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Author Topic: Robes  (Read 10073 times)
Collinsky
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« Topic Start: March 15, 2011, 08:36:37 pm »

If you are part of a tradition that involves wearing robes, or other specific garment, for ritual or special occasions, tell me about it.  (This would include headcoverings, etc.)

Is it mandated as an integral part of worship, or if you're solitary, do you feel it is required? Is it for priests/priestesses only, to denote a particular role? Is it optional, that some do for personal reasons? 

Or does your path not involve anything but "regular" street clothes? (Or, "other" -- there always has to be an "other."  Cheesy)

If you choose to wear a cloak or ritual garment, what is it, when do you wear it, and what is the significance for you/your religion?
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Collinsky
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« Reply #1: March 15, 2011, 08:41:41 pm »



I was going to edit the original post, but since my computer bogged down right then, I don't know how much time elapsed for sure. So:

I know that many have jewelry that is special, that they wear for rituals, etc. For the purpose of this thread, I'd like to mainly focus on articles of clothing not ordinarily worn - like robes. Thanks!!
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« Reply #2: March 15, 2011, 09:34:28 pm »

If you are part of a tradition that involves wearing robes, or other specific garment, for ritual or special occasions, tell me about it.  (This would include headcoverings, etc.)

Is it mandated as an integral part of worship, or if you're solitary, do you feel it is required? Is it for priests/priestesses only, to denote a particular role? Is it optional, that some do for personal reasons? 

Or does your path not involve anything but "regular" street clothes? (Or, "other" -- there always has to be an "other."  Cheesy)

If you choose to wear a cloak or ritual garment, what is it, when do you wear it, and what is the significance for you/your religion?
In most of  Santeria and alot of Vodou work, dressing in white clean and preferably well starched clothing is recommended if not mandated. One should wear white to harmonize with the necessary positive and pure energies to properly connect with the ashe of the orishas. While most women go ahead and also wear the white head wraps, a lot of men are also wearing them too. The ashe of the orishas enters through the head after all. There are also elaborately tailored dresses, robes, and other clothing of the orishas for large gatherings often worn when someone is designated to specifically be possessed by their orisha. Then there's also the elekes, or beaded necklaces each with color associations attributed to a specific orisha. A Lot of folks only wear them for special, I try to wear them all the time and select the ones I feel I should wear for the day. Unfortunately mine were stolen some time ago, so I need to get some more. I did get a nice silver chain with an anchor and dolphin stone as a strong representation of Yemaya and I only really take that one off to sleep and shower.
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« Reply #3: March 15, 2011, 11:38:41 pm »

If you are part of a tradition that involves wearing robes, or other specific garment, for ritual or special occasions, tell me about it.  (This would include headcoverings, etc.)

Philosophical background:
There are three major reasons, the way I see it, for ritual clothing:
- changing clothes helps with a shift from mundane time/daily cares to ritual space and time.

- clothing can help set the mood and focus for group ritual (and to a lesser extent for personal ritual.)

- some things in clothing can be very practical in ritual circumstances (clothing you can breathe deeply in and move easily in, pockets for small ritual items, clothing that allows you to perform a specific ritual action, etc.) Some people - including me - put materials and colors into this category, too.

In practice:
Depends on the ritual. For group work, our general practice as a tradition is "something set aside for ritual use, that fits the purpose of the ritual". (This might look like street clothes, but should not be regular daily wear. That's the ideal: in practice, sometimes people are tight on time/forget something at home/just don't want to take that step today, or sometimes the particular focus of the ritual makes their normal ritual clothing not a great choice - a robe designed for indoor wear is not going to be great for a ritual involving an outdoor walk on rough ground in November, for example.)

I was up with the HPS and HP who trained me last week for a trad-specific ritual: both my HPS and I wore long loose dresses. (Mine was black, and has pockets, because I am pragmatic these days, hers was a dark green/blue print), and my HP wore a cotton Renaissance laced shirt and wrap pants, which is pretty typical for ritual clothing for us. Color choices may be suggested in the ritual announcement: I spent most of my time in that group wearing a black chiton-style tunic with an appropriate colored shawl over my shoulders or around my waist.

For my own group work when group work was going (and I strongly suspect in the future), I've gotten a little more casual most of the time: it's likely for me to be wearing one of the elemental skirts a friend made for me a few years ago, with a plain t-shirt, for example (and my ritual jewelry, cords, etc.) But I still make a point of changing at least once piece of clothing for ritual when it's group work, and thinking about how what I'm wearing sets the mood for the ritual: stepping into a ritual where the priestess is wearing the clothing she wore to work is generally not the precise mood I want Smiley

In general, I aim for:
- natural fibers (but not silk)
- sleeves that will not catch on candles, glassware, etc.  (I'm warmblooded again, and find that a well-cast circle holds heat, so normally I aim for short sleeves.)
- a skirt other people will not trip on. (I'm comfy with long skirts: many people aren't)
- if it's winter, I have socks or light slippers in case of frozen feet and an extra shawl or lap blanket if I'm planning on sitting on the floor for meditation (I prefer being barefoot inside, but Minnesota winters and cold floors sometimes convince me socks are a good thing.)

For personal work: I wear whatever makes sense for the ritual. I do think about how a particular piece of clothing makes me feel (and whether it's practical for the ritual: see above about sleeves, but also things like if I'm working with paint, I'm not going to be wearing ritual clothing that would be hard to clean or replace.) However, I obviously don't care about what it looks like to other people. Sometimes, that's formal ritual clothing. Sometimes, it's whatever I was wearing. (Generally, I change clothing for ritual work where I'm doing a formal cast circle, and don't for rituals where I'm not, because changing clothing is part of my circle prep.)

Headcoverings:
In our practice, the veil is a sign of the third degree, and in general, one does not wear anything on the head (including a veil or a mask) without explicit instruction from the HPS in charge of that ritual. (Sometimes it's fine: sometimes we use them as specific ritual indicators, part of process of a Draw Down, etc.) (Obviously, this does not include things holding hair back/away from face/fire/etc. which are fine, though a number of us prefer loose hair when practical.)

And I know you were mostly interested in clothing, but for us, the most essential pieces are not clothing, but the ritual cord/cords appropriate to the degree (which are magical tools in and of themselves), and the appropriate degree pendants and other jewelry. (These days, I wear a third degree pendant, a specific piece of jewelry appropriate to the group I'm working with (it's different for my coven than for the group I trained with), and then whatever I put on for that ritual.)
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« Reply #4: March 16, 2011, 12:41:07 am »

Headcoverings:
In our practice, the veil is a sign of the third degree, and in general, one does not wear anything on the head (including a veil or a mask) without explicit instruction from the HPS in charge of that ritual. (Sometimes it's fine: sometimes we use them as specific ritual indicators, part of process of a Draw Down, etc.) (Obviously, this does not include things holding hair back/away from face/fire/etc. which are fine, though a number of us prefer loose hair when practical.)

And I know you were mostly interested in clothing, but for us, the most essential pieces are not clothing, but the ritual cord/cords appropriate to the degree (which are magical tools in and of themselves), and the appropriate degree pendants and other jewelry. (These days, I wear a third degree pendant, a specific piece of jewelry appropriate to the group I'm working with (it's different for my coven than for the group I trained with), and then whatever I put on for that ritual.)
Hey Jenett, I was wondering after reading your post, while these members may not exist in your group, suppose someone were to join who had locks in their hair or was perhaps of African descent or African culturally identifying where in it is typical or even socially appropriate to wear a head or hair wrap. Would such a thing be allowed (or maybe "fine with the group" is a better term) considering your remark about one does not wear anything on the head without explicit instruction of the HPS in charge of the ritual. This is just something that came to mind to me as I read your post since head wraps are quite common here, preferentially,culturally, and spiritually.
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« Reply #5: March 16, 2011, 02:19:38 am »

If you are part of a tradition that involves wearing robes, or other specific garment, for ritual or special occasions, tell me about it.  (This would include headcoverings, etc.)

Is it mandated as an integral part of worship, or if you're solitary, do you feel it is required? Is it for priests/priestesses only, to denote a particular role? Is it optional, that some do for personal reasons? 

Or does your path not involve anything but "regular" street clothes? (Or, "other" -- there always has to be an "other."  Cheesy)

If you choose to wear a cloak or ritual garment, what is it, when do you wear it, and what is the significance for you/your religion?

Well, mine is a little different, since I'm sort of "Celtic nonspecific" rather than a strict adherent to any specific tradition. My practice is informed by various Celtic sources, but the more I learn about various existing groups, the more I feel like they're not right for me.  I'm too historically uptight for druidry, with too many outside (mostly stolen from what little info I have about pre-Christian Cherokee practices) influences for CR and a witchy element that doesn't fit anywhere, so what I'm going to end up with will be the spiritual equivalent of the old Johnny Cash song about getting the car one piece at a time.

If I'm doing ritual, most often it's in my street clothes, though I will take off my shoes, which to anyone who knows me IRL is significant--at 25, I still have to be reminded not to have my shoes on the furniture. First preference, though, is definitely skyclad, but I haven't been able to do that in close to a year due to living situations. For me, it's about facing my gods fully exposed, with nothing held back. I'm the kind of person who tends to hide behind my clothes, using an attention-grabbing wardrobe to distract people from seeing me, so by removing clothing, I'm also making a conscious choice to allow myself to be seen. Not the high heels, not the bright colors or the big earrings, but me. My UPG is that my gods accept me just fine when I approach them in my street clothes; the difference in working nude is in my frame of mind.
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« Reply #6: March 16, 2011, 04:57:06 am »

If you are part of a tradition that involves wearing robes, or other specific garment, for ritual or special occasions, tell me about it.  (This would include headcoverings, etc.)

Is it mandated as an integral part of worship, or if you're solitary, do you feel it is required? Is it for priests/priestesses only, to denote a particular role? Is it optional, that some do for personal reasons? 

Or does your path not involve anything but "regular" street clothes? (Or, "other" -- there always has to be an "other."  Cheesy)

If you choose to wear a cloak or ritual garment, what is it, when do you wear it, and what is the significance for you/your religion?

I'm solitary and currently do work in a small understairs room that isntheated. so partly from necessity and partly to demarkate the act of ritual I wear a black hoodie I have had forever.
I put the hood up ,but leave my hair down,I heard that leaving it loose sorta symbolically keeps your energy or power free. it also helps for when I need to move through the house to say do a boundary thing,it has a kangaroo pocket I can put candle,lighter in etc.

outside of ritual I do have a bit of jewlery I wear that I relate to my leanings and I sometimes paint my nails with my deities in mind(choice of colour,patterns,numerical sequences etc.)
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« Reply #7: March 16, 2011, 02:13:26 pm »

Hey Jenett, I was wondering after reading your post, while these members may not exist in your group, suppose someone were to join who had locks in their hair or was perhaps of African descent or African culturally identifying where in it is typical or even socially appropriate to wear a head or hair wrap. Would such a thing be allowed (or maybe "fine with the group" is a better term) considering your remark about one does not wear anything on the head without explicit instruction of the HPS in charge of the ritual. This is just something that came to mind to me as I read your post since head wraps are quite common here, preferentially,culturally, and spiritually.

First - bear in mind I'm a) in Minnesota (we certainly have a number of people of African descent (both recent immigrants and people whose families have been here for a long time) in the area, but it's not a huge community in terms of the various Afro-Carribean religions as I understand it) and b) that our tradition is rooted in European religious witchcraft (deity work has included Egyptian, Roman, Greek deities primarily in the group I trained with, but not other places in Africa.) I've worked with people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds (including African American and Filipino), but not anyone who was inclined towards cultural or other-religion head covering clothing.

Locally, I see lots of Muslim headcoverings (we have a large Somali community locally), but see other kinds of religious headcoverings very rarely (and I do keep an eye out, because religious clothing interests me.) Obviously, a Muslim woman is not likely to be in a Wiccan-derived circle working in our particular tradition very often. (I could see someone coming as a guest to see what a friend/relative was doing, but open rituals and guest-friendly rituals are more relaxed about clothing generally.)

All of that said - if someone had a specific reason for it, I'd consider it. It's quite possible I'd look at the situation, and say "Not a big deal" (especially if we could - as I expect we easily could - find a solution that didn't look like the things we use for priestess or specific role indicators.) Same deal if, say, someone were going through chemotherapy, and wanted to wear a cap to cover their head.

But when someone wants to study our tradition, they need to be able to work in our tradition, and to devote the time, and energy to doing so. They also need to understand that group work means that we make some choices that are about what the group experiences: someone wearing all white among a group of people wearing seasonal colors, or wearing a headcovering that competes with what the ritual leaders are wearing stands out in a particular way, for example, and the group (and HPS) get to decide how much that matters.

(I have enough of a theatre background that I'm aware that people will respond to it in various ways, and recognise that it would take additional work and time and energy on my part to work around that in a way that helps keep the focus of the group ritual going the direction I want. Sometimes, I'd be fine with that. Right now, and for the forseeable future (where I'm being very careful about how I use my energy due to my own health issues) maybe not so much.)

We also expect someone during their training to put most of their time and energy in their religious life into learning what we do. Someone who is already actively committed to another path in a way that has a number of requirements or restrictions is probably not a good fit for that at the same time. It's not impossible to negotiate a solution to this, but in general, I'd want people to follow through on substantial commitments to another path first, and then come back to us when that has settled into a less-demanding or less-restrictive level. (Again, coming to guest-friendly rituals, not a big deal. Training to initiation, yes.)

One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post, though, is that we do have some specific requirements for particular rituals: black (ideally) or dark clothing for Samhain, some specific requirements for initiations. Someone who was obligated to wear white for a year, for example, would be a bad fit for that at that time in their life. Wouldn't mean they couldn't come as a guest to other guest-appropriate rituals, and it wouldn't mean we wouldn't reconsider them later, but it would mean I'd probably say "Not for us, not right now" if they asked to study with us - just the same way I might someone who was trying to go to a demanding education program, or someone who was newly pregnant, or any number of other things.
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« Reply #8: March 16, 2011, 06:45:30 pm »

In most of  Santeria and alot of Vodou work, dressing in white clean and preferably well starched clothing is recommended if not mandated. One should wear white to harmonize with the necessary positive and pure energies to properly connect with the ashe of the orishas. While most women go ahead and also wear the white head wraps, a lot of men are also wearing them too. The ashe of the orishas enters through the head after all. There are also elaborately tailored dresses, robes, and other clothing of the orishas for large gatherings often worn when someone is designated to specifically be possessed by their orisha. Then there's also the elekes, or beaded necklaces each with color associations attributed to a specific orisha. A Lot of folks only wear them for special, I try to wear them all the time and select the ones I feel I should wear for the day. Unfortunately mine were stolen some time ago, so I need to get some more. I did get a nice silver chain with an anchor and dolphin stone as a strong representation of Yemaya and I only really take that one off to sleep and shower.

Thanks so much for sharing!

I am not very knowledgeable about Voudou, so just for a really quick primer so I understand: ashe is the life-force, the power, right? And the orishas send this power through the head... so rather than acting as a barrier, the white headwrap acts as a conduit, sort of? Does the importance of the headwrap have something to do with having your Ori in balance/alignment, since "Ori" means head when taken literally? Or is Ori only figuratively "head" and not ever really meant literally in this context? (Sorry, that feels like an ignorant question, but the fact is, I'm ignorant about this topic, so please bear with me.)

Is the wearing of white robes and headdress part of Iwa-Pele, or is that something different?

Also, what is the reason for the starching of the garment? Is it because it is traditional, or is there a spiritual significance?
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« Reply #9: March 16, 2011, 07:02:46 pm »


Jennett, I so appreciate your reply! Thanks for taking the time to share. In your tradition, it seems, it is more important that the clothing be set aside (made sacred) than the details of what the clothing might be, is that right? The shift in clothing is an external cue to you for an internal shift, and also to others if you're in group? It also makes sense that color would be significant, as color has a strong, subliminal effect on mood - in addition to spiritual significance. (My internal thesaurus apparently is on the fritz.)

I appreciate that while the clothes are special in some way, the practical considerations are a priority as well. I could just see Medieval sleeves vs. ritual flame of some kind....  Shocked

This may seem like an odd question, but when you first started on this path, did dressing for ritual make you feel self-conscious, or was it similar enough to your regular clothing that it didn't feel awkward at all?

Can I ask why not silk? Is this because of vegan principles, or is there a spiritual reason?

I didn't mean to seem like jewelry was off-topic, I just wanted to be fairly specific in the type of discussion I was looking for. The info about the ritual cords was very interesting - being set aside for religious practice, that definitely falls into some of what I was hoping to learn about.  Smiley
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Collinsky
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« Reply #10: March 16, 2011, 07:13:49 pm »

Hey Jenett, I was wondering after reading your post, while these members may not exist in your group, suppose someone were to join who had locks in their hair or was perhaps of African descent or African culturally identifying where in it is typical or even socially appropriate to wear a head or hair wrap. Would such a thing be allowed (or maybe "fine with the group" is a better term) considering your remark about one does not wear anything on the head without explicit instruction of the HPS in charge of the ritual. This is just something that came to mind to me as I read your post since head wraps are quite common here, preferentially,culturally, and spiritually.

This is an interesting question... it seems that if someone who wore a traditional hair wrap who wanted to join a specific religious tradition - like Jennett's (which I believe is initiatory?) - that didn't allow the head to be covered in the ritual space, that they would probably have embraced the groups' beliefs and be able to find balance between the spiritual lack-of-haircovering and the cultural, traditional haircovering. Perhaps it might even -- and perhaps this is WAY off base?? just speculating -- possibly be a similar experience as skyclad is for many: something that is usually covered, is expected to be covered, is exposed, for that religious moment.



 
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« Reply #11: March 16, 2011, 07:20:56 pm »


I'm the kind of person who tends to hide behind my clothes, using an attention-grabbing wardrobe to distract people from seeing me, so by removing clothing, I'm also making a conscious choice to allow myself to be seen. Not the high heels, not the bright colors or the big earrings, but me. My UPG is that my gods accept me just fine when I approach them in my street clothes; the difference in working nude is in my frame of mind.

You mentioned some different influences/aspects of your path; where did the inspiration to embrace skyclad rituals come from? Did you just feel it would be beneficial for you, or was it something else?
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« Reply #12: March 16, 2011, 07:22:05 pm »


I put the hood up ,but leave my hair down,I heard that leaving it loose sorta symbolically keeps your energy or power free. 

Has this been something you've noticed does make a difference in your energy, or in your perception of your power?
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« Reply #13: March 16, 2011, 07:41:11 pm »

Thanks so much for sharing!

I am not very knowledgeable about Voudou, so just for a really quick primer so I understand: ashe is the life-force, the power, right? And the orishas send this power through the head... so rather than acting as a barrier, the white headwrap acts as a conduit, sort of? Does the importance of the headwrap have something to do with having your Ori in balance/alignment, since "Ori" means head when taken literally? Or is Ori only figuratively "head" and not ever really meant literally in this context? (Sorry, that feels like an ignorant question, but the fact is, I'm ignorant about this topic, so please bear with me.)

Is the wearing of white robes and headdress part of Iwa-Pele, or is that something different?

Also, what is the reason for the starching of the garment? Is it because it is traditional, or is there a spiritual significance?
Yes, you've got ashe pretty well correct. and yes, the white head wrap would act more like a conduit. During the asiento, the main initiation process, after the head is shaved, painted markings are placed on the head, I won't detail how, to aid in the initiates first possession by his/her orisha, thus forever binding them. I haven't studied anything in particular with wearing a head wrap to having your head and balance. There are just as many followers who don't them as those who do, but it is clear that wearing it is an extra step in regards to spiritual connection and as a sign of respect by covering your hair and connecting your head with that energy and ashe.
I'm also not familiar with the Iwa-pele. I did study Santeria much more than Vodou and it has been a while since I've been in real Vodou practice other than my connection to Ezili Danto.
The starching, from what I've learned, is a traditional practice that moved into a spiritual practice. AS it was a special cleaning practice to make one's clothes pristine and special, it moved into the spiritual realm as mot of the orishas will not be disrespected by dirty appearances and housekeeping. Clothing should be starched to be pristine for the orishas, but this is often the case for gatherings and golpes. At home, simply wearing clean clothes and typically one white article is very acceptable and even nowadays, using a can of spray starch when you iron your clothes is more than suitable.
Hope these responses were helpful.
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« Reply #14: March 16, 2011, 07:58:39 pm »



But when someone wants to study our tradition, they need to be able to work in our tradition, and to devote the time, and energy to doing so. They also need to understand that group work means that we make some choices that are about what the group experiences

AND


We also expect someone during their training to put most of their time and energy in their religious life into learning what we do. Someone who is already actively committed to another path in a way that has a number of requirements or restrictions is probably not a good fit for that at the same time.

These quotes bring to mind the time in my life when I was involved with a Mennonite church. It meant learning the Mennonite beliefs and practices; it meant surrounding myself with that culture. It meant adopting the Anabaptist principles of dress and headcovering -- not just in religious ceremony, but all the time. (There were even discussions about whether a woman should have her head uncovered *at night while she slept*  in which I fully considered that possibility.) It meant leaving behind much of my culture 24/7. Because I was committed to it, because I felt it was right and it called to me, I was willing to do that. I was fully invested. Some religious traditions don't require a deep level of investment at all; others require a complete lifestyle overhaul. And some are somewhere in the middle - dress requirements during ritual, or giving up meat for a week. If the strictures of a particular religion aren't palatable, or if the reasoning doesn't resonate at all, then it might be that that is not the right path for you. <-- General you. (Sometimes a path requires some sacrifices that are difficult, so I'm not saying that if you're challenged by a belief, you should cut your losses and head for the door... But that's different than "That makes NO SENSE!") If someone is joining a religion, participating at the level I believe Jennett is talking about, they are serious about that religion.

That said...

I do respect that me giving up my jeans and makeup for a cape dress and headcovering is not necessarily the same as someone of Afro-Caribbean heritage being asked to remove their hair wrap - even if it's a situation like participating in a ritual that they entered into knowing it might be asked. I'm only making the equation because some things sparked those thoughts for me, from my own experience.

I do think that some religious groups can have teachings and practices that are unethical or harmful, which SHOULD be called out and addressed -- and I appreciate that you, Jennett, seem to approach the subject from one of clear spiritual purpose, practical problem-solving for a win/win situation, and an open mind about ethical and moral issues that might arise around the topic of cultural heritage.



One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post, though, is that we do have some specific requirements for particular rituals: black (ideally) or dark clothing for Samhain, some specific requirements for initiations.

This makes sense. I could equally see a tradition requiring red, or white, for Samhain, but I think that black would appeal to me.
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