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.