Clothing. Damn, we all wear the stuff. In various forms of flattery or to hide things (like my enlarging mid-section). I never thought that it would wind up being one of the most constant questions that I get from non-Pagans though.
To some degree, I grok what’s being asked. When people find out I am a Druid, they expect me to dress like the pictures they have seen of Druids at Stonehenge. You know the look. All white robes, some with colorful edging, all dragging the ground from the length. And to be perfectly honest, I know more than one Druid here in America that has some set of ritual accouterments that match that description to a degree. So I can see where non-Druid folks can get the idea that the white robes are some kind of mandatory uniform of sorts for Druids everywhere.
But it has gotten me to wonder what the fascination is with the “dress-up” function associated with all of this. Some of it seems to be steeped in some kind of non-spoken tradition. I don’t mind standing on tradition, particularly on its neck. After all, I have always looked at getting dressed for ritual as a concept of form over function. Dress in what is comfortable, which for me is typically a concert t-shirt (Motorhead, if I have a serviceable one – which I do not at the moment), jeans (usually faded and with holes in them) and tennis shoes or boots. I have been known to show up weddings and funerals in this style of dress as well (seriously). Its what I feel comfortable in. And I cannot describe the number of times I have felt like Jaime Lannister over the looks I have gotten: “There it is. There’s the look. I’ve seen it for seventeen years on face after face.”
I will tell you a little “secret” about me. I hate dress-codes. For my junior and senior years in high school, I had to dress exactly like all the other students at the school. In the warmer months, we wore blue polo shirts with gray slacks. In the colder months, we wore the same gray slacks, along with a button-down shirt (conservative colors only), along with a dark blue blazer and a tie. The tie was our only recourse towards individualization, and, Gods, we all had some HORRIBLE ties. The overall outfit wasn’t bad. The blazer was a touch uncomfortable to wear all the time. But it was mandating that everyone look the same that really got under my skin. I railed against military uniforms for much the same reasoning. I prefer to dress myself, and to use the rule of thumb of what I deem “appropriate” to wear. If folks don’t like it or agree – they don’t have to dress like I do. Simple as that, in my mind.
So, when I hear folks make commentary, such as the one that I received in a private Direct Message on Twitter – ” I believe you Druids need to get a uniform like the Catholic Priests have.” – I bristle against the suggestion that we should all look the same. Furthermore, is the implication that Druidry should follow the example of a group of folks from another system of belief. Essentially, it smacks of saying that people of belief should have some form of holy uniform that they wear. I guess, its so that folks are a bit more distinctive when seen through a sniper’s rifle scope. ::shrug:: Or so that small children can find you, run up and tug at your robes – hoping a quid or two magically falls from your robes. And for the record, I am not against the idea of handing over a few quid so some kid can chase down the ice-cream truck. But aside from that goofy imagery, do we really need a uniform of sorts?
Well, possibly. I would surmise that it all depends on the God you have chosen to follow. I have a pair of Trickster Gods that are primary in my daily life. The idea of not finding some aspect of a uniform look to lampoon is just so foreign. But aside from my own flippant commentary, I do recognize that certain Gods and Goddesses would have requirements of their followers in terms of dress or look. The folks that follow those particular Gods have chosen to take on those requirements. More power to them. When they start saying that I have to do the same, simply because I am a Pagan or that I am a Polytheist or that I am a Druid…. Yeah… But on their own? I think its really awesome that they chosen to have that kind of discipline in their life and in their aspect of worship. Its not for me, but I’m not going to take a shit on it because of that. Only if they decide that I have to do the same.
Now, the t-shirt and jeans look? Its been suggested that this is my “uniform”…and I suppose that could be true. But to keep my rebellious mind in check, I continue to lean to the concept that I dress this way because its comfortable for me, not because I like the look. So please, say that kind of thing about a uniform quietly around me. That way I don’t rebel and start wearing brightly colored spandex. Because, NO ONE wants to see me dressed like that. Trust me….