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  • Ritual nudity

    Hey all!

    I am not Christian. I left the Christian Church as it wasn't quite for me (nothing wrong with it, just not me), and have recently found a new path that interests me - Wicca. There are different traditions within Wicca, just as there are different denominations within Chrisitanity.

    Anyway, the group that I want to join and with whom I have been studying, practice ritual nudity. The idea is behind it is that people use clothes as a shield. When you enter the Wiccan religious circle, you must enter in perfect love and perfect trust. Shedding your clothes is an expression of perfect trust.

    I haven't been initiated into the circle yet, so I have not practiced any ritual nudity as of yet, but the time it coming! My initiation calls for me to enter the circle 'skyclad' (nude) from the get-go. So, needless to say, my religious life does not in anyway conflict with my choice of lifestyle.

  • #2
    Hey all!

    I am not Christian. I left the Christian Church as it wasn't quite for me (nothing wrong with it, just not me), and have recently found a new path that interests me - Wicca. There are different traditions within Wicca, just as there are different denominations within Chrisitanity.

    Anyway, the group that I want to join and with whom I have been studying, practice ritual nudity. The idea is behind it is that people use clothes as a shield. When you enter the Wiccan religious circle, you must enter in perfect love and perfect trust. Shedding your clothes is an expression of perfect trust.

    I haven't been initiated into the circle yet, so I have not practiced any ritual nudity as of yet, but the time it coming! My initiation calls for me to enter the circle 'skyclad' (nude) from the get-go. So, needless to say, my religious life does not in anyway conflict with my choice of lifestyle.

    Comment


    • #3
      Skyclad:

      Be wary of certain Wicca groups. I am aware that nudity is practiced among some circles. My wife is Wiccan. She said that certain sects that do ritual nudity hold initiations whereas you have love ceremonies with EVERYONE in the group... [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img] but I also understand they are few. Other than that, Wicca is a great religion and I am exploring it as a solidary practioner whereas I would also exercise ritual nudity.

      Comment


      • #4
        quote:
        Originally posted by skyclad85:
        [qb]...When you enter the Wiccan religious circle, you must enter in perfect love and perfect trust. Shedding your clothes is an expression of perfect trust.[/qb]
        MM Skyclad,

        Congratulations on finding a spiritual path that fits your beliefs. I think there are several of us around here.

        I'm a solitary Wiccan who practices skyclad. In my case, it's mostly about discarding the symbolic barriers to a more direct connection with the God and Goddess. Once you get rid of the various societal "hats" that clothing represents, that connection seems much easier to make.

        If your initiation ritual feels right to you and if the group you're joining is a good match, enjoy it and what it represents. You only need to be wary of groups that require you to do things that feel wrong to you. The Great Rite is a part of some ceremonies, but I'm not aware of any groups that use it as an excuse for an orgy. Most don't even include the literal Rite as part of their group practice (and certainly not initiations); it's generally done symbolically with the chalice and athame. The literal act is typically reserved for private practice with a consenting partner. But if you're approaching initiation, you know your circle's stand on this issue.

        Welcome home! MM, MP, and MM again!
        Vin

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        • #5
          In the first centuries of the early church, candidates for baptism were frequently baptised in the nude. It symbolized abandoning all trappings of your old life, being reborn.

          In time, the Church assimilated a dislike for the material world and only saw virtue in the spirit realm. This came from Greek philosophy and body shame was the result. Shame had been patched into Christianity, which hithertofore had been a very body-affirming faith. Centuries later, the Christian Renaissance artists began to recognize the basic incompatibility of body shame with our other beliefs. There was considerable opposition to the restoration of nudity to its rightful place in our lives, but the door was at least reopened to a long process of restoration.
          We have paid dearly for our long-held mistaken views.

          Nudism in America has partially Christian roots by virtue of one of its founders, Rev. Ilsey Boone, but he was widely opposed by those who still did not "get it".

          Christian nudism is growing rapidly, I think because we need it so much for healing our souls. Certain elements in the Christian community are putting up much of the resistance to social nudity. We who are part of that community of faith are working to change that, one person at a time. C.S. Lewis, one of Christianity's greatest thinkers in the past century, had a lot of positive things to say about nudity in his novel Perelandra, but few of the Christians who have been inspired by his books of faith have ever read his persuasive pro-nudity statements.

          Maybe if churches get back to the ritual of public nude baptism that will be the sign that we have returned to where we are supposed to be.

          Comment


          • #6
            quote:
            Originally posted by Trailscout:
            [qb] In the first centuries of the early church, candidates for baptism were frequently baptised in the nude. It symbolized abandoning all trappings of your old life, being reborn.

            In time, the Church assimilated a dislike for the material world and only saw virtue in the spirit realm. This came from Greek philosophy and body shame was the result....[/qb]
            That's beautiful symbolism. Nearly all religious initiation ceremonies seem to have some representation of breaking with the past and embarking on a new future.

            I have a question, though (an honest one, not a rhetorical one to start a debate [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] ): why do you say that Christianity's taboo on nudity comes from the Greeks? I was led to believe (in church) that it grew out of the sense of shame engendered by Adam's and Eve's fall from grace. After all, the first mention of body shame in the Bible is in Genesis immediately after they eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

            I wonder if there are any modern churches that practice nude baptism?

            Vin

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't really think that its from the Greeks. Remember that the ancient Greek male use to train and compete in their form of the Olympics in the nude. I think women were banned from the audience, but I also think that the ancient Greeks admired the nude body.

              I don't really know if Christian hangups came from the Genesis story in the Bible, or from Victorian times, when women weren't even allowed to show their lower legs.

              Comment


              • #8
                From what I have read, the Greek connection came from a group known as the Gnostics who were part of the first-century Christian church. They believed that the second coming would come within a few years and they therefore urged Christians to put aside all worldly things to prepare themselves for spiritual reward. I remember one passage in the Christian Scriptures (somewhere in the Epistles I think) that urged people not to marry and similar things for this reason.

                I don't mean to say that the Gnostics represented the beliefs of all contemporary Greeks, but it was a philosophy that was influential in the early Christian Church.

                Comment


                • #9
                  quote:
                  Originally posted by skyclad85:
                  [qb] Remember that the ancient Greek male use to train and compete in their form of the Olympics in the nude. I think women were banned from the audience. . . .

                  I don't really know if Christian hangups came from the Genesis story in the Bible. . . . [/qb]
                  Women were banned during the Olympic games, but I don't think it had anything to do with nudity. The Olympic games, held every four years at Olympia, were part of highly sacred?and secret to men only?worship rituals. There was a death penalty for any woman who might sneek in to watch.

                  Women also had their games held every 4 years (alternating between the men's games), and women also competed nude. Again, it was part of the worship ritual. However, men were allowed to observe.

                  I'm not convinced that "Christian hangups" can be traced to any specific theology or era. Christianity, as with any religion, has always been influenced by the culture of the place and time. Lots of variations have come and gone.

                  What is new in my lifetime is this strong fear among younger men that there is something wrong with men being nude together in locker rooms or when swimming in secluded places. That hasn't come from religion, at least not in any direct way.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    quote:
                    Originally posted by luvnaturism:
                    [qb]What is new in my lifetime is this strong fear among younger men that there is something wrong with men being nude together in locker rooms or when swimming in secluded places. That hasn't come from religion, at least not in any direct way. [/qb]
                    I've noticed that too. At my old job, when we first moved into a new building, there were showers in the back of the men's restrooms. At first there were no curtains separating the shower area from the rest of the restroom, but I remember in a meeting someone, older than myself, suggested that more men would use the showers if curtains were added to separate the shower area. It wasn't long before it happened. Even back then, before I accepted naturism, I thought the whole issue was silly.

                    But from certain things I've read, a major cause of this fear among younger men appears to be a reluctance to be seen in the nude by possible homosexuals. To paraphrase what I wrote in another post, "Nudity equals sex; homosexuality is bad; therefore nudity among men is bad." And no, this doesn't come from Christianity; even though the Bible is distinctly down on homosexual sex, no theologian to my knowledge has condemned intra-gender nudity, male or female. Still, a lot of good people have been damaged by verbal pot-shots from rabid anti-gays and other antis.

                    Naturism is a reminder, once and for all, that we don't need to fear our bodies or be ashamed of them. Maybe a little ritual nudity would do everyone good!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I was just wondering if there are any agnostic nudists around? I don't want to offend anyone, but all this talk about justifying nudism in regards to the Bible misses the point. First, establish the errancy/inerrancy of the Bible. It was never meant to be considered a 'textbook'. As having been a student of religion @ the University of Georgia, I know for a fact that the Bible lacks in accuracy at any given level; be it historical, geographical, spiritual, etc. Its not even known if many of the Biblical characters actually existed, ESPECIALLY ADAM @ EVE for Pete's sake! Let's get real here. Any Jewish Rabbi will tell you that that Hebrew translation of Adam means 'mankind' as a whole, not a person named Adam. Adam in Hebrew in not a person's name. Eve means 'mother of ALL living things', not just humans. In all probability, Adam & Eve never existed literally, only literarally as an attempt by the author of Genesis to make tangible a human understanding of how we got here & how sin & death came into being.

                      Nakedness is symbolic of innocence. Shame is symbolic of guilt from disobedience. So, when 'Adam'(mankind) disobeyed God, we lost our naked state of 'purity' to shame. We all do this when we reach the age of accountability; we lose our innocence 'so to speak'. The Adam & Eve myth has nothing to do with being nude.

                      I know a lot of you will disagree with me but that's just my educated opinion. Nudity should be an amoral issue. We all came here naked, why not enjoy it?! I don't need a bible to justify a nude lifestyle!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Prometheus,

                        You are correct. I believe that the Gnostic heretical sect of Christianity developed in Greece and borrowed liberally from some elements of Stoic Greek philosophical schools.
                        It is true that body shame was almost unknown in ancient Greek society. If memory serves, first century Athenians were a pluralistic society but mostly very positive about nudity. Two of the most prominent Greek world views were the Stoic and Epicurean philosophies. We shall leave the Epicureans for another day and focus on the Stoics. I never heard about shame over nakedness among Stoics, but their almost Spartan discipline and severity seems to have inspired the Gnostics, who taught that all matter is imperfect, corrupt and they consequently saw little good in the human body. They saw good only in the spirit realm.

                        The Gnostics did not completely overwhelm mainstream Christianity with all aspects of their doctrines. It was simply that a Gnostic-derived tendency to intense body shame developed in certain Greek congregations and this abberent attitude eventually came to dominate the church by the Dark Ages.

                        The apostle Paul was admantly opposed to Gnostic teaching. A remark he made in which he suggested that single people would do well to remain single has sometimes been misinterpreted to indicate a Gnostic leaning. Not so. He was addressing one community of believers at a time when persecution was particularly intense and did not repeat this advice to other churches.

                        Dispite Paul's efforts, Gnostic thought affected the church subtly for centuries and we are just now emerging from its shadow.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Nekkid Gene,
                          I am not offended by people who do not have a position on the existence of God.

                          I do think you have missed my point. Millions of us do turn to the Bible for the final authoritative answer on how to live our lives. That does not make us fundamentalists. Most of us believe that God can and does speak through the Bible in spite of imperfect translations.

                          The Bible is indeed a remarkably accurate textbook of Jewish history and philosophy and has been the inspiration for enlightened systems of government.

                          It is unnecessarily cynical to claim that some biblical characters cannot be proven to have actually lived. Without photography, social security cards, academic records, millions of people both in and out of the Bible lived their lives with no paper trail and we would be quite at a loss to prove or disprove their existence.

                          I have no doubt in the existence of Adam and Eve as the progenitors of humanity. If you refuse to believe in them, it seems you do so out of stubborness and not reason.

                          Adam does not mean mankind in Hebrew. The name derives from the word for ruddy, as in a "ruddy complexion".

                          Adam had the priviledge of naming his wife, "Eve", so we can presume that they were both human and all their offspring were as well.

                          The Bible is replete with examples of patriarchs who became the namesake of their tribes. Adam, being the patriarch of all humanity became our common namesake.

                          If you insist on treating the Genesis account as allegorical, that does not demand that you become an agnostic. Many Christians, Jews and Muslims take this view and search for the higher message in the text.

                          Because this is a naturist forum, much is made of Adam and Eve's nakedness, but it is just one aspect of the lesson the Bible teaches.

                          There is ample reason to believe that the first humans literally did not wear clothes and lived a life of innocence in a more figurative sense. Literature has often taken literal events and ascribed higher meaning to them. There are cases in scripture where metaphor has no literal roots, but this is not one of them.

                          Because the readership of this forum is quite diverse, it is inevitable that some posts between Christian readers debating Biblical commentary on nudity and shame would fall on the ears of some who do not use the Bible as a guideline to daily life. If you find yourself in this latter group, kindly allow us to discuss the values taught in this book we revere as sacred. For us, no action is divorced from moral consequences.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It looks like this thread has gradually turned from Pagan to Christian. I will leave that issue for others to discuss, and instead present the following thought:

                            Religious practices, especially those not dictated by sacred texts, are inevitably influenced by society. With our society's current negative attitudes toward nudity, it would be difficult to convince an entire group the size of a Christian congregation to practice ritual nudity. However, most Pagans practice alone or in small groups. It is much easier to promote ritual nudity in groups of that size. However, I can't help wondering if skyclad ceremonies will become less common if/when Pagan groups grow larger. On the other hand, maybe Pagans will avoid creating large congregations and we will never find out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Prometheus,

                              Perhaps this thread was created with pagans in mind, but since Christianity also had ritual nudity (ie baptism)at the early stages of its history, I thought it would be helpful to look for commonality.

                              You make a very interesting observation about the greater freedom of expression in a small group, including a greater sense of comfort with nudity.

                              A friend of mine was once a member of a Christian sect that would not let their congregations get much larger than 50 or 60 individuals. At that point, they would amicably split and form two new congregations. I am beginning to see the benefits of a more intimate sized assembly of people.

                              On a secular note, I bonded better with people at a small nudist campground than I did at the larger more anonymous resorts. I think the same principle holds whether you are Christian, pagan or secular.

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