I am not your typical Pagan. I would say that is a fairly safe bet to make at any time, any place. My approach to a concept such as ritual is one area that is most noticeable to any individual. Most of my rituals are done impromptu, and solo. Location, time of day, time of year – all mean little to nothing to me. More important is intent and frame of mind. For me, it is literally about the nature of connecting with my environment. Finding my place, being my place in that panorama. Not apart from everything, but becoming a pare of everything. For me, ritual is a song of being, not just belonging. In a brutish way of speaking, its a party of sorts…but what should I wear?
If you asked me a few weeks ago about my ritual clothing – I would have ran my hand from my shoulder to my ankles to emphasize whatever I was wearing at that moment. For me, that is typically a t-shirt of some sort, jeans, and a pari of tennis shoes. I come from a point of view that one is able to achieve a state of connectedness when one is comfortable. T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes are comfortable attire for me – so it makes sense. However, that has changed to some degree for me, particularly after the Alban Elfed ritual at East Coast Gathering.
I was approached for a conversation about my idea of ritual clothing shortly after I had returned to the camp — and quite some time after the ritual. (I am not going to out this individual by name, but if they want to come out of those shadows – they certainly will if they choose to do so). The question was raised if I had ever thought of having a ritual robe or cloak made for myself. I confessed that I had not — although the idea of a robe made me a little uncomfortable. I had seen what several folks had been wearing, and none of it looked very comfortable to my eyes. But a cloak was certainly an appealing thought. After talking a bit more, I had to confess that I had brought something I had thought of using as ritual clothing – a white hooded, long-sleeved shirt. I had bought this shirt a long time previous – along with a purple one – for the idea of implementing this as ritual clothing. In the end, I had opted to not wear it to the ritual – and instead utilized it as my shirt for going home on the plane. In retrospect, I wish I had worn it to the ritual instead.
Our conversation soon turned to the “why” of keeping ritual clothing. I understood the aspect of having something that was worn specifically for ritual – bringing the act of ritual to a level above the everyday. The clothing helps to heighten one’s awareness of the particular act of ritual – elevating it slightly from the everyday toil of life. And while the everyday toil of life is a ritual in its own respect, providing actions that are tied in with our beliefs – making the moment of living just as sacred as any moment in ritual – the act of ritual is a celebratory moment, where we connect with our environment, with our Gods and Goddesses, and rejoice in the moment…
So, I have once again set my hooded white shirt to the side – only to be worn for rituals. Granted, I will still be wearing jeans and tennis shoes, but the shirt will have a different significance – a different purpose. Yeah, I will still look a lot different than the people wearing white robes — but my clothing will have a similar purpose and intent. There’s that intent word again…there’s meaning behind that too….