, you have the same right to wear Pagan jewelry to work or school as a Christian has to wear a cross, which has been upheld in numerous court cases unless all religious symbols are banned. (6)

As you can see, the choice of attire for us in both ritual and day to day wear is varied and should reflect our tastes, interests, comfort level, views and needs.   Make your choices with an understanding of why you wear or don’t wear certain things.

(1) Common Questions about Wicca, the Old Religion.

Q: “Do Witches really dance around naked or wear long, black robes?”

http://jksalescompany.com/dw/wicca.html

(2)  ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present, Doreen Valiente http://www.amazon.com/ABC-Witchcraft-Past-Present/dp/0919345778/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268965211&sr=1-1

(3)  Web Gallery of , Albrech Duerer. The Four Witches http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/d/durer/2/13/1/019.html

(4)  The Basic FAQ of Witchcraft, Why Do All Witches/Wiccans Wear Black?

http://www.incantationsotw.com/Info/wiccan/faq_of_witchcraft/faq_why_witches_wearblack.htmt

(5)  What Not to Wear Blog TLC,

  • Welcome
  • Finding Your Own Way
  • Going Back to My Roots
  • Gael Song
  • Book Review: Shamanic Qabalah – A Mystical Path to Uniting The Tree of Life and the Great Work by Daniel Moler
  • List: Stacy London on the Witch who Became a Chic Enchantress  http://blogs.discovery.com/tlc-what-not-to-wear/page/2/

    (6)  Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Religious Clothing and Jewelry in School  http://www.religioustolerance.org/sch_clot5.htm

    (7)  About.com  Rights of Pagans and Wiccans in the Workplace  http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yourlegalrights/a/Work_Rights.htm

    p://www.incantatihttp:

    Why do all Wit wear black?

    Uncommon Advice

    February, 2010

    Rituals Part 1, Ritual Garb

    Ritual garments have been worn in almost all traditions from the beginning of time.  We’ve read about this in books, we’ve seen this in movies, and we’ve pictured it when we think about magicians cloaked in blue velvet.  The question that I pose is, “What purpose do these ‘magickal’ clothes have?”  There are a variety of perspectives to look at the purpose in this common tradition, and from these perspectives we can gain an insight into how we can alter and improve upon our current magickal clothing.

    Thinking about it from a psychological viewpoint, it is clear that these ritual garments are like any other ritual tool in that they bring about a shift in perception of the world.  When you don your magickal cloak, you are the magician, the witch, the walker between the realms; you are not the accountant that shows up to work every day to do tedious mathematics at a job you hate, you are not the father or mother that has to worry about three children, you do not have bills to pay, you do not have any worries.  As far as this perspective is concerned, the more ‘magickal’ the clothing’s appearance, the better it is at altering the mind state to that of a magickal nature.  This shift in perspectives is key to any magickal working, and if for no other reason, is a valid reason for ritual garb.

    Though the previous reasoning seems sufficient, let us delve a little deeper.  Let us again take the ritual garments as yet another tool to the magician, and ask ourselves a few questions about tools in general.  Does a tool you bought yesterday work the same as the tool that you’ve had for 20 years?  Why is it different?  How does it feel when you pick up your trusty athame or wand that you’ve worked with for years and years?  It feels as though it is a part of you, doesn’t it?  That’s because it is.  Think about energy as being similar to electricity.  When you turn off your television, the screen goes black, but is all of the electricity gone from it?  No, there is still residual electricity in the wires and capacitors.  Once something holds energy, it is very difficult to completely rid it of residual energy, and in our case, that energy is our personal energy.  That athame that you’ve had for 20 years is holding residual energy from that entire time, and it resonates with you because of that.  It is not simply a tool that you use, you are a part of it, and it is a part of you because you have drawn energy from it.  For this reason, it is greatly advantageous to use the same tools (including ritual clothes) in all relevant rituals rather than change for new ones on a regular basis.  For this reason, a single set of clothes should be set aside for ritual use only, hence the need for ritual wear.

    When looking from these perspectives, I see very little reason to use clothing other than as just another tool, as the purpose behind using ritual clothes is no different than that of any other tool.  Well, let’s delve even deeper.  What do clothes do?  They warm the body.  They protect the body.  And they hide the body.  In essence, they are the body’s defense against the world.  So how does this translate into magickal operation?    They are the shield, the light against the demons of the dark, and the protector of our souls.  How do we make these flimsy cotton and velvet layers into an adequate armor against those that would do us harm?  The same way we would protect our house or turn our athame into more than a pretty steak knife.  Adorn them with runes and glyphs of protective nature, spend time and energy crafting complex (not simple candle magick) spells of protection, but most of all, put your desire, no, put your need for protection and shielding into them.  Remember, they are not separate from yourself in energetic terms.  They are more than simple cotton and velvet layers, they are another extension of yourself, of your soul, in a way that nothing else truly can.

    Now let us think about yet another angle on this inadequately discussed topic.  Clothing is not only for the individual, it is a society’s means of identifying individuals.  All people wear different clothes; the clothes represent a person’s personality, their values, and their status.  In the same instance, many people wear uniforms to display that they are a part of something else.  Their personal identity is lost when they wear the uniform; they are simply a piece of the company or business that they work for.  It is almost always in occupations that value company loyalty and hard work over individuality and creativity that a uniform is imposed on the employee.  It is strange in my mind that there is no true representation of this in the magickal community.  In magick, as in everyday life, the design and type of clothing is important mainly for the purpose of a creative outlet for the individual.  The only true exception would be in the community example that simply does not exist currently.

    The last piece of this puzzle is centered on the effect other magicians’ and witches’ clothing has on you.  In order to understand this, we must take the previously described perspectives and thoughts and apply them to you, a fellow practitioner, and see what the results are.  What happens when you see other people in cloaks, skyclad, or in that really cool ‘magickal’ tie-dyed t-shirt?  When working in a group atmosphere, it is important, if not necessary for your clothing to have a positive effect on your group.  Do your ritual garments help them to shift into an altered state?  Is your cloak adding energy or taking away energy from the group?  Is it helping to shield you so that the guardian of your group does not have to focus so heavily on protecting you?  Does it help you to share your energy with the group, or does it hinder this?  And most of all, do your ritual garments help to achieve the required group goal?

    In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to take the individual garment choices and analyze their effect on the group.  The most commonly referenced ritual garments are in fact none at all.  Being skyclad is the only regularly referenced magickal uniform, but does this truly make sense or was it simply instated due to Gerald Gardner’s perverted desires?  The reasoning given in most circles is so that there are no barriers between the members of the coven, but is it truly beneficial to throw away what appears to be a very helpful tool?  Obviously, this does not matter to the individual.  For solitary practitioners, there are no other coven members to reveal yourself to, as well as no other individuals to share energy with, so let us simply say that it is more advantageous to use some sort of ritual clothing when working alone because there’s no good reason not to.  In a group atmosphere, the first problem with being skyclad is its effect on the mind; the initial fear and uncomfortable feelings that come from being nude around others tend to make it difficult to alter the mental state to that of the magician.  While this can be overcome by exposure, it adds a barrier from the very beginning.  The other problem is that when you work all rituals skyclad, it makes it difficult to shift to an altered state while wearing clothing.  We should be working to remove the barriers between our everyday lives and our magickal lives, and this provides yet another one.  Being skyclad also means that you do not have a protective layer between yourself and those energies that are called during ritual.  It could be reasoned that this also means that there is no filter between yourself and your coven-mates, but that seems to point to a lack of creativity and dedication.  It would not be all that difficult to set up a binding among the ritual clothes themselves to allow them to share energy direction amongst themselves.  This would take some out of the box thinking, but would not be an impossible notion.  Remember again, these garments are not simple cloth, and must be treated as magickal entities in their own right.

    The last issue that I have with being skyclad is the individuality that it provides.  In a group ritual, there should be a lack of individuality and a focus on group mentality.  When working as a part of a magickal group, the mental shift should not be the same as when working as a magickal individual.  Being skyclad instantly makes you aware of the differences in the individuals.  You know High Priestess RandomColorAndAnimal and every flaw; you can see if she is faltering.  The High Priestess is a physical piece of the group entity known as a coven.  She is not High Priestess, she is Random Coven; you are not a 2nd Degree witch with experiences in the OTO, you are Random Coven; everyone in attendance is the same being, they do not make up the coven, they simply are Random Coven.  It is this loss of self that is necessary for optimal group magick, and it is in this respect that being skyclad seems to be the most inferior ritual garment choice.

    It should be noted that being skyclad has its uses.  It is the optimal choice for magickal practice.  Being skyclad is a way to strip away even the most basic of tools for the magician or witch, and this is a key part of practice.  Athletes train with as many difficulties as possible so that they are as prepared as possible, and it should be the same with magick.  If you only practice with your trusty athame, you will be at a loss should that athame be taken, lost, or Goddess forbid, destroyed.  This should always be remembered, tools should be used to put you at your best, but tools should never become a crutch.  The magick is in the magician, not the tool.

    Because skyclad is the most commonly referenced choice for ritual wear, I described it and its problems in greatest detail.  This is not the only choice though, so let us take the next most common (or at least most commonly marketed) choice—the cloak.  The cloak adequately protects the magician, it can be charged with energy, and it can hide the individual if needed (as long as it is a hooded cloak).  It seems as though this would be the optimal choice, but there are subtle problems with it.  The cloak is still an expression of individuality as stated earlier, and though this can be disregarded for the individual practitioner, it should be remembered for group rituals.  This problem could easily be removed by having a standard cloak for the group, but then again, the energetic bonding would not occur as well with having a separate cloak for group rituals.  This could be dealt with by using the group cloak for personal rituals as well as group rituals.

    Because there are so many types of cloaks available, it is important to discuss the various types.  First and foremost, if you are going to be using the cloak in a group setting, it would be very useful for it to have a hood so that your identity could be hidden for the reasons stated previously.  It should be warm enough for you to not need any other clothing even on cold winter nights.  It should also be light enough so that you do not feel the weight of it.  The decoration of the cloak should optimally be your own, with your personal glyphs and symbols covering it.  It should be a general use cloak so that your energetic bond is stronger.  Also, the type of cloth’s magickal attributes should be considered.  All of these variables play into the versatility and effectiveness of the cloak.

    There are other types of ritual wear that are available to the witch, but they are too numerous to consider individually.  There are considerations to take into account for these as well.  Most of them correspond to the previous considerations for choosing a cloak.  Warmth, weight, decoration, and general usability are all very important.  It is also important to remember that the clothing type should help you, as well as your coven-mates, to enter a magickal state, so it might be best if you didn’t choose your Lynard Skynard t-shirt as your magickal garb (unless you are part of a coven based on Lynard Skynard’s magickal theories of course).  It is also important to remember that you should have clothing that will stand the test of time.  Remember, you don’t want to throw these clothes away next year; you want them to stay with you for the next 20-30 years or more.  So don’t get that super skin-tight outfit just because you’re 19 and haven’t had children yet.  People put on weight, they have children, and their bodies mature.  Also, the more pieces of clothing that you have, the more pieces that you will need to bond with, so less is more in this case.

    Though ritual garments are often not discussed when talking about ritual tools, they are a very important piece of the magickal toolbox and should not be disregarded.  They are the primary visual focus for your fellow witches as well as the only tool that covers the entire body.  It is imperative that your ritual wear be given as much attention as an athame or wand would be given, so make your choices wisely.