What is Skyclad Magick
Skyclad Magick is any working which is done nude (in other words clad only by the sky, although the term also encompasses indoor workings, which semantically should be called tracklightclad), whether these workings are done as a group or as solitary workings.
Skyclad also encompasses several different definitions. Some define Skyclad, most basically, as being without any kind of clothing. Others define it as also being without make-up, perfumes, deodorant, or shampoo. And others include those clothed in body paint as being skyclad.
The History of Skyclad
It’d be nice if there was a long and revered history of ritual nudity to point to in arguing for skyclad practices, but none really exists. Although we see nudity practiced in some obscure forms of Eastern religions, we don’t see it in any of the ones that have had a major influence on the west. In the western world we can suppose that there has, in the past, been ritual nudity. Humans were most likely practicing some sort of ritual prior to the invention of clothing. We do know some of the Greeks and Romans were rather decadent and liked there orgies, and that there were probably some spiritual undertones in some of there orgy havings. But whatever was done then is largely lost, and we don’t see any clear lineage from those earlier rituals (which were small and minority rituals) up to the modern day.
Until the middle of the 20th century, Western occultism was practiced clothed. There is no evidence that traditional witches ever practiced in the nude. Ceremonial magicians have always practiced clothed. Even Allister Crowley, known for combining his sexual wants with his ritual practices, never managed to get into nude rituals, more than likely because he was too busy trying to convince male friends to have anal intercourse with him for reasons that meant he was still entirely heterosexual. There are some spells in the old grimoires that were meant to make groups of women or groups of people dance around in the nude, but that was not a part of the ritual, but rather the end result of it, after which the practitioner could then watch them dancing in the nude.
Skyclad magick and ritual nudity was pretty much spearheaded by Gerald Gardener, the founder of Wicca. The theological basis for Gardener’s skyclad rituals were based in negative Christian folklore about witches which supposed them to do secret nude rituals, and also in a mistranslation of a line in the Aradia of the Witches. It should be noted though that Gardener had a host of sexual fetishes, and that he used his spiritual position as a founder of a religion in order to recruit willing partners to participate in his fantasies which also included female domination and sado-machosism, and that he would grasp at spiritual straws to justify these acts.
After Gardener had come along, a lot of other folks started incorporating skyclad rituals into their own religions. Skyclad rituals meshed very well with the hippie movement that eventually invaded and took over most of the neopagan religions and also liked running around naked.
In recent years skyclad practices have largely fallen out of vogue. Even many Gardnerian Wiccans, who claim to practice the original form of Wicca created by Gardener, don’t practice skyclad, and they don’t follow a lot of Gardener’s more sexualized practices either. Most of the rituals that were originally meant to be done in the nude are now done clothed.
The Magick of Equality: Does Nudity Make Us Equals
A point generally brought up by pro-skyclad Wiccans is that nudity makes us equals. We no longer have the class system attached to us. We aren’t separated between those who can afford nice clothes and those who can’t. This lack of separation would also happen if we replaced naked with modest robes.
Unfortunately beyond flashy clothes, skyclad doesn’t do much to make us equals. Some people are still pretty, and some are fat, and no amount of clothing, or lack thereof, is going to help the situation. Some of us are going to be more powerful than others. The regular religious hierarchies that exist tend to exist while naked the same as when clothed.
Cloth & Color: A Minor Variable Sidestepped
It should be noted that the most magickal possessions most people possess (other than their bed), are their clothes. Experienced practitioners are more likely than most to have an object which puts their clothes to shame, but at the same time their clothes are going to be even more magickal than what is typical among non-practitioners. Our emotion and our energy, through out the day, taints our clothes. Washing our clothes helps, although it doesn’t nearly do enough insofar as cleansing them. The longer the clothes have been worn, the more powerful they may be. And our clothes, in turn, may taint or otherwise affect both ourselves or the ritual. When we enter a ritual clothed, we’re never entering a ritual clean. Many books recommend not only preritual baths and cleansings, but also special clean garments only adorned during ritual for this very reason.
Secondly, color is another variable. Some practitioners discard color altogether because it is not as strong a symbolism as some would like. Color does however have an, albeit minor, effect on magick workings. Some books and practitioners swear by being draped in the proper colors for the spell at hand.
However clothing and color are both minor variables in determining the success and power of ones magick. Neither is so great a factor that it can’t be overcome, or can only be over come with great effort. There are of course exceptions. Sometimes an article of clothing can become so energized that it will have a very serious effect on the ritual. However this problem can be solved simply by wearing something else.
Still, it should be noted that these things can affect ritual, and that by practicing skyclad these variables no longer need to be considered.
Simplicity, Primality, Transformation, and Butt-Nakedness
Nakedness is our most natural state of dress. It’s how we come into this world. It’s how we survived as a species prior to the advent of clothing. Our clothing ads another layer to ourselves, another level of complexity. Typically within magick and ritual one moves towards simplicity rather than complexity, one tries to remove as many layers from the problem as possible. Simplicity is seen as the better and more powerful state, the natural state of things within the universe, and it’s easiest to work ones will when that will is worked in the natural directions of the universe, not against it.
Naked, being both our natural state and primary state, allows us to become more primal in our being. For some being naked means tapping into a more primary, animalistic state. For others it is just being more free, less inhibited, and a closer approximation to their true self. In any case, in this state a practitioner’s energy is more raw, less encumbered and tainted, and the practitioner experiences a greater degree of focus and their will and desires are better focused, all of this making spellwork easier and more successful.
Finally some practitioners may use nudity as a trigger to transform them from one state to another. To move from their normal selves to their more magickal selves. To help them cast away, temporarily, their anchors and ties into the real and solid world and move into a less solid more magickal state where more things are possible. Conditioned properly, a practitioner can see a dramatic transformation between a clothed and naked state, and can amass this power with less work than what would typically be required. However one should be careful utilizing this method. There are definite drawbacks to not being able to tap most of your power unless you’re naked.
Intimacy, Nudity, and Bonding
Most people see nudity as an intimate act. For most of us, the first people of an opposite gender who saw us naked after puberty started was a person who we engaged in some intimate carnal act with. For most of us, most of the people of the opposite gender who see us naked are people we are intimately involved with. For a lot of people, nudity is directly tied to sex. For a lot of people, casual and non-utilitarian nudity is only something that occurs between two people who are sexually involved with each other.
The point being, for a large part nudity and intimacy are one in the same. Therefor when a ritual is performed skyclad there is an added degree of intimacy between the participants, even if they don’t know each other very well. With a regular group, this intimacy helps with group bonding. But even with strangers who will never meet again, nudity will help them connect together, become one, and work the ritual as a single whole rather than a group of individuals. The individual members will also find it easier to connect to one and another, and psychic links will more easily form between them, once again making it easier for the individuals to work as a group.
Symbolism of Nudity and Opening the 3rd Eye
When we’re naked, we’re exposed. We’ve completely opened ourselves up and exposed ourselves to everything in the nearby area. This is a literal truth on the physical level. But is also symbolic of opening ourselves up and exposing ourselves emotionally (thus intimacy, as explained above), and also opening ourselves up spiritually. Being naked is symbolic of letting down a shield, and both exposing ourselves and opening ourselves up to our surrounding environment. Especially when the symbolism of the event is acknowledged, this will make it easier for the practitioner to experience the metaphysical. For lack of a better way to describe it, it will make them more psychic and more empathic.
Sacred Nudity and Reverence
Most of us, when we present ourselves to a god, we want to present ourselves in an acceptable way. The situation may not always allow this. We might need to contact a deity right now, and we can’t wait to take a shower or dress ourselves properly. The gods understand this. But a lot for the time we do have time. And then there’s the question of how should we present ourselves. Likewise even when we don’t use a god, when we do magick most of us would like to present ourselves in a way that is becoming of the sacredness of the event.
If we have sacred clothes, like ceremonial robes, this might do. If not, we’d usually lean towards nice, clean clothes. What nice means though would be very subjective. Some might define that as expensive suits and dresses. Others as unfaded jeans and a favorite t-shirt. Some will argue that you should always address the gods in Renfair costumes, regardless of the fact that almost every god predates the renaissance style of dress, the style was only in vogue in certain regions of Western Europe and is thus regionally inappropriate for most gods, and that Renfair costumes typically lack accuracy.
Nudity is, however, always appropriate for presentation to a deity or a sacred event. Nudity is a sacred state of being. As already mentioned it’s how we come into this world. When we disrobe we’re also gracing those around us with the beauty of our physical form. We are making a sacrifice of our modesty so that others may take pleasure in our natural form. We are showing reverence to and making a gift to those around us, be they other humans, entities, or gods. When we are naked, we’re always in a sacred state. The sacredness of that state is only lost when we attempt to hide or cover ourselves, or when we try to stop or otherwise punish others for looking at us or particular body parts, staring at us, or having impure thoughts about us. When we disrobe and present ourselves as such it is a sacred gift given onto the recipient, to be used as they please and not to be taken back.
Nudity and Sexual Energy
Nudity can be utilized within ritual in order to raise sexual energy. When you get a bunch of people together, running around naked, they start getting horny, and before long you get a bunch of sexual energy that can be used and manipulated in the spellwork. For best results you want as many pretty people, both men and women, in the group as possible. Pretty people turn other people on. Ugly people may turn other people on, but not as much. Youth is also good, young people tend to have much stronger sex drives and more sexually repressed energy. You may also have much better results if participants agree to refrain from sexual acts or masturbation for a period preceding the ritual. Three days is a good amount of time. Likewise you’ll get better results if flirting and some petting is allowed during the time of the ritual, of course you don’t want anyone having orgasms during the ritual, since that would be counterproductive, you just want them getting about as close as you can get them.
In a setting like this, energy can easily be raised, even among those who are not very good at energy manipulation, by normally mundane acts like dancing around each other and various games and activities that involve touching and caressing each other.
Generally, if you want to raise sexual energy, don’t have sex. There is a point within an orgasm when the energy will hit peak and will be at its strongest for the individual. This only lasts for a moment though, and grasping and manipulating this energy is a difficult feat. It can be done, but it is typically beyond the ability of most practitioners and beyond the scope of most rituals. But there are other things that can be done with ritual orgies, everything from connecting the group as one to amassing the energies to some ends to simply reveling in a state of primal and uncompromising sexual ecstasy and desire. I do think that this is, however, far to vast an area to go into detail in the scope of this essay.
Being Naked — Just Because
Of course there is something to be said for being naked just because. It is a sacred state of being, and so being naked is sacred. It can be its own ends, rather than a means to something else. It can be a spiritual experience in and of itself. Or possibly just something one enjoys doing. To be exposed, open, uninhibited, intimate, free, primal, and sacred all at once.