Merry Meet and Happy Thursday, Family and Friends:
Last night, I watched a long awaited segment of the National Geographic Channel's "Taboo" documentary series. For those of you who aren't able to get National Geographic where you live, the series follows the diversity of cultural practices such as body modification, healing, Voodoo, burial rites, sexual practices, etc. It's really quite interesting. I believe you can follow this link and either download or purchase episodes. I would highly recommend it.
Last night's episode however, made me cringe! The episode was about "nudity", specifically ritual nudity. A Wiccan group from Australia agreed to hold a ritual in which they were filmed practicing skyclad a.k.a "nekkid" for the series. The actual translation of the word, Skyclad, means "clad only by the sky". Quite beautiful, in my humble opinion.
Let me begin by saying that I have absolutely no problem with nudity in general. The human body is a beautiful thing. What I do have a problem with however, is with this group's choice to have their ritual filmed, under any circumstances.
The fact of the matter is, that there are many, many people who still don't understand what the Wiccan practices are and there are some they aren't meant to. Some practices are purposely reserved only for those who practice within formal covens. They are sacred.
There still exists an unfavorable mindset regarding our beliefs and what we do and this kind of programming only serves to enhance people's misconceptions by dangling (no pun intended) just enough information to make it tantalizing. Ritual nudity in certain Wiccan traditions is not a well guarded secret. Anyone can research and learn that certain groups do, in fact, practice ritual nudity.
"Many traditional covens work skyclad or nude – not to emphasize sexuality but to let psychic energy flow unhindered, to help members accept their own bodies as natural and good, and to point up the fact that all are social equals in the circle" pg. 45, Coven Craft by Amber K.
Perhaps, the reason why there are still so many misconceptions about Wicca and Neopaganism is because there is an element of secrecy surrounding it. For some, the fear of persecution because of their beliefs is still very real. There are documented cases of those that have lost their jobs and their children, simply because they are practicing Pagans. What is worrisome, however, is that this particular group's half hour segment provides hardly enough information to arrive at an informed opinion about the various Wiccan traditions and their practices. There are also rituals that are open to the general public in which the celebrants and participants are fully clothed. And it's, ya know, television. If something is misinterpreted, there really isn't the opportunity to clarify what one has seen. And again, it's television! Which means that these episodes have been edited to the networks advantage to allow for the the best overall ratings. Seriously? Ritual nudity? Who wouldn't be curious?! That's definitely going to be an attention grabber, especially for those looking to join in the proverbial "Witch Hunt".
Many Wiccan traditions have one area in which they are unified, that being, preserving the integrity of "The Craft". We want to insure that our practices remain as they were passed down and not become watered down until they are unrecognizable from the beauty of their origins. We hold them in our hearts as sacred rites. When people or groups such as this allow their rituals to be filmed, they weaken that unity and integrity. More importantly, how much of a real education is the general public getting about Wiccan practices? There is a wealth valuable information that could have been shared that is far more interesting than whether one is " naked in their rites".
This morning as I drove the kids to school, I felt the need to caution them lest they get any negative feedback from last night's episode. I could hear it now, "So, does your mother really dance naked under the full moon?".
In Darkness, Light!