Following on from yesterday then, and some of the feedback about costumes and Druidry on facebook. All clothes are artifice. Natural humans are naked humans, after all! As soon as we start wrapping anything from fig leaves and animal skins through to bits of cloth around ourselves, we’re engaged in a kind of art form. One that inevitably says something to other people about who we are, or who we want them to think we are. We put on uniforms to announce conformity, roles and authority. We put on kits to show allegiance – to teams, politics, countries… we dress to announce who we are. I’m single, notice my cleavage. I’m professional, see my suit. I’m fashionable, I’m counter culture…
Clothing creates archetypes, images, things people rally to. If you picture the Klu Klux Klan, you’ll picture the clothes. If I say ‘Wall Street’ you’ll see the suits. If I say Nazi, you’ll see the black shirts. Iconic gear can be a tool for conformity. Maoist China used uniforms in just this way. Arguably many schools and employers do the same. Make someone conform to a visual standard and you make them part of the team, you own them, you control them. I hate uniforms.
In wanting to belong, we can put ourselves into uniforms all too easily. Teenagers do it all the time, their clothes signalling clan allegiance, musical affiliations, identities. You dress to match your tribe. In some ways this can create community bonding and cohesion, too. It’s a double edged sword to say the least.
If I stand up in public as a Druid, then people are going to notice what I’m wearing, and make something of it. (I dread to think what!)
The archetypal witch images help draw people into witchcraft. Now, I’m not a big fan of surface and superficialness, but at the same time, its so much easier to work with a thing, explain it, share it, if you have strong images. Call them symbols, if you will. Things that have strong symbols are more easily put into the general consciousness. This is why I’m curious about what Druidry looks like, or about how we might shape it to look. Because it does need to look like something. I’m not imagining one fixed image, there would have to be diversity, but icons are good and we can have icons without having uniforms, I think.
We all dress up, every day of our lives (apart from the naturists). We all wear costumes, even if we don’t think of them that way. Your look, your style, is designed to tell the world something. Maybe you have one style for work and another for play. Maybe you like dressing up as a pagan at the weekend, or as a steampunk, or a live roleplayer… We dress up to construct ourselves, and to express ourselves.
So, what does a Druid look like? There can’t be one answer.
Bards of the Lost Forest used to look like a bunch of people going for a walk or a picnic. We were light on visual drama, highly practical, but we looked discernibly like a group of people, not a bunch of disparate individuals.
Here’s some thoughts…
A druid will be wearing the kind of footwear you can walk in, or may be barefoot, but will be able to head off and explore. They may already have a smear of mud around the ankles, or a grass stain. Whatever the style of clothes, it doesn’t get in the way, it allows you to do stuff. It probably isn’t all new and shiny though, because reuse is good, and recycling is good, and throwing clothes away isn’t, and buying new gear all the time isn’t environmentally friendly. It’ll probably be durable, some of it may be handmade. It won’t scream ‘look at me’ but at the same time it will quietly announce that the wearer is not a clone, not one to follow the pack all the time. There will also be things worn for beauty, for the loveliness of them, for joy.