Going skyclad is a traditional expression for performing rituals naked, in the nude, in your birthday suit, in the buff, unclothed, disrobed… you get the picture. It’s not as common a practice today as it once was, but many traditional (Gardnerian) covens still operate this way.
The reasons for going skyclad are many and varied:
- Clothing blocks energy (according to some people)
- Being nude represents the deep trust between coven members
- Lack of robes removes all indications of rank, and therefore places all members as equals
- Shows the level of commitment to the Craft and one’s coven
- There is nothing sexual about performing rituals in the nude
You or your coven may agree with one or more of these reasons, or have other reasons altogether.
The original reference to the practice of skyclad rituals comes from the 1897 text by Charles Leland, “Aradia, Gospel of the Witches”. It’s reflected again in the more modern version, “The Charge of the Goddess”, by Doreen Valiente. The line reads: “…as a sign that you are free, you shall be naked in your rites.”
If you are a solitary, the choice is yours. Do not feel that you must go skyclad, because that’s what ‘real’ witches do. Feeling uncomfortable during ritual will only detract from your purpose. So if you feel awkward being naked even though you are alone, then cover up. That’s what I do.
If you are considering joining a coven and they perform their rituals skyclad, but you do not feel comfortable with it, find another coven. Do not expect any group to bend their rules for you. Also, a coven that follows this practice should be upfront about it when you first approach for membership. Any group that springs this on you after you have joined is unethical and not a group you want to be involved with.