It’s that time again where I agonise about what to wear to ritual and in my every day life. It’s bothering me this time for a few reasons, though different than before. Please note that I am, of course, only talking about myself and my personal experiences and thoughts. I wouldn’t expect that anyone take my comments to be about what they should or should not do.
First, the lovely PeaceBang and her blog Beauty Tips for Ministers. She gives fashion and beauty advice to women in ministry to help with confidence and portray themselves with how they want to be seen. She’s a UU minister with a wide range of experience. Seriously, check it out.
Whereas I’m not clergy yet, I’m still the Senior Druid of our Grove here, and I want to ensure that I look the part. Some people might find that vain, but I want to be a better me — a better ritual and group leader, with confidence, so that we can grow our little Grove and do amazing things, and using these tools of presentation and dress are no different than using any other tool. What’s that saying — dress who you want to be five years from now?
Though we say that dress in paganism is whatever we want it to be, I don’t believe that is the case. If I remember correctly, when Tear of the Cloud Grove held their Memorial Day rite at the Wellspring Gathering in 2009, they wore suits and ties, which some people felt offputting and unnecessary. They did it to show respect to those they were honouring, but it is, admittedly, not the norm in a pagan rite. Does that matter?
I myself have had comments concerning my dress on numerous occasions, most recently when attending a rite straight from work (business casual – I’m a “sexy librarian”). Others have criticised the material my clothes are made of (cotton??).
In my previous post on dress, I mentioned that I am not directly plain, but plain-inspired. I do not wear clothing with brand names or products, and would consider it rude to wear something like that to ritual. As the ritual leader, or even as someone with a speaking role in ritual that will have the attention of the gods and folk, how could it ever be acceptable to be a walking billboard?
A clergy friend of mine asked me the other day if I had considered wearing a torc, since he feels I am living up to what it stands for. First, that’s a really big compliment, and I was a little flattered. That isn’t really anything I had considered — after all, what gives me the right to decide that I deserve it, to wear a symbol of nobility and leadership? I always considered it to be something like the stole the ADF Priests wear, something that had to be bestowed upon you when others feel that you deserve it.
I’ve really shied away from making a robe. That isn’t really the style of what people wear in our Grove, so it would stand out immensely, and quite honestly (to be vain) a lot of robes look like giant bags. I’m working (and improving!) on liking how I look, so I wouldn’t want to hide it all in a robe-bag, even though nobody would then call me a sexy whatever.
What do you wear to ritual?
(And just to let you know, I wrote this post in workout pants and a ratty sweater.)