As a girl growing up in the late sixties and seventies, I had two uniforms to wear to church: winter and summer. My winter uniform was a dress purchased for Christmas Eve service and new black patent leather shoes. My summer one was purchase for Easter service and usually white and pink number, gloves, hat, white purse and new shoes – white patent leather. In the early 1970’s my mother made me a pants suit to wear for Easter service. I felt really hip in this light pink floral material. It had bell-bottom pants and a tunic. In retrospect, my mother probably got heck from my Grandma as I danced around in my new outfit for church eating chocolate marshmallow eggs. In my Grandma’s rule book, only men wore pants to church. If women did wear pants, it was for cleaning and gardening. Another addition to her rule book, women could never be ministers.
Historically, clothing has been worn to protect the body from environmental factors (i.e., cold, radioactive hazards, rain) and worn to satisfy social modesty. Clothing has also been worn to show one’s status. In the case of Sabbath garments, these are special clothes that traditionally have been associated with ritual – a uniform per-say. When we put on the uniform, according to Dr. Galinsky it can “affect how others and how we think about ourselves” (Blakeslee 2).
In my recent survey of the web, there seems to be a wide range of interpretation of what ceremonial clothing should be. There are the skyclad folks, traditional plain hooded black, natural, or white linen folks, renaissance folks that includes kilts, multi-colored capes and velvet dresses, movie folks (i.e., Lord of the Ring, Harry Potter, Star Wars), traditional witch with high-top black laced shoes and pointed hat folks, and the come as you are folks dressed for the season. If you were to ask everyone why they choose their garment, values and attitude would be the underlying theme. Some people dress for comfort and like the way the garment feels. Some people have chosen their garments based on an agreed upon standard within their spiritual circle or covens. Others, the garment displays their individual style showing the world what makes them unique. But in all cases a phenomenon occurs, when putting on this uniform we prepare for entering sacred space and time.
I feel that ceremonial clothing should be a personal choice. It should be a reflection of the wearer; however it shouldn’t be a distraction from the ritual. The whole Sabbath will be turned up-side-down if the focus is on what a participant is wearing. Example: Someone shows up skyclad with flowers in their hair and everyone else is in hooded white linen robes.
My Circle is eclectic when it comes to ritual wear. Only recently, I've taken to wearing a LBD with a shawled black jacket, black hose and black patent leather pumps (winter) and sandals (summer). I find it simple and elegant for the urban CCWWW and expresses Coco Chanel (1926) intent that fashion should be functional and chic. I find my LBD has versatility allowing me to wear jewelry, black scarf worn in Grace Kelly style or floral corsage indicating the season. My dress also provides me anonymity as I walk from my car to someone’s house carrying my potluck dish. My LBD, I feel is a modern interpretation of the traditional witch. More important, when I put it on I can feel myself change mentally. I feel ready to create magic - participate in that which is sacred.
I have found some folks are intimidated by wearing black. The color tends to bring up bad experiences, the opposite of white (i.e., goodness) or ultimately death. Truthfully, I use to think this way before becoming a CCWWW. Now I see black as potential. It’s like looking up the night time sky and anything can emerge – like a shooting star or a blue halo around the moon on a crisp winter's evening. Without the dark womb, the night or the black loamy soil there would be no new life. When I wear black – I feel like I’m wearing hope. I feel the magic of new beginnings.
Things to think about when choosing ritual clothing
- Can you move around or do you feel restricted? Think wedding party – can you do the twist and raise your arms in the outfit?
- Are you working with fire? Consider your fabric choice - will it catch fire easy? And blousy sleeves and capes can you keep these under control?
- Are you going to carry an athame? Consider wearing boots or wearing a belt.
- Do you have to carry anything - matches or runes? Consider an outfit with pockets or wear a small purse
- Does the outfit make you feel sacred?
Blakeslee, Sandra. Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat. NYtimes.com 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
My Circle celebrates together with a potluck meal. Recently, we realized that the meal was turning into a diabetic’s nightmare. We now plan out to make sure it isn’t all desserts.
Salad out of the bag
1 bag mixed baby greens
½ cup coarsely chopped pecans
Dried cherries (bulk food section)
1 lemon and zest
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
8 ounces of blue cheese or gorgonzola (small plastic box)
Empty greens into bowl to the top add dried cherries, pecans and cheese. Shake in small Mason jar lemon, zest and olive oil. Dress salad before eating.