I’m really rather shocked that someone I know felt the need to write this blog: http://thepaganpope.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-culture-of-clothing-optional.html
If you are unfamiliar with Neo-Pagan festivals? Nudity happens. It has always been a matter of choice. As I get older, nekkid is not my choice. I’m just not comfortable. Too much skin exposed to the natural world – too many areas open for sunburn (I’m so white, I’m almost transparent), too many areas for mosquitoes to feed, and far too much skin open for contact with poison ivy, oak, sycamore and stinging nettles. And hey, I’m not 20 anymore; I’ve had kids and I’m in my middle age. Gravity has taken its pound of flesh, apparently felt guilty and returned it to me, many folds over.
Are Neo-Pagans living in a dream world where nudity is nothing to get your sarong in a knot over? I’m afraid pervs will be pervs, regardless of their proclamations of Pagan beliefs. Dude, if you really wanna see boobs? Go home and perv a porn site. You aren’t fit to be among the evolved.
An area that is clothing optional means just that, optional. Nudity isn’t mandatory. This is removing freedom of choice as much as enforced clothing is removing freedom of choice. And the goddess or gods don’t truly give a rat’s ass if you’re naked or not; if you used this line? Lame pal. Really lame. I sincerely doubt any deity gives a rat’s ass what you are or are not wearing. Those words “be naked in your rites” were written by a human being; Charles Godfrey Leland. His book (Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches) is held by most scholars, at arm’s length and with nose pinched. Before I digress, let’s get back to the original topic – being nekkid.
Pagan festivals are not frat parties. The festivals are used as necessary time to re-connect with beliefs, with a sense of community that takes a severe beating in the “real” world. It isn’t a time to get rip roaring drunk and behave like an asshat. You can do that in the outside world and not infringe on the true purpose of the event. Oh sure, we bring alcohol with us. My companion is a worshipper of the gods of Molson. I enjoy a cold Smirnoff Ice. Alcohol does lower inhibitions but too much alcohol also drowns all sense of propriety, common sense and courtesy. Combine alcohol and nekkid? Some succumb to alcohol induced idiocy. Fights break out, inappropriate comments are made and bad feelings are quick to follow; the atmosphere of connection and community takes a hit. The hits can impact an entire event for everyone. That much negative energy is hard to combat.
Really? If you can’t handle your booze or your hormones? The festivals are not for you. Wait until you grow up, if that ever happens. You have no right to infringe on the ability of others to take out of the festival, its intent; re-connection, community and learning.
Pagan festivals seem to be getting larger; more and more attendees and when you have that many people, when a festival is all-inclusive? You are going to attract the undesirable elements; people who drink far too much, voyeurs, predators and your general run of the mill morons. Most festivals have security and sadly, the onus is on the festival attendees to report these idiots. Security can’t be everywhere. We need to step up and get over the whole “tattletale” mentality. These people are adults. These people have no business taking advantage of the venue to behave badly and perhaps ruining an event for all. Everyone is sorry the morning after; the only way to truly reinforce the message of unacceptable behaviour is to be escorted away and a requests made for the individual(s) to “enjoy” themselves elsewhere, anywhere but the festival.
One more thing, actually; babies. Kids are our future. We had a lovely little girl across from us; all of 9 months old. A pure joy, she was loving the surroundings, exploring and smiling; waving at anyone who walked down our path. An angel baby, but not all children are angel children. We had a rather naïve couple behind us; a newborn. Not a very well thought out decision on the young parents’ part. The infant cried…constantly. Day, night, morning, afternoon – the child cried. Not the child’s fault that he/she woke us up or began to grate on the nerves; the blame for that lies solely on the shoulders of the parents. Parents absolutely have the right to enjoy themselves with their child/children but you have to know your child. Not all babies are suited to camping and large group situations. Not all babies are old enough to adapt to the change in environment. As parents you don’t have the right to disturb others. I am all for family sections in festival situations. As the community matures, so do the members. I’ve done my kid thing, thanks and I do a little metaphorical happy dance that my crying baby stage is long gone. It isn’t a joy, to be quite honest. Your nerves can be stretched to the breaking point by your little bundle of screaming joy. It is tough enough on the parent, can you imagine how a stranger feels? Look, if your child does not sleep through the night; then said child is too young to be at a festival. Stay home and head out next year, when your child is able to adapt to the surroundings, is able to sleep through the night and not cause the inhabitants of neighbouring tents to contemplate ritual sacrifice. It isn’t your baby’s fault; it is your own poor judgment.
Come on. Use your heads. A festival is a fantastic thing but your poor choices, your lack of common courtesy or common sense can ruin an event. Festivals are not rights – festivals are privileges to be enjoyed by all. You don’t have the right to infringe on anyone, be that through drunkenness, inappropriate comments or actions, throwing your menstrual pads in the ash tins (Yeah, that happened; it was goddam gross and totally inexcusable!!) or packing your infant along with you to cry all night. Help the organizers keep the joy in the concept of “Pagan Festival”. Keep the fires burning and the sense of connection strong. Use your brain as more than a tool to keep your ears separated.