Getting Naked with Nuinn
Winning Entry in the short story category for the OBOD Message Board Eisteddfod Competition Beltane 2005
by Frederick Casey
Granted, I am probably way more conservative than the run-of-the-mill pagan should be, however, I am as inquisitive as a pagan should be, so that does help the exploration of the Druid path I have set myself on. I’ll look into anything at least once, but there is one thing I have never done while in my years as a pagan: I’ve never been skyclad.
Impressive word skyclad is, clothed only by the air around you as you perform ritual. I had been to pagan camps where they would prance around naked. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, but I didn’t see anything beautiful either. Maybe it’s a hygiene thing I have, but when I speak to somebody, I would prefer not to be in close proximity to their exposed buttocks! In fact there is a whole host of reasons why I would not want to be at a naked camp.
Despite those feelings, I did look into the camp that Nuinn used to visit on the OBOD website. I read the whole deal about naturism. I’m glad I did, too, because before that, I thought naturism was somebody who loved nature. So thank you, OBOD website, for saving me any embarrassing moments I might have stumbled into in the future. If somebody asks me to go for a naturism hike, I will know they don’t mean bird watching!
As fascinating as it was, and I could grok the idea of it very well – the freedom to be you – the problem for me is that nudity is not what I would label one of my personal freedoms. Once again it’s a hygiene thing.
But still, this is something that Nuinn felt was important to him. It gave him freedom. And as an admirer of his writings and his ideas, and as a member of a group that he helped start, I felt like I owed him something. I owed him a skyclad druid ritual, by god, and he was going to get it!
Now Nuinn has been created as something of an archetype inside my mind. This is the way I work with it: He was the wise old druid who met with me in my sacred grove, and through this persona that I have created of him, he guides me in my rituals. He can be kind of moody with me, and impatient, but I think that is what I look for in a teacher, a no-nonsense, let’s-get-to-it, don’t-waste-my-time kind of teacher. It makes me better, and, of course, at the heart of it, is love.
At the moment of this decision of mine I was working with the earth element, so I was already feeling a bit, well, earthy. At the stroke of midnight, like all good witches and wizards, I struck out to the garden. Carrying only a candle and a book of matches, I set up my circle. Now I do have a pretty private yard, but you can never tell if somebody might just happen to be looking at exactly the right time at exactly the right area. It was a chance that I would have to take. The moment had come.
I said to Nuinn, “What exactly is this going to do for me?" To which I replied to myself, using Nuinn’s persona, “Well you are the one who chose to do it now aren’t you?”
“Yes,” me again, “But why was it so important to you?”
“Life and times, lad. You had to be there. But underneath it all, I suppose it was because I am an animal first and then a Druid.”
Being a believer in evolution, I had to agree with myself about that. So here goes nothing. The robe dropped and there I stood, shivering like a fool.
“I am cold, Nuinn."
“It’s not cold.”
“Well, I am shivering.”
So I did. I shook it off and began to breathe. Large intakes at first, and then it steadied into a strong movement of air coursing into my lungs. Now comes the difficult part in writing that everyone experiences when trying to put a metaphysical experience into words. Only the most gifted can do it, while the majority resorts to poetry. I will have to join the majority on this one, because that is how my mind was thinking.
"Ritual is poetry"
No a drumbeat
One in the same
A feeling of insanely sane
Like a child in a womb
I am utterly consumed
Wrapped in the blanket of life
There is no separation between
Me, my body, and the air I breathe
To sustain my life
I am life
I am living
Oh the immaculate power of Life
How abundantly aware you are
And how dull of it we have become
In that moment in time, the walls around me fell. I had never felt that way before. The sky was higher. The air was purer. The night was brighter than a full moon could allow. This was life, and I was fully a part of it. Now I understood without a doubt why this was important. I understood. More than words could confirm I understood.
“Honey?!? Are you out there?”
This was not Nuinn talking! This was my wife! And she was coming like all curious partners, wondering what I was doing, uncaring that I might be in a peculiar situation, more so than that - hoping that I would be.
I’m glad I enjoyed those falling walls when I did, because they came right back up! In a blind panic I picked up my robe and turned for the safety of a wall to dress myself, but as destiny would have it, or perhaps my Nuinn just wanting to play a joke on me, I tripped and fell in the freshly laid mulch. As I rolled around she turned on her little flashlight, which framed me, naked, covered in mulch.
Now I’ve been getting myself into these types of situations my whole life, and it really did not come as a shock when my wife saw me. Just another thing for her to cut on me about later on in life, at the exact moment in which I would have thought she would have forgotten it.
“What are you doing?”
I mean really what am I supposed to say to that? Nothing?
“Come on, before the neighbors hear you.”
Well, speak of the devil and the devil arrives: On comes their porch light. I needed no other motivation to make a dash to the house, where I once again put on my full-body flannel pyjamas.
I have never done another skyclad ritual, but I don’t rule it out either. That magic is still waiting for me whenever I choose to accept it.
Until then, I will always remember the time I was naked with Nuinn.
Explore the significance of the Druid seasonal celebrations
Explore the practice of meditation in Druidry and listen to sample meditations
Explore the significance of sacred animals in the Druid tradition