Growing Closer

by the Senior Archdruid

The Pagan Lifestyle – Observations in 2007

Several years ago I wrote my observations of Pagan behavior at Pagan festivals, most notably the big ones: Starwood, held in upper New York State, and Ancient Ways, held in Northern California.

What I observed at that time was that given the opportunity, many (not all) Pagans will shed their clothes and walk amongst each other “Sky Clad.” The other observation was that there was a lot of interest in Polyamory (responsible non-monogamy) and in Polyfidelity (group marriage). At least the number of workshops devoted to these subjects seemed to suggest this.

Of course, in writing that article, I was immediately attacked by those more conservative (or maybe inhibited) Pagans who felt that those Pagans who took advantage of the clothing optional rules at said festivals, or who practiced Polyamory, were the exceptions – the minority, not the rule. So I wondered if things had changed. This time however, I didn’t have the funds to attend either festival, so I had to rely on the observations of others. Again, it was confirmed that Polyamory was a popular subject, and that a lot of people chose to be Sky Clad at these events. But the fact is, I don’t think the majority of Pagans even ever get to go to these things. Most Pagans I know have money and survival issues, and Pagan festivals are not cheap. So basically my suspicion has become that those who practice polyamory and social nudity are an elite group of Pagans, a minority who have better jobs and better incomes than the vast majority.

To test my suspicions, I polled various Pagan groups, to see just what the attitudes among my peers were. The results I think confirm my original idea – that there’s a real interest in alternative marital paradigms, and, given the opportunity, many Pagans will run naked. Lets see how we did:

The first group I polled are all members of the Order of the Mithril Star, RDG, which, because of its roots in the Church of All Worlds, actually promotes naturism and polyamory. How did OMS poll out?

47.37% consider themselves to be Polyamorous.
23.08% were actually practicing a form of Polyamory.
50% said that given the opportunity, they would go sky-clad at a Pagan festival.

The second group I polled were members of the Reformed Druid movement, most of whom were not affiliated with the OMS. They fared thusly:

33.33% consider themselves to be Poly-oriented.
1% were actually practicing a form of Polyamory.
50% said they would go Sky-Clad if they could.

Now, how did regular Pagans feel about these lifestyle choices? I polled the members of several online Pagan discussion groups from different areas of the United States:

47.05% said they were Poly–oriented.
40% said they were actually practicing Polyamory in some form.
33% said they love going Sky-Clad.

So my conclusion is that a slim majority of Pagans are more inhibited than the rest. I’m also seeing that a group that promotes a certain lifestyle may actually have fewer adherents of that choice than groups that do not. I’m also seeing that among Druids, the likelihood that they will opt to run naked among their peers is greater than that of the general Pagan population, but 1/3 is still a significant number. But it also shows that there’s a lot of deprogramming to be done among our peers. Christian moral values, poor body images (from advertising), and the sexualization of nudity (from both Christianity and advertising) still have a stronghold in the minds of even the most dedicated Pagans.

The above observations again are of behavior at Pagan festivals. These little micro-utopian communities appear and disappear within a few days or weeks on an annual basis. If given the chance, would Pagans choose to live the lifestyle daily? This question was asked all groups, and the result was interesting:

88.2% answered “yes” to “I've often thought it would be wonderful to live in an intentional community with other Pagans.”

Of course, thinking this would be “wonderful” and actually doing anything about it are two completely different things.

So, I think my original conclusion stands: social nudity and a tendency toward Polyamory are earmarks of the Pagan lifestyle. I think I will now add a third: a desire for intentional community.

Namaste, and May the FOREST be with you.

El Arseneau /|\
Senior Archdruid of OMS/RDG