In Wicca, the term skyclad is used to refer to ritual nudity. Some Wiccan groups, or Traditions, perform some or all of their rituals skyclad. Nudity within the practice of witchcraft has been associated together since the beginning of the craft.
Gardner’s Witchcraft Today was published in 1954. The book claimed to report on the contemporary practice of Pagan religious witchcraft in England, which had supposedly survived as an underground religion for centuries. Ritual nudity was included as a regular part of Wiccan practice. The “Charge of the Goddess“, a part of Gardnerian ritual liturgy, does instruct Wiccans to practice ritual in the nude.
As stated above, the idea of nudity within witchcraft started together. One reason for this is because nudity is so looked down upon by the church that this started as a rumor. By telling the people that this was a sin, they would not practice witchcraft out of fear of the church. Also, and an even more important reason that nudity is connected to witchcraft, is because traditionally witches did work magick nude, to help connect to the natural energy and power that surrounded them within nature.
In 1497, One of the first individuals to regularly depict witches after the witch-craze of the medieval period was Albrecht Dürer, a German Renaissance artist. His famous 1497 engraving The Four Witches, portrays four physically attractive and seductive nude witches. Their supernatural identities are emphasized by the skulls and bones lying at their feet as well as the devil discreetly peering at them from their left. The women’s sensuous presentation speaks to the overtly sexual nature they were attached to in early modern Europe. Moreover, this attractiveness was perceived as a danger to ordinary men who they could seduce and tempt into their sinful world. Some scholars interpret this piece as utilizing the logic of the Canon Episcopi, in which women used their mental powers and bodily seduction to enslave and lead men onto a path of eternal damnation, differing from the unattractive depiction of witches that would follow in later Renaissance years.
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