WitchCraft, unlike organised religions (Catholicism etc.) isn’t ruled over by some officiating, all-knowing body.
There are no rules dictated from High Above, telling people what we should and shouldn’t wear to events. So every group and tradition decides for themselves what is appropriate clothing for events.
That said, there are some standards.
A lot of groups use robes or cloaks when working outside, or working in the winter. They’re warm and ethereal-looking. A lot of people who favour them say that they feel “right” when wearing them. They certainly look the part.
I don’t like them personally. I do a lot of fire work, and I have concerns about floppy, billowy sleeves catching fire and knocking things over. I’m a practical kind of Pagan, and I like things that work, and work well. Functional rules! Cloaks and robes don’t meet my standards – they’re nice and pretty, and they just dont work that well.
My preference is for vinyl and leather. You could call it “fetish wear” 😉 But both are comfortable to work in, and are special (non-everyday) clothing that enable me to get into the headspace that I need to get into to work well.
I also like corsets, and tight-fitting miniskirts and trousers, and I like long boots and gauntlets too. Vinyl and leather are easy to clean and maintain, and are fire-retardant too, which are both positive attributes for the sort of work I do.
When I’m outside, or in a public space going to or from an event, I just cover up with a big wool overcoat. Nobody is any the wiser what I have on underneath!
A lot of men look great in all black (a black shirt and trousers or jeans works well), or in a colour that resonates with their ruling element.
Skyclad. Should you work naked?
For some gatherings, working naked is entirely appropriate.
But it depends on the group. Being naked in a group setting doesn’t worry me at all, but if there are members who are going to feel scared or threatened, then it isn’t appropriate.
Use common-sense. If your group has been working together for a long time and is comfortable with each other, then you might choose to discuss moving to working naked on a regular basis.
But if you’re new, and have younger members – or members who have come from restrictive, oppressive cultures – working naked may never be okay.
Another issue to consider is whether you’re working in a public space. If you’re in a local park, or anywhere that members of the public may see you, then working naked is NOT an option. Cover up!
Dressing for sacred space – hair, makeup, body paint
Even if you do choose to work naked, “naked” doesn’t mean “come as you are”. For me, working naked in ritual means beautifying myself so I am fit to be in Circle first. You are presenting yourself for the Divine.
As a woman, I do stuff like put makeup on, do my hair, scent myself, give myself a pedicure so my feet are pretty, and organise hair removal in advance if I need to (I book a waxing). It’s a different kind of “dressing up”.
Some people, when working naked, like to use body paints or dyes, colouring their body all over or drawing sacred designs on their bodies or faces.
It’s up to you, and what you feel is appropriate. The group may choose to decorate each other, as part of their work before the ritual. Whatever works for you.
Is working naked “sexy”?
You’ll hear people say that working naked is not sexy at all. They’re telling fibs.
Of course it’s sexy – especially if there is any attraction at all between members within the group! Everyone has a good look at each other, and it can be arousing to be in a Circle with other naked people.
That’s fine. Deal with it as an adult. It’s part of Paganism.
One effect that working naked does have is it makes you aware of what real human bodies look like. You consequently feel more comfortable with your own. Because we’re not all supermodels. We have bumps and lumps and stretch marks – and it is all fine and normal, and still sexy. Because it is real.
You’ll find that the longer people have been working naked in groups, the more comfortable they are with their own bodies, and how they work. That’s probably why Pagans make better lovers 😉
Some groups like to work in jewelry, and may choose to buy specia pieces of jewelry that are always worn during ritual. Good pieces can cost a lot, so it’s something you don’t decide upon lightly, especially if the finances of different group members are quite different.
If you’re all going to have the same jewelry, you all have to be able to afford it!
In my case, I have a few pieces of jewelry that I like to wear when working. All were gifts, so money wasn’t an issue. But more often than not, I don’t wear jewelry at all. And the one thing I do NOT wear in Circle is a watch – time-watching is out of bounds in every group I’ve ever worked with!
Your body, your choice
I’d have to argue that, above all, it is your choice what you wear in Circle. Nobody else’s.
I’ve been in Covens that have tried to establish a “uniform” of matching robes. It hasn’t worked. What one person felt comfortable in, another hated and felt awkward in.
In my case, I absolutely loathe wearing the long, flowing “witchy” dresses that are very popular in Pagan circles. And I hate the whole “goth” look. Neither suits me. I look a fish out of water. But I look and feel right at home in fetish wear, and warrior-style clothing.
I’d even argue that any group that dictates what a person has to wear is probably close to being “cultish”, and removing itself from the free-flowing, easygoing nature that is Paganism anyway.
If a group you wish to join is dictating what you wear, what you must buy and how you should dress, be cautious.
Wear what you will. Feel comfortable, and certain that your ritual clothing (or lack of it) is expressing who you truly are.
Being in Circle, after all, is about raising true, real energy – and you can’t do that if you’re pretending to be something – or somebody – else.
The whole point of clothing is to express who you are. Ritual nudity does the same thing. Decide what option, of the many that exist, is best for you and you’ll enhance your power and workings, and the magic of everyone else you work with.