What we did at Druid Camp

It would be fair to say that I’m not good with nudity. I can just about cope with other people’s, mine I find difficult. Making my body available to people in any way creates challenges. I have a lot of issues with my body, so inviting people to look at it or to accept my skin is tricky. So, yes, that is my new book cover, and yes, that is my back.

I’ve never considered myself cover material – I’m not the kind of slinky, glamorous entity that normally goes on covers. Last year, I decided to challenge this, to see whether my publisher, and readers, would be willing to tolerate me on the front of a book. It was not an easy thing to do. Given the subject matter of the book, I clearly needed to be lying down. For the Pagan aspect to come through, I needed to be lying on something natural, which meant outside. I don’t have a garden. I also don’t have a decent camera. Evidently, this was going to take a team, and the right place.

I took the project to Druid Camp, in no small part because it’s a safe space for me. Skin is acceptable there, and I knew no one would have an issue over my removing clothes. Plus, it’s a friendly, supportive environment full of people with skills. Getting the paint onto my back and the photos was a team effort, and a lot of trust on my part. It was a strange and exposed sort of thing to do, but it left me feeling stronger and less fearful.

I put this image out into the world with some nervousness. I tell myself that it will be ok because I am well used to people criticising my appearance. Only a couple of weeks ago on Twitter, a chap asked ‘why the f*ck would anyone want to go near you?’ I’ve had people telling me how ‘funny looking’, fat, and unattractive I am my whole life, this cover will not change that, and it will likely bring more of the same. I am used to thinking of myself as ugly, it is part of my sense of who I am. What makes me nervous, truth be told, is the risk of being found attractive. I find a measure of safety in being the sort of person very few people would want to touch anyway. It is simpler, and unthreatening. People affronted by my body have never even tried to hurt me by then using that body unkindly. Other people’s desire has not always worked out well for me and part of this wider process of testing my edges is about trying to establish that there isn’t something about my body that justifies abuse.

So here it is: awkward painted mammal by the light of a summer sunset, on the lush meadows of Druid camp.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

19 responses to “What we did at Druid Camp

  • potiapitchford

    That’s a beautiful book cover and full of wonderful meaning because you have shared the story of how it came to be.

  • inanna

    …and beautiful because it is in connection with Nature, the ultimate beauty; your curves, hillocks and valleys echoing hers.

    (i’m a yoga teacher, by the way; i see bodies all the time in all states of dress/undress, health/dis-ease. the kind of imagery of the body that predominates in that industry i personally find to be unattractive, even offensive, in its glorification and fetishisation of externally-imposed ideals; its presentation of the body as existing in splendid isolation.)

  • eilidhnicsidheag

    That’s a beautiful picture. I love the delicate body paint, and the striking colour of the hair ribbon, and the hint we get of your face.

  • landisvance

    I agree. I think it is a beautiful picture. The softness of your body and the communion with the earth is also a strong image. Well done!

  • Angie

    Yes a very beautiful book cover and its the cover that makes me what to read the book, I know this will be interesting.

  • Turtle

    It can be a very scary thing, sometimes, to come out of your shell (trust me, I know!) so I give you a lot of credit. It’s very tempting to stay pulled in where it’s safe, especially if people have thrown stones at us, but if we do that we’ll eventually wither away. And the sun feels so nice! 🙂

    The cover turned out beautifully by the way. Love the flowery body paint look. And I’m sorry that you got such a nasty comment on twitter. Snarky people…grrrr.

  • Talis Kimberley-Fairbourn

    Um, hon? ‘Corn Jenny and John Barleycorn lay down in a field of clover…” 🙂 *That* field, dear heart.

    It’s a beautiful and strong picture, and reminds me of Kit Williams’ Summer in his ‘Bee on the Comb’, which is high praise from me.

    This hair mammal salutes your courage. And you.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    Nimue. What if it was someone else that you didn’t know, just a decorative cover? Now how would you judge it.

    Our society concepts of beauty are highly limited and stylized. Look at the models that we see in our ads. They photoshop every picture of them that we ever see of them ad we ever see how they really look oat of the time. in their normal view, just the manufactured view that has photoshopped. This is especially true in the pictures of women models, but it is also true of the men. Look and men in underwear, note the body, note the bulge in the crotch. Do you think that any of the picture has not been photoshopped? Then we all judge ourselves based on those fantasy photos.

    If that is our image of what good looking women and men look like than that makes a most all of us unacceptable examples of human beings. Most of us are not beautiful in that senses. Few equally few of us are ugly either. But beauty and ugliness tend to be extremes so it is unlikely that most of us are neither beautiful or ugly.

    Reality is even more complex, because each of us has our own idea what is beauty and what is ugliness. It is also different in different times, different places, and different cultures. That being the case, our judgement of ourselves is only our imperfect interpretation of what beauty is.

    By the way there is nothing at all wrong with the book cover. Most of us that read your blog are just curious to find out more of who you are and what you are thinking.

    Why not just be yourself and stop worrying about it. You are what you are supposed to be. You have had experiences both good and bad, a both have affected you. Both the bad experiences and the good experiences are just as real. How much time invested in your past and future is taken away from living this moment fully?

    By the way most of us are doing this same thing, lugging around our past including hurts, failures, and resentments, and worrying about a future that not only does not yet exist, but may never exist. We drift though the moment often to paying it little attention distracted by what we believe is more important. How would our life be different if we dropped most of the baggage of our past and spent less time on the unknowable future?

    Just some odd thoughts as I approach 70 years near the end of this year.

  • angharadlois

    It’s beautiful! A picture which tells a story; a story which makes me want to read on…

  • alainafae

    Of the few pictures I have seen of you, nothing remotely along the lines of ‘ugly’ came to mind. It’s hard not to internalize someone else’s concepts of what is attractive. I (and many others, I’m sure) also struggle with accepting that how I look to someone else (whether I look good to them or bad) never justifies unintentionally invasive or outright abusive behavior, in words or in actions. Being very slender, I experience a different part of the spectrum, but the root anxiety experienced in response to the negative events boils down to very similar issues I think.

  • Alban Artur

    Here in Maine we do an event called “The Naughty Pagan Photo Project”. We do two weekends in which we have an all day photoshoot and people who are willing come and get as dressed or undressed as they wish for the camera. It’s a project that is about accepting our bodies as they are and loving ourselves even if we don’t fit into someone else’s concept of “beauty”. It’s about finding what makes us beautiful and celebrating it. People dress up as gods, mythic heroes, elements, you name it. Last year, one lady put flowers in her hair and crawled around in the mud and dirt to be the spirit of spring! I did a greenman thing that I felt came off a little boring.

    It’s called bravery and you nailed it. I’m glad you went out on a limb, I it sounds like it gave you a good feeling. You deserve it.

  • Sparkless

    That is a breathtaking cover and you are beautiful! We can’t really see your full beauty but if it comes through from just your back then I’d say you are pretty amazing. Well done you!

  • curlydogs11

    Nimue, I agree with Christopher Blackwell’s comments. Once again I am saddened and a bit overwhelmed by your words of self-doubt. Your back is beautiful, but then I think all of you is beautiful. I looked once again at the one picture I found of you and I realize that your own outlook on your physical being is just sad. Please ignore the mean people – they are having their own issues and are successfully pushing them off onto you. Maybe you are overweight – your back doesn’t show that (you should see my back, covered with moles and age spots and downright ugly), maybe you have some disfigurement that doesn’t show, but who cares…..really! Tom and you friends love you, I don’t know you but I love you and what I know of you through your writing. I’m not a trained psychologist but once again, having come from the same mind set as you, please, please, please find a way to bring healing to yourself. I genuinely cry when I read your posts and I hurt for you – I want you to learn how to feel whole, beautiful and loved! When folk say mean things to you, smile at them and say, “I’m so sorry that you feel so badly about yourself” and walk away, not taking on their issues. Please try!

  • ninamgeorge

    This is beautiful. Criticism of our bodies is a huge shaming tactic and one it is easy for us to internalise. All i can say is shine on and on and on…

  • dawnmedus

    Truly beautiful image on the cover, be proud of it and what beauty there is from the outside and within. X

  • lornasmithers

    This picture is beautiful and it certainly makes me want to find out you’re dreaming 🙂 Congrats on your bravery!

  • verdant1

    Love it – such a fabulously beautifully image of an “awkward painted mammal”. Go you! (Looking forward to the book, too!)

  • Terry

    You are certainly brave! Lovely photo and artistry. Looking forward to reading your book. ♡

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