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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Skyclad—clad only by the sky—is the term Witches use to mean that they are naked. Author Michael Jordan suggests that the term may have come from a Jain sect of India known as the digambaras, on the basis of its name meaning "sky-clad." Followers profess that the true ascetic should wear no clothing. Contrary to Jordan's assertion that there is little evidence of naked Witches, however, many early illustrations indeed support the skyclad Witches theory. In numerous paintings, woodcuts, and engravings naked Witches are shown anointing themselves in preparation of their departure for the sabbat. Other illustrations show Witches at the sabbat both naked and clothed. Hans Baldung Grun, the sixteenth-century German, did any number of illustrations (Witches at Work and Witches' Sabbat, for example) that show naked participants. Albrecht Dürer's The Four Sorcerers is of naked witches. The Douce Collection of the 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

, for example). Especially interesting is the 1613 (Paris) edition of Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges, which shows a great gathering of Witches with a circle of dancing nudes in one part of the picture and a naked mother presenting her equally naked child to the Horned God in another section.

Today some traditions of Wicca work skyclad, while others are robed. Some are robed for some parts of their rituals and skyclad for other parts. Charles Godfrey Leland's Aradia, Gospel of the Witches of Italy contains the exhortation made by the Witches' Goddess, Aradia, 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 is echoed in modern Wicca, in the rite of "Drawing Down the Moon." In the vangelo, or "gospel," of Aradia, it is also stated, when talking of the sabbat: "All shall sit down to the supper all naked, men and women, and, the feast over, they shall dance, sing, make music, and then love in the darkness. . . ."

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism © 2002 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Other chapters introduce the tension between concealing and revealing: wrapping, both literal and figurative among Nonconformists (Chapter 4), religious habits among Catholic religious communities (Chapter 9), and the place of (un)dress in Wicca, where worshipers "work skyclad" (p.
Steve, 39, has produced 15 albums with his band Skyclad, and they have sold in their thousands in Holland, Germany, Japan and America.
She also told the jury she once arranged a ceremony at her Kidwelly home in which adults became "skyclad" (naked) in order to thank the moon and the earth for giving life.