Comfort Over Form- Revisiting Ritual Clothing

Imbolc Retreat 2015 - photo by Amanda Godwin

Ritual clothing. I have talked about this before on the blog. Now I’m not completely sure why anyone might think I have a problem with ritual clothing, but apparently some do. That notion is a little far past my honest reality.

Walking on Wild Horse Island in MontanaWhen it comes to clothing, I prefer something that I am comfortable in. Typically, that’s jeans, tennis shoes, t-shirt, and a ball cap. Now, even on casual Fridays, this configuration is frowned upon where I work. And I completely understand why. Our work environment is set to a standard of “business casual” which I find to be open to some degree of interpretation, depending on who you might ask. But there’s an image to uphold in all of that. A long time back, I worked for a dot-com company (jobs.com to be precise) where the attire was casual to all degrees that may imply. We were asked to not be too revealing in our dress style, but flip-flops certainly seemed to be the summer-time norm for footwear. The business model was built on the idea that we interfaced with our customer and consumer bases through electronic means, therefore a dress code was a nebulous thing. Again, since we were hardly seen, our image wasn’t a necessary thing to place emphasis upon.

But that brings me back around to the concept of ritual clothing. For some, like myself, its nothing to even be semi-concerned about. For others, its such an important aspect of Paganism, that they may even snigger at folks such as myself (and yes, this has happened before). Are the Gods and Goddesses really going to be that concerned with how I dress for a ritual? Perhaps. After all, Crow may not have a problem with my Grateful Dead t-shirt, but could potentially balk at a Motorhead t-shirt, right? Could this not be where some of this may go? What attire is or is not pleasing to the Gods and Goddesses?

Potentially. Then again, there may be something said for someone who wears a shirt that proclaims “a woman is no substitute for a game boy” t-shirt into a ritual where the Morrigan is going to be called. The t-shirt may not offend the Morrigan, but there certainly is some aspect of feather-ruffling that will take place – even on a subconscious level – with the other individuals attending the ritual. I’d mark that to something akin to wearing a Klansman robe to a Black Panther meeting – the robes may be comfortable, but certainly there is something there that might make things difficult, right?

Coming back to the idea of ritual clothing. I have seen some really nice robes, dresses, and outfits. And I wonder how comfortable it is to wear that? Some look very comfortable, others look downright constricting. But then the ideal of “comfort” is more in the skin of the wearer, than it is in the eye of the observer.

At Pantheacon, I was very well aware of the fact that I would likely wind up in a ritual or two during my time there. I took four t-shirts, and four pairs of jeans with me. I chose my cheap Wal-mart black running shoes over my new, white Nike Air-II sneakers – if only for the reason that my Nikes are not broken in yet. In other words, I went for comfort.┬áNow, I do have a particular white, thin, cotton, hooded, long-sleeved shirt that I have designated as my own version of a “robe”. But long-sleeved shirts are not comfortable in warm weather. So I opted to leave that behind. In the end, minus a bandana for my head, I looked like the quintessential, in my early 50s, hippy. I’m not ashamed of that…because I am exactly that. Where I have had a few sniggers aimed my way just prior to a large outdoor Pagan ritual, at Pantheacon I never seemed to get a second look from anyone. ::sigh::

But there’s a certain degree of respect that I aimed for in dressing that way. That’s right. Respect. If I was wearing something uncomfortable, eventually I was going to start fidgeting in the presentations I attended, or in the rituals that I participated in. That would mean that I am not concentrating on what should have my attention – the presentation or the ritual (depending on which I was at). In my mind, when I am not focused on what is being presented or is being done in a ritual, I am disrespecting the individual(s) who are pouring their talent into what is in front of me. Thus, I dress for things like this so that I am comfortable, which allows me to keep my focus and attention on where it should be – rather than on how uncomfortable I feel at that moment.

Now, I am a firm believer that there is a time and a place for decorum, particularly in areas such as ritual. Were I asked to dress in something more appropriate, I would certainly acquiesce to such. But, when someone expects me to dress a certain way without asking or noting that it should be – they should understand that some people will dress for comfort over style. Particular an old fart such as myself….

 

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