Nudity(redirected from Gymnos)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to Gymnos: Gymnosperms
Nudity(religion, spiritualism, and occult)
Ritual nudity is not uncommon and was found throughout the ancient world. Both the Greeks and the Romans favored it, as did the naked wise men of India—the Gymnosophists. Ancient British women performed magical rites naked, according to Pliny, as did the women of Ancient Persia. Charles Godfrey Leland tells of the daughters of the ancient Persian magi who worshiped the sun as it rose by waving freshly plucked verbena (one of the seven most powerful plants in magic). In Aradia
, Gospel of the Witches of Italy, Leland says that "these Persian priestesses were naked while they thus worshipped, nudity being a symbol of truth and sincerity." Many ancient Jewish prophets worked naked. The Old Testament states (I Samuel
20:23-24): "And the spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied, until he came to Naioth in Ramah. And he stripped off his clothes also, and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Wherefore they say, Is Saul also among the prophets?"
Leland recounts Aradia, the Witches' Goddess, speaking to her followers: "And as the sign that ye are truly free, Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men and women also." This exhortation is echoed in modern Wicca in the rite of "Drawing Down the Moon."
Many early illustrations of Witches and sabbats depict naked Witches. Albrecht Dürer's drawing of a Witch riding on a goat to the Walpurgisnacht shows the Witch naked, as does his The Witch and The Four Witches (1491). Similar is Hans Baldung Grun's Witches Concocting Flying Ointment before the Sabbat (1514). Grun did any number of illustrations showing naked witches, such as Witches at Work, The Consecration of the Fork, and Witches' Sabbat. The Douce Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford, contains an illustration of The Witches' Sabbat on the Brocken with many of the participants naked. Practically all of Goya's paintings of Witches show them naked, Two Witches Flying on a Broom being typical. In the 1610 (Paris) edition of Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges, a great gathering of Witches is shown with a circle of dancing nudes in one area and a naked mother presenting her equally naked child to the Horned God in another area, this engraved by Ziarnko. Johannes Geiler von Keisersperg's Die Emeis (1517) shows a naked Assembly of Witches. A decoration on the right hand voussoir of the western doorway of Lyons Cathedral (fourteenth century) shows a naked witch riding on the back of a goat.
Today in Witchcraft, Wiccans are divided. The majority in Europe seem to follow the original tradition and to favor ritual nudity, while in the United States the majority prefer to be robed. Some traditions, such as Gardnerian, prescribe ritual nudity, while others leave it to the wishes of the individual covens.