Not all Wiccans regularly engage in ritual nudity but pants off magical practise is something which is mostly associated with Wicca rather than other kinds of witchcraft.
My first coven was very much the no nonsense, no clothes kind when it came to ‘proper’ magic. Esbats, initiations, and elevations whatever the season, whatever the weather, indoors or out, were always conducted skyclad. There’s a reason my cloak is double lined wool and velvet and heavier than a herd of cattle.
Ritual nudity isn’t just for tradition, nor does it have anything to do with sex. There are lots of reasons why it’s incredibly important for many covens.
For me, however, I genuinely feel more powerful with my pants on.
(and I’m talking about pants and Wicca in the British sense here meaning underwear and British Traditional Wicca)
I’m not totally a maverick on this, I’m one hundred per cent agreeably nude for initiations. But that’s pretty much the only time I think it’s necessary or beneficial to my ritual.
Nudity and initiation go hand in hand for many reasons, and it would be a whole different experience if the rest of the attendees were clothed.
Nakedness is a great leveller. For me it was also a challenge, learning to be comfortably nude helped me feel comfortably clothed too. It allowed me to take up space, to be confident in myself and the presence of others without feeling looked at or judged.
Being skyclad in a safe nonsexual space allowed me to make friends with my body and twenty years on I still hold onto this.
Preferring to be clothed is not about nude shame or lack of body confidence.
I just feel more comfortable clothed.
In the same way I feel more comfortable in tights and dresses rather than jeans.
And I concentrate better in meetings if I’m cloaked in a blanket wrap rather than a blazer.
Clothing is a part of my persona. We put on the fabrics which make us feel like us. I’ve had a habit of being inappropriately dressed for most things because I hate conforming and sliding into the identikit crowd.
Who knows? Maybe nudity is just too conformist in Wiccan circles now and my wanting to be different is driving this behaviour.
Possibly my reluctance to embrace ritual nudity is that it does level everyone.
We all have different bodies and skin tones sure, but when you’re faced with a room full of naked people, they all seem a bit same-y. I can’t tell Onyx really loves to knit, or that Juniper just came off a night shift.
I’ve never really liked shrugging off my everyday persona to enter ritual. I am magic. My connection to my gods doesn’t cease because I’m wearing an ASOS skirt today.
I know lots of people like to have special ritual clothes, but I’ve always preferred to do ritual and spellcraft in clothes I’m comfortable in.
I don’t need to remove the day to help me focus, I have ritual purification and visualisation techniques for that.
Playing dress up or un-dress up doesn’t add to most of my magical workings.
Gerald Gardner, in Witchcraft Today said it was easier to raise energy without clothes
He describes a few experiments he did using nudity, full clothes, and swimwear.
It makes fascinating reading, but it hasn’t been my experience.
We also accept underwear for menstruating women, because pants are far less offensive than blood on the carpet.
Maybe I’m simply better at raising energy than he was but I haven’t found clothing makes a scrap of difference to the conduction of magical energy and intent.
Being physically present in the same room as people makes a difference, but that doesn’t mean I can’t raise energy through zoom rituals.
Who knows? Maybe in fifty years Wiccans will scoff at my words here and say “of course you don’t need to be in the same room to raise energy” because their general practise will have changed.
I hope not.
But back to nudity…
I’ve never really felt comfortable without a layer between myself and the fresh air.
I like underwear. It makes me feel safe and secure.
Similarly, I have friends who don’t feel comfortable without a bra and dislike nude rituals because of this. (See also not wearing underwear under your robes)
Being comfortable and feeling secure is far more important than tradition in my eyes.
I defend and celebrate your right to conduct your own adult, consensual, private rites in any way you wish.
But if I’m running the rite and there’s no reason to be nude, I’ll allow you the free will to choose. If you prefer to be naked go ahead. If you find running around braless uncomfortable wear a bra (or a bra and whole top if you want to leave your undercarriage beautifully free as though you’re an overgrown nappy-less toddler). You want robes, wear them. If you spent a lot of money on your Saville Row three-piece suit and it’s your everyday go to outfit of choice, rock that waistcoat with pride.
Personally, I absolutely adore the idea of all these outfits circling round for cakes and wine together.
Wicca evolves and grows with the choices we make for it.