One of the most common questions non-Pagans ask Pagans is “Do you dance naked, then?” The other one is about sacrificing virgins. B-movie images of lurid sexual ritual are no doubt in their minds, or at least, that’s what they rather hope we do. That way, they can have fun thinking about it, or get righteously indignant about us, or both.
For the record, no. Never have, probably never will. For a start I like working outside and mostly the UK is cold, damp and not a good place to get your kit off. The bigger issue though is that I’m deeply uncomfortable with nudity. There’s a confession. Here we are, nature based spirituality, body as your own personal expression of nature and sacredness, and it makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t mind other people being as unclothed as they like, so long as I can stay securely wrapped up. Of course that’s mostly about an illusion of being less visible, less available, and I know that, but it’s still what I’ve got. I don’t much like being looked at. I really don’t like the idea of being judged, of being visually icky, or for that matter appealing. To be appealing is to be vulnerable, and I’ve had my nudity and the appeal of my body used to justify things happening to me in the past. Still got some baggage there.
I’m guessing that anyone who is so inclined can figure out what shape I am by looking, and that the clothes don’t really hide me. If I was a peacock person, it might be another issue, but I’m not that dressy either, I do clothes for practical reasons of warmth and comfort, and for camouflage, very seldom for any kind of display.
I’m wondering what it would be like to be in a social, ritual or spiritual context where people either casually didn’t have clothes on, or were very intentionally naked as part of the process. I wonder what it would be like to have that so much a normal and natural part of culture that’s it’s not excessively sexualised (at least in my head) or weird, or anything like that. Tricky to picture.
I think I was born with the sensibilities of an elderly Victorian spinster. If anyone had told me about covering up chair legs as a child and not flashing your ankles, I’d have been right there. As it was I just had to make do fashioning appropriate undergarments for bears. Toy bears that is. I used to have panics about guys who bared their chests, so all things considered I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m a long way away from dancing naked round the fire in the woods in the middle of the night. Mind you, given how much rain we’ve had, I doubt anyone else danced naked round here this winter either.